Why I like Windows 8 (And why you should not care).

As I’m punching out this blogpost on my older but trusty HP Pavilion dm1, I’m somehow overpowered by a sense of nostalgia and … irony. I remember getting into computers years ago, starting out on machines like these (back in the days they were home built beige boxes) using a predecessor (or should I say forefather) of the operating system that is running today. The last couple of years I have swayed from that path of using a ‘Redmond Based’ operating system on my primary machines in favor of the one created in Cupertino. The last year or so I have even moved away from that one, to start using the ‘pengiun’ full time. For those of you baffled by my ramblings : I’m a slider. I move from operating system to operating system and use the one that works for me. From Android to Ios, from Windows to Osx to Linux … and today .. back to Windows again.

The new Windows 8 Metro interface was not something that stalked in quietly in the night. The press had seen this one coming and had been tooting their horns on how “different” it was to Windows 7. The Redmont company had had rough times. The ‘Vista disaster’ had left its mark and even though Windows 7 was a descent project, the flame of innovation was lost in Balmers ranks. Windows was going the way of the Blackberry … or were they ?

Windows 8 brought a unified ‘metro’ interface that was radically different then anything they had done before. Not only did they launch a version for the PC, there was also a unified interface for the mobile world and their own tablet device. Microsoft being Microsoft did make a simple strategy like this very complicated to explain and pretty soon you had Windows 8 Pro, RT, Phone and we even thought we would get an oreo-flavored version of the OS sometime later this years.

But never mind all that : Windows 8 is here and this week I decided to dive in deep and install it on one of my laptops. After poking it with a stick in a VM on my Linux machine, I was confident (or should I say ‘Daring’ ) enough to try out a full install. And I must say : I’m quite impressed with Windows 8. Because it is radically different then anything Microsoft has done the last couple of years. It is BOLD ! The Metro interface takes some getting used to, and everywhere I hear people spouting tips and tricks on how to get “passed” it and crawl back to the Start Menu .. but I say to you : Embrace it. Give it a try for a couple of days and give your human brain (that has been accustomed with the Start Button approach for years) a chance to adapt. Because even beyond the ‘in your face’ start menu the operating system preforms fast enough and lets you do what you want to do. So as a passionate Mac and Linux user I dare to say : I like Windows 8.

And now for me to tell you why :

Windows 8 has one specific quality that is very VERY important to an operating system. You hardly know its there. Once you are working in your application full screen (or in a window) you do not notice the operating system is there. When you NEED it, all you need to hit is the Windows button to bring up the menu , or poke the sides of your screen with your mouse. And the rest is business as usual. Using cross platform applications like Chrome, Firefox, Thunderbird don’t even give you a clue that there is in fact a ‘different’ os running under the hood then the Osx or Linux flavour of your choice.

So whats the deal then ?

Human kind is genetically designed to gang up on a certain individual and make fun of him. Microsoft-bashing is SO OLD , that its first instances are now the subject of historical re-enactments at county fairs. Its easy to bash on Microsoft .. We always did, so why not now. The problem with this approach (and the scuffing of anything that is ‘different’) is the fact that it is somewhere based on bias. And bias is a self-inflicted restriction of personal freedom. You decide to dislike something (or some-one) without getting to know it.

A lot of this bias is based on the fear for change. The uproar when Ubuntu decided to go for the Unity interface, has still not died down. The rage against Microsoft because of the Metro interface will surely echo into eternity. The reason for this ? We are afraid of change. We are the generation that is in the transition between the ‘Classic OS’ with the tiled windows (not Windows) and the start buttons. You can find the back in rock-paintings of the very first version of Xerox-OS through many versions of both Windows and Linux. But that ship has sailed. We are going to have to adapt and learn how to work with our computers differently. The age of the “visible” OS is over and with the advent of ‘full screen applications’ comes the clear message that the OS is but a means .. not a goal.

So put down your pitchforks and step away from the angry mob to take a good look at Windows 8. A product from a very ‘old’ company that has been bold enough to innovate and to change. To bring something to market that is not perfect (it has its flaws) , but DIFFERENT from the competition. And in times of economic crisis that takes balls.

