Thursday, December 24, 2009

Top Five: Reasons I Hate Manuals

Recently I have come into a fair few things that have come with a hefty manual, hundreds of pages thick and filled to the brim of pictures that don't even look remotely like they belong in the manual. I have come to find that the manual itself is filled with stuff that just isn't needed (I once had a manual with a chapter on why you shouldn't use the program for a nuclear device) at all. So I've compiled a Top Five list of "Reasons I Hate Manuals", hope you enjoy them.

1. Unneeded Chapters.

In my time of seeing manuals, I've never once seen a manual that hasn't got some ludicrous chapter on some ridiculous problem that I can't for the life of me think of a scenario where it could have happened. In one of my old manuals, about some kind of RAM stick, there was a more than comprehensive manual with a whole chapter on what do to if the RAM stick found its way into the toilet, including the quote taken directly from the manual "If found toilet, take from and put away on computer" . Now I know what they mean, but really, who wants to use a RAM stick that's been in their toilet?

2. English Section Always Has Something Spilled Or Sticky On It

I don't know what it is about the universe and the magnetic attraction to every English section in existence, but I do know that it WILL happen to anybody who actually needs to read it, and that's it will be either unreadable to a stain from some alien substance or it's been stuck together from something that stops you from opening the pages without tearing the page. I don't know how many times I've actually needed a manual for something, major only to find it's been stuck together from the drink I had resting on the "piece of paper", and trying to pry it open without tearing the page is like trying to keep your eyes open when you're sneezing.

3. English Is Typed By A Non-English Speaking Person.

I've seen English sections that would be more helpful if I read them upside down while doing Sudoku! While rummaging in my book-shelf looking for some of my many annoying manuals I came across three very interesting sentences that I felt would've been easily avoided if the person had actually learned English. One said "insert in DVD fuck not for 15..." another said "Wait for click sound before 'cheapest stands' preceding with next step", I do not understand why they'd have "cheapest stands" in the middle of a pretty good looking sentence, and the final one (My personal favourite) "Company's Name Here proudly supports rabies", I mean it's easy to tell they've missed out on something crucial maybe the word "no" or something, but still the typo is just too significant to have not read.

4 .The Drudgery Of Reading The Long Non-important Parts To Find The Small Tiny Parts.

I've once sit down reading a manual from beginning to end, over 100 pages of nothing, with an index that didn't make sense and a font that makes weddings look like some kind of elaborative way of writing in English, only to find the five word answer I needed at the near back of the book. If they placed more time in actually planning before diving balls first into it, maybe they'd have one of the few readable manuals in the world.

5. The Manuals That Go For One Page And Don't Answer Your Original Query.

This one's self explanatory, but I've come across many of these. The most recent one was for a Bluetooth device for a mobile phone that doesn't tell you anything except for the fact that they're not liable for any accidental damage for the device.

I think that one of the most fundamental reasons I hate them for the most is the fact that they actually exist. I feel that with the rise of PDF's and other files the manual should've moved along with technology, being brought on a CD or downloadable from the websites, if this was so, almost all of my problems could be solved because the program solves it, or it's solved because it's intangible. Anyway, that is my Top Five Reasons I Hate Manuals.

Thanks for reading all!

By Matthew Willison

Sunday, November 29, 2009

My Experience with Ubuntu

The last time that I had used Ubuntu was all the way back in 2007, which in my world, is a long time ago. On Monday (23/11/2009) I got a copy of Ubuntu 9.10, my first thought was to really just put it on my laptop and see how it was, then go back to Windows and discard the disk into my DVD collection. But to my amazement, I can't get over Ubuntu, and I find myself booting from the disk almost every day just so I can see the desktop and really muck around inside of it.

