Turning off the SNB Newsletter

May 26th, 2010

It’s been over a year since I’ve sent anything to the Scot’s Newsletter notification list. Recently, my list provider’s subscription tools stopped working and I was unable to get them fixed. Perhaps more importantly, my role as editor-in-chief of Computerworld, the IT magazine and website, has kept me very busy.

In fact, I’ve been so busy managing Computerworld that I’ve had no time to do the sort of research and writing that drove Scot’s Newsletter in its early years. I still have things to impart, I just have no time to do so.

So, I’m a little sad to say that I’ve decided to pull the plug on the newsletter. The issue that went out May 25, 2010, is the last one.

Of course, I will continue to operate the Scot’s Newsletter Blog right here. And the Scot’s Newsletter archive site, blog and forums will continue to function as always. To follow me on Twitter, please visit @ScotFinnie.

I have downloaded the list of all SFNL subscribers from my list host and the list is being deleted from my host’s servers as I write this.

Should I decide to restart the list, I will let you know.

To stay current on me, bookmark this page. I will be writing here again. You might also want to check out my Computerworld blog. I also write a monthly column in Computerworld magazine that you might want to check out.

Here’s a little trick you can use to be notified automatically whenever I update either of my blogs. I’ve been using a free web-page update notification service called ChangeDetection.com for years. It works quite well. Create an account for yourself and add my two blogs to it. You’ll probably find it useful for other things too.

Well, that’s it. I’m sorry to be leaving your mailbox. At least, for now. You can rest assured that your email address is safe with me. I will retain the list, and it will never give it to anyone else.

As always, if you want to reach out to me, please do: scot@scotsnewsletter.com.

Fast First Impressions of Windows 7 Gold

September 13th, 2009

I’ve got to eat a little crow on this one. When Windows 7 RC1 came out, I began to detect a trend I’ve seen with many other Windows development cycles — the layering on of bloat. RC1 was noticeably slower to me on several machines. And let’s be honest, Windows 7 is going to be slower than XP on XP-era hardware. I began to suspect that come shipping time, Windows 7 Gold would be even slower than RC1.

Admittedly, I’ve been running Windows 7 Gold in the best-case scenario: I clean installed it on a late Vista-era 64-bit machine with plenty of processing power, 4GB of RAM, and very good video. I’ve been using it since a couple days after RTM. And here it is: Windows 7 Gold is pretty sweet. It’s fast, it’s well thought out, there are lots of nice touches. It’s too early to call this, but I think it’s going to be very reliable too, like XP has been.

Allow me a little digression that will get back to why I like Windows 7 in the end. My first and primary Win 7 test machine was set up as a dual-boot with 64-bit Vista Home Premium. I used Paragon Software’s Partition Manager 9 to repartition the drive to make space to dual-boot Windows 7 beta and RC1, wiping the prerelease code between each install. When Win7 RTMed, I went through the same process, but decided to give Win 7 a bit more partition space. Partition Manager 10 was out (with improved 64-bit support), so I ran that instead to change the partition size. I was able to install Windows 7 without issue, but within a couple days the Vista partition headed south. And nothing I did could resurrect it. And then when I went to reinstate my Acronis True Image Home backup of the Vista partition stored on an external USB drive, that too was corrupt.

My supposition: Even though Partition Manager 9 was supposed to support 64-bit, it could only do so from its boot disk. I think the problems dated back to the original partitioning. Partition Manager 10’s boot disk can’t do full-fledged partitioning any longer, either. And that was the last straw for me. I did some research and switched to Chengdu Yiwo’s Easeus Partition Master Professional edition, which set me back $31.96. Even though Easeus doesn’t technically support Windows 7, my Vista partition was gone by then. The Easeus support forums showed that many people had used it successfully with Windows 7. I didn’t have much to lose. So I installed it in Windows 7 and it worked like a charm. I formatted the Vista partition just for grins and then deleted it and resized the Win 7 partition so that it took up all available space. (Side note: Partition Magic users will be *very* familiar with Easeus Partition Master’s UI.)

The repartitioning effectively transformed Windows 7 from Drive F: to Drive C:. Plus there was no boot manager, since it had previously resided on the Vista partition. And this is what the whole exercise was for: I wanted to see how Windows 7 would handle this situation. It wouldn’t boot on its own, of course. But when I inserted the Windows 7 Gold disc and let it do its thing, the Repair facility is especially well crafted and understandable (not that Vista’s was vastly different). It fixed the problem without even a glitch.

Something like that gives you great confidence in your OS. In all regards, Windows 7 has left a favorable impression on me. If Vista had been Windows 7, who knows, I might not be typing this on a Mac right now. That’s how good Windows 7 is.

