Thursday, 1 October 2009

Windows 7 window management

You will all be familiar with the three buttons at the top of windows which allow you to minimise, maximise, restore and close the application. You may also know about double clicking the title bar to restore and maximise the window. Windows 7 has a few more things you can do with the window you are working on.

If you hold down the Windows Button on your keyboard and press the arrow keys, some interesting things occur. You can use the right and left arrow keys to switch between positions occupying exactly half the monitor. This is really useful if you want to drag files from one folder to another or work on one document while looking at another. This also works if you have a multiple monitor set up on your computer.

Windows + Up or Down will allow you to maximise, restore and minimise; although once you have mimised you will need to get the mouse out (or use Alt + Tab) to get the page back.

You can also get windows to resize themselves by dragging them about. Pick up the title bar with your mouse and drag it to the top of the screen; this will maximise the page, drag it down and it restores. Drag the title bar to the far right or left of the monitor and the window will occupy exactly half the screen.

If you have a window restored on the page (in other words open but not maximised over the whole screen) put the cursor over the top edge of the title bar so the up/down cursor shows and drag it to the top of the monitor. This will make the window fill the whole height of the screen area - extending the bottom of the window at the same time.

There is also the facilty to mimimise all windows apart from the one you are working on by picking up the title bar and shaking it.

All little things but well thought out and in the end quite useful, especially if you have a decent sized monitor or a multi-screen set up.

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

New control panel


I have updated the template for all of my dedicated servers to reflect the look of my company's web site: the Isle of Wight Web Hosting Company.

So if you have a hosting package with me please log in and take a look.

The template will work with any dedicated server account through Donhost or Webfusion and if anybody would like a copy please let me know.

The width of the main section is designed for a 1024 x 768 monitor or larger.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

Time to kill off Vista

Vista needs kicking into touch. It is slow, it demands permission at every step like an insecure child and it still has the truly ridiculous inability to sort files by modified date without unnecessary persuasion.

Its sleep function is temperamental and programs freeze for minutes on end if the wind is from the wrong direction.

But most of all it has been replaced.

Windows 7 is everything that Vista should have been. It is stable, it is highly compatible with software and hardware, it runs faster on the same machines than Vista and it is pleasing to the eye.

Although still in Beta, the Windows 7 is more ready for the mass market than Vista is after two years of its sorry existence. Microsoft should make 7 available the minute it has finished the Beta stage and let both Vista and 7 Beta testers upgrade seamlessly. There are going to be bugs but it has to be better than the present operating system Microsoft want you to buy with your new PC.

What's cool about Windows 7?
  • It works.
  • It works quickly.
  • It can join networks without having to get eight different settings just so.
  • It doesn't demand attention every second.
  • It goes to sleep when asked.
  • You can order files by modified without faffing.
  • The task bar has been streamlined similar to quick launch icons. Very effective use of space, borrowing from Mac OS X a little - but in a more subtle way.
  • If you drag windows to the left or the right of the screen they will maximise to half the screen without having to adjust them to fit exactly.
  • The transparency of the Aero interface has been stepped up a fraction to be more like the latest versions of Linux.
  • Desktop gadgets can be places individually where you want them.
Windows 7 is ready. Bring it on.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

Which OS is fastest

I have just done a highly unscientific experiment as to which operating system is the fastest to boot up from scratch, get a network and display my home page.

If it was a properly valid exercise then all machines would be identical in power, but they aren't.

First up is my main computer. It runs Windows Vista Home Premium on a dual 3.2 GHz processor with 4GB of RAM. It has the 2008 version of Norton Antivirus.

After 60 seconds it loaded the Windows Corporation logo and loading bar. After 1 minute, 25 it asked for a password. 1'39'' brought up the desktop, with the computer instantly connected to the wired network. iGoogle loaded after 2 minutes and 3 seconds. If I used the sleep facility I could bring it back to life in 14 seconds to a usable state.

Next I tried my JVC mininote 8 inch laptop - invented before netbooks were all the rage; but with more functionality. It's a good five years old but perfectly good running XP or Ubuntu Linux. But I decided to be cruel to it and put Windows 7 (Beta) on it to see if it works. It does work, depite the 512 MB of RAM not being enough to reach the required system requirements.

The little machine booted Windows 7 in 1'43'' but took an obscene 4'43'' to get a web page loaded. However the hybernate facility on Windows 7 appears to draw no energy out of the computer so can be used as an alternative to shut down. I re-awoke the laptop from hybernation in 1'21'' to view a web page.

