Sunday, December 31, 2006

Does Apple OS-X make you smell of wee?

My brother wanted a nice looking PC for work and decided that now they can run Windows he would buy an iMac. I told him they were all style over substance but as usual he would not listen.

His iMac arrived on Wednesday 27th December and as he is away for New Year he brought it round to me to have a play with.

First impressions are good. Everything is in one device so there is no real setting up to do, you just plug the power cable in and switch it on. Even the keyboard and mouse are wireless so there is only one cable. The machine looks amazing and everyone who has seen it has commented on what a looker it is. It is essentially an iPod PC, which is no bad thing as the iPod is a seriously good looking piece of kit if you ask me!! The 20 inch LCD screen was also very nice.

OS-X boots up in about 20 seconds but I assume that like Windows this will increase as you install more software. Correct me if I am wrong as this is the first time I have used a mac.

After a few more seconds after everything on the desktop has appeared the wireless network asks you if you want to connect to the Briddon wireless network. I entered the access password and that was all the setup that was needed. I was on the net and ready to go. Very impressive I thought.

The desktop is nice and clean and there are lots of nice animations to make it look cool when you minimise things and move things around. The machine was very responsive and I don't think it ever stuttered in the way that windows can do if things get a little busy. It did have a 2.33 GHz Core 2 Duo processor and 2GB Ram though so it should not do this anyway.

OS-X was also surprisingly easy to use even though I have been a Windows user for the past however many years Windows has been available. It was quite intuitive and if I didn't know how to do something I just thought about how I would do it if I were designing the OS and it generally worked in the way I wanted it to. How do you add an application to the toolbar thingy at the bottom of the screen? Drag it from the applications folder in Finder to the toolbar. It's all very good indeed.

There are some annoying things. Firstly, even though the Apple mice now come with a right click button it does not do anything in the OS. To do the equivalent of a right click you have to press CTRL+Left Click. I know that this is a throwback to single button mice but for god's sake there could be a right click option. Using the keyboard to get a content menu is really annoying. Windows has had this for 11 years now!

The other annoying thing was closing applications. Clicking the red X in the top left of a window does not always do the job, with the application hanging around on the toolbar. To close it down you have to go right to the top left of the screen and select the applications menu and select the close application option.

These are small issues but they really annoyed me, probably because I am a Windows user but I am sure that at least a right click option would be an improvement to OS-X.

OK, back to the good things. Front Row. This is the Apple Media Center application that is accessed by pressing menu on the little remote you get. The desktop melts away and the Front Row application appears giving you access to the Pictures, Movies, Music, and iTunes. The interface is great. If you select music it reproduces an iPod menu system. It's really easy to use and all accessed from the remote.

All in all I was pleasantly surprised by the iMac and by OS-X.

My brother wants to run Windows XP on his iMac. He had already installed it and although it runs fine, the boot camp application that you use to install it is still in beta. The other issue is drivers. The only drivers you can use are the ones supplied by Apple as part of the boot camp application. If you try to use the ATI drivers from the ATI website you get an error saying that you don't own the correct hardware. There are also other driver issues and there are (!) in the device manager where the drivers for various parts of the iMac have not yet been written. There is nothing you can do to fix this. Windows XP does seem to run very well on the Apple though, as well it should now that Apple are using Intel hardware.

So I'm impressed with the iMac. Will I be logging onto Apples website and ordering one?

No.

This particular iMac with the upgraded processor, extra RAM and 256mb Graphics card came in at around £1300! It's good looks and all-in-oneness also means there are no upgrades to be had. I was also disappointed to discover that although the Apple website tells you that the graphics chipset is an ATI X1600 that it is actually an ATI X1600 mobility. Not the same card at all!! In Windows it also steals some system memory which is really annoying. It probably does this in OS-X as well but I could not find out where to look to check. :-)

OS-X is not as spectacular as Apple evangelists would have you believe either. It's quick and it looks nice but it is clunkier than Windows to use and it does not offer anything that is better than Windows, especially the soon to be released and VERY tasty Windows Vista.

If you want to move to an apple computer because you believe the hype on the webpage or you believe what current users are saying about it being so much better than Windows, don't bother. All you will get is an expensive PC you can't upgrade and an OS that while being very nice is no better than the Microsoft offering.

If you want to buy an iMac because you want a PC that looks god damn cool and will impress all that see it, go for it.

