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October, 2009

Is Windows 7 good looking enough to sway an Apple fan?

Friday, October 30th, 2009

In the latest part of our experiment to see whether Windows 7 can convert a hardened Mac user, Chris Brennan debates the perennial question of fashion over function

Apple

As a Mac user I’m aware that one of the criticisms often levelled at those of us who use Apple computers is that we’re merely interested in how things look. For some I suppose it’s true, but when I sit in a coffee shop using my Mac it’s not because I want women to swoon at my stylish good-looking computer and men to be envious of my unibody – it’s because my broadband has broken.

That said, Apple is clearly a design driven organisation and this sometimes leads to compromises that don’t seem to make sense, non-removable batteries being a case in point. The same is true of its interfaces, with Apple often trying to marry utility with good looks. As I mentioned the other day, I’ve been to a few Steve Jobs keynotes and a couple of things stand out for me. He says beautiful, simple and powerful an awful lot, and while pie chart segments look nice, they don’t necessarily reflect the figures they represent.

(more…)

Posted in: Windows 7

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Typekit brings print-like typography to the web

Thursday, October 29th, 2009

typekiteditorThe website is among the most iconic technologies of the 21st Century but, as any web designer will testify, the typographical capabilities of modern web browsers are stuck firmly in the 1990s. In essence, if you want your fonts to appear broadly the same in all browsers, you’re limited to a selection of around a dozen viable fonts . Over the past few years a number of workarounds have been developed, the most notable and widespread being sIFR, a Flash technology that involves embedding the fonts in a SWF. Widespread but hardly ideal.

In principle, salvation is at hand with the almost complete adoption of the CSS @font-face property by modern browsers. This makes it possible to download a font stored on your server into the user’s browser. Theoretically, this solves the entire problem but, in practice, copyright issues mean that even free fonts cannot be used legally in that way. This may change over time but, in the meantime, web startup Small Batch has developed an ingenious solution called Typekit. (more…)

Windows 7 is faster than Snow Leopard

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

In the latest part of our experiment to see whether Windows 7 can convert a hardened Mac user, Chris Brennan has a stunning confession to make

Speed

I’ve never really been all that bothered by having the fastest computer. That’s mainly because I type for a living and, no matter how fast the processor, my fingers can only go so quickly and my mind is most certainly single-paced. A few years back Apple made a lot of noise about how much faster the PowerPC chip was than the equivalent Intel, they made adverts you may remember with snails and tanks. Those adverts were more about speaking to the base than truly selling faster computers, but to be fair by some measures the PowerPC was nippier.

I can’t say I was all that bothered by the claims and, besides, Apple then decided that it had been wrong about the PowerPC and moved the entire OS to Intel. I was at the keynote when Steve Jobs announced the move to Intel – the funny thing about that announcement? The Apple faithful whooped and cheered as if they knew that’d been the plan all along. Sometimes they scare and befuddle me too, and I’m one of them.

(more…)

Posted in: Windows 7

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Who’s viewing PCPro.co.uk on an Amiga?

Wednesday, October 28th, 2009

PC scrapheap Yesterday’s story on how more than 10% of PCPro.co.uk readers were already running Windows 7 caused something of a kerfuffle. However, it wasn’t the swift uptake of Microsoft’s newborn operating system that yanked people’s chains; it was the fact that 6.8% of our visitors were still running Windows 95 that sparked mild hysteria.

“Call me a doubting Thomas but I just don’t believe the Windows 95 figure,” said rjp2000, commenting on the story. “I haven’t seen a Win 95 PC in the wild for years. Has anybody else seen one recently?”

Well, rjp, I promise you that it’s true. In fact, Windows 95 looks positively bleeding edge compared to some of the operating systems that darken our door.

(more…)

Posted in: Random

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Microsoft and me: my Windows 7 launch party

Monday, October 26th, 2009

W7-1
On Saturday my girlfriend and I hosted an official Windows 7 Launch Party. This might sound like an inappropriate way for an independent journalist to spend an evening; but, as I’ve noted before, the party agreement left hosts free to praise, deride or ignore the OS as they saw fit. So, just as a bit of fun, I thought: why not? (more…)

Posted in: Random

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How to install Windows 7 on the new 27in iMac

Monday, October 26th, 2009

Windows 7 on an iMac 27in

Windows 7 isn’t officially supported in Boot Camp just yet, but that doesn’t stop it working a treat most of the time. We have it installed on one of the new MacBooks in the Labs, but the gigantic 27in iMac proved to be much more problematic (we’ll have a full review of the monster in question later this week).