And before you decide to burn ME on the stake for my heretics .. let me round up and get out of here. Computers are about YOU. They are the enablers of your digital power. They are coated with the fine slime of an operating system that should facilitate the smooth interaction between you and your applications. You applications should be your tool set to interact with your Data .. and whatever you do with that data should be directly tied to whatever personal goal you have. Nowhere .. nowhere in this process should you hinder yourself by making an uninformed choice why you should not want to use X or Y. Computers are about YOU .. not about computers.

So let my slide back to another computer lying around the house. Whether that be my Macbook air running Ubuntu, My Macbook Pro running Mountain Lion. I might get a call on my LG Nexus 4 (running Android) or pick up my book where I left off on my iPad .. I don’t care .. an neither should you. Windowss 8 might be your thing, or not (you should at least try it) As for me it has one good quality of a good operating system : it is invisible. In the end I forget what device runs what OS .. in the end it does not matter anymore.

Pitchforks, angry mobs and stakes in the comment section ūüôā

 

Related Posts

Use driveshortcut to mount your usb drives on the windows desktop.

One of the challenges of a slider is being able to navigate between different operating systems without being hindered by small details that differ from OS to OS. So why not ‘port over’ the best of each OS to the other ones. What I like a lot when working both in Ubuntu and Osx is when you insert a removable drive. On both Osx and Linux this brings up an icon for the removable device on your desktop. This makes it easy to see if the device is mounted and to¬†access¬†whatever files you have on it. On windows however you need to open up the explorer and look for the right driveletter … Or Do you ? Tweaknow’s “driveshortcut” runs in the taskbar and brings the familiar icons to your windows 7 or 8 desktop. The app is free and brings that usb disk full of Care bear cartoons, one click closer.

Links : DriveIcon.

How do you make the transition between different operating systems smoother ? Tell us in the comments section.

Related Posts

Blackberry 10 in 600 seconds.

Oh how the might have fallen. There used to be a time when RIM was the mighty king of the smartphone land , gazing out over the rolling hills filled with scores of wild yuppies and wandering herds of lone businessmen. From the savannah of wallstreet to the deserts of the White House …Blackberries where everywhere.

Skulking at the fringes of this mighty kingdom the vultures were patiently biding their time. Picking off the occasional nerd with a budget, Palm, Compaq and Nokia tried to sell of their barely functional expensive gizmo’s without ever making a dent in Blackberries market.

Just a couple of years later the times have changed. Nokia is crawling out of its very own mid-life crisis, Microsoft is building its marketshare and Apple wades deep into denial as the stockprice says that its downhill from here. Samsung and Htc ride the green android across the wasteland as, far off in the distance .. The lion roars one last time.

In a desperate attempt to stay relevant Rim reveals Blackberry 10. But the question is : is it still relevant ? Check out this ten minute review on whats coming down for the Crackberry junkies.

So what do you think of RIM’s future ? Is Blackberry making the great comeback or not ? Tell us in the comments section.

Related Posts

Six essential Windows 8 keyboard shortcuts.

Windows 8,¬† Its here, its revolutionary, its the biggest thing since .. since .. Oh forget it ūüôā Marketing talk always makes me sleepy so by the time the silly adds come to an end I’m always fast asleep. What I do know however is that the entire new Windows interface (Which is pretty daring to say the least ) only works if you can TOUCH it. However, not all OEM machines that get shipped today HAVE that touchscreen .. so you go have to look for your charms using your little mouse pointer. This is about as unproductive as trying to run a mouse centred interface (like for example a Citrix connection) on an iPad. So time to beef up your Windows 8 Ninja skills with some keyboard bindings you cannot afford to miss.

  • Windows key – X¬† : Brings up some advanced functions like the run menu, the control panel and the command line. Ninja Style !
  • Windows key – D :¬† Warps you to “Desktop mode”
  • Windows key – E : Opens up the explorer. This one has been around for a loooong time and still saves my bacon everyday.
  • Windows key – H : Whether its kitty’s, a word file, a letter to your grandma or hardcore porn : This key combo lets you Share it.
  • Windows key – M : Minimise everything and shoot towards desktop mode.
  • Windows key – Q : Just like spotlight on OSX , this combo brings up the search interface to search for apps and data.

