Windows 7 SP1, the service pack that does nothing for me

As the title suggests, you can definitely expect nothing more than a subjective rant from this post so stop reading now, if you’re after information.

Along with some critical security fixes, I happened to stumble apon Windows 7 SP1 in my update list. Well this is not entirely true, I was aware of SP1 being released from reading a Reddit post about a week ago.

I’m trying to download the update but it won’t get passed 18%. Ok not a problem, I’ll just try again tomorrow, or will I?

I am happy Microsoft do release security upgrades in the form of a service pack, this gives you a junction to slip stream install media and helps Network admins automate installs. It also means you can download a version of Windows with all previously released bug fixes and security patches. Great!

There is also a side of me that at times takes off the cap of sensibility and demands just a little fun. It would have been nice of Microsoft to provide a few small fun or exciting items in this service pack. But unfortunately its all yawns for the most part.

RemoteFX sounds good in theory, but I question how helpful it will really be to the average user. When I RDC into the server, I don’t expect it to have any GPU capability, and I certainly have no intention of playing neither Crisis nor Chess titans on it, thank you very much. True and useful RDC over VPN functionality would have been nice, the ability to finally drag and drop files onto an RDC window for example. But no, instead we get RemoteFX, a true waste of R&D. You might say, yes but now you can tap into GPU mainframes with dummy terminals. Great, now you need to buy twice the hardware. The last time I checked GPU mainframes didn’t come cheap. Certainly not cheaper than having a distributed GPU setup.

Would have been good if the Windows team had spent 3-4 days giving Chess titans network capability. Possibly included one more Windows game. How about giving built in .rar file handling. Finally made the OS skin-able, without requiring length hacks or pay programs. Maybe even a cool new file system. I’m not sure, but the point is nothing like this was done, just boring old security fixes.

I’ve seen some bloggers posting “Service releases should be boring”.  Yeah maybe in your books, but I don’t see how a little Jazz on the side would hurt for the rest of us, who aren’t well trained robots.

Come on guys, put a bit of sparkle in the package next time, please!

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I’m finding it increasingly difficult to find tech stuff I want to buy.

Every so often I have a budget to buy something tech related. This feeds my inner geek. However recently I must admit, I was unable to find ANYTHING out there tech related, that I’m remotely interested in, or a new must have gadget.

Now I’m not some spoilt rich kid who has every new toy imaginable. I have a few toys, but certainly less than most tech driven geeks. I never buy anything just for the sake it. Whatever I buy has to serve a real meaningful purpose and be worth the money spent. For this reason I’m not the type of geek who has a USB mini fridge, neither do I own a fake light sabre.

No, the gadgets I have around me all serve a function.

I’m not a cell phone geek either. I own a phone, and I use it to make calls, that’s about it. I don’t have any desire to upgrade a phone for no good reason. I don’t have Android, because I don’t need Android. I don’t need a device to “check my Twitter, on the road”, because I don’t use Twitter. I do commute, sometimes by train. I don’t need internet connection while on the train, I like to either look out the window, read a book, or sleep.

I don’t own an iPad, and because of this, I don’t have to spend money on Apple apps that add little value to my life. I have already mentioned that every gadget I own must add real value to my life, and I’m not superficial. If I wanted something like an iPad, I would buy a Netbook.

So what really more could I possibly need in terms of geek essentials I asked myself. 2 months ago, I bought a media streamer, that was a good buy. Sound is important, but I’ve also got that base nicely covered.

After trying hard to find something to buy for a few hours. I realized there is actually no new geek toy I really need, but to my amazement nothing I really wanted.

I searched, yes sir I did. This made me wonder, am I getting older? Then I thought, no that can’t be the reason for my new found lack of interest, after all I still enjoy listening to the Offspring, clearly I’m not ready yet for John Denver and The Bee Gees. So I started questioning why do a great deal of gadgets out there not interest me.

I’ll tell you why. Mostly the market is getting flooded with shit you don’t need. People are becoming so easy to sell to, that a lot of firms are not really trying to push the envelope to deliver useful devices. We’re getting spammed with devices and smart phones designed to perform functions we don’t need to do anyway.

