Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hinky Goes Vista - ULTIMATE!!!

After our little security team at work went from two people to eight, "my" laptop got assigned to someone else. Not a problem, since it was always the team's laptop, but I had grown to depend on it.

So I bought one to replace it.

I had a price I wanted to pay and a minimum system in mind. I thought I found it in this Lenovo system advertised at Tiger Direct (yes, I finally forgave... in fact I don't remember why I was mad now). The right amount of RAM, disk, good CPU, just the right price. It was perfect.

So perfect I put it in my cart and clicked for checkout. A "May we suggest..." panel was displayed for add-on accessories, one of which was a FUCKING AC ADAPTER FOR FIFTY BUCKS!!!



But to be fair, there is no AC adapter in the "Photo Gallery", so you should just know that it's not included.

Disgusted, I dumped my cart and closed my browser.

A few days later I found the Acer laptop on the left. Same price, same specs (almost), and AC adapter included.

And no checkout surprises.

The big difference was the OS. The Lenovo came with XP Pro. The Acer with "Windows Vista Home Premium". Let's call it WVHP for short.

So I ordered it. The next day, Sunday, Hurricane Ike plowed through Ohio with 75mph winds, knocking our power out for 48 hours. It was weird. There was no rain, just wind. After it blew through, 230,000 people were powerless.

It took my mind off the laptop issue. We had no juice Sunday and came home to a dark house on Monday. Tuesday morning I dragged my three uninteruptible power supplies in to work (where we were on generator power) and charged them up. When we got home Tuesday evening the power was back on.

It figures. I spent most of that evening getting the UT servers, and the power supplies, back online.

Wednesday we came home and the laptop was sitting on the front porch, which severely pissed me off. The last time I bought a PC, UPS would not deliver it without a signature and here was a laptop that cost more than that PC, just sitting there.

But I got over it, unpacked the laptop, and gave it a rundown. Not a bad little unit, but I was thoroughly unimpressed with WVHP, which I expected. I was certain I was going to wipe it and install XP.

Being a Microsoft TechNet subscriber, I can get OS licenses for "free" (after the $400/year subscription fee), so I already had a valid license for XP. But I figured I'd give Vista one more shot and download "Windows Vista Ultimate Edition" (WVUE) just to see if it was any better than WVHP.

And it is. But it's not worth the extra eighty bucks.

I've had it running for a week now and I think I'll stick with it. The performance is fine if you ditch the "Aero" theme. I've heard all sorts of Bad Things about UAC ("User Account Control") in the press, but, oddly, it doesn't bother me at all. I think that comes from using Ubuntu for the past three years. If you want root access, you have to give Ubuntu your password every time, which can get really annoying (usually I just open a root shell anyway). Vista is the same way, but you don't have to plug in a password, just click through a few boxes. And if you want a "root shell" you only need run CMD.EXE as Administrator.

I don't see an issue with that at all.

The problem with Vista, as I see it, are all the stripped down "Home" versions. They are useless. Even the "Business Edition" sucks ass. Ultimate is the only way to fly. If you're curious about the differences, here's a chart to refer to. Don't pay any attention to the MSRPs since Vista is heavily discounted everywhere.

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