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Old school Windows theme'ing

Some people see this...

image

...and say, OMG HOW DO I GET MY WINDOWS TO DO THAT?

When I use XP on my netbook, I purposely give it an old-school computery style. With Windows 7 I choose to go modern, but on the netbook I like the old-school look.

Something that's of no surprise to me is how many people don't know that you can change default menu fonts and the background color to anything you want. This has been a standard feature of Windows since 3.0. Combine that with some computery-looking fonts and you've got yourself something unique and easier on the eyes as far as I'm concerned.

The reason I'm not surprised why people don't know how to do this is because how to do it in XP is buried.

Run this first:

image

Choose this theme:

image

Go to Appearance and pick a color theme. Mine is a modified version of Slate:

image

After that click the Advanced button on the same screen. Change the item Active Title Bar to use the font Fixedsys, size 9 and unbold it by clicking the B button on right:

image

Click OK, Apply, OK. Done.

Modifying one of the color themes in XP is the easiest way to go about it. True, you could modify every single setting manually, but that's kind of a pain to do, so changing an existing color theme is much easier.

As you realize by now, this is done without any additional software; all this stuff is built-in to XP.

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So I tried an iPad...

Last Thursday, as I do every Thursday, I went over to my boss' place. After a three-week(!) wait he finally got his iPad, so of course I took the opportunity to try it out.

I feel the best way to try out new tech stuff is to use the whatever-it-is outside the retail environment. This way you see the thing in its "natural" environment, so to speak. It's not cleaned up, it's got fingerprints on it, it's not purposely connected to the in-store network for maximum speed, etc. In other words, it's how you would ordinarily see it in real-world use.

The iPad is decently built and looks nice of course. On-screen typing was relatively simple.

My overall opinion of it? It's okay. Is it groundbreaking/revolutionary/etc.? Not really. There were a few annoyances I noticed about it right up front.

On-screen keyboards are tolerable at best.

This is true for any touchscreen device and the iPad is no different. While the iPad does its best to provide the best possible software-based keyboard, it still cannot replace the feel of real keyboard keys. The best way to use the iPad's keyboard is by rotating it physically so it goes into "wide" mode. I also noticed slight wrist pain after using it for less than 5 minutes.

Yes, it is nothing more than a big iPod Touch.

When using this thing it just feels like a big iPhone without the phone, i.e. an iPod Touch with a much larger screen. With something that has a larger screen like this, you expect it to do more. It doesn't. What's on the iPod Touch is what's on the iPad, period.

iPad in reality is nothing more than a really expensive e-reader.

iPad is not a phone, nor is it a laptop/netbook. It has a mobile OS and optionally uses a 3G network, yet it can't make calls. It can display photos and videos but can't take them like a phone can. It can browse the web but due to the mobile OS limitations can't run fully-enabled browsers like a laptop/netbook can.

At the end of it all, the iPad is nothing more than an e-reader, and an expensive one at that. It has absolutely no practical purpose otherwise. The iPod Touch is better for gaming and has more apps available. A laptop/netbook (or Macbook) can run much more stuff and act exactly like a desktop computer can.

Oh, and let's not forget when you see word "pad", you assume you could, y'know, write on it with a stylus or something. iPad can't do that, so even the title of the product is misleading.

After sitting down with one and using it, will I buy one?

Answer: I have no need for a $500 e-reader.

Switched to Yahoo! Mail

This is going to come as a bit of a shock to some, but I've decided to switch to Yahoo! Mail.

Don't worry, I can still be contacted at my old address, so you won't have to update your address book or anything like that.

Why did I switch from Thunderbird 2/POP?

It's become obvious to me that local mail, while the most secure, is just too inconvenient. There isn't any easy way to backup a local-to-your-computer account. It does require an external storage medium and you have to have some way of automating it. In other words, backing up a local account automatically is a pain in the ass.

In addition, Thunderbird 2 is old. It's not obsolete yet, but is getting there quickly. Yes, I did look at Thunderbird 3. It's terrible. TB2 was the last truly good free email client. The only other worth having is Microsoft Outlook, and I'm not about to go and pay for that software just for mail.

Why Y! Mail?

Am I happy with Y! Mail? Is this a permanent change?

So far I'm very happy with Y! Mail. It does what it's supposed to do without complaint and doesn't miss anything. I have had to "not spam" a few emails to train the filter, but other than that it's been all smooth sailing.

When it comes to mail I consider nothing as a permanent solution, however there is one big perk in Y! Mail's favor - it's the only webmail I've ever used that hasn't screwed me over. In all the years I've been using email, Y! at no point has done any weird/wacky thing where I lost mail, couldn't access it or whatever. I can't say that for other webmail providers, but can for Y! Mail.

If Y! Mail continues to work as it should, I'll be sticking with them for a good long while.

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