Does Apple OS-X make you smell of wee? No, but you won't smell of roses either.

Saturday, December 23, 2006

It's Christmas!!!!

Christmas is finally here!! I have been looking forward to it for the last few weeks as it means I am off work for 2 weeks!!

Victoria has been cooking her heart out to prepare for our meal on Christmas Eve and the house is looking very Christmassy indeed. Alice has also got into the spirit of the season by making some edible tree decorations (with Victoria's help obviously) and then eating them, followed by eating all the other chocolate tree decorations!!! I'm sure she thought she was helping.

Our plans for the festive season are : Home for Christmas Eve. Victoria's mum is coming round and Victoria is cooking a meal. Christmas day at my mum's, Boxing Day we are going out for lunch and the day after we are going to my mum's again.

I have already started the ball rolling with the pictures as you can see here, and you can probably guess that there will be many more added over the next week or so, probably mostly of Alice wearing tinsle or something like a Christmas cake outfit. You know the drill by now. :-)

Anyway, Merry Christmas to everyone I know and the same to those I don't. I hope you all have a great time.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Jools Holland - Sheffield City Hall

Victoria and I went to see Jools Holland last night at the Sheffield City Hall. If you remember, Victoria bought these for me as a wedding anniversary gift and after much deliberation I decided to take her with me. ;-)

I've not been to the city hall for years and they have given it a major refurb recently. To be honest it didn't look much different apart from the bar being very red. Most of the changes seem to be outside in Barkers Pool. It's always a good place to see a band though as wherever you sit you get a good view and as Jools went to great lengths to mention it is very good accoustically so it always sounds good.

Our seats were in the stalls on row G so we were pretty close to the front. It still amazes me how close you are to the performers at this venue when you compare it so places like the Arena, where even at the front you still seem to be very seperated from the artist.

First came the support act. I singer called Laura Michelle Kelly. She is apparently also an actress and is in the new Tim Burton version of Sweeny Todd. Her music is a sort of lite jazz. A kind of Norah Jones sound but with more guitar. Check it out. I really liked it.

At about 20:15 Jools Holland came on. He walked on stage and just started belting out the most amazing piano you can imagine. Then the band came on. There were 16 of them comprising of 5 sax players (2 tenor, 2 alto and one baritone) 4 trombone players, 3 trumpets, bass guitar, drummer, organ and guitar. Of course fronting them all was Mr Holland.

They spent an hour or so banging out the most amazing music. I didn't know many of the songs but that didn't matter.

Each of the band members took it in turn to do a solo and they were all fantastic musicians. They were also joined on stage by Ruby Turner, Jools Holland regular and famous singer in her own right, who has an amazing voice.

Things were going well until the 'special guest' was introduced. It was Lulu.

We had enjoyed a good hour of fantastic music and when Lulu appeared it all went a little flat. She came on and sang a few songs, finishing with 'Shout'. My god, how long can anyone dine out on one song?

She also looked ridiculous. Imagine your mum dressed like Cher and you kind of get the picture.

Anyway, she buggered off after a bit and things got going again. Another 45 minutes of great music.

We both really enjoyed this gig and we will probably be booking for next year as he apparently comes to Sheffield every Christmas. If you are thinking of going though book early. Victoria bought our tickets in June!!!

To sum it up, bloody brilliant apart from Lulu.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

A Grown Man Reduced To Tears

This evening Victoria and I put Alice to bed as usual.

She was all tucked up in bed (Alice, not Victoria) and I gave her a kiss good night as usual and said "Night night, love you"

Alice replied for the first time with " Night night, I love you"

GULP!!!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

An Excited Alice

This weekend we bought and put up our Christmas tree. Alice didn't really know what was happening and I'm pretty sure she has no recall of her previous two Christmas' so this is all still pretty new to her.

I put the tree in the stand (after the usual 30 minutes hacking at the base to make it fit!!) and brought it in the house.

Alice saw it and spent 45 minutes dancing round in a circle saying "A twee, a twee".

When I told her it was actually a Christmas tree she repeated "It's a Cwismas Twee."

She get's cuter every day and we've not even decorated the tree yet!!!

Alice also recently went to a friends birthday party. It was a fancy dress party and she went as Fifi from Fifi And The Flowertots. She looked really cute and you can see a picture of her here.

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