Windows 7 Beta…So Far So Good

Perhaps I’m a glutton for punishment. Or stupid. Maybe a combination of both; however, when a public beta for Windows 7 came out, I downloaded it, after some problems with the d/l site. I’ve been running it since Saturday and I have to say, for a beta, it’s been remarkably stable, no crashes, lock-ups and most of all no software or driver conflicts.

Let me repeat that, no software or driver conflicts. Granted, I had no problems with Vista, because when I got the laptop it came preinstalled; but I’ve heard horror stories from many.  Still, I’m a sucker for shiny new things. 

The d/l itself was about 2.44 gigs, so I had awhile to  wait for it to finish downloading. In the meantime I backed up my most important files to a DVD in case things went kablooey, had my Vista image disk from Toshiba, just in case. Once the d/l was fnished, I had to create a DVD copy of the file and install from that.

The upgrade process was as painless and hands off as anything I’ve encountered. It told you not only what step it was taking but what percentage of that step was accomplished.  In all, it took about 2 hours or so for the process to finish. After setting up the date, time and everything else it was ready to go.

The biggest cosmetic change (and I’m using that specific term cosmetic because it’s not the biggest change) is the task bar and start menu. Gone is the quick launch toolbar-though you can “pin” frequently used programs to the task bar. Simply right click and select pin to taskbar. When you hover your mouse over a button on a tollbar a preview screen pops up and shows you what’s open.  Aero is still around and looking good.  Have a file on your desktop you need to open? Click on the far right end and your desktop appears. Click it again to reopen the programs running. 

The control panel is far better organized, and makes far more sense than Vista. The search function is actually usable now, and the start menu is about the same as Vista, with some minor cosmetic changes. 

The biggest change is speed. I’ve noticed it starts up quicker, and shuts down faster. It also has improved my fps (frames per second) in Warcraft by about 20%. I haven’t tried other games, as WoW is the only one installed at the moment, but I will load one up and see what the difference is. 

All in all, it’s impressive. As I use it more and learn more about it, I’ll post more. At this point, I’m giving Windows 7 a recommendation.

13th Star Revisited

Released as a limited edition in September of ’07 and a world release this past February, 13th Star may be Fish’s best solo album to date.

From the opening track “Circle Line” to the closing track with the album’s title, 13th Star is a voyage of one man’s rocky journey though life.  With the unversal themes of love, hate and everything in between, Fish and cowriter Steve Vantsis make it all sound fresh and original. That is Fish’s greatest strength with his lyrics; his ability to take tried and true themes and make them his own. Written and recorded in the midst of a relationship breakup, Fish has never sounded better. At 50, his voice isn’t what you remember from his time with Marillion in the early 80’s but it doesn’t need to be. He retains all the emotion; the love, the heartbreak, the hope and yes, the vulnerability (his voice clearly cracks with emotion during 13th Star) that very few possess in this day and age.

I’ve spent a couple of months on a podcast binge and haven’t given this a play since his Hollywood gig back in June, and it amazed me just how much of an impact it carries. 10 tracks, spanning 56 minutes or so and not a wasted note, or lyric in that time.

With a new single on its way (Zoe 25), 13th Star shows no sign of slowing down. For anyone interested, the limited edition (which includes a 64 minute making of DVD) and standard edition can be purchased from his website,