In 2007 I used Ubuntu for around three weeks and for that three weeks that I used it, I hated it. I wasn't able to use Microsoft word, didn't have the feel of Windows, programs I was dependant on (eg MSN) wasn't very good or nonexistent and for the most part, it didn't feel like an OS more than something somebody put together in their garage. The thing that made me go back to Vista was the fact that it couldn't hold a candle to Vista or OS X, and by that I mean, the programs, the look & the usability. By the time I had finished with Ubuntu I had developed a personal vice against open source programs and really wouldn't use them for a long time. It's only recently that I used Ubuntu that I've had my faith restored in open source programs.

In the small amount of time that I've used Ubuntu 9.10 (which is about a week or so) I've had a complete restoration in my confidence in open source programs and OS's like Ubuntu and Open Office. I don't know what it is, but something in the open source world has just made open source a lot more appealing and generally more acceptable to use in recent times. I also noticed that it's really caught up to Vista (or Windows 7) and OS X in how it looks and the effects that it comes with it, (Like Cube3d and cool features like that) it's almost like they've got their trademark. It's now a lot more of a solid choice between Windows and OS X if not another main contender and the fact that it's 100% free and so is the software on it makes for some pretty good competition in a few years.

The things I liked in Ubuntu were the ability to get drivers without going to heaps of websites, it was all there, with a checkbox asking me to download and install, I found it something that was not only incredibly helpful but extremely well thought out, it's amazing windows has not thought of doing the same. When I turned on Ubuntu, it asked me to install my graphic card drivers and my wireless USB stick as soon as they were installed I was on the net, all within 5 minutes, in windows this would've taken me around 30 minutes. Another thing that impressed me about Ubuntu was how rapidly they'd caught up to Windows and Apple, if they can catch up to major companies like Windows and Apple then what could they do if they keep increasing at this rate, I feel they'll be a huge compony by 2020.

Along with the things I liked, there were some things I didn't like, and keep in mind; I am really picky with some things. The first thing I didn't like was the font, now I don't know if it's the font itself or the OS that gives it a different feel, but something about it just annoys me, I think that the letters are really w i d e and tall maybe it's just me on that one though. Another thing that kinda made me upset for a while was the Cube3d doesn't come standard (that or I couldn't find it), that on its own isn't too bad but part of the reason I would use Ubuntu would be to use the feature, just like I went from Vista Home Basic to Ultimate so I could get flip 3d or somebody on OS X wants to be able to use Exposé, but that was too small to get me worried as I knew that you can get it working without any worries in no time after watching a few youtube videos on it. The only thing that I found hard is it was hard to get the hang of moving from Windows to Ubuntu, but then again, it is much harder going from Windows to OS X, and this is a definitely easier to learn than OS X if you're coming from Windows.

Ubuntu is a great OS that has come a long way in a short time; it has brought open source software a good name and incorporates all programs nicely into "one box". In the short amount of time that I used it I felt differently about Ubuntu and open source software. In my opinion, Ubuntu could rival Windows if it keeps being fresh and intuitive in the future. All in all, Ubuntu is great fun and I recommend getting a DVD even if you're only going to boot from the DVD once to see how it is.

Thanks for reading all.

By Matthew Willison

Friday, November 20, 2009

The Tech Conclave

I have found a new podcast that I have been listening to for a few months now, and I have found it very interesting. I thought that I would share it around by writing a short blog post about it. The tech podcast that I'm talking about it called "The Tech Conclave" and can be found by clicking the link here. The podcast talk about tech news in a fresh new way, with their host, John Raul Joven II, geeks from around the world converge to talk about all the latest tech news, from court cases that involve Pirate Bay, to the latest reviews on laptops and technology.

You can find the podcast on their website or on youtube, but the Tech Conclave has evolved from more than just a podcast, it is also an online community (found here) where you can talk to a wide range of geeks about pretty much anything tech or tech related. If you haven't already clicked onto The Tech Conclaves sites, there is a list of where you can find them below. Thanks for reading all, have a good one!

It's good to be a geek!

