My First Look at Windows 10 Preview

I have a Tech category on the blog that has so far been thoughts on operating systems. This would be another one of those as I decided to try the Windows 10 Technical Preview.

I’ve been using Windows 8 ever since it came out in October 2012. I had troubles updating to the later updates (the 8.1 updates) because of both technical issues and preference. My computer got significantly slower, even though Windows 8 is optimized well enough to bring better speed to my PC compared to Windows 7. In terms of preference, I felt like the reintroduction of the Start button was a waste of space for what it does, and they moved the search results in the Start screen to the side bar and added Bing results which felt slower and wasn’t as pretty. I’ve really grown to love the metro-style Start menu so I wanted to see if I’d fall in love with the new Start menu in Windows 10.win10I kind of like the hybrid Start menu with the tiles because I really think it makes finding and launching applications faster. I know many people are still into having shortcuts on their desktop but I’ve become accustomed to clearing the desktop to nothing but the Recycle Bin and a few stray shortcuts. You can remove all the tiles so it will act like the classic Start menu. Because you stay on your desktop, the Start button feels better than the hastily added one in the 8.1 updates that I didn’t really like.

As I talked about before, one gripe with the 8.1 update was the change in the way search happens in the Start menu. The search on the Windows 10 Start menu includes Bing results, but there is now a dedicated search button in the taskbar that you can’t remove. The Start menu Bing results open up the Bing app with results. The search button opens up small search window which, for some reason, lags like crazy so I can’t even use it. I don’t think I’d ever transition to use either since searching for things in Google on a web browser is easy enough…

The button to the right of the search button is the new task switcher, one of the major highlights of Windows 10. It shows you all of your open applications and desktops. The multiple desktops thing is a little clunky to me, at this point anyway. I’m sure there are upgrades to it coming soon since this is just a preview after all. The one big thing missing is you can’t drag and drop applications between desktops; You have to right-click the application and select the desktop to move it to. Again, I’m sure it will get better in time. I’m currently using Dexpot to have multiple desktops in Windows so that’s the standard I have set for Windows 10 because it does multiple desktops really well.

In addition to that, when you snap one window to one side of the screen, it will display all of the other open apps as thumbnails next to it so you can select one to snap to the other side of the screen. It’s something to get used to but I think it’s a good idea.

I’m happy to report that all of the gestures are gone so I’m not longer accidentally activating random things on the edges of the screen.

There are some new animations and window effects (GIANT GRADIENT WINDOW BORDERS!!!) in the Windows 10 Preview, but I expect them to continually change. The Windows 8 Previews had a different look to the final version which I honestly thought looked better.

win10_feedbackOne thing I’ve got to talk about is the Windows Feedback app. Since this is a Technical Preview, they want to see what the users are thinking. The Feedback app is where you can report problems or suggest things, and people can vote if they agree with you. I really like it because there are some things that have a high number of votes that I agreed with so I hope they force some good changes by the time the final version comes out.

So that’s my quick first look at the Windows 10 Technical Preview! I think it has the makings to win the pro-7 anti-8 people back. You can sign up for the Windows Insider Program here to get a copy of the Technical Preview to play with.

Netbook OS: Mint + Lubuntu

Back in September last year, I posted about the operating system on my netbook. I thought it would be a good idea to make a post about the current state since things have changed over the months.

desktop 1_004My netbook is still used for web browsing mostly, but I started using it to take notes for my online course. No, it still doesn’t need to be fast, but using a laggy system gets to me. Ubuntu’s Unity desktop environment is resource heavy so it wasn’t very fast. That’s when I get into these periods of experimentation where I end up jumping between Linux distributions until I settle on one.

I tried out Linux Mint with a bunch of desktop environments that just didn’t work quite right, but I liked the programs preinstalled. I installed the Lubuntu desktop environment and I’ve been satisfied with it since. While I wish it didn’t install another archive manager, terminal, etc again for me, it’s worked out to be the best combination. For some reason, I’ve been having issues installing any Ubuntu-based distro so this is the next best thing.

It’s actually quite snappy, but I’m sure I’ll start experimenting soon enough.

PS. This is my 75th blog post. I can’t believe I’ve kept at it for this long.

Flip flopping on Ubuntu

Sep242013105510
Windows 8 Lockscreen

I’ve always been a Windows user. Macs are fine but I can’t afford one and am a bit turned off by compatibility issues (though that doesn’t seem like a huge problem anymore). The other platform is Linux. Ever since I got my netbook a couple years ago, I’ve jumped around to different Linux distros but always ended up back at Windows. Through my jumping around, I found Ubuntu to be the nicest.

Ubuntu obviously can’t run Windows programs. The whole point of getting the netbook was for school so I needed to run several software programs for my courses that only work on Windows (sometimes would even throw a fit if you weren’t running XP). Now that I’m done with school (conventional full-time school, anyway…), I decided to put back Ubuntu since all I use my netbook for is web browsing now. I found Windows to be too slow to do simple tasks on the very basic hardware.

