Review

Android Again?

Moto G AndroidSometimes I wonder about myself.  Despite not having found a replacement job yet, I’ve been able to keep the bills paid, eat, keep clothing on me and keep fairly warm.  Thank you Bob for the extra hours!  Though tax returns helped putting new rubber on my car and that has made a world of difference alone.  Was even able to stash some cash away in savings finally.  Seemed like forever I’d log into my bank and see $18 sitting all alone in my saving account since I spent it all on a car.  The car starts and drives great despite not being a looker.  Everything that needs to work, does 🙂

Then I go an do something completely compulsive.  Why, I don’t exactly know.  I’ve had my Windows Phone for a year now.  It has never once given me any problems.  It ran fast and smooth.  Yet it always felt like something was missing.  Even though it cured all the woes I had with my low cost Android phones.  I found a good deal on the Motorola Moto G Android phone, and bought it.  😯

I’ve had my new phone only a couple of days now, and I’m not sure going back to Android was the best idea.  Sure it has a lot of support from all the major businesses.  Something Windows Phone very much lacks still.  Like an official Starbucks app.  Sure that seems frivolous.  But when you hate carrying around plastic cards, being able to pay by phone is nice.  I also like to take payments with my phone.  Couldn’t do that with Windows Phone because PayPal barely supported it for just PayPal.  PayPal Here?  No way!  Android has that.

But…  And this is a big but.  Windows Phone never forced me to keep any bloatware.   I could uninstall it.  Free up the space and resources.  Android I can only disable some of it.  It still is there and taking up precious space.

Windows Phone never put a bunch of junk I don’t need on my SD card.  Android littered my SD card with folders and files.  It was so clean and organized with folders of Pictures, Videos, Music and Ringtones.  Now there are 30+ other folders of junk on it.  Thanks Android 😐

Love this one.  My Windows Phone started with Windows Phone 8, then got the upgrade to Windows 8.1 for free.  And Windows 10 preview which looked pretty sweet.  Though for stability, I put it back to 8.1.  My Moto G advertised it would get Android 5 (Lollipop).   The phone came with 4.4 KitKat.  Yeah… I find out that it’s pending on partner support.  As of yet, no update from AT&T 😐

As much as I hate Facebook, both platforms Facebook apps suck. But not being able to sort by most recent by default on Android makes the app on Windows Phone the winner.  And I seriously could do with out the goofy faces popped on my screen of my Android every time one of my Facebook bound friends messages me.  /facepalm

Lets talk integration.

  • Contacts – Windows Phone has a superior way of integrating all my contacts for Google, Outlook, Skype and Facebook (Twitter if I had it) into one nice and clean contact list.  Android makes a pathetic attempt at it and unless you are a Google disciple and worship Google Plus, your picture doesn’t get automatically added to your contact info.
  • Photo Gallery – Windows Phone integrates it into the social media and contacts.  Android has two photo galleries.  One for the phone, one for Google Plus.  Who needs that?  Who uses Google Plus?  Well I have one friend who does.  I bet he feels very alone on it.
  • Calendar – Windows Phone integrates your Google, Facebook and Outlook calendar info into one handy calendar and this gives you reminders of things coming up.  I don’t use Google Calender but I do have dates in my Google Contacts.  Birthdays and such.  Can’t find a way to pull Facebook into it.  Making the calendar app pretty much useless.

Things that run like the Energizer Bunny.  Yeah just about any smartphone has the issue of “If you open it, it will run forever.”.  When I had my first 5 Android phones I would use apps like Task Killer to kill the apps every few minutes so that I could keep my resources.  Though it was futile.  The phones resources would eventually run critical and I’d have to reboot the phone or they would just lock it up.  Low cost Android phones are generally crap with only 1 core processors and very low memory and storage.  Biggest reason I left Android in the first place.  When I jumped on the Windows Phone band wagon, there was always a way to close an app when you were finished, but even if you let it run, the phone never slowed down or gave me issues.  Plus I could set rules in the battery saver app to not allow apps to run in the background on Windows Phone.  So even left open, they wouldn’t run.  I see Android has a way to turn off apps, but it’s kind of dorky.  The menu button has been replaced with a recent apps button and you can swipe them closed.  I don’t see any way to keep apps from running or starting up on their own in any of the back end settings.

Windows Phone Cortana is a dream!  I can pretty much voice control everything.  It’s so simple and she understands almost everything I say.  Most of the time it’s background noise when she messes up a text message.  Car noises and music.  OK Google I am pretty sure is mentally handicapped.  Either that or I’m just too used to Cortana.  She treated me good.  Great… Now I have a guilty conscience over a phone app.  🙄

Though my new Moto G seems pretty stable with everything I have on it.  Has a 1.2GB Quad-Core processor.  Gigabyte of Ram and 8 Gigs of storage with my SD card adding 32GB more storage.  I’m still not thrilled with the non-removable bloatware issue.  Of course I could always root the phone and void the warranty.  Not real interested in doing that.  It was always a gamble rooting a phone.  Just never had to worry about that with my Windows Phone.  I’m not sure if getting app support was worth this.  But I must give it time.  The Moto G is not some sub $100 phone.  Though it’s twice as expensive as my Lumia 635 Windows Phone.  Which begs the question, since both have nearly identical hardware and specs (Compare Lumia 635 vs Moto G XT1045), why is the Android phone twice the price?

