Back on Firefox

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions,software | Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Even though Google’s Chrome wasn’t a bad browser, the only reason I tried it was the horrible UI in Firefox under Windows 7’s Aero.

After a good two hours of looking around for the perfect Firefox theme, I bumped into two plugins that saved the day, Glasser and Stylish.

Glasser will conveniently turn most of the browser’s upper area transparent. Or rather, take advantage of Aero Glass’ theme.

But Stylish is really cool. It allows you to easily modify everything in Firefox, from the button colors, text highlights, to the menu width etc… and all using a simple CSS syntax. Really nice.

So, if you’re like me and hate the blueish shitstorm present everywhere in Aero Glass, or at least in Firefox, go get these two addons, they’re really cool!

Firefox 3.5.5 customized

Giving Aero one last shot

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions,software | Monday, November 16th, 2009

That’s true. I’m so pissed and desperate that Microsoft broke the old classic themes in Windows 7 that I’m willing to give Aero one last try.

I’m already having hard times getting used to the over-brightened workspace (dual monitor setup certainly doesn’t help), especially since I’m used to working late at nights. I adjusted most of my professional applications to make it a little more easy on me. I’ve brightened 3ds Max a little:

3ds Max 2009

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Things I hate about Windows 7

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions,software | Thursday, November 12th, 2009

Windows 7 Banner

As you might know, I’ve upgraded to Windows 7 recently, however, I’m slowly starting to regret it.

I’m a bit choleric about certain things, especially when somebody enforces me to do, think or work the way they want. And I’m extra sensitive to bad UI designs.

I generally think that Aero and especially its Aero Glass theme is a very badly designed theme with terrible user experience, globally. Windows 7, however, bring this nonsense to a whole new level by almost strictly enforcing you to use Aero, because without it, it simply doesn’t work!

Here are things I absolutely hate about Windows 7. They are mostly tiny details, mainly UI related, but all the more they piss me off! Especially since they not only influence my overall Windows 7 experience, but, by their nature, they influence it all the times.

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Skype 4.x sucks ass!

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions,software | Monday, November 9th, 2009

Skype 4.1 UI

What the fuck is it with developers and their horrible UI designs these days?

It seems it all had started with Vista, or perhaps with the WPF? No fucking idea, but the UIs of the programs I use very often, well, pretty much all the times, are terrible! Distracting, eye-hurting, slow, un-ergonomic, cluttered, very difficult to use and most of all annoying.

One of such a program is Skype. I’ve dumped the dumb ICQ for good and I can’t seem to start liking the Messenger, so I’ve got stuck with Skype if I need to IM someone. Besides a lot of my friends are on Skype already, so it was only a logical choice. However, since I’ve upgraded to Windows 7 recently and I tried to install the version of Skype I’ve been using for ages, I found it doesn’t start under Windows 7. Not even when run in a compatibility mode. When logging in it silently crashes. So I started looking around for a solution as I really can’t stand the shitty UI of Skype 4.x.

Thankfully there is a solution if you like the UI of Skype 3.x and don’t mind losing the 4.x new features, however, you’ll have to downgrade quite a lot as the latest 3.x version (3.8.0.188 from November 19, 2008) doesn’t work either under Windows 7. I had to downgrade to Skype 3.6.0.248 (February 5, 2008), which seems to be working even without having to run in the compatibility mode.

The UI wars of modern software should be ended soon. I refuse to believe that Microsoft, Autodesk or any other company can’t afford real UI specialists to do the job RIGHT! The current UI bullshit that we see everywhere is just insane! It doesn’t serve anyone! Not the seasoned pros, not the newcomers, not nobody! Perhaps, maybe, the PR suites are happy, but that’s about it.

I fucking hate modern UIs just for the sake of being “IN”.

Windows 7 Upgrade

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions,software | Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Windows 7 Professional

Finally, my Windows 7 Professional (box) arrived, so I’ll be reinstalling my system shortly (possibly this weekend), after finishing all the tests I’ve wanted to perform in a virtualized environment, to possibly avoid bugs or problems with the kind of software I’m running here.

One noticable, and much welcomed, difference from Vista right out of the box, is the presence of the 64bit media. Previously, with Vista, which was the very first operating system for the masses offered in both 64bit and 32bit flavours on one license by Microsoft, shipped only with a 32bit version on the DVD, you had to ask Microsoft for sending you the 64bit installation DVD for the price of shipping, which was ridiculous. Fortunately I had friends who bought the 64bit OEM version I could borrow the DVD from, but those without such luxury had to go through this painful procedure. Thankfully this has been solved as Windows 7 ship with both of the DVDs in the box (not OEM!).

Windows 7 Professional DVDs

I’ll be looking forward to the “enhanced experience” :D but really, mainly the new features, speed improvements and new technologies under the hood made me to upgrade. I can always revert to Vista if I wanted to (I also bought a box copy), or even Windows XP, but I probably wouldn’t go that far! :D I rarely only use WinXP nowdays in VMware for testing purposes etc…

VMWare Workstation 7

loocas | miscellaneous,opinions,software,technical | Friday, October 30th, 2009

VMware Workstation 7 Banner

I just upgraded my VMware Workstation to the latest version, 7.

Apart from the obvious CPU number and memory limit upgrades, the most obvious and, frankly, coolest features are support for 3D graphics and DirectX. This means that not only can we test 3D applications inside virtual machines, play 3D games, but also get fully functional Aero experience (for those who like to heavily customize), which is really great. Also, in 7, we now get an official support for, you guessed it, Windows 7 (installing RTM as I’m writing this article) ;)

It’s really a great update, especially considering the accelerated 3D features. If you already own VMware 5.x or 6.x, the upgrade is $99 USD, for new users to VMWare, the full retail price is $189 USD, which is still pretty good, if you really need a virtualized environment.

VMware Workstation 7 Running Windows 7 Business x64

A quick note about 64bit virtualization

loocas | software,technical | Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Naturally, I’d downloaded Windows 7 RC1 x64 as soon as it was available to test it out. Obviously I can’t afford to ditch my current setup and reinstall from scratch on my primary workstation just to see whether Windows 7 really are up to the hype and thus worth the upgrade. That’s where virtualization comes really invaluable.

So I prepared a new virtual machine in my VMWare Workstation and, surprisingly, got an error message saying “This CPU is VT-capable, but VT is not enabled (check your BIOS/firmware settings).” The problem was that I had Virtualization enabled by default in my BIOS!

I searched the net, but all I found was always the same recommendation: enabling virtualization in BIOS. So I checked Gigabyte’s website for BIOS updates as that was the last resort I would be able to go to, if that wouldn’t have worked, I’d have been pretty much doomed and wouldn’t be able to virtualize 64bit guest operating systems.

Thankfully, flashing the BIOS to the latest version worked and I am able to fire up a Windows 7 RC1 x64 virtual OS for some testing.

Just a side note, I run a Core i7 CPU (920) on a Gigabyte GA-EX58-UD4P (BIOS: F7) board, the rest of the HW is irrelevant to virtualization (except perhaps the amount of RAM), no need to brag, besides it’s more like a gaming rig than a workstation, but I’m more inclinable to the value/price ratio than a brand let’s say. ;) Nevertheless, this rig runs faster than a more expensive machine from Dell (Precision T3400) I have here temporarily for rendering.

virt_win7

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