Youtube -

Tech Conclave Website -

Tech Conclave Community -

Monday, September 21, 2009

Thoughts on Firefox

It's time for my second collaborative blog post, were I ask people at Geeks! about their thoughts on something. This time I asked them about their thoughts on Firefox, as I recently found it to be extremely slow and I was starting to feel as though it was time to find another browser. The people at Geeks! must've felt the same as I did because of all the people who responded almost all of them felt the same way as I did, they left long, smart comments that back up what I thinking about. Here is what some people said.

"I only use Firefox every so often now once 3 came out Firefox would crash on my at least 2-3 times a day now it has gotten better since then I admit with minimal use hasn't really crashed. But I switched to Chrome on Windows and don't regret it one bit. I love the simplicity of the browser plus tabs on top and searching right in the address bar makes things much easier..." -Beef_Log_FTL

"Me, I switched to Chrome back in January 2009. I tried using Firefox 3.5 when it came out, for like, a week and a half, but I found it too bloated compared to Chrome, so I came back to Chrome. Whenever I used Linux I also got stuck with Firefox, at least until early August when the Dev builds of Chrome finally got awesome and stable" -Condoulo

"Firefox has so many awesome extensions it makes it difficult to walk away from. I have noticed some serious slowdowns over time, especially start up and shut down times. But love the extensions so much I can't leave it. I'm an FF junkie. That said, I am finding myself using safari more often, especially on Geeks" -Renderedcook

The comments that I got from Geeks! are almost exactly my feelings, not only do they reflect the original idea that Firefox is becoming slower and a lot more bloated but they all identify using another browser in place of Firefox. This isn't a good thing, whenever the users of a browser feel the need to have a second browser installed "just in case" it usually means that the primary browser isn't as reliable as it should be. Needless to say that Mozilla don't need this at all. They've had such success in the past with programs like Thunderbird and of course Firefox, why would they want their most popular success to suddenly turn into a flop?

From my perspective, Firefox is going to need more than just a major overhaul from head to toe if it's going to establish its dominance once again. When I use Firefox, it will lag, it will stop working, it will have error reports, just the things you avoid in browsers all together. And this is what I see to be the sole reason that people are moving away from Firefox and to the more reliable Google Chrome. The way Firefox is heading, I think I'm going to wait until my two favourite add-ons are compatible with Google Chrome and then make the leap to better browsing. My Google Chrome has NEVER crashed, or lagged but from what I've read, that's hardly an irregularity, heaps of people share the same experience with Google Chrome.

I do feel as though Mozilla is a good company, with more than good intentions. I think that we're going to see Firefox come back. It's just such a good browser, so many people are using it, it was just a matter of time before something went a little wrong, and I'm sure that they're going to make sure that the newest Firefox is going to be the best browser out there. I do hope that when they announce the new features, they tell the truth, the last thing they need to do is follow Microsoft's mistake with the whole lie that was Vista's "the wow starts now".

By Matthew Willison

Monday, August 31, 2009

Are Quad Cores Worth It?

That was the question posed at Geeks!, one that has been popping up a lot recently. When I first read this I was quick to think that it was going to be filled with a long question as to "are they worth it", but it was just a general question, so I thought it would be no better time to write a blog post on the matter.

One of the people at Geeks! said:

Quad cores will be worth it, in about 2 years. As I've said many times before, the reason they aren't worth it not is that parallel support isn't where it needs to be. This is rapidly changing, and quad core processors will be worth more as time goes by simply by virtue of better code. That said, buy core i7. - Kitty

A more neutral comment was:

Quad cores are extremely useful... If you enjoy playing games. Unless a program that you use will utilize all four cores, it's useless. Just get a Dual and OC it, you'll do fine. I was going to get a Quad, but then my friend told me that Duals can still be used and they do really well. He was right. Dual cores still have a while to go before they become obsolete. Heck, even Pentiums can still be used without too much hassle.