By the way, I have a spare Windows Phone Lumia 520.  It’s got a chip in the glass but works great if anyone wants it.  I’ll hang on to my Lumia 635 just in case I change my mind or drop kick (accidentally of course 😉 ) my Moto G.

I’ve re-added my list of apps for Android to my Freeware Page.  Though, the Windows Apps will remain 😉

My Thoughts on Windows 10

Windows 10Well I was going to do a whole write up, but a great bloke over at TechTeamGB did this nice video overview of the new Windows 10 and said just about everything I would say.  It’s a nice OS and will be a worthy upgrade when it’s finished I believe.

However, my only differentiating opinion is the new Start Menu.  While it will detect if you have a touchscreen tablet or a full desktop and give you either the new hybrid start menu or the full on touch friendly Metro start.  If you use the new hybrid start menu, you can’t really customize or organize your applications and programs.  Well you can the live tiles, but your normal programs you can’t right click and add folder or explore which would take you to the file manager to customize it that way.  I like a nice clean start menu organized by categories such as Internet, Graphics, Multimedia and such and I only put the program shortcuts in these folders.  Which is why I’m still preferring Classic Shell.  This way my start menu is neatly organized and anyone can find exactly what they need.  Otherwise if you have a lot of programs and apps, or if the pre-built Dell you just bought is overloaded with things you’ll never use.  You end up scrolling endlessly to find what you want.  Ugh.

The new Windows 10 Start Menu

Me using Classic Shell (see how clean it is)

Honestly I’m a desktop fan anyway.  So live tiles I could care less about.  On my Windows Phone yeah it’s brilliant.  Desktop, not so much.

I wish software developers would also organize the start menu on their own in some sort of global collaboration, but you know that will likely never happen.  As they say, Many Minds, One Goal.  However it’s generally Many Minds, One Goal and every one has their own way to getting there.  Which we all know how that would turn out.  Just look at the hundreds of flavors of Linux.  I like Linux, but because everyone has different takes on how it should be done, sometimes you run into problems with your favorite programs not working on the different platforms.  Which is why I’m a Windows man still.  I’d love a Mac again, but it still wouldn’t be my main choice and honestly I can buy the parts to build 3 powerful Windows computers for the cost of a single comparable Mac.  Maybe someday I’ll get a Mac Mini.

Other than that, the video below says it all 🙂

Enjoy!

My Windows Phone 8.1

Windows Phone 8.1So I’ve had my new Windows Phone for roughly six months now.  I can say without any doubt, that it was the best $50 I ever spent on a Smart Phone.  Unlike my previous “low cost” Android phones, this one is faster and smarter in every way.  In the past 5 years, I’ve spent roughly $500 on Android phones that were supposed to be entry level and money saving.  But they always needed to be rebooted or didn’t have enough memory to run anything.  This was complicated by the fact that services like Virgin ran over the already over saturated Sprint network.  In addition, all the low cost Androids were on 3G at the time.  If you wanted 4G, you had to buy a much more expensive Android.  Defeating the idea of low cost.

Granted, I tried recently to go with an actual contract version of my Windows Phone on the model the Nokia Lumia 1020.  You know the one with the nifty 41 Megapixel camera?  Yeah (drools)

My situations being what they are, they wanted a security deposit and then an insurance plan paid monthly.  I think I’ll stick with my Nokia Lumia 520 that I can replace for another $50 if I destroy it on accident.  Besides the low cost monthly $40 plan suites me just fine.  So all in all, I’m finally saving money on my smart phone.  I don’t think I’ve kept an Android more than 6 months.  I still can’t justify the cost of an iPhone when I can do the same for so much less and I find the interface of the new Windows Phone 8.1 to be incredibly sexy.

Oh yeah, I signed up for the “developer preview” and am currently running Windows Phone 8.1.  It’s not as crazy social networking integrated as Windows Phone 8.  I miss being able to use my SMS interface to message my Facebook friends and family.  (I did not just say that. /facepalm)  Or view photos from all my Facebook friends and family.  (Oh god, it’s sucking me in.  MAKE IT STOP!!!)