A desktop computer with a pair of 2 GHz processors and 1 GB RAM booted Windows XP Pro in 42 seconds and loaded Google in a total of 1'30''.

A laptop with a single core 1.8GHz processor and 2GB RAM loaded a desktop in 1'12'' and got a web page in 1'27''.

Both the XP machines have AVG 7.5 installed.

The XP laptop also runs Ubuntu on a different partition. This took 1'34'' to load a desktop and 2'15'' for Firefox to display a web page. No anti virus is installed on this machine.

Finally, the old codger of a Mac I bought on Ebay a few weeks ago. This PowerMAc G4 has a 450 processor and 192MB RAM and is about 8 or nine years old. It runs Mac OS X, 10.3.9 - Panther. It booted the desktop fully in 57 seconds with Google loading in 1'45''.

So the winner is: Windows XP; loading a browser in a minute and a half on two seperate machines, but a lifetime achievement award has to go to the Mac which was ahead of a computer running a processor 15 times more powerful with 40 times more memory.

To make the experiment more valid I need to install the Beta of Windows 7 on a different machine and time that. It's not fair expecting it to work on an oldish laptop.

Friday, 13 February 2009

Google Rank


We now have a Google Rank on this site: 0/10. It's been unranked for two years.

The only problem is, I don't know whether it is down to the new domain name: www.islandwebservices.com or down to the fact that I submitted the site's RSS feed to Google Webmaster Tools.

However I can see that Google started crawling this site more intensely and regularly towards the end of January (09) which is when I bought the pre-existing islandwebservices.com domain whereas I submitted the sitemap RSS feed on February 2nd. After the 2nd February Google started indexing the site even more thoroughly.

So my verdict is that both had an effect.

Isle of Wight accommodation videos

I have added the facility for Youtube videos on isleofwightaccommodation.com. The videos are embedded in the page and just require the Flash plug-in to work.

There is now the possibility to have a nine page mini-site on the accommodation directory:
  • main page with descriptive text and up to five pictures
  • availability calendar
  • tariff
  • special offers
  • rate the accommodation
  • virtual tour
  • enquiry form
  • location page with Google map
  • video

Thursday, 5 February 2009

I have an Apple Mac

I have purchased an Apple Mac. I now have five computers running five different operating systems.

I have a baby laptop - not a net book because the name wasn't invented when it came out five years ago. This runs Windows 7 (Beta version) at the moment,

My main laptop runs Ubuntu and XP on different partitions and runs sweet as a nut on either.

There is a desktop computer upstairs running XP.

My main computer is a super fast desktop with loads of memory and processing power. Unfortunately I don't harness it effectively because it runs Vista.

Now I have a 450MHz Power Mac with 200MB of RAM. It probablt cost two thousand pounds new but I got it for twenty one pounds on Ebay. I purchased an operating system: OS X 10.3 (Panther) for under thirty pounds and the only other expense was buiying a compatible keyboard: which ironically was made by Microsoft.

And I am using it now. So far, so good. I will go into details later.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Accommodation directory

I have just added a rate-it facility to all the accommodation providers on isleofwightaccommodation.com so that people can leave comments about each business and give a rating out of five stars.

It uses Google Friend Connect and is added through some simple HTML / JavaScript code. You can log in using AOL and Yahoo as well as Google accounts.

Seems to work well. Just need some people to use it.

Thursday, 29 January 2009

We've moved

I have had my eye on the domain islandwebservices.com for about eight years, ever since I set up Island Webservices. The domain had been owned by a Bermudan web design and hosting company and I always suspected I was losing a small proportion of my trade to them; although probably gaining the same amount back.

Three months ago the domain became available and I was approached by a number of companies wishing to purchase the name for me. All wanted far too much money and I tried to get it myself on the open market. I failed. So islandwebservices.com started to point to one of those pages with a healthy looking girl smiling at you, implying the domain was bought but possibly available for the correct, yet unspecified, amount of dollars.

However this week, I discovered by accident that the name became available and I bought it on the open market for the usual amount for a dot com.

So now my blog is at www.islandwebservices.com. It will be interesting to see if it gains a Google rank, because it has failed to do so within Google owned blogger.com.

So the moral of the story is if someone wants to charge you $300 for a domain you quite like, but don't desperately need, decline the offer and be patient.