The OS Quest Trail Log #38: The OS Edition

So far this year I’ve built a couple computers, one with Windows 7 and one with Windows Home Server. I’ve also fought some OS  X patching battles and hardware problems.

The new Windows Home Server is running well and has been nice and stable. With all the disk that’s now in it I was able to turn on file duplication for the video share which has 4.3 TB of data. Eventually I’ll turn off the file duplication but I want to get a feel for performance with it turned on. I’ll do a follow-up post once it’s been running awhile more and I’ve done some more testing.

I’m liking Windows 7 a lot. I still haven’t really banged on it, but its been stable. There’s been a few problems. Every once in a great while the screen will blank and I’ll get a message that the nVidia video drivers crashed and restarted. Since both Windows 7 and the video drivers are beta (I’ve using the Windows 7 beta video drivers from nVidia, not the Vista drivers) problems are expected. It’s nice that the recovery is clean.

I’m in the camp that really likes the Windows 7 taskbar. It is more like the OS X dock  although I’m not a OS X dock fan. In OS X I kept it off to the left and keep it hidden. In Windows 7 I keep it along the bottom and pin my most common applications to it. I like the way it always combines windows of like programs and  displays small versions of each window when mousing over the icon (a behavior that can be changed). I’m keeping most Windows 7 defaults although it’s more out of necessity. I’ve re-installed Windows 7 several times (at least 5) and I don’t want a long customization process each time.

I’m also just catching on to the “libraries” method of consolidating files. So far I like the feature as it lets me link to files of the same type at different locations and access them in one place/window. For example, a photo directory on my Windows Home Server and the one in my DropBox folders are both linked to the Pictures library so I can fine them in one place.

Lately it’s been OS X on my iMac that’s been giving me troubles. It may be time to do some in depth maintenance on the box. This time the problem appears to have been the iDVD and/or the iLife Media Browser upgrade. The reboot when applying the patches worked fine but the computer was locked up the next morning and a reboot stopped on a blank white screen. Starting in Safe Mode worked fine but none of the usual troubleshooting steps would allow booting in regular mode. Finally I downloaded the standalone installers for those two patches and ran them on the iMac. The next reboot worked just fine.

There was an earlier incident on the iMac where every program would fail to start and that was resolved by a reboot. The release of Snow Leopard would be an opportune time to flatten the iMac and reinstall everything from scratch. The question is – will it limp along long enough?

New & Upgraded Software

Path Finder has seen several minor upgrades since the release of version 5. It’s now up to version 5.0.8. The last couple of updates seem to have resolved the minor bugs and stability problems I was having.

ChronoSync was upgraded to version 4 as a free upgrade to current users. For what I use it for there hasn’t been much difference. But all my syncs converted just fine.

I did get the new version of iLife and iWork although I haven’t installed them on anything yet. I couldn’t resist the urge to have the latest and greatest even though the upgrades don’t excite me.

More Builds

I’ve got some more builds planned this month. I’ll be upgrading my just built Windows 7 box and using those parts to build my parents a PC. I’d planned to do it several months from now but the need for the new PC got moved up. So I decided to go ahead and upgrade sooner rather than later so I could make use of the parts. It would have been cheaper up front to just buy the parts for my parents PC since they don’t need much horsepower, but then when I did upgrade what I have now would probably go unused and it would cost more in the long run.

That’s it for this edition of the Trail Log.