You know, I blame all of you for forcing me to use Facebook…  Just so you know.  It’s not my fault you can’t just be happy with email and text messaging and have forgotten what a real website looks like.  Bastages…

</end rant>

OK, what was I saying?  Oh yeah, I’m using Windows Phone 8.1 now.  The upgrade will be free when it’s released in final version.  Though I can say the preview version works very well.  I do like being able to change the background image such as my multicolored bubbles or swirls as pictured above.  The coolest things are the live tiles that keep me up to date and now that you can customize fully the sounds and alerts you get from each app you use.  Plus, Cortana is turning out the be very handy.  Yes, I’ve tried to mess with her some.  Turns out whoever programmed her responses has a great sense of humor.  Just ask her to sing you a song, tell you a joke or predict the World Cup sometime 😉

My favorite features are still how it seamlessly integrates all my contacts from Facebook, Skype, Twitter (if I had Twitter), Microsoft/Outlook and more and allows me to do just about everything right from my contacts list.  From sending messages to sharing photos and thoughts.

I also have to admit the voice recognition is far superior to that of Android.  Though I don’t have an iPhone to borrow to test that with.  So I’ve no idea how iPhone handles voice commands and typing for me.

But my favorite feature of all time.  Swipe typing!  Fastest way to text and send emails (or anything else that requires typing really).

It’s just the best phone for the money.  Period.  I get to do all sorts of nifty things and the selection of apps is growing daily. 🙂

Just some of my lock screens.  Just felt like sharing.  (forgive my OCD, their in Alphabetical order)

Lock Screens

Android vs Windows Phone 8

Android vs Windows Phone 8This is not a comparison based on the latest and greatest version of Android Phone and Windows Phone 8 with the best hardware and latest OS.  This is a comparison of pre-paid phones loaded with similar apps based on the MSRP of $99.  My Android is a Samsung Galaxy Centura that still retails for $99.  My Windows Phone 8 is a Nokia Lumia 520 also retailing for $99.

I received my new Nokia on February 3rd.  I haven’t yet activated the phone service as my month for my Samsung ends on the 14th.  I was considering actually re-assigning the Nokia to my current service of Straight Talk.  Which is incredibly doable.  Though, after reading several successful and unsuccessful stories about doing it, I chose to stick with moving to AT&T’s GoPhone service.  So for the first comparison, it won’t be with data, service or phone call quality.  Only apps and hardware performance over Wi-Fi.  I’ll do another review around the 30 day mark as I have done in the past for Windows 7, Windows 8 and my Mac experiences.  I’ll tell you now, it’s like night and day.  They are just that different.

A $99 Samsung Android Centura offers you:

  • Android 4.0.4 Ice Cream Sandwich OS
  • 800MHz Single Core Qualcomm CPU
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 4GB Internal Storage (with expansion slot for another 32GB via Micro SD Card)
  • 3.0MP Camera (Rear Only – No Focus Features)
  • 3.5″ 320 x 480 Display
  • b/g Wi-Fi
  • 3G Data

A $99 Nokia Lumia 520 offers you:

  • Windows Phone 8 OS
  • 1GHz Dual Core Qualcomm Snapdragon CPU
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 8GB Internal Storage (with expansion slot for another 64GB via Micro SDHC Card)
  • 5.0MP Camera (Rear Only)
  • 4″ 480 x 800 Display
  • b/g/n Wi-Fi
  • 4G Data

Already you can see that you don’t aren’t getting much from Samsung by comparison.  But the hardware isn’t the only differences.  I did a clean install of my Android and along with the new Windows Phone 8, I loaded equal software items on both devices.  Both with Facebook, YouTube, Wikipedia, Angry Birds, My Bank Software, VIP, Notepad, Lotto Results, Bible, Craigslist, Cardmobili, iHeart Radio, Netflix, Waze, PayPal, Adobe PDF Reader, Skype, Speedtest.net and Teamviewer.

About Android

Issues with Android:

  • MP3 music skips and lags.
  • The phone needs frequent reboots from locking up.
  • Free RAM consistently below 50MB.
  • Playing simple games like Angry Birds, caused the phone to lock within minutes.
  • DVD rips had to be recoded and resized to play on Android.
  • Not real keen on Google keeping records of my wireless passwords.  (Found that out after the fresh reload of my device and I didn’t have to enter in my complicated Wi-Fi password.)

Impressive Features of Android:

  • Lots of apps to choose from on their store.
  • Notification Bar is incredibly handy.
  • Native screen capture capability.

Android Side Notes:

  • Having so many different phone makers.  It’s a lot like Linux.  There are so many flavors of phone hardware and only so many can use the same software due to differences.  Makes it complicated to get working apps across the board on all Android devices.
  • Apps that are bundled with many Android devices that I didn’t want couldn’t be removed.  Some could be disabled, but they still took up space.

