A Digital Life: Living with Vista | Week One

It has been a week now, well almost; tomorrow will be the one week anniversary, and I can honestly say that it is nowhere near as bad as everyone says it is. In fact, I would venture to say that a fair number of those voices rallying against it (in the true spirit of Digg users) have not even used the new OS for any length of time and formulated their opinions based on others writings.

To be completely fair, I haven’t spent a lot of time poking around and working with the new features. Having spent the majority of my time trying to get my Vista install to emulate my XP install by installing all of my applications, figuring out where they hid some of the old tools and settings, and slagging the baddies in Halo 2. Much to my surprise; I like it very much. The look of the windows is very nice, and the new animations and effects applied to the Aero theme reminds somewhat of Beryl or Compiz on Linux. In fact, Vista has some things in common with Linux. One of the biggest seems to be if you mess around with the hardware drivers too much you’re liable to brick your desktop, and have to revert to a previous configuration or reinstall.

What Works

The devices I have tried to install and setup so far sync right up and are immediately available with no trouble at all. I have yet to install drivers for my Epson Color 1160 printer which is 7 years old, and the software for my Epson 3200 Scanner which is almost 5. The ability to control the audio levels of the various applications and devices attached is a God send, and I wish my Mac would do this too.

So far all of the applications I have installed are working fine, even Adobe Creative Suite which tanked when I tried to install it on a Vista Business box at work. Opens Source applications like Audacity are running fine as well. This is what I have running right now:

  • Firefox 2
  • Office 2007
  • Adobe CS 2
  • Audacity
  • Yahoo Widgets
  • Google Talk/Notifier
  • Halo 2
  • iTunes 7.4
  • Quicktime 7.2
  • Stardock Object Dock Plus

I know that’s not a huge list, but it’s only been a week – give me some time, I’m trying to go slow so I can figure out what works and what doesn’t. So far, I am ahead in what does work.

What Doesn’t

I am saddled with only a couple of things that don’t cut the mustard right now. The first is that I cannot get updated RAID drivers for my on-board SATA RAID with my ASUS A8N-32SLI MoBo. I tried updating them 3 times last week, and it bricked my Vista install every time, sending to BSOD on reboot. I’m still working on it. The biggest pain about this is that all of my Dev files are on another SATA drive I cannot access from Vista since those RAID drivers don’t work right, so if I need to get at them – I have to boot into XP to do it. I found some other threads online about my MoBo and Vista problems, so I also disabled the LPT, MIDI and Com ports. I don’t use them, so I don’t care if they are disabled in BIOS.

My updated Sound Drivers for the built-in 5.1 surround isn’t working correctly. The Vista drivers for the Realtek AC’97 Audio device are a bit shoddy with being developed for Vista. I configured the speaker set up to reflect a 5.1 surround system, and I had a dll failure, then my line-in and mic ports reversed until reboot. My mic still doesn’t work right – nor do my speakers.

There are some goony little things too, stuff you would expect to not even notice. Halo 2 didn’t insert a Start Menu folder or shortcut when it was installed, and when I tried to copy a shortcut to the Start Menu and pin it, it made a copy of the .exe file instead. These are the types of things you’d think would be a no-brainer though, this stuff has always worked right for nigh on a decade, so how could they goof it up now? It’s like making a bad hamburger.

My biggest surprise was how well the ReadyBoost feature works. I went to Staples and lucked out with an unadvertised special on a 4 gb thumb drive, so I bought it; boosting my RAM up to a virtual 5.8 gb. And yes, it is noticeably faster. Halo plays faster, applications open faster and it only cost me $30! Not the $129 for another 2 gb of RAM chips to max the MoBo out. In fact, I almost bought 2 – but since I am plum out of USB ports, I abstained. The only thing to know about ReadyBoost is that the thumb drive or media being added must be of equal size or greater than the amount of physical memory in your system. If you have 4 gb or RAM, then you must get a 4 gb or larger drive or media disc to use with ReadyBoost – simply adding 8 1 gb thumb drives wouldn’t work.

There are still too many problems in general that are keeping me from switching over completely, but I like Vista quite a bit and I am very interested to see what happens to my desktop after SP 1 is released. I may just switch completely then. And props to the Moms who brought Vista and Halo out from Or-Y-Gun last week; who I am quite certain was supposed to tell me the amount of ducketts she needs to reimbursed for….

I know I don’t have a list of 12 things like the title implies, just think of it as a bait and switch.

2 thoughts on “A Digital Life: Living with Vista | Week One”

  1. hey i am haveing many of the same problems with the audio as well, are there any real solutions ??

  2. I don’t know. I’m hoping that when SP 1 is finally released to the world a lot of these problems will be resolved. My audio problems in Vista persist. I made the mistake of updating my audio drivers. hehehe bad idea. It hosed them totally and rearranged the ports (again), so it took me 10 minutes of plugging and unplugging to get my 5.1 speakers working again…..

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