Thursday, December 24, 2009

There's an iMac in the house

I've been hankering for an Apple iMac for a while now, but could not bring myself to buy one because of the price discrepancy between the Intel powered iMac and a PC with similar hardware specifications. However, this thanksgiving, that all changed...

My Daughter is in her senior year of High School and she applied to several colleges, of which her favorite was Dowling College. She wants to get a "degree in computer graphics" as she puts it. All during High School, she was using Photoshop on a PC to edit pictures and photos and she also uses it to help with the publication of the school news paper. Well, earlier this year, she was lamenting about how unsafe PC's are with all of the viruses and problems that people have. While I run a pretty tight computing ship around here, both my daughter and son have managed to sneak three viruses through my defenses in the past 4 years.

In celebration of my daughter being accepted into Dowling College, and in order to give her experience working on operating systems other than Windows, ...and yes in order to satisfy my hankering for an Apple iMac, I purchased an early Hanukkah & Christmas (yes we celebrate both holidays) present for her: A 27 inch core i5 iMac. I bought it on Black friday when Apple was running their Black Friday sale.

If you haven't been following the news about the iMac, Apple has been having quality problems with the 27 inch iMac; specifically, the screens are cracking and, of course, with my luck, I had to get one. I had heard that they think that it is a packaging problem related to the stresses that the computer experienced during shipping. It is a pretty large and heavy computer.

In any event, after unpacking the computer and getting it hooked up, just before I was about to power it on, I noticed the small crack in the lower left corner of the bezel. After noticing it, I immediately called the apple store that I purchased the computer from and explained the problem to them. They told me not to worry about it, and to pack the computer up and bring it back to the store.

As I was driving to the store, before I knew about the quality issue, I kept thinking to myself that they are never going to believe that I didn't crack it. You can imagine how relieved I was to find out that this was a known problem. They quickly inspected the computer and after doing the necessary exchange, they promptly brought out a replacement computer. I insisted that we check the computer before I leave as it was getting close to closing time for them. As it turned out the replacement had no crack and my daughter loves working on it much more than the PC.

From my perspective, I like the polish of the user interface on OS X better than the windows user interfaces (even windows 7). The best analogy I have been able to come up with is that the Windows user interface is like a nice looking car that only has a primer coat, whereas the OS X user interface is more like the same car with an expertly primed and painted finish that is buffed to a high gloss finish.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Microsoft gives a new meaning to Windows Vista Ultimate and extras

In retrospect, I was one of the fools who paid full price for Windows Vista Ultimate back when the OS was first released with the promise of “extras” that would be coming later. While there were some extras (like moving wall paper [useless] and drive encryption that would not work for my purposes), I feel as if I was cheated by Microsoft. Now there is one additional “extra” that Microsoft is going to give me: extra expense to upgrade to Windows 7 Ultimate.

The current price for the upgrade from Windows Vista Ultimate to Windows 7 Ultimate is currently $219.00 versus the $119.00 (Home Premium) or $199.00 (Professional) and there was no pre-order pricing available for Windows Vista Ultimate users whereas the Home Premium and Professional users received deeply discounted pre-order pricing (e.g. $49.99 for Home Premium). This gives a whole new meaning to Windows Vista Ultimate and “extras”.

Some people have suggested that perhaps the way to beat the system would be to purchase a Windows Home Premium upgrade and then use it to upgrade my Vista Ultimate. Well, unfortunately, there would be a different kind of “extra” for that method. In this case, I would not be able to upgrade the OS but would be required to use the “upgrade” to wipe my hard drive clean and do a fresh install of Windows 7, after which I would still have to reinstall my software and also pay the anytime upgrade fee to get to Windows 7 Ultimate. While I agree that monetarily this is less expensive, when I consider the several hours of time it will take for me to do this, I consider this overall process more expensive than just purchasing the Windows 7 Ultimate upgrade for $219.00.