About Windows Phone 8

Issues with Windows Phone 8:

  • Missing apps that are important to me, such as SugarSync and Open Document Reader.
  • Firefox browser is unlikely to ever grace a Windows Phone due to restrictions on open source software.  Thanks to Cloudfox, this isn’t a huge problem 🙂

Impressive Features of the Windows Phone 8:

  • Initial setup was easy. Signed into my Google, Microsoft and Facebook accounts.  The phone integrated them all seamlessly and imported my contacts, emails and was ready to go in minutes.
  • I was able to watch High Quality DVD rips without a single issue.  No need to recode or resize just for the phone.
  • Built-in FM tuner (I’m fairly sure not all Windows Phones have this.) that provides music without eating up a data plan while not on Wi-Fi.
  • The phone is fast as hell no matter what you open or run.
  • Outside of doing an OS update to GDR3, I didn’t need to reboot the phone for any reason.  Never slowed down.
  • Free RAM consistently around 350MB to 395MB.
  • Angry Birds ran like a champ.  Shame I can’t stand the game.
  • Love having a dedicated camera button that not only takes pictures and helps focus, but it also launches the default camera app if it’s closed when pressed.
  • Videos load and play quickly and smoothly.  (Netflix, MP4, AVI, YouTube, Vimeo, Flixster/UltraViolet are just some I’ve tried so far.)
  • Live Tiles.  Need I say more?  Some better than others, but the better ones are awesome 🙂
  • Native screen capture capability.
  • All Windows Phone’s come with Microsoft Office Mobile.  How freakin’ cool is that?  Android and iPhone?  Pft, gotta buy an app for that.  Hell, you can’t even get that with a $2000 MacBook Pro

Windows Phone 8 Side Notes:

  • Wish the camera lens was just a hair recessed.  It’s flat with the body and it’s easy to get fingerprints on and possibly scratch when setting the phone on other surfaces.
  • Apps that came bundled that I didn’t want I was able to remove without issue.

Some Comparisons

Camera Indoor Shots

Camera Outdoor Shots


I wanted a nice picture for the outdoor comparison, but couldn’t bring myself to ask the pretty girl I was hanging out with on Saturday to be my subject.  Plus I didn’t want to get punched in the face.  Long story.  On the upside, I fixed her laptop 🙂  Better clarity, better color, wide format…  The Windows Phone 8 camera, while only 5MP still puts out more impressive pics than the Crapdroids I’ve had at that same price range.  Not too mention, the lens apps that you can get for Windows Phone 8 are also impressive.

Web browser on Wi-Fi loading castlerain.com from a cleared cache.

(I know my website is large and was not expecting any world record load times.)

Battery Time

I tried my best to use the phones equally for the tasks, but it was hard. I found myself playing with the Windows Phone 8 more.  Though if I had to try and guess at it, I would say the battery time on both was just about equal.  Plus, considering my Android has been in use for a few months now.  I would say on my average use, I could go 48 hours on a single charge.  Maybe less as now my live tiles keep me informed of Social Media events, where as I had to turn off notifications for Facebook on my Android as it sucked the life right out of the battery if I didn’t.  Plus, the sound of it going off every five minutes was driving me bat-shit crazy.  The Windows Phone just puts a quiet number count on the tile (and lock screen).

My One Week Summary

I’m very thoroughly impressed so far.  Sure I’ll miss my Swype Keyboard, Starbucks, Square Register and a YOURLS shortener apps, but I’ll live without them just fine.  I’m sure at one point or another those companies will get on board with Windows Phones as they get more popular.  With all the photo junkies out there, and Windows Phones boasting superior cameras to iPhones, you know they will.  You already get more for your money when compared to an equally priced Android phone.  You get more value for less money compared to an iPhone.  Honestly, even though I’ve only had the phone a week, I would say folks should take the Windows Phone Challenge.  (Watch the Videos from that link.)

And while my Lumia 520 only has a 5MP camera that won’t be winning any photo contests anytime soon…  It is, after all, a $99 phone.  Can’t expect miracles for so little cash.  However, I’m still enjoying it far more than any other low cost Android I’ve ever owned.

Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning

Kingdoms of Amalur: ReckoningAt long last, I think I’ve found what I’ve been searching for in a new video game.  One that has most of my favorite elements of World of Warcraft, but none of the douchebag Amercian Gamers.  Yes, you heard me right.  I called American Gamers douchebags.  I can say this because since I stopped playing on EU servers a few years ago for games like Runes of Magic and I put in a year of World of Warcraft on the EU servers as well.  My online gaming experience has steadily declined from fun to incredibly frustrating.  From my experience, it’s two different worlds.  EU players are more kind and don’t often get into racial jokes, heated debates about politics, endless kiddie anal jokes or topics of anti or pro homosexuality.  They don’t seem to have the hangup on those subjects like Americans do.  There also seem to be so many American Gamers who try to make sure you can’t gather herbs or ore because they have to try and be on top of you while you’re trying to gather.  American Gamers of opposing factions with nothing better to do than kill NPC’s so you can’t finish quests.   The list goes on and on.  Yet on EU servers I found that the majority of EU Gamers are there to play a game and make friends.  Not to say there aren’t any folks like that in America, but certainly they seem few and far between.  What few American Gamer friends I have, I’ve never seen them be douchebags to other players.  Like me, they generally don’t tolerate douchebags well.   Plus thanks to Blizzard “merging” the servers for “social stimulation”, just doing daily quests has become a fight for resources.  Places like the Timeless Isle have become over run with players and their natural ability to be … well douchebags.

