From Reviews

Publishing my book notes

Amazon has started sending book buyers emails asking them to review books, that they have recently bought, as part of their new strategy to improve their book reviews.

I got one of those emails a couple of months ago and did not think much of it a time. Now, I buy a lot of kindle books. so I started get a request for review email after every kindle book purchase and I started thinking to myself “Why not?”.

As of January 2013 my kindle library has 238 book of which around half of those are non-fiction non-programming books.

I have a very specific way of reading these kinds of books:

  1. I have a quick read through the book to gauge the content and whether it impresses me of not.
  2. If it does impress me, I re-read the book, taking meticulous notes in my moleskine pad.

I’ve decide to publish these reviews on my site and maybe on the Amazon website as well. These reviews will only be for those books I think are worth reading and have impressed me in some way or another. In addition, I will post an amazon affiliate link to the book on the review page which means that if you purchase the book via that link, I will earn a commission from Amazon.

I will only review books that I have bought which I think are worthwhile and have made an impression on me.

Lastly, the book I’m currently reading will appear on the sidebar on the main page. If I like the book, I will publish my book notes.

Installing Windows 7

Vista’s not that Bad

I must admit that I was taken in by all the negative press surrounding Windows Vista. So when my company decided to upgrade my laptop OS to Vista, I tried everything humanely possible to try and stay on Windows XP. But they wouldn’t budge. And so,  with great trepidation I started using Vista and found…………….I actually like it. It does take getting used to if you, like me, have been using XP for going on 5 years, but I haven’t experienced any of the horror stories I’ve read about. There have been times where I’ve run into a problem that had me stumped, like copying my Sysinternals applications to the program files directory and not finding them there afterwards (tip: Learn about Vista’s Virtual Store ) but on the whole it does feel a lot snappier than XP.

Installing Windows 7 from a bootable CD

My current OS is Windows XP SP3, so to install windows 7, I had to perform a clean install as the upgrade option only works if you upgrading from Vista. This meant spending a night backing up everything on my machine. Once that was done I could tell the installer to format my hard drive and perform a clean install.

That’s when my problems started. The installer copied the files across but then got stuck on 0% at the expanding files stage. Finally it came back with an obscure error message: Error 0x80070001.

A quick search on Google for “Windows 7 install error 0x80070001” did not provide any useful information. The closest I found was someone advising to burn the image on 1x speed in the burner as its most likely a DVD burn problem. Another guy suggested removing all connected USB peripherals. None of these solutions worked.

I double checked the SH1 hash of the downloaded ISO to make sure the ISO was valid. It was. Oh crap! This must be Redmond punishment for believable all the negative Vista press.

After sleeping on the problem for a night, I came up with the idea if installing via a 4GB memory stick.

Installing Windows 7 from a bootable flash drive

Modern BIOS’s have the ability to boot via a memory stick. Mine doesn’t. But I only found that out after  I had created a bootable memory stick by following these instructions. I created the bootable flash drive from Vista as no additional download was necessary. That’s when I found out I my BIOS did not support USB as a bootable device.

“No problem”, I naively thought. “I’ll just get the latest BIOS firmware for my motherboard”.  Luckily for me, the latest firmware did support booting from USB. And they provided flash file for Vista and DOS. And that’s when I realized that with no OS on my machine ( the windows 7 installer had formatted by main partition), there was no way I could run a firmware upgrade.  Double crap!

“No problem”, I naively thought again. “I’ll just create DOS bootable CD”. That was easier said than done. All the methods to create a bootable DOS cd just did not seem to work under Vista. And creating a Vista bootable disk was out of the question since I did not have the original Vista cd  (this being a company laptop).

That’s when I came upon the a truly brilliant idea.

Installing Windows 7 from a bootable flash drive and a bootable CD

When I tried to install Windows 7 from a bootable CD, I noticed that there was a repair option. You could get to a command prompt via this option. Would it be possible to access the flash drive via the command prompt? Yes we you can! So I popped in the flash drive and a short while later …….

Win7peek_after

Okay so the above screenshot is not actually taken from my machine (got it from the Microsoft site) but it looks pretty much the same. Except for the weird date.

I’ve been using Windows 7 for about a month now and its remarkably stable for a beta. The only issues I’ve been experiencing is a missing Canon Pixma Ip5000 driver and a scrambled image whenever the UAC dialogue pops up. The canon driver is a problem on my laptop as well while the scrambled image seems to be a common Nvidia Vista driver problem with certain cards in 7 series range.

Choosing a new phone: Where to from the Nokia N80?

Technorati Tags: Nokia E71

Its that time in the life of my phone contract when I start to think about what phone to upgrade to. In the past I would start looking at whatever new Nokia phones and pick the ones that had all or most of the features I want.

These are the features I wanted for my last upgrade, roughly a 2 years ago:

  1. Ability to write custom applications
  2. WiFi
  3. 3G HSDPA
  4. 2 MegaPixel camera as a minimum
  5. Memory Card
  6. Video Calling

With the N80, I got all these features with the exception of HSDPA and perhaps the ability to create custom application. Yes you can create your own applications, but you now have to contend with platform security and certificates where as on previous Nokia phones this was not an issue. Anyone who has tried to install freeware on an OS 9 Nokia, will know what I’m talking about. You will have to sign the application yourself, which is beyond the average user. Programming the phone is still a nice to have though since I may want to, at some point or another, write a symbian app.

My list for my next phone is similar to the one above, with the following additions

  1. GPS
  2. Enterprise Email Integration
  3. Minimum of 16 million colours
  4. A responsive OS
  5. No moving parts

4 and 5 above were as a result of my frustration with the N80.

I narrowed my selection down to the Nokia E71, Blackberry Bold and the Apple iPhone.

NokiaE71wiki Blackberry_bold_orange_romania iphone

With all the hype surrounding the iPhone, it seemed an attractive prospect, but with no forward camera it lacked support for Video Calling. I’ve come to rely on this feature more than I thought I would. Also, feedback  from iPhone users, it seems there’s not support for basic features such as copy and paste, MMS and sending of business cards. Most of these deficiencies are probably solvable with a firmware update but they don’t seem to be high up on Apple’s priority list. I also did not like the fact the battery is not removable.

That left the Bold and the E71. The Bold has a much better screen resolution than the E71, and I was sorely tempted to go with it,  but in the end I decided to stick with Nokia. Especially after reading Joel Spolsky’s review of the E71.  Nokia also has a lot more applications available than Blackberry.

The E71 is quite simply, the best Nokia I’ve owned. I love the feature which show’s the contacts as you type on the home screen. Another plus for me (and one I have not seen mentioned on any review site) is the fact that a reboot is not necessary to change from 2G only mode to 3G only mode. I keep the phone in 2G mode to conserve battery life and switch to 3G when I need the higher speeds or when making a video call.

Speaking of battery life, if you been using  the any N-series Nokia, you will love the 5 day battery life of the E71. This is with the Mail for Exchange checking my corporate mail every 30 minutes. Your mileage may vary of course.

The screen resolution is a dream. I downloaded mobitubia to view youtube videos over my WiFi connection and I must say, there’s no going back to the N80 now. The quality is surprisingly good for a small screen. Why or why did Nokia not include a native youtube viewer in the same way Apple does?

Nokia has also released their entire Carbide development environment as freeware. Previously, only the limited express version was free. Now you can get the Developer, Professional and OEM editions free as well. This brings features such as on-device debugging to the masses. See the Forum Nokia website for more details.

On the whole, I happy with my choice. Nokia have made great strides in improving the responsiveness of the user interface. My N80 feels clunky in comparison. Hopefully the responsiveness stays the same as I add more applications.