NVIDIA finally has Windows Vista certified 64-bit drivers. This feels like a long time coming as ATI had there’s out when Vista shipped. I’m running Windows Vista 64-bit on an AMD 64-bit machine and one of my major frustrations is finding the right drivers and software. Plenty of the 32-bit stuff will run in some kind of compatibility mode, but there’s a large chunk of my software functionality that’s just plain broken. Having the right video drivers is essential, especially when you want to do something seemingly simple like playing HD-DVDs. Thanks to Ed Bott for the tip-off.
Microsoft’s latest version of Virtual PC is now available for download. Like previous versions of Virtual PC this 2007 edition allows you to run a virtual sandboxed version of Windows on top any other Windows install. In theory, you can install Virtual PC on a Windows XP system (Pro and Media Center are officially supported, Home also works) and install Vista in Virtual PC to try it out before you make the move. That way you can see what you love or hate about Vista before getting stuck living with it full time. Virtual PC is also a much safer way to test apps without risking your core install of Windows XP. You can copy files between the Virtual PC OS and your desktop OS, making it easy to isolate applications in the virtual environment, without losing access to the files you create. For best experience, you want a system with a ton of RAM and a fast processor, but you can run with more limited resources if necessary. [Windows XP/Vista $0.00]
One of the things I like most about the Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive is portability. I can connect it to
FontPage is a godsend for viewing fonts on your system. It provides a quick snapshot of any installed font in the Windows Fonts directory, letting you see a font at any available size. You can view a font in bold, italic, underline and even a 3D mode. If you want a handy hard copy reference, the software will print a sample page of any one font or print samples of every font on your system. There’s a neat preview feature to compare two fonts side by side. In addition to previewing fonts installed on your system, FontPage also previews fonts not yet installed, helping you decide whether to install them or not, or leaving you the option to save memory by uninstalling little used fonts. If you work with text in applications ranging from Word, to PowerPoint, to Photoshop, to video editing apps, having FontPage as a handy resource will save you time the next time you need the perfect text. [Windows 9x/2k/XP $0.00]
Elliot writes, “I am trying to put a word document on my iPod. I do what you say but when I use my iPod it has a couple of random letters that make no sense. Can you help?”
While you can put Word documents, Excel files and most other Microsoft Office formats on your iPod if you want to use it as a hard drive, they won’t display correctly on the screen. Files you want to view on the iPod need to be saved as .txt files. You can save a Word document as a .txt file by choosing File > Save As and picking Plain Text (*.txt) from the Save As Type menu.
Michael writes, “I have just bought a LCD TV and would like to connect my computer to it. The instruction book only mentions connecting the sound card. The TV has Scart, HDMI, and RGB inputs. Can you please advise which is best and what should I set my PC to.”
If you have a digital connection available for connecting your HDTV and PC, that’s almost always the best option. In this case, the HDMI connection on your television is likely the easiest way to connect your PC. Most PC video cards have a DVI connection available for video output. Every major electronics store sells cables with DVI to HDMI conversion, which gives you the video portion of your PC output. Depending on which model television you have, the audio portion of the output from your PC may also need to be digital, because many of the televisions assume you’re passing both audio and video over the HDMI cable. Prices for DVI to HDMI cables vary depending on how long a run you need to connect your PC and HDTV.
As for what resolution you should set your PC to – the best answer is generally the highest resolution supported by your HDTV. with LCD screens this is frequently 1024×768, although occasionally you’ll see screens that accurately conform to HD resolutions of 1280×720 or 1920×1080.
You can read more about this in my article on using an HDTV as a PC monitor.
Windows Vista Ultimate is the only version of Vista I’ll be running on my home systems for a ton of reasons, but one of the added perks is the planned release of Ultimate Extras available only for the Ultimate version of Vista. The first two on deck are BitLocker, a drive encryption app similar to my long recommended solution TrueCrypt and the solitaire Hold ‘Em game. More on BitLocker in another post. Hold ‘Em pits you against 5 computer opponents in a simulated Texas Hold ‘Em game. The game defaults to a starting bid of 10 and a max of 3 raises per hand, with each player staring with 1000 points in their pot. These are all configurable amounts, along with a customizable deck and background. You can name the other 5 players if you want to feel like you’re playing against the poker stars. This isn’t quite the same as playing against your friends in the Xbox 360 Live Arcade, but it’s a more interesting way to kill time in a meeting than playing a traditional hand of solitaire.
With Windows Vista now available in stores, you might be thinking about upgrading your existing system or completely upgrading to a new system. In general, I’m leaning toward keeping all existing systems running Windows XP and only putting Vista on new machines, but that’s primarily because I’m at least a year overdue for upgrades already. If you do decide to brave the upgrade path from XP to Vista, whatever you do, don’t buy an upgrade version of Windows Vista. You’ll be sorry later. In the past when you upgraded from one version of Windows to the next generation, you could do a clean install with the new OS and simply insert the old CD as proof you’d purchased the previous version. This time around, Microsoft makes things more difficult.
If you upgrade from Windows XP to Windows Vista, the upgrade CD requires XP to be installed before you install Vista. This means if you wipe your system, you’ll have to install XP and then install Vista for a total of two complete operating system installs where one would have been sufficient.
Back when webcams first came on the scene, if you had a choice between a CMOS based cam or a CCD based cam, I always recommended the CCD cam because images were simply better. CMOS was the cheap alternative and it often produced these weird blocks in images when it didn’t put the image data together correctly. Apparently some things never change. The new Sony HDR-SR1 High Definition camcorder uses a CMOS sensor to collect image data instead of a CCD, presumably to keep the cost down. When the camcorder takes good pictures, it takes great pictures. When the CMOS sensor gets confused, it resorts to the blocky badness just like its much cheaper CMOS webcam cousins. Based on that frustration alone, I’m highly inclined to swap my HDR-SR1 for the Panasonic HDC-SD1 when it ships. Panasonic is sticking with 3CCDs while recording to the same AVCHD format used in the HDR-SR1. Read on for an example of what I’m talking about…
My current phone contract expires soon so I’m looking closely at my options. I’m happy with the way Cingular’s service works in general, so I’ll likely stick with them, which narrows my field of choices a little. I’m incredibly happy with my experience in using the 2125 and won’t be switching away from Windows Mobile anytime soon. Of the available options from Cingular, I’m leaning toward the Samsung BlackJack, which is another Smartphone. With Cingular launching the Treo 750 today, I’m also taking a close look at that phone. Of lesser concern to me is the size of the phone, although if it doesn’t fit in my pants pocket, I’ll be annoyed. Palm loaned me a 750 to test out, so one of the things I did was compare it to my existing 2125; compare it to a BlackJack; and compare it to the Treo 650 available to Verizon customers. Here’s a photo montage of those comparisons.