I finally couldn’t take anymore of it.  I wanted to try Skyrim, but couldn’t get into the videos I found on YouTube for it.  It looked so dark and dreary.  Like the major coloring was dark grayscale.  Since playing Last Chaos, Runes of Magic and World of Warcraft…  All those games were, for the majority, bright and cheerful.  Guild Wars 2 for some reason gave me a headache and when I tried the Dragon Age 2, it was again darker than I’d like and their graphics also gave me a headache.  Even Rift I could only handle in small doses.  I tried Minecraft a few months back, but it’s like playing The Sims.  You build a few houses and you get bored with the so-called “game play”.

See how dark and dreary Dragon Age 2 and Skyrim are?  OK, I admit Dragon Age 2 isn’t all that bad, but looks dreary to me.

At the beginning of February I found a game that was out in 2012 called Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.  Sadly it was released only months after Skyrim.  Dragon Age II was already in full swing at the time.  Even though KoAR was well received by reviews and players, they just couldn’t compete.  Which is a pity as I think it’s a brilliant game.  So do thousands of other players like me who found it just a bit too late.  It has a similar bright and cheerful atmosphere and the graphics in my opinion are much better than the other games I’ve tried or played in the past year.

See how pretty it is?

It’s freakin’ huge too!  And while it doesn’t have my flying mounts, or even mounts in general.  But it does at least have map travel.  (yes, so does Guild Wars 2, that’s not enough to make me want to play it)  Plus map travel doesn’t pick away at my money like GW2 does.

Even the Dungeons aren’t all that dreary or dark.  See?

Though everything else I love about MMO’s can be found in KoAR.

Such as:

  • Quests (hundreds upon hundreds – and I’m not even a quarter of the way through)
  • Gem Crafting for Armor Sockets (to enhance your gear)
  • Armor Crafting
  • Alchemy
  • Lockpicking
  • Pickpocketing
  • Simplistic Skill System
  • Easy to Learn Special Attacks
  • Player Housing (yeah gee WoW is behind the curve on this one)
  • Cities and Villages Galore
  • Loads of Dungeons
  • Gorgeous Maps
  • Kill NPC’s (if you wish too)
  • Great Selection of Mobs
  • Good Storyline
  • Excellent Voice Acting

The Particle Effects are out of this world!  Particle Effects, if you aren’t familiar, are how the spell casting and other sparkling things such as weapon glowing or aura effects happen.  It also has a fantastic character creation for your looks, race, sex and even how you want to play.  You can mix and match or play just one way.  Warrior, Thief, Rogue, Sorcerer and Archer.  (even seen a video on YouTube with Felicia Day and some dude called Day 9 do a review of the game)

KoAR has this cool slow-mo feature called Fateshifting.  As taken from the Wikipedia Article Fateshifting:

The combat includes a ‘fate’ system which allows players to accumulate ‘fate points’ and ultimately enter ‘Reckoning Mode’, a slow motion mode that allows the player to quickly dispatch enemies. The Reckoning Mode may end on player’s command, with the depletion of the fate bar or by the act of ‘Fateshifting’ an enemy. Fateshifting involves performing a brutal finishing move on a single enemy. During the cosmetic Fateshifting phase, the player may rapidly tap a random button (chosen and displayed by the game) to increase the experience yield up to 100%. After the Fateshifting, all weakened enemies also die.

Makes for very cool screenshots 😀

I hopefully can say that I’m done with World of Warcraft finally.  Since I don’t play all that much anymore as it is, I don’t feel bad not spending the money every month to play as well.  Besides, I can’t say if there will be other games like this that I’ll take too in the future when I get bored with KoAR.  Then again, by that time, maybe I won’t even be a Gamer anymore.  Who knows.

We're Dead Again

Sandbox Gaming is Freakin’ Sweet!

Freakin Sweet AchievementSo I’ve been playing Minecraft now for a couple of weeks, and I have to say I’m hooked 🙂  So far, I haven’t done anything very serious.  Mostly have it in crafting mode all the time and just poking around at all the features.  I’ve even setup a server so that I can monkey with my Castle anytime I like, from any place I have an internet connection.  I’ve even checked out the Ender Dragon and that was pretty freakin’ cool.  Of course I was in crafting mode so it couldn’t kill me, but it’s absolutely amazing how in depth this simple looking game can get.

Even more amazing, is that when a world is generated, it automatically builds towns, sets up NPC’s, randomly builds dungeons, temples and all sorts of hidden places to explore.  The world it builds is absolutely enormous!!  I have yet to find the edges of the map.  As much as I’m an Achievement Whore, I get satisfaction in that department as well 🙂

Here’s some of the progress I’ve been making on my in game version of CastleRain (Click for Larger Images):

I know it’s a bit boxy and is lacking loads of detail.  It’s my first creation, so we’ll all just let it be what it is and perhaps the next go around, once I get more inspiration, will hopefully be 100 times better.

I need to setup a spare machine to run this dedicated at some point.  No rush on that though, got a lot of work left to do on it.  I think once it’s done, I’ll open up the server to my friends and we can put it in adventure mode and have a good time together.