Screenshot from 2013-09-24 11-02-40
Ubuntu Desktop

I really like Ubuntu because it looks nice and works with what it gets. When I was first researching about Linux OS’s, I kept hearing great stories of old computers being brought back to life because of the use of Linux. I find it to be generally faster at doing everything compared to when I had Windows on it.

The downside to Ubuntu is that if there’s a problem, I generally have no clue what I’m doing. It usually involves copying and pasting cryptic code from the internet that makes little sense to me. But, I suppose that’s better than sitting around waiting for Windows to troubleshoot something and then come back with, “LOL DUNNO”.

I’m happy to have Ubuntu running on my netbook again. It always breathes new life into this slowpoke. I hope the flip flopping stops here.

Where I sit in the war of smartphones

DSC03994

With Apple’s keynote tomorrow to announce some things, and with me missing it (because I’m out tomorrow, but also because it’s probably Mac-only again to view it), I thought it would be fun to weigh in on this smartphone war upon us. It seems like everyone has chosen a side: Android, Apple, Windows, or Blackberry.

The picture in this post is from the day I upgraded from my Nokia 5800 to my Samsung Galaxy S2 Skyrocket/LTE. I think it’s quite obvious which side I’m on. When I activated my first Android smartphone, I moved my email and calendar over to Google. Over time, I started to embrace the new things they were coming out with.

The only Apple product I’ve ever owned was an iPod Touch about four years ago (I can’t remember which generation, maybe third). I liked it since it was the only smart and new device I had at the time. I used it daily. While I had some good games going on it, I used it mostly for travelling with music, so since I could do that with my new phone (which was marketed as a music-focused device), I didn’t see the need to carry an additional device.

Fast forward to May 2012 when I get my new Android device. Even though the next generation of the Galaxy phone would come out literally a week or so later, the hardware has lasted over a year now. I’m rooted and running Android 4.3. There are things I’ve gotten used to on this Android phone that I take for granted while my friends with Apple devices complain about certain things (iTunes syncing, file management, etc).

One of those tech YouTubers made a good point in saying that Apple is more of a design company than a tech company. It’s so true. I mean, if you want a device that looks nice and just works, Apple is your best bet. But if you like customization (with risks depending how you go about it) and having more hardware choices, Android is waiting for you.

And while we’re at it, if you like physical keyboards, Blackberry. That’s it for that.

Now about Windows phone… I’ve always been curious about that OS. It looks smooth and fluid, but I’ve gotten used to Android’s customization and the more populated ecosystem. I’m not a huge fan of the live tiles, even though I like the Windows 8 start menu. Maybe I’ll be more interested in a few years when more apps make it into the store. Right now, it brings back memories of going into the Nokia store when I had the 5800 and seeing nothing but silly change-your-voice apps.

On the topic of Windows phones [and tablets], I can’t stand their commercials that make fun of the Apple vs Android war or comparing their products to everything else. I wish they’d take a moment to focus on their products by themselves. If they can’t sell their product like that, then they need to come up with something more eye-catching.

So that’s what I’ve got to say about smartphones. I can only wonder how this will be different 5 years from now.

How I use Windows 8

I don’t know many people with Windows 8, and I understand why. People don’t like change, especially something they’ve been using for so long and that they rely on daily. I thought I’d share my thoughts about the OS now that it’s getting down to a year running on it.

There are really only two things I find different compared to Windows 7: Fluidity and “that damn Start Menu [/sarcasm]”.

My PC is 4 years old now and I do believe that Windows 8 is optimized enough to have a few performance improvements. I did see a lot of improvement going from Vista (shipped with the PC) to 7. Still, things seem to be overall smoother, especially with the minimalist way the Metro menus were designed.

Speaking of menus and Metro, there are a few things that bug me about both. There’s the “Charms” menu that slides out from the right  for system settings and things like that. I need to get to it every night to shut down. During the day, it’s sliding out by accident. People don’t like the Start menu because of how touch-optimized and non-desktop like it is, and we’ll get to the Start menu in a minute, but the Charms bar is my biggest frustration. It literally is only good for touch, and even then, that’s pretty silly. It’s the only way I know how to get to the Start menu on a Windows 8 tablet besides a hardware button. Two touch gestures to get to the Start menu. Great.

Oh right, Metro. The apps are useless. I don’t have any installed. Moving on.

For the Start menu… I’ll say it: I think it’s better than any other Start menu Windows has had before. It’s easy to find programs I’m looking for on the menu, and it’s quick to search for a program that’s not pinned on a Start menu. At first, I thought it was weird to temporarily fly away from the desktop to open up an application, but I found that I could open up things faster than the classic Start menu. I’ve also gotten used to hitting my Windows key on my keyboard to open it up. It works for me.

I’d recommend it if you look into it and think you can get used to it. If you’re not ready for Windows 8, that’s fine, stick with Windows 7.