Windows 10s Opinion/Review

So, I should probably start this of explaining that I have only been able to use windows 10s for a brief period but I am of course familiar with windows 10 and am a Windows Insider.

Windows 10s is great possibly the best version of a windows operating system yet.

Now if you don’t know Windows 10s it’s revised version of windows 10 based on Windows 10 Pro. You are currently unable to buy it in the shops or online but It does comes preinstalled on certain systems such as the new Microsoft Surface Laptop and its designed to be quick, secure and responsive.

Now as I mentioned I have been able to use it briefly on Microsoft’s new surface laptop which has a premium feeling and looking piece of Hardware (which at just under a grand it frankly should be), Windows 10s is super-fast with super quick boot and resume times and its everything you really want from a OS (i.e. it doesn’t seem to get in the way and feels very smooth).

You can tell that this has had a lot of thought and is aimed at those that may be interested in chrome books and maybe even taking on apple as they have in other areas. This version of windows 10 because of the policies that it uses is very secure very easy to use and difficult to break you also get great battery life without necessarily needing as many heavy batteries which of course leads to lighter hardware. This security and optimisation is impressive however the way this is done is also my biggest bug bear with windows 10s. And I think it will be the hang-up for a lot of people too.

The main way that this security and ease of use has been implemented as well as excellent use of resources is that its locked down to the Windows App Store. Which while having improved a lot over the last couple of years is unfortunately still dire. You are unable to install 3rd party and even some 1st party applications as if they are not on the windows store you simply aren’t able to use them. So that means no Photoshop or GIMP for photo editing, No Steam or any of the other gaming clients, no video editor and probably the biggest thing for a lot of people no option to be able to use a different web browser other than Edge.

Now personally I like Edge for the most part but I use Vivaldi (based on chrome) and Waterfox (Firefox based) as my main browsers as edge still has issues with some sites including some of Microsoft and doesn’t have the widest range of extensions that others do. As an aside I also do wonder what the EU will make of them forcing you to use Edge considering the history MS have had with them. Clicky.

Up until very recently it wasn’t even possible to install MS Office although that has since been added and I’m sure as time goes on it will get better and one thing that I haven’t mentioned is that some of the things that are currently missing in the app store can be done though a web browser as long of course as it works with edge.

I can’t help but feel that Windows 10s is suffering a little from the “chicken or egg” Perhaps the fact it exists will increase Devs willingness to port and create apps for the app store thus getting rid of a major barrier of 10s but on the other hand perhaps it’s a little too early for 10s. If the store improves as I hope that it will, I’m sure more would be willing to use it and even in its current state. I also assume plans are in place to implement 10s in lower spec, Cheaper hardware because it has a place for those that want something more than a tablet but don’t want the complexity of potential risk of a PC/Laptop.

In conclusion Windows 10s is great but let down hard by a weak app store offering but has serious potential for the future if it gets a chance.

The good news though is that with the surface Laptop an upgrade to windows 10 Pro is possible and until the end of the year its free to do so. I know for one that if I was to get my hands of a surface laptop I would be very happy to have it but I would have to switch to windows 10 pro immediately which thankfully is as easy searching windows in the store and selecting the free upgrade option. It’s Just a shame to can’t go back to 10s once you have upgraded.

 

*After Publishing I noticed that Photoshop Elements is available on the app store sorry about that. But app selection in general is still poor especially when you consider other app stores and that its all that is available to use.

The Death Of Google Reader And Finding A Replacment.

As you may have heard by now, Google has announced that as of 1st July they will be closing its RSS feed service Google Reader. I have been using it for a number of years now alongside Google’s listen app on my android  phone to keep track off my podcast subscriptions. It was the easiest way I had found to subscribe and listen to podcast rather than using iTunes and the various hacks that get that working on non apple devices. Anyway I am now like many others in the search of a new RSS reader and a new app to sort out Podcasts all preferably for free. So I’m going to look at suggestions and list them here for future reference and in the hope that it will assist others in their search. RSS Reader

  • Feedly – Currently relying on google reader but apparently have a plan in place to switch to their own RSS service.
  • Flipboard – A nice reader
  • Newsblur– The most Google reader like replacement.

