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GeForce 560TiSaturday 24th September 2011
Back in 2002 I owned a GeForce Ti4600. A superbly expensive card, which conked out about 6 months later and was replaced by a somewhat cheaper GeForce 5900. The performance difference was significant. And I learnt a lesson, don't buy expensive graphics cards.

Nvidia have reintroduced the Ti monkier with the 560Ti; which I've just bought to replace my 260+; with the same target price of around the 200 mark (or a lot less if you shop around and get some vouchers and stuff, combined with selling my 260, this upgrade has only cost me 60).

Previously I've posted the results of 3DMark 2001 on graphics cards, but alas this app has finally given up the ghost on my computer and refuses to play ball with Windows 7 x64 - potentially possible to get it working, but frankly, I'd rather play games than try and get benchmarking tools to work.

Still, I ran 3D Mark Vantage against the 260+ and my new 560Ti. The results are in:

260+: P11432 (GPU: 9168 / CPU: 44092)
560Ti: P23087 (GPU: 19286 / CPU: 56478)

I'm not entirely sure how my CPU score has gone up just by changing the graphics card - some flaws in the bench testing program. Still, suitably more powerful.

Windows 8 Usability testMonday 19th September 2011
The Windows 8 developer preview has been kicking about for a week or so now and being vaguely interested in this I downloaded it off MSDN - hitting in at 500MB over a single-layer DVD - really not helpful there MS.

As sprawling across the sofa and watching TV was the primary objective for the evening I decided to install it on a VM running on my aged laptop. Big mistake. Giving it 1.5GB of RAM and 2 cores wasn't enough. For all this talk of being fast - you need some modern hardware to facilitate. Once loaded it's acceptable for the sake of previewing.

I introduced the install to the rest of the IT department the next day and with much clicking and ooos and aahs I settled on the usability challenge:

* Logon

* Run paint

* Shutdown

Seems simple eh? Logon was the easiest, but the average was about 30 seconds to figure out that you had to remove the pretty picture to find the logon box. Pressing Enter is the fastest way discovered so far.

Run Paint - critically though, without using Start/Run; or browsing the file-system etc to find it. Half a day later the Application Search menu was discovered - Paint followed shortly afterwards.

Shutting down - this was Google'd in the end. Nobody thought of looking in "Settings" for shutdown. We appreciate that a lot of people will just hit the power button and have done with it, but still, things appear to be getting more complex.

Initial Impressions
Looks very WinPhone 7, I get it. I'm sure it'll be lovely for a tablet - they are doing Apple Microsoft proud. Alas, nobody had a tablet to hand (and was willing to wipe it) to try it out in tablet form. As most of us use our computers as tools and not to play Angry Birds it just seemed pointlessly complex and infuriating.

Microsoft are trying to unify two devices worlds in one UI. This may be possible, but I'm not sure if it's worth it. I really expect that the Metro UI will be wonderful in my lounge when I want to do all the things that my phone already does perfectly well. But what I really want Windows to do is two things: Provide a easy way to control my hardware an run applications; and make my work easier.

My gut feel would be Microsoft would be better off simply packaging Metro as an alternative shell for tablet devices. We used to change our Shell in Windows 95 days for various third-party attempts to great success. Being able to select your shell at installation or logon would allow the same OS but with tailored user-interfaces.

Microsoft's desire to chase the highly successful Apple fad is understandable, but apart from wooing the trendy middle-class with their fashion accessories, Apple products offer little in the way of tools and functionality, which is really what computers are for.

Constantly accessing floppy driveSaturday 10th September 2011
So as a nostaligic type of person, I have a 3.5" floppy drive in my computer. Not having a UEFI BIOS, I still find it a handy device for recovering the computer and upgrading firmware.

But it has just gone crazy. It tries to access every second, creating a steady clicking/grating noise that they do when trying to access something that isn't there.

Suspicious of what could be wanting to keep an eye on my floppy drive I kick off a full AV scan of my computer - but no joy.

A bit of old-school troubleshooting found the culprit "CDMA Device Service", a Windows service without any useful information.

It appears to have been installed as part of Samsung Kies, the property junk that Samsung require to sync their phones to a desktop. Disabling this has stopped the problem, but no idea what impact this will have on my phone syncing going forward.

It really winds me up, manufacturers installing services and such on your computer. Most of the time there is no need for it, programs should be run on demand and closed when done.

I would be very happy to see Microsoft implement functionality into Windows to restrict the installation of services and the option to intelligently fire them when the installing program is executed.

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