The best part of this as it is though is that I don’t have to feel like I have to do anything.  If I want to get up and go do something else, I can without worry of leaving something unfinished.  It will always be unfinished, but I don’t feel like I’m letting myself or anyone else down if I get up from the PC.

I’m still new to Minecraft, so I’ll see how it goes, but so far it’s freakin’ sweet!  (Peter Griffin reference)  See for yourself by watching the video below 🙂

I’ve even heard rumors that there might be quests coming soon.  Hope that’s true.

30 Days with Windows 8

My enthusiasm isn’t nearly that of when I did this for Windows 7.  I still love Windows 7.  Can’t fathom that I’ll ever, ever, in my wildest nightmares, accept Metro as a suitable Start Menu/Desktop replacement.  I think they only thing I actually like (even though I had finally gotten used to it), was that they removed Aero, and now your desktop taskbar (and Classic Shell Menu) adapt to the color of whatever background picture you have up.  As exampled below 😈

Classic Shell is the ONLY reason I can find Windows 8 tolerable.  There are still a load of aggravating quirks that make me wish I could fire Microsoft employees for getting high and making this operating system in the first place.

As I said in a previous post, as well as countless others have said the same, it seems that Microsoft only makes a good operating system every other release.  Although, I have my doubts that this trend of Good / Bad will continue.  I fear from here it’s all down hill.  It’s like Microsoft needs a boob job because their shit is sagging badly.

I will give Windows 8 kudos for better virtualization.  However, only power users bother with it.  So, for the vast majority of PC users, big whoop-ti-do. Compatibility mode seems to be lacking as older programs that once ran fine using it, are now broken.  So that puts a few oldy but goldy games I love dearly in the hurt locker.  Well, that is until I managed to finagle with the video drivers enough to make them work, but even then, the average person will not know how, or want to do this.

I’m just not on board with my desktop becoming a tablet.  I think they should be separate.  Of course, I’m sure I’m overruled in this.  As people make love to their portable devices and all the years of my yelling at folks to keep their fingerprints off my damned screen, now it’s going to be a touch screen world.  Soon, you’ll have touchscreen TV’s which seems to defeat the whole thing of having a remote so you don’t have to jump up to deal with the TV.  Or there will be touchscreen remotes.  Seems distracting to have that in a darkened room watching a moving and suddenly the remote lights up to turn up the volume.  I’m all for progress and newer technology, but making every computer a tablet isn’t what I had in mind.  Although, I am all for an Android Desktop PC.  Just with a keyboard and mouse.  Although, I do like using my big screen TV as a monitor.  Makes gaming fun.  It’s my all in one, entertainment center.  I just don’t wish to reach over my desk to touch something when my mouse is right there.  Nor do I want to try to watch a 3D Blu-ray and see fingerprints…

Maybe I’ll get lucky and the feedback on Windows 8 will steer Microsoft back to a true desktop PC.  I just have a bad feeling it won’t.  As cliché as it sounds, only time will tell.

Windows 8 vs Mountain Lion vs Ubuntu 12.10

Mostly I’ve debated the world of computing between Microsoft Windows, which is what I use normally.  Against Apple’s Mac and their OS X operating system.  I’ve made references to Linux from time to time, but never made it part of my ideas in whole or in any large part.  Now that Mountain Lion is out, and Windows 8 has graced us with it’s presence like that annoying uncle who thinks he’s overly cool, but no one likes him…. Sorry got off track there…

The question is, “Is it time to reevaluate my beef with Mac?  Or should I consider moving toward an open source horizon?”.

Last year, I actually purchased a MacBook Pro with OS X Snow Leopard, and got a free upgrade to Lion.  While at first I was rather impressed, the more I used it, the more I got frustrated at having to buy replacement software for stuff I use for free on a Windows based computer.  Plus, the fact I paid over 3 times as much for it, when a simple $400 Windows laptop would’ve done just fine.  I sold the MacBook Pro, bought a big screen TV, a laptop and still had $200 I put into the bank and a big comfy smile on my face.

As a tech though, I must keep up with the latest versions of Windows, Mac and I dabble in Linux.  The more I saw of Windows 8, the less I liked it.  I even got really angry with it and it’s forcing Metro down my throat.  It was like removing me from my home and forcing me to live with others who don’t get along with.

So now I actually have Windows 8 installed on my laptop.  It’s OK.  It’s not nearly as sweet as Windows 7 is.  My opinion still is Windows 7 is by far the best OS ever made.  However, unlike Windows XP, it won’t last (or should I say be supported) forever.

If it weren’t for Classic Shell, my life with Windows 8 would be morbid.  Of the various utilities that have been created to alleviate the misery that is Metro and it’s damnation to the desktop, workstation and PC gamer communities, it’s free, open source and works like it should.  A huge thanks the developers who make it.  Is it perfect?  Pretty damned close.  Although, you do get a brief disheartening as you quickly see Metro flash up during boot.  Not a deal breaker by any means.

