Monday, November 19, 2007

Living With an xps m1330, Vista, and office 2007

I recently got my hands on a shiny new dell xps m1330, its a 13" wide screen notebook, and cute it is too.
The sad thing is that it only comes with vista, I would have been happier with xp pro, but ho hum.
So what's nice and not nice about vista?
Well after a couple of weeks the following things are worth sharing

  • Turn off the eye candy, it just uses cpu cycles.
  • Wireless support is brilliant, but figuring out how to change some of the settings is hard.
  • The windows explorer is more user oriented than machine oriented, offering you loads of "my" folders, pictures sounds etc. Which isn't really to my taste, I like a nice clear filepath, like C:\projects\stuff
  • bluetooth support is also pretty solid.
  • The security manager is a royal pain in the arse, how the hell do I know whether or not I want to allow aghsdfjkhasgjkfhgaksdhf.exe to run? Why don't you tell me what it does. And please stop bugging me to update "defender" definitions. I tried it doesn't work, more to the point I'm not even sure what "defender" is actually for, sounds like An Important Security Thing though, so maybe I'm living on the edge here. My point? I know a bit about this stuff, and I'm pissed off and confused. How do Microsoft expect my mum to react to the vague but dire pronouncements? (Actually she'd pick up the phone to the "family helpdesk" i.e. moi. On which note we've finally reached the stage of having to look at multi-user licences in our own home. I spent the weekend buying licences for norton anti virus, one for each of us. I didn't think work-life balance was meant to go like that!)
I'll have more to share as life with vista goes on, but on the whole I'm not tempted to install XP just yet (apparently I'd have to "dumb down" the SATA hdd bios settings), I'll set up a dual boot with ubuntu soon though, I hear it works well on the xps.

As for other bits and pieces about the new toy:
The nvidia graphics card is totally awesome (dude), half-life two on this teenie notebook is fast smooth and crystal clear, and has to be seen to be believed.
The battery life (with the middle range battery) is a useful 4-5 hrs (OMG useful battery life, what an eye opener :-)
None of the ports are on the back so I won't break things off when I pick it up by the front. (I'll break them off because I conditioned myself and my kids to pick up laptops by the side!)
That screen turns night into day, I wonder what its like outside? (Raining, but that's not what I meant.)
The bundled macaffee security stuff is expensive and intrusive, I turned most of it off apart from AV, then binned it after the trial was up and installed vanilla norton anti-virus.

I'm using office 2007, which is turning out to be a mixed blessing, and that's being generous!
1/ I'm no longer limited to 3 custom formats in excel, but the "x" file formats aren't used by anyone else I know, as coherently pointed out by steve so I loose the new features when I save in "compatibility mode" Some kind of marketing ploy?
2/ I can't make the "ribbon" small, its either huge or hidden.
3/ I love word's "reading" view.
4/ Why can't I have menus or toolbars docked at the side of the screen? More and more people have wide aspect displays, so there's a ton of empty space at the side of my document, and I want all the height I can get for my stuff, not wasted by the damned ribbon.

That's all for now.


Anonymous said...

buy a mac!

Unknown said...

My kids need to eat.

Anonymous said...

If you want XP, you may not have to dumb down the SATA drive as long as you have an external floppy drive you can use.

I found some encouraging comments

BTW: the captchas used for leaving comments didn't show up in my version of Firefox ( on XP Pro SP2).


Unknown said...

Cheers Andy. I'm not going to bin vista biz for now, I don't think I can be bothered and I haven't had such a bad experience as I expected. windows explorer is woefully slow, but some other stuff seems more stable, I only reboot once a week or so and move between several wired and wireless networks with no fuss at all.
My wife's xps m1330 (yes we have one each!) has vista home, and we had to set up her wireless connection @ home with a fixed IP because it didn't cope well with sleep/wake/sleep/wake and DHCP. Possibly wasn't good at renewing leases which expired while it was asleep. Whether this is a "home" issue or unique to her machine or our house is anyone guess.

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