Monthly Archives: July 2008

Windows Server 2008 Review

Windows Server 2008 is available in four different flavors: 32 Bit Business, 64 Bit Business, 32 Bit Enterprise, and 64 Bit Enterprise.

Windows Server 2008 is based on Windows Vista. The installation procedure is not any different than that of Vista. The standard server install does not come with Aero, Wifi and sound enabled, however, these, and many more features can be activated with ease. The OS in general is much more stable than Vista, with fewer driver issues, and almost no BSODs. It is noticeably faster and takes just 25 seconds for a complete bootup on a 2.16 ghz Intel core 2 duo with 1gb of ram. The computer hangs less often and is a joy to use. However, some features such as shutdown event logger have to be disabled because they are extremely annoying. It can be installed for free with a grace period of 60 days extendable to 240 days legally. It is a very stable OS and a pleasure to use, unlike Vista, Microsoft has got this one right.

Worldwide Telescope

Worldwide Telescope by Microsoft Research is a fun little program will allow you to view the stars, the constellations and galaxies of our universe.

Even for someone who knows nothing about astronomy this is a great and free program to play around with. You can even view surface images of other planets in our solar system. Capable of syncing up with your physical telescope at home, this program can help you navigate the stars and find specific constellations such as Orion’s Belt, Scorpius, Aquarius and a host of others.

I Can’t Believe The Audacity

One of the best examples of Open Source software I have found is Audacity.

Audacity offers the ability to create multitrack recordings, which is great for musicians. It also can convert its own files into mp3 format to be shared. The software will also generate tones, which I used as I was developing a tutorial on music theory. I have also used it to create spoken-word podcasts for classes I teach. Sometimes Open Source software can be unstable, but Audacity has been around long enough that the bugs are pretty well worked out. Also, while there is a secondary file that must be downloaded and then “found” by Audacity (a common procedure in the use of Open Source software) in order for some of the plug-ins to work, the instructions for doing this are clear. If you are considering learning how to use recording software, Audacity is a great way to get started. It’s good enough that I use it exclusively for my recording needs. And it is a great way to get started using Open Source software for lots of different purposes.

Make Great Screen Captures

HandySnap is a very useful little program that I have put to use far more than I thought I would.

This versatile program allows the user to outline a section of their screen for screen capture. The user interface is a small, thin window that doesn’t obscure the area you are working with, and can be easily moved around out of the way, but still accessed without the need to toggle between screens. It includes options such as entire screen capture, mouse pointer capture and shape area capture. The software also includes a few minor built in editing features, such as arrows, drawing and painting. The user can add text, draw or edit the picture in a number of ways. HandySnap is available in a free trial version, while the full version is $29.95. I have personally used the program while composing Power Point presentations, and while using One Note in class. The ability to grab screen shots of web pages used in class, or even better, pages from an e-book from a digital library for my notes has been an invaluable tool. I highly recommend HandySnap for anyone who needs a quick, small and easy to use interface for grabbing screen shots for their work!

Swiff Charts

Swiff Charts is a instinctive, simple Chart making program which is great for crafting great looking charts.

There are ample options when it comes to formatting, and the end results looks very professional. Styles can be customized, and there are many pre-programmed styles which should fit the bill for most users. There are some limitations, specifically when it comes to showing multiple data series. With that being said, when it comes to a simple, clean, and professional charts and graphs, there is no better product out there. Stop using those ugly Excel graph’s for presentations. As they say, God is in the details.