The problem occurs after the main Windows 7 installation has taken place. The system reboots, the Windows 7 logo circles into life and the desktop should appear – but all you get is blackness. The system is still running – press the Caps Lock key and you’ll see the light ping on – but you can’t see anything, indicating a problem with the iMac’s ATI graphics drivers.

Fear not, though. If you’ve just blown £1,350 on this beautiful beast and are now scratching your head as to why you can’t get it working, there is a workaround to crowbar Windows 7 onto it. (more…)

BlackBerry Bold 9700 review: first look

Monday, October 26th, 2009

1090158.RAW

The Storm 2 might be attracting all the headlines right now, but it’s not the only phone RIM is championing right now. As we reported last week, its BlackBerry Bold 9700 (pictured left) has also just been announced, and we’ve had the chance for a brief hands on.

Those familiar with the BlackBerry range will instantly notice that the Bold 9700 is a lot smaller than the original Bold (pictured right). It measures 60 x 14.1 x 109mm and weighs in at a mere 122g. So small, in fact that it looks a bit like a Curve.

Those statistics might make the Bold 9700 more pocketable than its predecessor. But, worryingly, it also means the keyboard is smaller too. Given that the Bold’s amazing keyboard was its key selling point, this has the potential to ground the new phone before it’s had the chance to take off.

(more…)

The worst part of Windows 7? Internet Explorer

Monday, October 26th, 2009

In the latest instalment of our experiment to see whether Windows 7 can convert a hardened Mac user, Chris Brennan tries to get to grips with Internet Explorer

Internet Explorer 8

A few years ago I really, really liked Internet Explorer for Mac, but Steve Jobs called Bill Gates a sissy and the Macintosh business unit in Redmond ceased making it. That’s what I was told happened anyway. So it’s been a few years since I used IE in anger.

The Internet is central to what I do professionally and, for better or worse, where I get most of my news and a good chunk of my entertainment, too. On my Mac I use Safari and, I’m not just saying this, it suits me fine. It’s not the greatest thing since sliced bread and neither is it full of magic and ponies.

However, I’ve found Internet Explorer on Windows 7 to be a pain in the proverbial: slow, stuttering and prone to crashing. In all, IE is just a bit rubbish. In fact, so far IE has been the only part of my Windows 7 experience that’s been anything less than moderately good. Perhaps it’s my Apple-centric way of working, but Internet Explorer simply isn’t a tool I’d trust to get me through the day.

(more…)

phpDesigner7: the best PHP editor just got better

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

phpdesigner7

I’ve been using phpDesigner6 for over a year now and it’s become by far my favourite web development environment. Less bloated and more fleet-footed than Zend Studio, more robust (for me at least) than PhpEd and cheaper than both, phpDesigner is just as comfortable editing HTML and CSS as PHP and is reassuringly devoid of a drag and drop GUI.

Developer MPSoftware has now released phpDesigner7 which adds intelligent JavaScript editing to the mix. Not only do you get the obligatory syntax highlighting and code completion but this extends also to a range of the most popular JavaScript frameworks/libraries. These include jQuery, Dojo and Prototype but not, at present, the BBC’s Glow library. The net result of this is that code suggestion works not just for native JavaScript commands and functions but also the custom classes included in these frameworks: and it achieves this “out of the box” with no additional configuration. (more…)

The Windows 7 retail experience

Thursday, October 22nd, 2009

Windows 7 queueNo, I didn’t get up early for the Windows 7 launch and no, I didn’t queue – though clearly, by the time I staggered to my nearest PC World, there had been some sort of stampede of the faithful.  They must have been frightfully early too because just before lunchtime, I was out of luck if I wanted a boxed copy of Windows 7 Ultimate.

My intention is to install Windows 7 on a pristine drive in a machine whose previous install (of Vista Business, according to the sticker) was as lost to me as the hard disk it had lived on. This is not the method you will hear most about, because the vast majority of people are assumed to be brave enough to just throw the Windows 7 upgrade DVD into their solitary home PC and just let the dice fall as they may.  Or, as the banners at PC World proclaimed, get a new PC, which just happens to have Windows 7 preinstalled on it.

(more…)

Posted in: Windows 7

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