Tagged: Windows

Goodbye AVG, Hello Windows Live OneCare

I’ve always been frustrated with anti-virus software. Reducing your computer to a sloth as it scans for viruses, delaying your system’s start-up while it checks for updates, and then blocking you from opening various applications, email or websites because of potential risks. This pre-emptive “war on viruses”, is enough to drive you mad.

Third-party access to Vista

When Vista launched, I was hoping Microsoft had gotten their way and blocked third-party access to the core of their OS, effectively keeping viruses out. Unfortunately lawsuits from Symantec made sure Microsoft couldn’t kill off the anti-virus industry just yet.

Going without Anti-virus software

For a number of years, I went without anti-virus software altogether, opting to track and remove any viruses manually on the rare occasion my PC got infected. Eventually, I started using AVG because it was free and not as in-your-face as Norton and co.

AVG updated itself off my computer

AVG wasn’t without problems of its own, failing to complete updates, or recognizing that it had already updated itself and didn’t need to do so again.

Last week was the final straw as AVG pushed out another update which didn’t just fail to install, but it meant I was unable to access all my programs, including Word and Excel. Without any hesitation, I uninstalled it and started looking around for an alternative.

A Microsoft alternative

Funnily enough, my own mother had just bought herself a new Vista PC, and with it came a trial of Windows Live OneCare – a new anti-everything solution from Microsoft. Could this be what I was looking for? A program designed to protect Vista, actually written by Vista developers?

Needless to say, I downloaded and installed the trial for myself, and within a few hours was convinced that this was an application worth paying a subscription fee for. The only aggravation was that the payment page defaults to the language of the country you reside in (Japanese in my case), but once you’re over that hurdle, everything else works in English and it seems to do the business. It backs up your system on a schedule you choose, tunes up your PC (removing unnecessary files and defragmenting your hard drive) at times you decide, and of course, it scans for viruses, malware and all the rest of it.

Vista and OneCare – a lovely couple

Best of all, it integrates beautifully with Vista, so instead of third-party software which is always wrestling with your OS, Windows Live OneCare makes the perfect tag-team.

Microsoft Banishes Japan from Language Pack Market?

It’s been well over a year since I bought a new Japanese PC with Windows Vista and Office 2007. I did my research and made sure to buy Vista Ultimate so that I could switch Windows to English at the click of a button. That was no problem when Microsoft made an English language pack available as a free Ultimate Extra download.

Office 2007 in Japanese

I was already a bit of a whizz with the old versions of Word and Excel in English, so using them in Japanese was easy if you could remember what belonged where.

Now though, the whole layout of Word and Excel has changed with Office 2007. I mean, it’s completely different. There aren’t even any proper menus anymore, and figuring out where everything is takes so much time, especially when it’s all in a foreign language.

Did Microsoft Japan forget to make an English Office language pack?

If you live anywhere except Japan, you can get language packs for Office 2007. Just go here, choose the language you want and the country you live in, and after that, I have no idea. I failed at the “Choose country” stage.

No Language Packs for Japan

Japan, banished from Microsoft’s world of language packs?

Even if you live on the sinking island of Kiribati, or in Africa’s war-torn Burundi, you can buy an English language pack online thanks to the marvels of the world wide web. Unfortunately for us stuck in Japan with Office 2007 in Japanese, we aren’t as lucky as the 920 people living in the world’s smallest country, the Vatican City State, or even Malawi, arguably the world’s poorest nation.

What about buying it offline?

The official word from Microsoft Japan is:

Still no single language packs

Which roughly translates to:

How do you purchase a Multi-Language Pack?

Multi-Language Packs are sold through retail stores and a volume licensing program.

When will Single Language Packs be available?

Single Language Pack will be released sequentially. (Whatever that means)

All is not lost though, because if you follow their tip about retail stores and go to Yahoo Shopping, you’ll find they are selling the Multi-Language Pack! However, 25,000 yen is a hefty price to pay if you only want English for home use.

Stuck with Japanese Office 2007

There doesn’t seem to be much choice but to wait this one out. I do love Vista and I’m very impressed with Office 2007, even if it does take me three times longer to do anything.

Am I alone with this problem? Are any of you scratching your heads over the language pack issue? I’d love to hear from you!

Ramsay Ramblings 4/30/2008

I’ve been feeling pretty grotty this last week. First Rikuto “got the byouki”, then Mami “got the byouki”, and now I’ve “got the byouki”. Although I’d love to sing a song about “getting the byouki” (getting sick), I’ll spare you this week, and share some more Ramsay Ramblings instead.

Magnitude 7 Earthquake Virtually Hits Gifu

Since my net buddy, Mike McKinlay came to visit last week, I took him to the Gifu Prefecture Regional Disaster Management Center for a free ride on the earthquake simulator. If you’ve never been on one, you really should try. I’m convinced my house would fall over if the big one hits. I’ll blog about our trip at a later date, but if you can’t wait, there’s this Japanese map that might help you find one in your area.