Then there’s Linux.  Still struggling for a decent share computing world via desktop, laptop, smart phones and all the other wonderful devices it is on.  Closest to world domination is that it is the core of Android phones, but not so much the desktop market.  Mostly because as I’ve mentioned before, they have no standardization.  As nice as Linux is, if you download software, you have to choose which Linux distro you are installing it on.  Or you have to compile it yourself if your distro of choice isn’t on the list.  Or possibly it won’t work at all on your beloved subdivision of Linux.  That makes Linux even more frustrating than Mac in many ways.  However, there are things that it can do that Mac cannot.  By far, the most popular and satisfying variant of Linux is Ubuntu.  It’s layout is unique, easy to use for the most part and has a decently large library of software for just about any need.  You hardly need to go outside of their store to get anything you desire.  Still, it’s not every Joe Computeruser’s cup of coffee.  But it’s getting closer than ever before.

I could drag this article out more by making long comparison lists of what is good and bad about each OS.  Not really feeling up to it.  So I’ll give the short and sweet of it.

Windows 8 vs Ubuntu

Here’s where I could simply take my PC that I built for roughly $1000; that plays all the top games available, it does 3D Blu-ray to my 32 inch TV that I use as a monitor and change it to Ubuntu for the grand total of $0.  Ubuntu is free!  However, there’s no 3D Blu-ray software yet.  I can play regular Blu-ray’s via VLC.  It’s clunky, but it works.  All my games… well those I can get to work via Wine would be alright, a bit buggy perhaps.  Others I would lose out on playing or I’d have to play the handful of visually stunning games that are made for Linux.  Most of them however, are shooters.  Only shooters I play are the old Unreal Tournament games.  Not an Army/Marine kind of guy.  Plus, again, I’d have to find replacements to all the software I use, although most work on Linux too, so that’s actually a half-assed plus.

Ubuntu vs Mac OS X Mountain Lion

As for moving to either of these, I’d have virtually the same exact issues as far as software goes.  Mac, I’ve already purchased some software replacements, and I made sure they all had lifetime upgrades free.  Software is covered really, I’d have to deal with the old frustrations I had before.  Plus, Mac finally got Blu-ray software, but I don’t think it does 3D yet.  You have to buy a USB Blu-ray player, because you can’t buy it when you buy the Mac as an internal drive.  Which is dumb as hell.  Plus, then I’d be paying well over twice as much for the Mac hardware.  Starting at $2499 for something I already have basically is financial suicide.  Sure I could go iMac, but that’s all integrated, and not very user upgradable.  Actually they frown on user upgrades.  If I wanted to have an integrated computer, I’d just keep my laptop.

Mac vs Windows

I’ve already compared Mac’s to PC’s.  Repeatedly.  The horse isn’t moving anymore.

My Conclusion

Though, as disheartened as I am over Windows 8.  I think I’ll wait to jump ship on the Windows based PC for now.  I’ll just hang on to my beloved Windows 7 as long as I can on my desktop and leave the Windows 8 and whatever future holds for Microsoft Windows in general to my poor laptop (or whatever I replace it with in the future).  Who knows, maybe Microsoft will redeem themselves.  However, this time I kind of doubt it.  Maybe it’s me.  Maybe it’s time I let go of computers.  I just don’t want too.  They still hold a world of wonder, excitement and creativity to me.  I’m not ready to do that just yet.

My LG Optimus Elite

Circumstances of an unfortunate situation has led me to get a new smart phone.  My old LG Optimus V, while rooted and able to do my most needed functions, kept me at odds for lack of space every time my apps updated.  I don’t know why and have been unable to find information on how to keep my apps under control.  Each time my apps updated, I’d quickly lose space on my phone.  In a week too two weeks, my phone would go from 45MB space free to under 20MB.  I would reset my phone, reload all the apps by going through my handy list on the bottom of my freeware page.  Only to repeat it within a week or so.  As anyone can imagine, this is endlessly frustrating.

Thankfully, Best Buy happened to have one of the latest phones from my carrier Virgin Mobile on sale from $149 to $129.  Cheaper than when I bought my Optimus V.  (sadly it got lowered in price 2 days later)  Of course, I ended up losing my phone having root.  Though the only reason for me to root my Optimus V was so that I could get rid of the endless bloatware that came with that phone.  So it’s not a deal breaker by any means.  I also learned a hard lesson.  I am a user of Quick Settings as it was handy, and FoxFi to turn my little phone into a wireless hotspot.  I didn’t know that Quick Settings also had hotspot capabilities.  However (comma), little did I know that using apps with hotspot capabilities would essentially destroy my new phone and disable it’s 3G capabilities.  I imagine that this is not an intended issue, but more or less an incompatibility.  So within a day, I had an error 67 popping up every minute or so.  Making my new Optimus Elite unusable.  Again, not a necessary feature.   Knowing how dealing with mobile support techs is far more painful than the folks at Best Buy, I opted to return my faulty phone for an exchange.