But I don’t want to leave a false impression. That horse really has left the barn. There’s no contest for me between Windows 7 and Snow Leopard. It’s Snow Leopard. But Windows 7 is the most impressive OS Microsoft has ever produced.

Scot’s Crazy Email Saga

September 13th, 2009

More in the ongoing saga of Scot’s ridiculous email situation. I’m using Entourage 2008 at work now, and with extensive use of AppleScripts, it comes as close to Eudora in power as I’ve been able to find. It’s a lot less quirky than Entourage 2004, too. It’s still not my favorite product, but it beats virtually everything else I’ve tried for the Mac.

I’ve pretty much given up on MailForge (formerly Odysseus), despite having bought a license in advance. The feature set is meager. The developers don’t apparently understand why people used Eudora. And at the rate they’re going, it’ll be 2014 by the time they get MailForge anywhere near where I need it. And it’s buggy besides.

In other news, although I’ve been searching for a Eudora replacement for five years, the search accelerated after Qualcomm severed ties and intensified after Leopard was released and Eudora started crashing in every session lasting longer than 3 hours. Snow Leopard surprised me. Eudora can run for days and days without crashing in Snow Leopard. I wasn’t even hoping for that. I still want to replace Eudora — after all, it’s unsupported. But at least I’m not corrupting data in my mailstore while the search goes on.

As a capper, Microsoft is talking about upgrading Entourage to be more of an Outlook for the Mac, and that sounds interesting too.

Helpful thought for SNB notifications

September 13th, 2009

For those of you who miss the regularly occurring newsletter, this might be a bit of a help. Check out ChangeDetection.com. Use it to watch the blog site and you’ll get an email notification whenever Scot’s Newsletter Blog is updated.

Mac A-List Updated

September 13th, 2009

Just a quick note to everyone know that I haven’t forgotten the blog, and I hope to post some more in-depth things in the near future.

In the meantime, I’ve just updated the Mac A-List, which tracks the best software for the Mac according to Scot. It’s a significant update with several additions and subtractions. Among other things, what do I use with Twitter? Find out. And now that I’ve tested VMware’s Fusion to go along with my examinations of VirtualBox and Parallels, how did that turn out? One of those three is not on the Mac A-List.

Scot’s Newsletter Blog Now on Kindle

May 22nd, 2009

Last week I published this blog to Kindle. If you have a Kindle or an iPhone with the Kindle app installed, check it out: Scot’s Newsletter Blog (Kindle Edition).

Fast! Win7 RC1 in 32-bits on 2006 XP Hardware

May 9th, 2009

A quick update to my ongoing Windows 7 RC1 performance assessment: It’s faster than Beta 1. It’s not just faster on high-end Vista hardware in 64-bits. I installed the 32-bit version of RC1 on my 64-bit hardware: Fast! More importantly, I installed Win7 RC1 on my circa-2006 Dell Inspiron notebook with a 2.0GHz Core Duo and 2GB of RAM. Again, it was fast. Not as fast as XP, but noticeably faster than Win7 Beta 1. Vista runs only so-so on this particular piece of older hardware.

I have a Lenovo 2.0 GHz Core Duo that’s even slower than the Dell. I’ve had Vista on that machine both in beta and in the final version since it shipped. That’s my next Win7 victim.
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Surprise, Surprise: PC World Agrees on Win7 Performance

May 7th, 2009

Since Windows 7 Beta 1, I’ve written several times right here in this blog that Windows 7 is only marginally faster than Windows Vista. Finally, some independent lab-based testing from PC World that supports me on that point:

Speed Test: Windows 7 May Not Be Much Faster than Vista – PC World

— Scot

Windows 7 RC1 Review: A Real-World Analysis

May 3rd, 2009

I’ve been working with the Windows 7 RC1 (release candidate 1) for about a week and a half now. Barring unforeseen bugs, I doubt at this point that Microsoft is more than four months away from the release of Windows 7.

Not based on any information from the software giant, my bet is that Microsoft will release to manufacturing (RTM) some time in August. Microsoft is going to want to prime the pumps as early as possible for the holiday season this year. The earlier it ships, the more time it gives OEM PC makers to put together an array of Windows 7 models that are well designed for the new operating system.
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Testing 64-bit Vista and Windows 7

March 8th, 2009

This story was significantly updated with added detail during the first 2.5 weeks after it was launched. Those additions did not fundamentally change the thrust of any of the original points I made. They were aimed at clarity, added support for points made, and the addition of new details as I’ve continued to use Windows 7 Beta 1.

If you’ve been reading Scot’s Newsletter of late, you’re probably aware that I’ve been giving Windows 7 a close look. Several of my stories have been about Windows 7 performance. Since I’ve been more critical than most on that point — using what I consider to be typical hardware for Windows XP users (the vast majority of Windows users) — I decided that I needed to approach the question of Windows 7 performance from a different perspective.
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