Conclusion Podcast Apps (Android)

  • Double Twist —– This is an iTunes replacement it was pretty good when I used it last.
  • Stitcher Radio —–  Requires login. Can use Facebook details. Nice interface and nice to use. Also Web based No import feature?
  • BeyondPod — A paid for a “lite” version although you get 7 days worth of the full version for free. Nice interface. Allows import from google reader
  • Podkicker —-  Theres a free and a paid for version of this podcast. Currently missing the import from reader on the free version.

Conclusion  for now I’m using BeyondPod it allowed me to import my podcasts from reader pretty easily. Depending on what happens in 7 days when the full version reverts to the “lite” version I’ll probably continue to use it. I would have loved to use Stitcher radio I really like the interface of the app but without an option to import feeds or import directly from reader it is a bit too much work than I’m willing to put in. (If it did have this option it would be my app of choice. I’m kind of hoping i just missed it in the options) Other

  • Google Takeout  —- This allows you to export your google reader data to various xml files for easier transition

I will update this post as I find new replacements of course if you know of one or use one regularly that’s not mentioned or have views on something I have mentioned please leave a message in the comments or contact me on twitter @CTyxxxx

Update

A few weeks on and I think its due time that I told you what I got on with. I really liked BeyondPod but after the free trial was up and I discovered the price of the fully unlocked version I decided that £4 was a bit too much especially for someone who was looking for a free alternative.

I decided to search for another app that would fit the bill and hopefully be free and I finally stumbled upon one called PodcastAddict.  This pretty much did what BeyondPod did although not as smoothly or pretty but does what I needed and  the best thing is that its free.

Projects – Update

Well its been a little while since I posted anything.

As far as my projects are concerned I havent really given it much thought. What with christmas and the cost of learning to drive as well as an increase in working hours at work I havent had the time money or inclination. I will probably pick it up again after christmas and new year.

I have however been asked by my brother to come up with a gaming pc for £800 – £1000

So that is whats going to keep me occupied for the time being.

 

Will let you know how I get on and please leave any suggestions below.

 

Next Project – Media Server

So after I managed to upgrade to my ssd I was thinking to myself what should I make my next project.

Well after a bit of thought I had the idea of creating a media server for all my entertainment needs Music, video, photos etc

Not only would this save me hdd space but would allow easier access to all computer in the house and would reduce duplication. so I got to thinking of what I need

It needs to be small and quiet but I want the components to be normal size and I want to stick with air cooling. I need it to be quiet as it will be kept where I sleep. Oh and I want it to not cost the earth.

 

Next i listed the component parts I would need

 

Case – small but normal form factor

Processor – power but cool and cheap to run

Motherboard – cheap but with as many extras as possible prehaps a decent onboard card?

Ram at least 4 gigs

Graphics – might not be needed if onboard. saw and advert for a £15 dx11 card which may be worth looking at if can’t get an onboard

HDD – 2 x 1tb in raid at very least

Wifi card – Bit awkward to get a wired connection upstairs so may be worth a look at.

Cooling – stock fans probably wont keep it quiet enough

Operating system –  probably linux based as its free. need to look into specialty os’s

 

And that’s as far as I have got so far.

 

Now i need to just have a think about what actual parts will be needed and how powerful the system will need to be. I will want it to do some on the fly encoding to a ps3 so will need some proscing power.

 

If you have any suggestions or ideas or if you have built one or have any information that you think would be useful i would be interested to know. Leave a comment below.

 

 

SSD And My Experiance.

So I made the jump and forked out for a shiny new SSD hard drive as I was getting increasing frustrated with the amount of time that windows was taking to startup and I thought that the decrease in-game loading times would be nice.
So after doing some research on a couple of websites mainly SSDReview.com. I finally settled on the 120gb ocz Vertex 3 Which I purchased from Ebuyer.com now this ssd is sata 3 compatible and although I don’t at this time have a sata 3 port on my motherboard the price and performance the disk was showing was good and its also fully compatible with sata 2.

 

One of the Important things to rember about SSD’s contrary to more traditional hard drives is that the larger the storage capacity the faster they tend to be. There are cheaper options around with smaller capacity but the general consensus seems to be to go for no lower than 120GB.