Now that I have the replacement, this phone is much faster, and has enormous amounts of space to use.  I simply moved my SD card from my old phone to my new one and now I’ve got space to burn.  I’m sure that I can go a very long time now before having to reset anything.  Other nifty bonuses include Flash support so I can use it surfing the net instead of using specific apps.  I’ve only had the phone a few days, but so far I’m very pleased with it.  Sadly, I still live in Redneck land, so my service is lacking but since I plan to relocate as soon as possible, there is no need to change services.  Besides I love my no contract way of life 🙂

Plus I can finally play my Earth and Legend.  If I used it on my old phone, it would be pretty much the only app I could have on it.  Thankfully those days are now over.  So far so good 🙂

Now, if only I can find a replacement app for Quick Settings as using the default settings system for Android 2.3.7 is a real clunky option.  However, I don’t want it to have any kind of wifi hotspot capabilities for fear of dorking up my current phone.  Suggestions are welcome in the comments here, facebook, google plus or you can email me.

My take on the New Windows 8

So I played around with the Developer Preview of Windows 8 for the past few days.  Honestly can’t say I’m all that excited about Windows 8 as of this post.  It’s not horrible, but it’s not dazzling to me by any means.  If I had to choose right now, I’d take Windows 7 over 8 without thinking twice.  Though it is not even a public beta, so there’s still time for Microsoft to change things for the better.

If Microsoft is banking on everyone running out and buying new computers with touchscreens or replacing already costly big LCD screens with touchscreens just so folks can use Windows 8…  Then I’m thinking Microsoft is going to be terribly disappointed.  Especially with the threat of gas prices rocketing upwards of $5 per gallon this year.  I know I’m not planning on many hardware upgrades in 2012.  Certainly not touch screens for my desktop and I don’t need a new laptop yet.

It seems that’s the only thing Microsoft is gearing Windows 8 for, is touchscreens.  So for those of us not planning any upgraded hardware this year, it’s going to be a very hard sell to us.  Not having a touchscreen makes using Windows 8 a royal pain the ass.

First you are greeted with what looks like a digital picture frame for a “lock” screen.

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This you have to swipe up to reveal the actual login screen behind it.  Without a touchscreen, you have to drag it up or use your mouse’s scrolling wheel.  It would appear that this year, green is the new blue.

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Finally you get introduced to Metro.  Over all, it’s a bunch of rectangles that you can use to launch programs or view weather or interact with your social networking life.  Again, I need not express how much I’m not into the social networking crap.  I’d rather use a phone or hang out in public in real life rather than…. never mind, don’t get me ranting.

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As you can see, it covers a lot of useless things that may appeal to others.  As well as any programs you install yourself end up as squares on the far right.  So if you have a lot of apps and programs installed, you could end up scrolling forever just trying to find what it is you want to run.  Again, without a touchscreen, you have to scroll your mouse wheel or click and drag a slider that appears on the bottom.

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Over all, Windows 8 seems like it’s just a slightly updated version of Windows 7 with this Metro thing slapped on top of it.  Metro merely appears to “hook” into certain programs to make it feel like it’s new when really it’s just an obscured view of what you already have.  You see, if you have a program that isn’t Metro ready (such as Firefox 9.0.1), you click on it and it throws you to the normal desktop where it opens the program to run there.  Making Windows 8 feel terribly clunky.

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Also you can see while in “windows” mode, you see that the explorer windows got an upgrade to the ever popular ribbons.

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Here’s what I mean by “hook”.  Metro acts like it’s just the first program to run.  It’s not actually part of Windows.  It overlays the screen or runs in full screen mode and launches apps specifically designed for it as well as “hooks” into programs that allow it to hook into.  My example is running Internet Explorer from the desktop looks like Internet Explorer as everyone knows and hates.. er loves it.

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But if you open IE from Metro, you get an even more horrifying version of the exact same program.  (makes me wonder how toolbars will get bastardized)

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Scary isn’t it?

Thankfully I was able to find a “hack” that makes Windows 8 play like every other version of Windows since 95 essentially.  It turns off Metro and gives you a slightly fancier version of Windows 7 which would be Windows 8 without the stupid shit.

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Although it has a side effect of killing the ribbon menus in Explorer.

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So, all in all it’s really like Microsoft is not only banking on touchscreens, but also that you’ll rush out and buy what you think is a new operating system when really its more like just a few tweaks and fixes and this new interface that merely runs on top to make it look completely different when really it isn’t different.

Although if Microsoft were to see it in their slightly bent hearts to add the ability to turn off Metro like that “hack” does, I’d actually be into buying it.  It’s sure to have more improvements over Windows 7 right?  Or will it be like every opposing version of Windows, and suck royally?  I’ll revisit this when they make a public beta available (if they do).

Millennium Edition = Sucked | XP = Rocked | Vista = Sucked | 7 = Rocked | 8 = ….. ???
Anyone else see a scary ass pattern forming here?

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