As for the notion of “upgrading” the operating system, if you are one of the users who are running on the 32 bit version of Windows Vista and want to “upgrade” to the 64 bit version of Windows 7, you are not able to load the 64 bit version of the OS on top of what you already have installed. Instead, the “upgrade” will wipe your system clean and then install the 64 bit version of Windows 7, forcing you to re-install all of your software. Lastly don’t forget that you will need to re-load all of your data from backups too. In my opinion, this is not an upgrade. I’ve heard all of the excuses about why this is necessary, and that it is always better to do a fresh install instead of an upgrade, however, I do not accept that as an answer as I have seen other operating system manufacturers (IBM) allow other operating systems to be upgraded from 32 bit CISC to 64 bit RISC without requiring programs already installed to be re-installed. In fact, they did not even have to be recompiled. As a result of my experience, it is clear to me that upgrades from 32 bit to 64 bit without a re-install can be done, and anything else that anyone tells you is just an excuse for Microsoft laziness, shortsightedness, and lack of concern for their customer’s time.

Lastly, I want to address Microsoft’s upgrade pricing policy. First, if I want to upgrade from Windows Vista 32 bit to Windows 7 64 bit, I need to rebuild my system, by way of reinstalling all of my applications and reloading all of my data. In this case Microsoft should give me some kind of rebate for providing me with a flawed upgrade that was not able to properly upgrade my system. Secondly, the upgrade pricing, from Vista Home Premium to Windows 7 Home Premium, is currently $119.00 (Amazon 7/13/09). However, the Vista Professional to Windows 7 Professional is $199.00 and the Vista Ultimate to Windows 7 Ultimate is $219. I would understand the difference in price if I was going from an inferior version of Vista to a superior version of 7, like switching from Windows Home Premium to Windows 7 Ultimate, but in my opinion, making a lateral move should have a single upgrade price, let’s say $119.00. Consider this; did the Professional users of Vista really get $80.00 more value in their upgrade process? The question applies to the Vista Ultimate users also, are they getting $100 more in value?

The whole Windows Vista Ultimate and Windows Vista extras experience over the past few years, coupled with the thought of upgrading my systems to Windows 7, has left a bad taste in my mouth as it relates to the overall Microsoft upgrade process and pricing.

Do you see the new meaning of Windows Vista Ultimate and extras too?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

House Project 05/28/09

Here are the final, landscaped photos of the house. It felt like we would never get finished, but we are finally finished!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Credit to the builder...

Over the months, I've been getting a lot of compliments on the project from my neighbors and friends and I really believe in giving credit where credit is due. Ken Dolan and the crew from Let Three D Build L.L.C. is the company I used for the GC of this project. They are, by far, the best contractors that I have ever done business with and I would recommend them for any home improvements or General Contracting that you might ever want to undertake. They really do make dreams come true!

Catch up on construction photographs

We've been really busy getting ready to move in. Here are the rest of the construction photographs. Once all is in place in the house, I'll take some interior pictures with the furniture and post them.

Sunday, February 08, 2009

House Project 02/08/09

Kitchen lighting is completed, Master bath, and Kids bath work continues:

House Project 01/23/09

Railing is finished, cabinets are installed, kids bathroom floor tile goes down:

House Project 01/22/09

The railing is started and kitchen cabinets are delivered:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

House Project 01-09-09

Stairs to sliding glass door is built, we have lights, and interior doors get paint

Thursday, January 08, 2009

No more embedded slideshows from microsoft

Well, it would seem that Microsoft does not want anyone to embed the photos that they upload to their windows live account as a slide show. I've tried many different ways to do it along with using their new silverlight slide show, but to no avail.

As a result, they are forcing me to move away from their solution to something else. I've chosen to move to Picasa, a google property, in order to be able to post my photos. You can see the first post using Picasa below. Frankly, I think it works much better than the slide show that Microsoft had available anyway.

So long windows live photo, it was fun while it lasted, hello Picasa!

As time allows, I will go back to the prior house project posts and as I upload those photos to Picasa, I'll update the posts to embed the new Picasa slide show.