You see I’m not caught up in social networking and social media sites. I quit Facebook in the days of Diaspora launching, and then discovered that the best social media is NO SOCIAL MEDIA. I’ve fallen back to more traditional emails and Skype / MSN. With these mediums You can be sure everyone in my contact list I know personally, and I only deal with people who would notice if I died. I don’t have 200 friends on Facebook, who would wish me well if I moved to New Zealand during earthquake season.

Because I’m not caught up in social media hype, I have no reason to buy a device that provides me with little value other than checking social media sites. And this saves me money.

Cut a long story short, my tech budget is now getting spent on other projects and interests.

Please let me know if you spot any cool must have gadgets that are actually useful. Take care!

Why I’m avoiding OCZ SSD’s

About 9 months ago, I bought my first SSD drive. For the first few months I was delighted with the performance. It happened to be an OCZ Vertex Turbo (60gb). A drive this size is designed to be an OS boot drive. It can hold the operating system and some vital apps. There are the apps you use most frequently, and yes an SSD is much quicker than a traditional 7200rpm hard drive.

It’s worth mentioning I ran the drive on Windows 7, and applied all the known tweaks (turning off auto defragging and indexing), shutting down services that are not vital, etc.

I paid 361.884 USD for this drive, which is a small fortune, so I expected it to last as long as it claimed it would. The drive started giving problems after just 9 months.

Now it is important that I explain exactly what happened. The drive started developing bad sectors because all the write cycles had been used up in 9 months.

So what exactly was I doing with the hard drive. A lot. I’m a .net developer, so I have SQL, Sharepoint, Visual Studio, and other essential development tools installed at all times. I also do some web development, meaning I have a variety of browsers running. I’m also the type of geek who never shuts down his computer and leaves it on all night. I’m what you might call a power user. I certainly let the machine work, and I expect computer equipment to last at least 3-5 years.

After the drive broke, I did a lot of research. I questioned if infact any SSD was really designed for the power user in mind. I began wondering if SSDs were designed for those guys who own Mac books, who check their email once or twice a day, and maybe watch the odd DVD.

I posted many questions on forums, and sites like Super user. I got many responses. The SSD still under warranty took 1 month for the computer supplier to get back to me.

In that time, I noticed that the OCZ Vertex Turbo had been taking off the market, essentially discontinued. OCZ give no reason as to why this has happened. I have my suspicions it was not a great product, and OCZ dropped it, possibly due to too many defects. I wouldn’t have to guess if OCZ issued some kind of press release, but they remain silent leaving much to the imagination.

At the same time SSD prices have gone down by as nearly as much as 50% since I bought the drive 9 months ago. The price of an equivalent Vertex 2 60GB is now 178 USD.

The shop I bought it from tried their best to convince me to take the replacement Vertex 2, but I held my ground and got my money back.

So now the question remains, should I buy another OCZ SSD and walk away with the change. Or possibly even opt for a 120GB OCZ SSD, which is now the same price as the 60GB used to be. I think not.

After this experience I had with SSD, I am completely put off SSD’s in general, and I won’t be buying one until all the reliability issues are ironed out.

I hated having to copy sparingly to try extend the drives lifespan. It bothered me that I never trusted the drive enough to store any source code on it. I trust my regular HDDs with source code. Once it started failing it was difficult to spot the problem. You don’t get a big alert popping up saying your drive is failing. Instead your system becomes unstable, and you get many blue screens of death. It took me 2 weeks just to determine it was the drive at fault.

I’ve now read many reader posts on forums, even threads on Reddit, complaining about the quality of OCZ SSDs. OCZ seem to always be able to replace their faulty products, but some posts out there talk about people having problem, after problem, after problem with these drives.

I noticed the Revo PCI from OCZ also has some after thought wiring that have been soldered on, that are not part of the original design.

I’m now convinced that OCZ are in the business of producing inferior goods. I would say if you are after an SSD, be careful and avoid OCZ.