Windows 7 thoughts

After being a beta tester for Microsoft Windows since Windows 98SE, I was happy to be invited to the Windows 7 testing group. With a somewhat revised testing schedule and process from the past - with only a Beta and then RC being released before RTM instead of builds every few months, it was quite a frustrating attempt - with many of my bugs being closed with "Unable to reproduce" and a comment saying it works in a later build. Read on for more of my thoughts.

That being said, after my massive dislike of Windows Vista, I have found Windows 7 a refreshing change. Even with the latest Release Candidate (Build 7100), things are very polished. Boot is a little slower than Windows XP (which is to be expected), however time from login to usability seems to be much better in Windows 7 than any other version of Windows I have used to date.

Looking under the hood, it seems that a lot of non-essential processes are loaded at a lower priority after boot - handing over control of the system to the user in as short a time as possible. The new option to set a service to "Automatic - Delayed" instead of at boot time is another awesome way to improve boot to use time. With services set to this state, the system will wait until load is low before starting these extra services - great for things like Tivoli backup clients - which add a lot of load on boot by doing lots of disk I/O.

The new task bar takes a little time to get used to - however once you do, navigating between windows is a breeze. I was initially annoyed with the new taskbar until I realised that a middle click on an existing icon will launch another window. This is something that is certainly not obvious - yet I don't know any way to make this immediately obvious to new users of Windows 7.

Graphics drivers seem to be a bit of an issue so far - as for my ATI X1900 PCI-E video card doesn't have any native Windows 7 drivers. I'm hoping that this will change as Windows 7 gets closer to it's release date, but as of yet I am stuck with the default Windows 7 driver for the card.

The best thing however is that I have not had to manually install ANY drivers for any hardware in my system. The only driver I have had to install manually was for a cheapo USB-Serial dongle I purchased a number of years ago. For this, the Vista driver works perfectly - which is always nice.

Overall, Windows 7 has lots of potential. It's the Windows XP to the Windows 98. A huge improvement, and really does address a lot of the issues that came along with Windows Vista. It will certainly be worth the upgrade for most people running Vista at the moment, although most running XP may well choose to wait until they get a newer or updated PC before making the switch to Windows 7.

SNMP and PPPoE connections

For a while now I've been having to restart snmpd on my linux based router running CentOS whenever my PPPoE connection to my ADSL provider went down. This is because the interface disappeared, snmpd cracked it and returned 0 for all snmp queries until it was restarted. This becomes a royal pain when monitoring connection throughput with things like cacti or mrtg.

After getting sick of this the other day, I actually found a solution!

The file /etc/ppp/ip-up.local is run every time a PPP connection is established! This means I can restart snmpd from within this file and have it done automatically - forever!

All that is required is that /etc/ppp/ip-up.local contains:


    /etc/init.d/snmpd restart

    You could also use the same file to call scripts to update dynamic DNS providers like etc as well!

    CPL Exams over!

    After nearly a year of self study, my Commercial Pilot License exams have finally been completed. 3 weeks short of a year, I can proudly say that I managed to get the following scores:

    • Aerodynamics: 78%
    • Air Law: 95%
    • Flight Planning & Performance: 92%
    • Human Factors: 90%
    • Meteorology: 93%
    • Navigation: 80%
    • Aircraft General Knowledge & Systems: 83%

    This means my training now turns to flying, flying and more flying. Lets hope for a lot of time with very few SIGMETs in the coming weeks :)

    DeviceUpdate v2.1.2.0 Beta Available

    Premium Account holders can now access a new beta version of DeviceUpdate. Changes include:

    Version - 13 June 2009

  • Added detection of screen size as a backup to known device IDs.
  • Changed logic for getting Device Model to hopefully be more precice with less variation.
  • What this now means is that we should VERY rarely show the well known "Unsupported Device" message to people as we now use the following methods:

    1. Look for a known hardware ID to get the type of device.
    2. If method #1 fails, we get the screen size and show a list of applications for that screen size.
    3. If both #1 and #2 fails, panic ;)

    You can get the new beta version here.

    Oh, and DeviceUpdate has now served over 530,000 applications in over 260,000 sessions!

    Release 13.4 of Dopod 838 Pro ROM released.

    Release 13.4 is now available of my replacement ROMs for Dopod 838 Pro and compatibly phones. Changes include: Fully integrated DeviceUpdate and DU's AutoInstall feature into the ROM. Removed package 'protection' to allow other chefs to pull apart my ROMs for their own purposes. * Removed ClearVue PDF Viewer from normal build due to problems with some PDFs. Install Adobe PDF reader via DeviceUpdate if you need a PDF reader.

    As always, it's available for download here.

    Long time, no update.

    I've been a bit slack lately in updating this site - things have been VERY busy. Aviation wise, I've passed all but one CPL examination - Performance and Planning. DeviceUpdate has hit over 420,000 app downloads and going strong with very little overall load on the mirror system or indexing system. Radio wise, I've done a little bit of work on a new online scanner and it's now up and running about 95%.

    All in all, I'm still very busy, but I haven't fallen off the end of the world yet ;)

    Melbournes heat wave.

    Most of the world probably doesn't know about the heat wave that has hit Melbourne (and indeed the rest of Victoria) over the past few weeks. Every day was above 40 degrees C!

    At one particular home in Victoria the temperature has been above 44 degrees all week and they are forecasting another week of 40+ temperatures. Power is failing, trains have stopped running because tracks are buckling under the heat . It’s just scorching. It seems that the people are not the only ones suffering.

    Check out these photos of a little Koala which just walked onto a back porch looking for a bit of heat relief. The woman filled up a bucket for it and this is what happened!

    [gallery link="file" columns="2"]