Or to go with a simpler and broad comment that is still to the point and damn entertaining:

To answer your question simply...YES! -Stormy

For me, this quote says it all. From the basic idea that they will be worth it in time, to the whole argument that the i7 is better than the quad due to the Quad Core's not being as good as they could be. This proves to be true as the i7 which has eight cores in it and can outperform just about every single processor that is out, whereas the Quad Core is sometimes better sometimes worse than the dual core. The reason I love this quote is because it gets right to the point and gets across the point, which is what I hope to do in this blog post.

The reason that I'd suggest Quad Cores opposed to Dual Cores is simply because of the amount of work I've been able to complete and the ease in which I've done it with, also the general fact that I've had a worse experience with Dual Cores in the past than with Quad Cores, put simply Quad Cores have worked better and have been more reliable in all the years I've used them both and I come from a variety of computer backgrounds, from Pentium II all the way to the Core i7. I've just found the Quad Core to be more practical to use and more reliable, I cannot stress this enough, of the three dual cores I've owned, they've all become slow and struggled in a short period of time, even though the system running on them had hardly anything installed of them, so be it just general crap or a problem with what I've done with them, I feel that it was the processor that let them down.

In my experience I've found that the pro's and con's of Quad Core to be left up to speed, cost and the fun factor. I found the pro's to be

  • Speed of the processor, which was remarkable when being compared to Dual Core. If you'd have to ask me it's a major win in the speed section.
  • Fun factor of Quad Cores, I mean really, something about saying that I've got more processors than somebody else is enough to make me feel good and secure about my computer, even if that does suggest that I have somewhat of a superiority complex (Joking)

Some Con's however

  • Cost can sometimes be against you, the more expensive you go, the more powerful you get, but it most often results in Dual Cores becoming better for the price they're offering.

By Matthew Willison

Friday, July 31, 2009

Are Browsers Conforming?

When I first saw the pictures of Firefox 4 the first though that crossed my mind was "That is too similar to Google Chrome" so I got a incentive to instead of just writing up a blog post about my own opinions I've decided to ask the community at geeks! about their opinions on the matter. With mixed responses I decided to show a whole communities thoughts and feelings before I go on with my own opinions, hopefully this will create a more diverse post, rather than a single faceted post.

I don't think anything is sacred anymore, but if IE copies chrome interface, all hell will break loose – Matthew Medina

I thought I was the only one who noticed this. And I don't like it. Every browser used to be original, but now even IE8 is just like Chrome. If you ask me, Chrome is by far the most original when it comes to features, design, and not to mention coding. - Robert

I really think there are more and more similarities. Not only in look, but also in features. I mean, of course browsers are all meant to do the same so, that's what happens. Someone creates a new feature, and as soon as the feature isn't patented anymore, all browsers start to implement it. But the thing that makes Firefox the best is its customisability. - Frederik

Good observation, I've also seen it ever since Safari 4 or whatever came out. Well, I guess we'll be seeing this forever: Firefox starts tabs (or whoever did) and now it's a must in every browser, even internet explorer. I guess soon transparency, themes and add ons will be a must in every browser, and the circle of browsers taking features continues. I guess the developers maybe (just a possibility) see that they're better off just adapting a nice feature so it's a plus for their browser, and there's nothing in the way of them doing so: if IE can do tabs, then I guess Firefox can do Chrome's long as it doesn't make the whole browser look and feel like Chrome (for example). Then it's just worrying.
- Phill

Umm, for the Mozilla company browser (the company who makes Firefox), I prefer the developmental Minefield. It uses a different JavaScript engine to speed things up. For Apple, naturally my preference for all browsers is Safari 4. Internet Explorer has been a failure these past 2 years. Now, everyone is copying the other. Well, IE doesn't have anything to copy. Chrome's interface is the most copied but Safari 4 fixed the tab bar and put it back down. Um, doom for all browsers. It's an all out war! - James Luong

