7 and Chilly

Aaah… cold room is cold. Already piling on the cloaks here… Blastoise’s weather widget says it’s 45F!

Yggdrasil Verdict: Based on my back-and-forth with Duxx and other evidence… looks like I gotta chase down a new mobo/CPU. Seeing as those two RAM sticks were in there at the time that the 7600GT blew out, I’d consider those suspect, too. Oh well… may as well use the opportunity to boost to 4gb.

UNFORTUNATELY, unless a mess of coins fall on me via Gourmet Ramen or something else (like the job market for repair techs decides to magically stop sucking hardcore), I will probably have to wait until January. >_>; I’ve already priced out a replacement mobo/CPU pairing that’s under $200 but I would still be cutting it close on my ability to cover the next two month’s worth of pet insurance. I’m even considering dialing back on my weekly pizza summoning as a safeguard. Welp, them’s the pits, I guess. I can always plug Dinah into the HDTV if I must have high-definition computing RIGHT NOW.

Moving on!

Fun With Windows 7: Though I hit a gigantic snag in regards to Yggdrasil, I must remember that I DID transfer my other two machines without them exploding! Yay! Having run on 7 for a few days, I can now give a much more, er, coherent report on it.

If you ran Vista before, visually 7 doesn’t look all that much different. Aurally, 7 even uses the same sounds!

If you’re still a holdout from XP because of speed and (perceived) stability issues… you can come out now. I know, in many ways XP was faster than Vista. Fortunately, 7 seems to return to XP-level of general punchiness.

I would, of course, suggest doing a Clean Install over an Upgrade. While it can be said that Upgrade installs have come a long way since Windows 98, you cannot deny the cleansing aspect of wiping clean (well, sort of– Windows DOES shove AppData/User/Program Files/Windows folders into a Windows.old folder in case you forgot anything during backup) and starting fresh. Installation is thankfully not as scary as, oh, XP where it was in that awful BSOD-looking interface. Pretty much it’s a “Hello, am I doing Upgrade or Custom installation? Where should I put it? Mmmkay, come back in about an hour, I might reboot once or twice. :D” thing.

You will thankfully not need to do much driver-chasing in the process of setting up shop, however, as pretty much whatever 7 can’t install during initial setup it will most likely find during Windows Update. On Blastoise, I only had to manually chase down drivers for my sound card (Creative SB X-Fi Gamer) and the specialized drivers for the tablet (Wacom Intuos3), the latter so I could fix the pen to the primary monitor. That said, be sure to loot the specialized video drivers for your graphics cards as soon as possible for maximum oomph!

I can’t speak in terms of hard numbers or benchmarks, but more of an intangible “feel” of things. Blastoise seems to run his games much more smoothly (WoW and CoH, both at maximum graphical settings but running windowed because of dual monitors). He also boots a little faster than before, which is always a good thing. However, Dinah benefit the most! She began life as an XP laptop, then took a moderate-but-tolerable speed hit when she went Vista. Making the jump to 7, even though I decided to stay at 32-bit, has been nothing but awesome for her– she got her ninja speed back, and how! Most notably, Slingbox no longer lags to crap on her (YAAAAAAY). Though I will no longer be using her for gaming as her ATI chip is rather tiny, she probably could handle low-level stuff without breaking a sweat if I were so inclined. :P

If the whole HomeGroups thing seems really lame, you can easily ignore it and continue tapping into network shares via normal LAN mode. The only real additions that HomeGroup brings to the table are the ability to further lock down your shared media (which could be bothersome if you’re running a mixed LAN since HomeGroup content is for 7-based machines ONLY) and the ability to “push” media around the LAN to make it stream to another 7 unit. In the context of Altima Network, HomeGroups is not really useful to me because we run a mixed LAN here AND Hamachi on top of that (for House Ayarane internal messaging, and also as a special warp pipe for Neo and Bren).

My beef with the login screen (I do NOT care for that kind of blue) aside, I really can’t find anything off-putting about 7 at all. So, just… get it! Don’t be put off much by the system requirements: even if you have an XP box, 7 will run just fine. Hell, you don’t even need to have an optical drive– if you have a USB drive on hand, you can easily make it bootable and install 7 from that (and I hear that’s faster than using the DVDs, shaves off about 10 minutes). $30 for the student discount version, else either grab the OEM editions (especially if you’re installing on a virgin drive) or the Family Upgrade ($150, contains 3 “charges” of Home Premium).

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