 

Installation

Now this particular ssd is a 2.5″ drive but thankfully comes with an adaptor that allows it to fit into desktop cases. The drive just screws in to the adaptor with the screws that are provided and that adaptor is screwed into the case.

This is where I hit a slight snag.

The drive fitted into the adaptor absolutely fine as you would expect however, I have a Antec Nine Hundred Two and the screws to fit the adaptor to the case were too small for the thick walls of the drive bay. The adaptor has rather small bolt holes that have a fine thread and I was unable to find any that were over an inch long that were thin enough and had the correct thread.

I ended up screwing a couple of the screws from the inside out and for the ones that were too tight using some sandwich bag ties to make sure it was secure. Not ideal but it works and because the ties are plastic coated perfectly insulated.

That minor problem out-of-the-way the rest of the installation of the SSD went fine and it was onto installing windows and restoring backups.

 

Performance Tweaking AKA Getting The Best From The SSD

Thankfully installation of windows went pretty well as did the restoration of backups the next job on the list of things to do was to see what the windows experience score was the first run was  7.1 up from its previous 5.9 however the score was still limited by the hard drive score. So I googled to see if I could optimise the windows installation a bit more and prehaps clear some space off my already filling SSD.

I came across this Guide [Click Here]  From a forum post at this website surreystore.com

The first step was to turn on ahci mode on as i had installed windows already the first thing i had to do was to make some registry changes and then change the setting the bios Next parts were reasonably simple and consisted of;

Disabling System restore,

Disabling Drive Indexing,

Disabling Defragmentaion,

Turning off / moving  the page file to save space,

turning of hibernation again to save space,

Enabling faster booting and adjusting power settings.

Now I actually discovered that windows had actually done some of these steps itself which was nice, but I would suggest going through them anyway to check. I also skipped some of the steps listed on the website as I didn’t think that they met my requirements, for instance disabling recycle bin don’t be afraid to use your own judgements of your needs

I reran the windows experience test and received a new score of 7.3 the lowest score now being my graphics card the hard drive score had actually move to 7.4 so by just doing those steps id increased performance by .3 who knows what that actually means in real terms but an improvement is an improvement.

My final job was to move My Documents off of the SSD and onto the other Hard Drive another google search and a couple of rather complicated solutions later I actually found this [Click Here] posted by a guy called Headstrongfarm And discovered that its much easier than you would have thought. Windows does all the hard work for you all you have to do is tell it where you want to move the files too and it will move them to the folder you specify.

 

Conclusion

So overall the installation and setting up was pretty simple and problem free. Windows definitely starts faster and the computer is more responsive, Time will tell how worthwhile it was and we will see if the speed keeps up especially as the windows install gets older.

If your thinking about going the route of SSD I would definitely recommend it spend what you can afford but don’t go lower than a 120gb and as a friend of mine suggested don’t go by the specs the manufacture says go by what the benchmarks have to say a quick google search will bring up lots of review sites and most retail sites now also have a review system in place.

Good luck

 

 

 

Microsoft’s kinect

Just seen an article in the guardian that the headline stating “wave hello to Microsoft’s Kinect worlds first hands free gaming device” *

The seem to be ignoring the prices of tech that preceded it. The technology as i see it is nothing really very new. Sony for instance had the eye toy years ago on the ps2 which then evolved to the playstation eye both of which do a simular job to some extent and I dare say the pc had done that sort of stuff even before that.

Kinect may be the next step in the technology and may well have some interesting functionality although I personally am yet to be convinced of this but I really don’t see it as the be and end all, I like something to hold when I’m playing a game. I guess I could be wrong but I don’t think its going to be the next big thing time will tell

*This quote may not be word for word accurate however the context and the general meaning are the same.

HTC Desire

I have recently purchased myself this new phone its my first smart phone and I have to day its pretty awesome I’m loving the inter connectivity between various social websites such as flickr and facebook. I also love the apps that are availae, in fact I’m using one to wrote this blog post itself.

I’m sure I will have more to say as continue to use this phone and its apps so stay tuned .