By not having to slide your hands of the keyboard, the Windows 8 interface becomes more and more productive as you are working on a system that does NOT have a touch interface (and to be quite honest, it also speeds up things if your screen DOES have a touch interface). It proves that both mouse faced and touch based interfaces just cant keep up with a superfast key combo punching ninja … The only touch-enable ninja I know slices fruit.

So what do YOU think of the ‘We can no longer call this Metro” interface of Windows 8 and what are your favourite keyboard combo’s ?

 

Related Posts

Mcvries makes Evernote Cross over … with Crossover.

Evernote, oh evernote, how I have come to love you. And to be annoyed by you. No linux Client, seriously?
Ah well, but there is everpad, which works reasonably and there is the website, which works reasonably well ‘as well’. But reasonably isn’t always good enough, now is it. And as a cross platform slider, even with an ever so slight Linux preference, you want the same experience everywhere.

 

So, ever heard about PlayOnLinux¬† or Crossover? What they both do? They Wine!¬† ūüôā PlayOnLinux does it for free, only on linux. And crossover is a paid application which runs on linux and on Osx.

Wine, is an application for linux helps you running Windows applications on linux without installing a full windows machine, be it virtual or not. So you will have a smaller footprint on your HDD. Wine is the hardcore, console driven, text file editing, parameters eating core of both applications. So if you are a really hardcore, text file¬†editing¬† parameters eating kind of console guru (in which case you’d probably rather die than using any Microsoft software) you could just use Wine. But if you are a happy Linux Camper, not to hardcore into the console, loving your¬†rig,¬†but you just gotta have that ‘One application’, (even just because you can) ¬†PlayOnLinux or Crossover can help you out. Big Time.

I used both to run Evernote on my system, and the latest installation was done in Crossover. The people at codeweavers every now and then give their software away for free and I jumped on the bandwagon, just to see how it ran. Well, I stuck with them so far, so they must be doing something good.

So how does this work? Download and install crossover from their site, and while you are at it, download the latest version Evernote. My setup uses 4.5.10.7427 at the time. An installed version of Crossover gives you some menu options, and one of them is ‘Install windows Software’. Hit that one. We are going straight to our goal here, so we choose to use an installer file of our own and we create a bottle which mimics aWindows XP machine. Crossover will prepare the bottle and it will install Evernote into that ‘Bottle’. Which are these bottles I talk about? Well, ever heard of sandboxing your applications? A bottle is a Sandbox. A self contained environment just for that application. So you can copy the whole application to another machine with Crossover and pick up where you left off. Crossover will make some menu items for you where you can start the Windows application so in my case, running Evernote was a painless experience.

Just these things to consider : within Crossover or PlayOnLinux choose XP as a windows environment, and use Wine 1.4.1.

And after a while I took an MS office cd, edited my existing Evernote ‘Bottle’ and installed Word and Excel alongside Evernote. Opening the dreaded docx coworkers share with me went great, without any formatting issues. Don’t bite my head off, sometimes the easiest way takes some non open software.

Links : Crossover.

_____________

McVries is an I.T. professional who tries to avoid the dreaded Vendor Lock In as much as possible by means off open source solutions. Hit him up on twitter @mcvries_ , GooglePlus or visit his blog on www.mcvries.nl

What applications are holding YOU back from making the switch .. and could Crossover be a solution ? Tell us in the Comments Section.

 

Related Posts

How about a Citrix session in Ubuntu on a Macbook Air.

The one upside of being a slider is that you can do whatever the hell you want with your computer. I mean, its not only thinking outside the box, its like thinking about the box outside the box before there ever IS a box. The fun part of doing all this is that you can hack your hard and software the way YOU want it to work for you.

one does not

As you know I have an 11.6 inch Macbook air that I drag around everywhere. It would be quite dull if it ONLY ran OSX. Of course it doesn’t. Since the day I got it I fought, tweaked and tinkered right up to the point that I had it running exactly like I wanted to. In my case : on Ubuntu 12.10. After tweaking the fans, the keyboard, the screen illumination and the function keys, I had trained my Macbook to behave like a Mac, while still running Windows.