Fujita Yukihisa Keeps Pressing for 9/11 Answers

Remember that DPJ politician who grilled the Japanese Prime Minister about World Trade Center 7 and other suspicious events surrounding the September 11th terrorist attacks? Well, he’s back at it again, this time asking whether the government knew about the FBI’s Most Wanted page for Osama Bin Laden, which due to no evidence, makes no mention of 9/11. Of course, it will all be forgotten if the May Day terror drills go live! 😯

Reinstalling Windows Vista

I’m usually singing the praises of Microsoft’s latest OS, but I ran into a brick wall last week when I couldn’t download and install Service Pack 1. It went like clockwork on my wife’s computer, but I had to take advantage of Microsoft’s one-on-one tech support to get it working on my machine. “MS Betty” as I like to call her, was very helpful but her directions led me to an accidental reinstall, and I’m still getting things back to normal now. On the bright side, SP1 is now working, and better than that, Microsoft seem to have fixed the problems with IE7, so at last I can dump this poor excuse for a browser, Firefox, and go back to IE! πŸ˜›

Professional baby photos

We took Rikuto to Studio Alice for some professional photos today, and all I can say is “wow”. These guys know every trick in the book to persuade you into spending as much as possible. I’m still only at the beginning of Robert Cialdini’s The Psychology of Influence and Persuasion, but I recognized a few of the “weapons of influence” such as automatic shortcuts, e.g. See Disney character = Must take photo; the use of the contrast principle, e.g. Really expensive photos make expensive photos look cheap, and the rule of reciprocation, e.g. Make my son laugh and we will feel obligated to buy more. The whole “sales” experience was really impressive, and despite me knowing their secrets, they took me for $160! Anyway, we’ll get the photos in a couple of weeks and I’ll be sure to post them here.

My new Vista computer!

My new Windows Vista Ultimate computerThe day Windows Vista was launched, I went on the internet and ordered my dream computer (well, as close to it as I could afford!) That was nearly two weeks ago and it finally arrived on my doorstep on Thursday morning.

There are few purchases in life that get me really excited. You could probably list a car, a house, and a vacation on some tropical island among the most exciting, and I wouldn’t disagree, but I’d definitely add getting a brand spanking new, jaw-dropping, show-stopping, fully loaded, high-end Windows Vista Ultimate PC to that list.

I won’t go into technical details except to say that this has a dual Intel Core CPU, with both processors clocking in at 2.4 GHz. It’s got 2 gigabytes of RAM, and a GeForce 7600 GT graphics card.

So what does this mean in terms of performance? Well, Vista can measure how good your machine is with its “Windows Experience Index” score. My computer got 5.3, which is pretty good according to the help file.

A computer with a base score of 4 or 5 is able to run all new features of Windows Vista with full functionality, and it is able to support high-end, graphics-intensive experiences, such as multiplayer and 3‑D gaming and recording and playback of HDTV content. Computers with a base score of 5 were the highest performing computers available when Windows Vista was released.

My two computer (screen)sWindows Aero, which produces the flashy glass-like graphics you might have seen in screenshots is really nice, and my old Windows XP machine, which I’ve got networked to my new computer, looks really tired and dated beside it.

Thom Holwerda compared the usefulness of Aero’s visual effects to the night view cameras on the new Mercedes S class:

The S class has two night vision cameras on the front of the car, which will, at night (obviously) display its images on a screen right behind the steering wheel, greatly enhancing what you can see on the road, making it much easier and safer to drive at night. Now, this is typically one of those features which many people will claim are pointless, but at the same time, all the people who actually used it, will say they never want to go back to a car without this extra safety precaution. Vista’s Aero effects fall into the same category.

Perhaps the only complaint I have of Vista is the constant barrage of “Are you really, really, really sure you want to do this?” security messages. I’m sure it’s just because I’m still installing stuff, and they’ll become less frequent over time, but it seems like overkill.

A note to people who buy a Vista machine in Japan: If you get a Mouse Computer, as I did, you’ll find McAfee Security Center pre-installed. If you want to get rid of it, as I did, take my advice and just re-install Vista. I wasted two days trying to remove McAfee, and even when I gave up and thought I’d use it… it didn’t work! Seriously, Vista took like 20 minutes to automatically re-install and picked up most of the drivers itself – easiest Windows installation ever!

Before I wrap this up, and it was never meant to be a review (Mike kept hassling me for photos!), I’ll just add that with Vista Ultimate you can install a language pack so the whole operating system runs in your chosen language – this is a huge, huge reason to get Vista if you’re buying a machine in Japan and can’t read Japanese. Note: Office 2007 still functions in Japanese, although there might be an Office language pack available, too.

Me and my computer

Vista launched in Japan (apparently)

I had the launch of Windows Vista marked on my calendar since before Christmas, and was counting down the days until its official release on January 30th. In the build up to the launch, Microsoft ran commercials on Japanese TV… 3 days to go! 2 days to go! So, when the 30th came around at midnight on Monday I went straight to some tech sites to see what new computers they were offering with Vista installed.

What an anti-climax. Most of the sites were still pushing their XP models. Never mind, I thought, I’ll wait till the morning and check them out at the shops. What a waste of time that was. The electronic department stores I went to still had XP on most of their machines, the individual copies of Vista were still labelled “Taking reservations now”, and to spoil the party further, there were no customers and only one, very unhelpful, staff member at both stores I visited.

So what happened? The news on TV was showing hundreds of people lining up at computer stores in Akihabara in Tokyo, and having experienced the same fanfare in Nagoya’s Osu computer district when XP was released, I was left feeling really empty this time by the lack of celebration.

Maybe I’m just an otaku, or geek, but none of my students were interested in Vista either. Heck some of them had no idea what it was!

I’ve had this feeling a few times in Japan, you know, when you’re really excited about something but noone else seems to care; Christmas, the World Cup, and new shopping centers to name a few. Oh well, I guess that’s what I love about the internet so much – there’s always somebody with the same interests.

And with that in mind, I went back to the net and decided to spoil myself by ordering a brand new computer from one of the finally updated websites I first visited. It’s a loaded machine with Windows Vista Ultimate, Office 2007, an Intel Core 2 Duo processor, a high-end graphics card, sound board, and 2 gig of memory to boot. I chose a 320 gig hard drive to add to the 300 gig one I’ll move from my current machine.

So I maybe the only person out here in the countryside who’s interested in Vista, but I’ll sure as heck have fun!

I’ll post some photos when “The Machine” arrives!