Tico Byte - May, 2009

Good day, members of the PC Club of Costa Rica,

A reminder that your next meeting of the club is this Saturday, May 16th, at 9am at the Pan American School in Belen as usual.  Bring any questions, problems or information that you want to share with others and we will discuss them.  We will have lots to discuss and cover, including our final arrangements for the June meeting and party in Santa Ana.  We should have lots of fun Saturday, so come early and bring a friend.  Free coffee and donuts as usual.  See you there.

Now on with the Byte.

Item 1.   Windows 7, what to expect.

From a features and capabilities point of view, Windows 7 is essentially done. It’s all over but the process of hunting down bugs, many of them associated with OEM hardware and drivers. In a bygone era, code this stable and well tested might have been released as a 1.0 product, followed six months later by a service pack. Not this year. Microsoft is treating Windows 7 as the world’s most ambitious shareware release ever. Try it. Use it for a few months, or even a whole year. If you like it, buy it. If you don’t like it, go back to your old Windows version or switch to a completely different OS.

Complete article here: http://blogs.zdnet.com/Bott/?p=958 

Item 2.  Netbooks:  you ought to look at them; the price is coming down.

When Asus announced the first netbook back in June 2007, the company said it would sell for $199. That turned out to be too optimistic, but two years later prices are really starting to drop.

Several sites have noted that the latest Dell flyer includes an updated version of the company’s 10-inch netbook, the Inspiron Mini 10v, which will be available in mid-May for $299. The current model, the Inspiron Mini 10, sells for $399. Both look similar, but the Mini 10v uses the 1.6GHz Atom N270 chip found in most netbooks, rather than the Atom Z series. The Inspiron Mini 9, which starts at $279, already uses the Atom N270.


Complete article here: http://blogs.zdnet.com/computers/?p=670


Item 3:  Are you thinking Apple?


As you can imagine, Apple's vision has changed over the years with each chief officer. But since The Return of Steve Jobs, Apple has maintained steady goals for its role in the digital world, goals that are surprisingly consistent and even predictable—if you know what drives them. In the next two columns I'd like to share the fundamentals you need in order to understand how Apple thinks about, and approaches, the digital realm. This week I'll analyze how Apple sees the world; next week I'll puzzle out what types of products Cupertino might bring to market over the next three years in light of its overall vision. 


Full article here: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2346765,00.asp


Item 4.  Android by Google



Android on mobile phones. Android on netbooks. Android for laptops. Some go as far as to say that Android could be a potential threat to Windows. This is an interesting conjecture, but what would it really take for Android to become a serious threat to Microsoft? Microsoft's OS has about 88 percent of the market for traditional PCs and laptops, and over 90 percent of the netbook market as well. There have been many attempts to create a competitive OS that could tackle Microsoft's dominance, but only Apple has made any sizable dent in Microsoft's position. Various versions of Linux have made inroads in the areas of servers, CE devices such as set-top boxes, and TiVo-like systems, but at the moment, the Linux desktop and laptop market could at best be called a work in progress. 


Complete article here: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2345100,00.asp


Item 5.  The Microsoft 12 step boogie



Readers are generally interested in nothing but the latest operating system from Microsoft. This is especially true during the period of rave reviews that precedes the actual shipment of the real product. I suppose I could install Win7 RC1 and write a useless review talking about how fast it is when you have 20GB of main memory and the OS and ten apps are all in RAM. But so what? It's a "candidate," not the final product. It is, by definition, zombie code that people are supposed to find fault with, not praise. These public betas are publicity stunts that really accomplish very little. Has anyone noticed the similarities to what happened with Windows Vista?

Entire article here: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2346877,00.asp 

item 6.  Dell adds Ubuntu to their netbooks

"We've been tweaking the Dell-designed user interface on the Linux version of the Mini 10," Dell spokeswoman Anne Camden wrote. "For those of you who have never seen our unique UI, the best way to explain it is that it is activity-based. Our goal all along with our Ubuntu interface is to take the application out of the equation. Instead we are paving the way for people to interact with the Mini based on what they want to do – e.g. I want to browse the Internet, I want to look at pictures, I want to chat with my family, I want to play a game of Solitaire, etc. We've taken feedback from customers of the Mini 9 and Mini 12 and made some updates to the UI on the Mini 10, to make it more visually appealing."

Whole article here: http://tech.yahoo.com/news/zd/20090508/tc_zd/240161 

Item 7.  Ubuntu 9.04 is my OS of choice these days

I stayed away from Ubuntu 8.10 (that's the 2008, 10th month version) as I tend to like the more tried and tested versions on my computers.  But I downloaded and tried the Ubuntu 9.04 version recently and tried it on a desktop that I use for this purpose.  The results: I love it.  I have installed on all of my computers.  Why?  Because it does everything it ought to effortlessly.  

I used to have trouble with the wireless connection with Ubuntu on my laptops.  Not anymore.  This version found my wireless cards  (two different laptops), installed what I needed and then found the Linksys router in my home.  I was floored when that happened.  But it did.

I also have a brand new Epson 3-in-1 printer (it's a TX100).  My older version of Ubuntu 8.04 had trouble using it.  It couldn't find drivers for it.  On the Windows side of my computer, the software was a bear to install.  When I installed Ubuntu 9.04,  I went to install the printer and found that it had already been found and installed and was ready to use without me doing anything at all.  Again, I was amazed.

What else do I like about it?  It makes everyone of my computer feel like I just added RAM or upgraded the CPU.  All of my computers now run faster; a lot faster.  It is the quickest OS I have ever had.  It makes Win XP look old and tired.  It hops around like a bunny; and a young one at that.

Have you ever seen a Windows or Mac shut down in ten seconds?  I have a lot of money to bet with anyone who would like to put their OS up against this Ubuntu 9.04 for quickness to boot and to shut down.  One of my computers shuts down in about 6 seconds.  It makes me feel like someone "got it right, for a change".

I could go on and on about this latest version of Ubuntu, but I will just leave it up to whoever wants to find out about it to ask at the upcoming meeting.

OK, I lied.  I have one more thing: I have a desktop that neither I nor a technician who does work for me have tried to get to work with either Vista or Win XP.  The motherboard was built for Windows Vista, yet the USB ports wouldn't work.  We both tried long and hard.  We both gave up.  So I dragged it out and installed Ubuntu 9.04 on it.  You guessed it: it runs flawlessly.  It's fast as lightning and everything works on it.  I now have another computer.

See you Saturday.  I get there first; so I get the choice of the donuts.