The only time I had to really boot back into OSX is when I wanted to access our work Citrix server. Since I take my little bundle of joy to work from time to time, but also work from home, it was always a little sad to say bye bye Ubuntu, JUST to use the silly Citrix client.

And when you tell me I HAVE to use a CERTAIN operating system JUST to use a CERTAIN application .. I get antsy and start looking around. So my new goal for the week was : Get a Citrix client working on Ubuntu .. ( on a mac ) and access your work deskop (A Windows 2003 Terminal server environment).

After finding this brilliant howto on installing the 64 bit Ica Client under Ubuntu I had the Citrix client running in no time. The only downside came when I started typing.

Remember : This was a Windows 2003 session I had open, with a Ubuntu operating system and a Macintosh keyboard. So when I started typing it looked …. Fracked up. ¬†So how was I going to fix it.

After some searching in my home folder I found the Ica client config file.  in  /home/%username%/ICAClient/wfclient.ini

The first lines in the config file pointed towards the keyboard layout looked like this.

KeyboardLayout = (User Default) 
KeyboardMappingFile = automatic.kbd
KeyboardDescription = Automatic (User Profile)
KeyboardType=(Default)

I remembered I had kinda the same problem when I tried to run the Citrix Receiver client on my Mac (under OSX) and got a wonky keyboard. The solution there was to also look for the config file an change the keyboard settings to FRENCH (Since I have a French Macintosh keyboard layout) So I changed the first line.

KeyboardLayout = FRENCH

Now everything works perfectly ! I can now happily run my work “Windows” session under Linux on my Macbook Air. Sliders rule !¬†¬†

Link : Ubuntu howto on running the ICA client.

Related Posts

How to get Remote Linux applications on your Mac or Linux Desktop with X-forwarding.

The great thing about being a cross platform geek is that you don’t need to decide what operating system you use. You can just pick and choose what OS suits your fancy. But if you use the combination of Linux and OSX you can have your cake AND eat it with the wonderful technology called X-Forwarding.

What is it ? : X-forwarding is the art of opening a single application window over and SSH connection. Instead of taking over the desktop of your remote Linux machine with something like VNC or Teamviewer, you can just choose to open a single application on a remote system.

How does it work ? : To open a Linux application on an OSX desktop you need to enable the SSH server on the Linux machine first. If you are using something like Ubuntu or Linux Mint you can just type “Sudo apt-get install openssh-server” ¬†Next up you need to teach your SSH server to allow X-Forwarding. This means, sending screen information across that SSH tunnel.¬†

To do this edit your ¬†/etc/ssh/ssh_config file and uncomment the line that says “ForwardX11 nl” ¬†and change it to “forwardX11 yes” ¬†Reboot your linux machine and you will be set.

Opening an application. What you need to do on your “other” system ¬†is “Tunnel in” to the machine we configured X11 forwarding on. You need to use an SSH connection with this parameter ¬† : ¬† ssh -X yourusername@ipofyourserver ¬† The -X makes sure that you can open graphical applications.

Once the connection is established , just choose the name of an application and end with an “&” ¬†: For example “firefox&”

Where does it work.

Linux to Linux is not a problem. Xforwarding is a cool way to open up an application on a remote system using the CPU power of that remote system. 

Linux to Mac : Apple decided to remove the funtionality of X11 Forwarding in Mountain Lion : To fix this, download and install X11Quartz to your Lion or Mountain Lion machine an you will be good to go. You cannot turn your Mac into an X11 Server , but you CAN use it as an X11 client , so that way you can open Linux apps on your mac. Download the app HERE

Linux to Windows : You can even do it in Windows ! Download and install Xming to make your Windows machine play nice with X11 forwarding.

So, time to get cracking and tell us : On what Server and Client system are you using X-forwarding and what do you do with it ?  

