A Business Technology Place

Confessions from using Mac Linux Windows Chrome Android iOS

I’ve used them all.confession

Call me an equal opportunity technologist. I’ve given them all a try. From Windows to Linux and everywhere in between. Do I have my have opinions? Absolutely. Do I participate in the “Holy wars” for OS? Yes, on occasion, for entertainment in my life. So I thought it would be fun to write a few confessions about my experience. It’s purely for entertainment. 🙂

Mac OS

  • The ultimate OS right? Yet so many run Windows Parallels and I find that ironic.
  • I inherited a MacBook hand-me-down from daughter. To my frustration, Apple capped the MacOS upgrade level. It also ran super hot around the power cord connector so I had to download a special app for fan control and heat. I found these were common complaints via internet search. In the end, it was not a great experience.
  • Can we just agree on keyboard keys and shortcuts please?
  • Many Mac OS X zealots may not realize that  Mac OS is a Unix based operating system.
  • While viruses aren’t as prevalent on Mac OS. Mac OS is not immune to viruses as some have told me with a smirk.

Windows

  • Oh please Mr. PC tell me why you get slower with age? If your registry is bloated then give me a way to release the blockage please.
  • A breeding ground for viruses. Virus scanners are pricey and taxing to system performance.
  • Windows XP and IE 6. A match made in heaven and a marriage that outlived many attempts to kill it.
  • I have confirmed how long it takes my PC to boot in the morning. I turn it on. Then I go to the break room to put my lunch away and to get a cup of coffee. When I return, it’s ready to go. That’s Windows 7 and a platter based disk. (I’ve seen better with Windows 8 and a SSD.)
  • Windows 8? I get it.

Ubuntu Linux

  • It gave a few of my old PCs new life because it has less hardware requirements than Windows.
  • You can’t beat the price!
  • Software availability isn’t the best. Open Office has the basic features needed for word processing and spreadsheets. But it can lack the advanced features for power users and may not fully read a document prepared in MS Office.
  • Support is plentiful on internet forums. But I’ll admit, you have to be a geek to understand it.

Chrome OS

  • You’re right Google. I mostly just need a browser to complete my computing activities.
  • Google Docs is great. But just wait until someone passes a MS Office document to your non-techy spouse using a ChromeBook.
  • Boot-up time is amazing.
  • It’s really a “cloud” terminal.

Android

  • It works well for me because I’m in the Google ecosystem. Google docs, Gmail, Google contacts, Google+ and Google Voice.
  • Performance tends to lag at times. But I realize it’s tough to make judgements on this. Google doesn’t lock and control the hardware. So many combinations, so many possibilities.
  • Android phones don’t focus on simplicity. Some customizations can be hard to find, like speed dial and email account setup.

iOS

  • It’s not perfect as some make it out to be.
  • My daughter had reception problems from a dorm room in the basement of a building. I asked her to use wifi-calling, but found out it’s not supported yet. I’ve been using that for years on my Android device.
  • The marketing at Apple is the best. I’m not an Apple fan-boy, but their ads have won over an allegiance and created a brand title wave.
  • Let’s be honest, Apple die-hards are a bit snobby.

Windows Ready Boost and other system performance ramblings

(This isn’t my typical blog post. But I recently went through this exercise, so I thought it would be good to write it down.)

It happened again. My work issued Windows laptop is taking longer and longer and longer to boot. It’s one of those wonderful features of Microsoft Windows. In addition to going through the standard set of recommendations from Microsoft I tried a new feature this time which appears to have some immediate impact. Will it last?

Dualing OS

Can I get Ubuntu on my work laptop?

Here are some specs to set context:
Windows 7
Intel 2 Duo CPU P8700 @ 2.53GHz
3GB RAM

The boot time becomes so slow that some days I don’t fully shutdown, I just put the machine in sleep mode. It’s just too painful waiting for the boot. Oh, and I guess I’ve been spoiled by boot time of my Chromebook and Ubuntu Linux netbook. I know comparing the boot time of a Chromebook to a Windows OS machine isn’t a fair comparison. But the Linux machine is a fully functional operating system too. More on the comparison later.

Back to Windows for moment.  I went through the normal routine of speed improvements for a Windows machine. I deleted temporary files and cached files, ran disk fragmenter, checked for malware, removed some startup applications, and ran a free registry cleaner.  All this did provide some marginal help.

Then I also tried something new as well. I added a 1GB SanDisk to the system and dedicated it to Windows ReadyBoost. It’s essentially acting as another disk cache for memory and is designed to speed up disk reads because the flash drive provides faster access than standard disk drives.

So here’s my unofficial, unscientific, and non certified boot time measurement results:

With 1GB SanDisk in using ReadyBoost –
Boot  to Windows Login = 2:05m
Windows login to background visible= 50s
Background to finish load of startup = 30s
Total boot = 3:25m

Without SanDisk using ReadyBoost
Boot to Windows Login = 1:21m
Windows login to background visible =  2:13s
Background to finish = 22s
Total boot =  3:56s

The difference was 31 seconds and the machine booted faster with the SanDisk as part of the system. That’s good enough that I will leave the ReadyBoost active.

Oh. Just for fun I timed the Linux boot time and the Chromebook.

Ubuntu Linux (v12.04) test
Boot to Linux Login = 30s
Linux login to background visible =  20s
Total boot =  50s

Chromebook from boot to usable system was about 15s and I needed time to enter the password.

Time is money right?