With the communities views shown I can now go in depth on my own personal opinions. Since I first saw the things that were plagiarised by Apple with their Safari browser from Google's Chrome I started to think to myself, that doesn't feel as though it should be happening, sure keeping up with the flow is important in maintaining market dominance but by no means does that mean that they should be selling out by plagiarising each other. With the look of Firefox screaming Chrome and the feel of Safari becoming more and more Chrome like it's hard to believe that just a few versions ago they were completely different from one another, sure a few similarities here and there, but the differences were something like the difference between Vista and OSX. Features were different the feeling was different and the looks were definitely different from one another, and then came the next gen of browsers looking and feeling more and more similar.

In this time we saw Google Chrome being added to the market which became a dominant player in the browser world taking up 3.6% of the market in December of 2008, a great deal over Safari and Opera that were at the time around 2.5% between the two. It was Google Chromes sudden hit to the market that saw it rapidly surge to become one of the most popular browsers in just months of its release. From here we see the whole phase of plagiarism start.

With such a rapid success I guess most of the other browser companies like Mozilla and Apple would've loved to have the same growth and success that Chrome had, and who could blame them. I do feel though that there should be a limit to how much they can interpret a browser. To keep the browsers "Heritage" and a browsers individuality untouched should never be changed or plagiarised because then we're not running different browsers we'll just be using one web browser with different logos.

What's great about the web 2.0 world that we're living in is that most things that are picked up on are changed within a while, so if you do feel strongly about this send some e-mails around and try and get some attention to this subject, because after all, you could be one of the people who fundamentally changes how browsers are developed in the future.

All of the above statements were chosen not on how long the quote was, not on what the persons views were, and all of the quotes that I grabbed out of random after being actually read to make sure that they weren't spam or something irrelevant proved to be consistent with what I had noticed with my observation beforehand. This has been my first collaborative blog post and I look forward in doing more in the future. If you'd like to take apart in this you can find me on my twitter account, I always listen and I always reply.

By Matthew Willison

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Aussie Tech Head, Hicks in Tech

For a while now I have been listening to an Aussie technology podcast, one that has always been a source of entertainment rather than a source of information. Since I started downloading it, I've only listened to it for the pure hilarity that goes on. Of course this hilarity is not intentionally done at all, in fact, quite the opposite. For this is the reason that has kept me listening intently, not to bask in the knowledge of the people on the podcast but rather laugh at the thoughts perceptions that the people on the podcast have.

Far from the world of tech, in some misbegotten podcast is where the true comedians of tech are found. Glen, the only one who is not on Skype, plays the role of "Ring Leader of the Zoo" brilliantly. The way he goes out of his way to keep peace amongst the "tech" enthusiasts, even if it's the means of going against his own beliefs and opinion. I believe that is a kind of special person who is able to keep peace at the cost of his own beliefs, and for that I give him a small round of applause, if it wasn't for him I'm sure that the comedy that is so regularly spewed out would just turn into nothingness and lose all forms of comedy.

Mark, now here is a guy, knows a little about what he's talking about but acts as though "His word is law" and carries on as though he is the local expert on the matter at hand. So many times have I heard about his experience with a product that has been so bad that not only does everybody else on the podcast who thinks (and I use this word "thinks" loosely) has their opinion ridiculed but he sometimes even goes so far to insult massive amounts of innocent listeners.

Reg, yes I saved the "best" for last, this man has become somewhat infamous in my circle of friends, we refer to him not by the name of Reg but "Tetris Man" because in one of the podcasts he carelessly described the iconic and most certainty historic game of Tetris as nothing more and mundane as "The game were the blocks fall down" which definitely caused us to think of Aussie Tech Head as a "hick" or lower class humour podcast rather than something of a valued source of information. Reg has dove into some absurd (yet entertaining) topics, it's a joy to listen in and hear about how the Asian companies are ripping us off (even though he doesn't pre-research these things) posing questions that go along the lines of "do they have to save money at the Australians expense?". This man is the proverbial glue that holds a podcast of Jesters together.

