How to make Windows 7 x64 suck

As a longtime Mac person, I have to admit that Windows 7 is a pretty good operating system. Stable, snappy, and not too much of a resource hog, even on questionable hardware. I used it at my last company on a decent Dell Latitude system, and it was quite good.

But you can make it suck.

I work at a Fortune 500 company. I have an OK HP elitebook (15″ mid sized laptop) that once I got the driver sorted out worked pretty well (the stock image that we drop on it doesn’t have the chipset or the audio drivers setup properly.)

But this this is dog slow. I mean, teleport me back to the 1990’s and 2 megabyte Windows 95 slow. Why is that?

Well, it isn’t the hardware, it has a snappy Core i5 dual core system. I doubt that a quad core i7 would make much difference. Stock it came with only 4G of ram (which seems like a waste for a 64 bit OS), that I bumped to 16G.

But it is encumbered with an amazing amount of crap. We have:

  • Symantec Endpoint Protection
  • PGP whole disk encryption
  • Configuration management software
  • About 7 services related to asset tracking, and cataloging. FFS, how many of them are really needed to say that this is my laptop?
  • Our presence and messaging solution is Cisco WebEx connect and Meetingplace (which is a flippin resource pig)
  • Direct links to our Sharepoint system that cause huge slowdown periodically

All told, when I need to reboot my system, which happens far to frequently, it is literally a 20 minute process until the machine becomes responsive. I am hardly the only one to complain. In fact it has become such a problem that our standard configuration for laptops is now with an SSD.  Unfortunately I have 2 more years on this lease before I can make that jump. It is going to be a long long two years.

I know that it isn’t Microsoft’s fault for this, but it is painful.

Dropbox FTW

I heavily rely on the various cloud services to keep working documents, and helpful things available wherever I happen to be, on which of my devices.

I have a 100G Dropbox account, a 25G Google Drive account, and, being an Apple person, I have an iCloud account as well. All of these do a pretty decent job of keeping files synchronized around my devices.

Dropbox remains king of the cloud storage/sync world.
Dropbox remains king of the cloud storage/sync world.

But, the one that I couldn’t live without is Dropbox. They weren’t quite first to the market, but they started with a strong offering and have enhanced it as time has gone on. Now, if you are using a program that supports cloud file synchronization, it is going to support Dropbox. Dropbox has aggressively opened their platform to developers, and there are now tons of great applications that share and exchange data via Dropbox. This evolution was highlighted last night when I got an email from O’Reilly Media telling me that I could sync my ebook purchases with my dropbox account. Cool. Also, something that I enabled without thinking is that the Dropbox application on my computer will know when I put a camera memory card in, and it will copy all the files to a “Camera Uploads” folder. So, it is like the Apple Photostream feature. Pretty cool option.

Google Drive is in second place. While you can use their service to share data between programs, it is not as straightforward as Dropbox. It is a bit more granular so for about $2.50 a month I get 25G of storage. The fact that it is now the Google Apps repository is nice as well. I do some work for a non-profit, and we often collaborate via Google Docs files, so my Google Drive gets a fair amount of access from that.

Apple is a distant third. I never expected it to replace Dropbox, and I am sure Apple wasn’t planning on that as well. But for apps on my mac and my iOS devices that support it, it is really a pain free to keep your data sync’d. I haven’t explored the options for collaboration, or sharing, and frankly, I will probably use Dropbox or Google Drive for that anyway, since most of the people I work with are PC people.

While I still have a couple of USB thumb drives, Dropbox has pretty much made them irrelevant. I only use them when I need to run a PPT presentation on a computer that isn’t mine. Other than that, they really don’t serve a purpose in my workflow.

Where has all the Flash gone?

Please, it's for the children
Please, it’s for the children

Thinking back to 2007, and the launch of the original iPhone, I remember the outcry over the fact that the iPhone didn’t render Adobe Flash content. Lots of predictions of doom and gloom for the device (although no cellphones at the time really supported it).

As a Mac person, I have long loathed Flash. The implementation on the Mac was buggy and a huge resource hog. ¬†I would have to run a plugin on my browsers to turn off flash or the CPU would be pegged, and the fans ramp up to “747 takeoff mode”.

But Apple stuck to their guns. Of course, there were lots of people who had Android, which did support flash and did a lot of hating on Apple’s position. But then they saw that flash would drain the power in your battery in a ridiculously short time.

Fortunately, the Web designers took note, and flash seems to be on the wane. I don’t come across many sites that use more than a minuscule amount of flash content. The lazy sites that pretty much did all their work in flash have gone the way of the do do. And the world is better.

This was brought to my attention when after a required reboot on my work PC, I was prompted to update flash. That has become less important than ever for me. It’s a good thing.