Free computing and Internet tools

Here are some easy ways to lower what you pay for computers and software.

There are some secrets that market giants Apple and Microsoft don’t want you to know;  You don’t have to pay them a dime to get a good operating system and productivity software for your personal computer. This is good news for individuals on a tight budget or for small businesses owners that don’t want to spend a large amount of money on computer software.

As an example, I am composing this story on a netbook that runs an operating system that cost me $0 and with a word processor that cost me $0. My total cost was $200 for the netbook itself.  I don’t pay for upgrades to the operating system or productivity software. My total cost will remain $200.

Linux Tux

Have you tried Linux?

There are many pieces of software that are free to use today and the following is not an exhaustive guide for each category. But it’s a good sampling of some of the most popular choices.

Operating Systems
Linux is a free alternative to MacOS and Microsoft Windows. It’s been around since 1991 and comes in multiple variations. The user interface has the look and feel that consumers are used to with Apple and Micosoft and upgrades are free. It’s a great choice to install on older computers because the hardware requirements are light. So it’s a good option to install on older hardware as well if you want to keep the machine in service to you as a backup or for special use situations.

Linux comes in multiple variations, but the two most popular are Fedora and Ubuntu. To give it a try visit the sites and download a copy of the software to CD or thumb drive for the installation.

Office Productivity Software
There are a few options for free software for word processing, spreadsheets, and presentations. OpenOffice, like Linux, is free and is maintained by an open source community. It comes pre-installed with some Linux versions as the default software. There is also a Windows compatible version available for download on the OpenOffice site.

Google Apps offers a full office productivity suite as well. What’s different about this option is that the software is not installed locally to your machine. It’s a cloud software service, so you can access it anywhere that you have internet access (machine independent).

Zoho, like Google apps, is a cloud based service that offers an office productivity suite.

Email
Don’t be fooled to thinking that the email address provided by your internet service provider is free. It’s part of the package you receive for the monthly subscription. The problem with these internet addresses is that if you change ISPs then you also have to change email addresses.

A better choice is to use a free service such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail, or Hot Mail. With these services you can keep your email address even if you change ISPs.

Storage
The growth of cloud based computing has spawned several new services that provide storage space for documents and photos. The providers give a base amount of storage for free each month and then offer additional space at very reasonable prices. That’s good news for consumers looking for a backup location for valuable files or for a primary storage location for files.

It also allows consumers to access their data from multiple devices. That’s important because many consumers today are using PCs, tablets, and phones to access internet based services.

Popular services today include Amazon Storage, Google Drive, Microsoft SkyDrive, and Apple iCloud.

Computer Reuse
As I mentioned at the beginning of this article, I’m not just writing about this topic, but I’m a user of free and open source software as well. The computer hardware I have for personal use was purchased. But I use Ubuntu Linux, Google Docs, Gmail, and Google Drive as primary software for personal productivity and writing. Occasionally I compile video for my articles and I use a free software that runs on Linux for editing and rendering the video files.

I’ve also converted several computers that were over five years old to a Linux based computer. Those machines now use up-to-date software and I didn’t pay a dime to re-fit them for use for their second life.

These tools are not a fit for everyone. But the next time you are in the market for a new computing device you should consider some of the free options available to you.

This post is from my column on technology and business from the Suwanee Patch. I cross-post the entire contents here for the Merchant Stand audience. You can find the Suwanee Patch version here:

Free Computing and Internet Software

Your operating system. Now you see me, now you don’t.

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What operating system(OS) does your PC use? Did you make a conscious decision to pick that OS or was it picked by the manufacturer of your PC? Microsoft and Apple like to sell the features of their latest OS versions because they want to show how their products add value to your computing experience. Linux teams promote their OS because its free to use and open to anyone to contribute improvements.

But for most people, the brand of the OS is really not a concern to them. They just want their PC experience to run without problems and errors. They use the PC as a tool to complete a task, share a memory, or research information.

Now you see me

Think back to when PCs were becoming common place in our homes during the 80s and 90s. At that time, you would go to the store to buy software that you then installed locally from a set of disks or a CD disc. Everything ran locally on your PC. Your OS was important in this model because you had to make sure that the software was ‘windows compatible’ or ‘MAC compatible’.

Now you don’t

As the Internet became part of our lives, and maturation of browsers to run applications and display information, the OS became less of a focus for software tools. Think about your personal computing usage this week. You didn’t install any extra software to run Facebook, LinkedIn, Yahoo mail, or online banking. Today you can run all of the standard office productivity suite, check email, balance your check book, pay your bills, research a new purchase, etc. all through a single piece of software, your browser.

There are still specialized software programs out there that require local installation. Computer aided design, digital artwork, film editing, etc. But for the most people, they can run all the software they need through a browser. You don’t really see or think about the OS in this model.

Now you see me again

The latest trend is mobile computing and running applications on your mobile device. Do you know what OS is installed on your mobile device? You might not know the specific OS name, but you do know that application you just downloaded only works on an iPhone right? It’s interesting to note that in some ways the mobile applications are similar to the early PC days. An application only runs on iPhone or runs on Android.

Now you don’t see me again

I think over time, the mobile device applications will go the way of the PC applications. They’ll run through the browser on your mobile device. The OS will stay invisible and you can still send that picture of Johnny to your friends. Software makers will be start to either make mobile versions of their online applications or they’ll take mobile devices into their design considerations.

And with that thought I’m outta here…..(poof!)