Glen, the ring leader of the zoo, the one who tries to keep order amongst the chaos. Mark, the stubborn one who loves the sound of his voice and can't think of people who may be insulted. And finally Reg the behind the times awesome entertainer who more times than most doesn't know he's being entertaining at all. Together they all make up Aussie Tech Head the best "non-satirical" (yeah right...) tech podcast out there!

For all the Aussie Tech Heads reading, have a good one! I seriously can't wait for your comments!

By Matthew Willison

This blog post wasn't anything more than MY honest opinion of this podcast, and while I'm sure that they are all wonderful people, from my experience of them on this podcast, I can only come to the assumption that they are nothing more than lower class humour and are definitely not a tech podcast.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Vista Theory

Vista has been labelled as a failed OS from the moment that it was released; it has been the focus of much ridicule from users (and non-users) across the world, it has been subjected to reviews where it has been the sole cause of many problems and also the underpinning reason for people to buy Mac's over PC's. As I have said before, I do not believe that Vista is the sole problem in anything these days; there must be some other problem that you've over looked or maybe something wrong that has caused Vista to have this error. With that said, I do admit that while I do hold the opinion that Vista doesn't have major problems now I do admit that in the past it did have some major problems.

What I've been thinking of lately is what would happen if you could get Windows Vista from today and take it back to before Vista SP1 came out. Would Vista still face problems? Or would Vista continue to run completely normal as it was before you had it in a pre SP1 world. I don't have many ideas of how to get this to happen and get this scenario up and running, so if anybody does have a good idea on how to do this, you can e-mail me at my e-mail address ( or just simply leave a comment below for people to read.

If the results of the test come back showing that Vista is running the same as it was before I chucked it into this time paradox experiment then it will prove that despite it being in the same environment that it was when it was facing its most immense problems, Vista was the problem. This is because the internet and driver support that was available did not account and make the OS run slower or worse at all, it would've been the OS itself, but in this paradox because there is no errors that are similar in this time period, Vista must have been the problem way back.

But if the test results come back showing is running different to it was before it was in this paradox, then it would show that it wasn't Vista's problem and it was the environment that lead to Vista's problems. This is because all the support available on the net didn't compliment Vista and led to some of its problems.

Now I know that some people that are reading this may be confused to what I am saying, and again I ask you to e-mail me at so that you can ask me questions and maybe even solve my question in the first place. I think that this experiment would be one of the most enjoyable things I could do with Vista, rather than the mundane benchmarking comparisons.

By Matthew Willison

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Fences, the app that organises your desktop icons

A while ago a Phillip sent me a link to a website called “Fences” an app that allows you to organise your desktop icons without anything that would take up a lot of memory and slow down your computer. The three things that I noticed in the first few hours of using it was the amount of memory that it used (tiny would be an overstatement) how easy it was to use and get used to and also how good it looked and felt why using it. Anybody who has tried to find something that is all of these things knows that it is hard to find, rest assured you’ll find them all here.

I recently installed fences onto a friend’s laptop to try and help him organise a really messy desktop, from the first time I was using it I found that the amount of memory used so low. All of the icons where all organised into files that the app automatically put into place and also was keeping them into place with headings that clearly showed where things where located. This for me was an amazing thing because to do all of that in most other apps you’d expect them to either lag or be so unusable.

As time went on I found out that it was very easy to get used to, rather than having to change how I operated by now having to remember where the files had been organised too I now only had to look around the screen slightly and see where the file was, and usually I’d find a program right next to it that I’d also need. This improved my productivity a whole lot and I really enjoyed this facet of it.

I highly recommend this app, anybody thinking of downloading it I highly recommend you do. If you liked this app then maybe you’d also like another app that I blogged about not long ago “BumpTop

By Matthew Willison

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