 

Related Posts

Zorin : The gateway to Linux for Windows users.

With the coming of Windows 8, changes will be inevitable for our fellow computer users who embrace the ways of Redmont. Where we have been used to hitting the Start button for years and have been closing the windows to our virtual world with the little cross, everything is about to change. ¬†Sure, the big square tiles on our desktop might be a blessing for those who are shortsighted or have the eye-hand co√∂rdination of a drunken elephant… but what about those who would like to keep things the same ?¬†

I’m talking about the grandma’s, the uncle’s aunties and cousins for whome this kind of change would mean hours on the phone with the family geek to get things figured out.. I’m talking about your very sanity. Would it not be great to give these people a chance to continue on an OS that LOOKS like the one they used before, but has the benefits of being safe, secure and open source ?¬†

Enter Zorin Linux. Its tagline “The gateway to Linux for Windows users” does tend to promise a solution to the very problem we face with our bloodlines standing on the precipice of the Metro interface. Zorin is a good looking, crisp and mature version of Linux with a slick but simple look and feel that, with some minor tweaks, could convice a novice user that he IS still in fact still using Windows 7 . Steering away from the Unity interface, this Debian based OS has the additional value that it has a “look changer”. This lets Zorin Linux act like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. As if asked the question “What is your name” Zorin can reply with “What do you want it to be”. This is because this pretty little functionality lets Zorin “Morph” from a Windows 7 , Xp, or even OSX “look-a-like” in a matter of seconds.

Zorin might be called “a shallow broad” because of its focus on looks, but underneath the ever changing shell lies a well polished Debian core with thoughtfully selected applications and a stable end result. For new Linux users who love the “old ways of XP” Zorin is a perfect alternative to Windows 8 and a great way to herd those stray friends and family members onto the planes of the penguins.

Zorin is available in free and premium editions over at Zorin-OS.com. 

Related Posts

Herd your ideas with Mindmeister.

A creative mind can be a blessing in disguise. As most ADD-prone geeks can confirm, it is often harder to herd your ideas then it is to have them at all. How do you keep track of it all ? Sure there are tons of “to-do” and “GTD” apps to be found out there, but the question is : “Do you have them with you when you need them ? ” That was one of the showstoppers when it came to my use of “Ithoughts HD” on the iPad. A truly wonderful mind-map application with plenty of features and dingdongs, but also very “local”. Not only was it only available on IOS, The mind-maps it produced were also stored locally on the device .. This would not do .. It would not do at all.

mindmeister

What you¬†really¬†need is a Cross platform mindmapping application that is available anywhere. On your tablet when you are in a meeting, On your desktop, when you want ‘the big picture’ and on your phone when you are on the road and get that million dollar idea. You want it everywhere, anytime and all in sync. And we have your answer.

Enter Mindmeister. Available via a web interface and via the Google play store and the Ios App store the app gives you online and offline access to your mind maps. If you sign up for a free account you will have a maximum of 3 maps. A payed account at 5,10 or 15 dollars a month gives you loads of extra features and collaboration. But even the free version allows you to share your maps with others.

Using mindmeister is very easy. It might not come with a ton of bells and whistles, but its about working on your idea, not about fancy colored bubbles. As an added bonus they have cross platform widgets and browser extensions to quickly dump your bright light bulbs into Mindmeister.

Mindmeister gets two thumbs up when it comes to “anywhere anytime” and is very slider friendly. Available at www.mindmeister.com , the Google Play store and the Apple App store.

Related Posts

#KWPOW : Jay’s Sliders World

This weeks picture of the week comes from listener Jay as he shows us a cross-platform setup that would probably rip a hole inside a proprietary universe. However it does make us proud as Jay lines up his Windows phone, his Nexus tablet and his 13 inch Macbook pro running Ubuntu 12.04. Quite a setup if you also consider that Jay manages to “slide” his productivity from OS to OS without breaking a sweat.¬†

jays Setup

Do YOU have a picture you want to share with us ? Feel free to tagg it #kwpow on twitter or shoot us the link via the well known email address. 

Related Posts