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Dr Alistair Brown | Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more

Windows Vista: Not Much to See

Monday, April 16, 2007

I got my first look at Microsoft's new operating system on a friend's new PC yesterday, and I have to admit I was pretty stunned by it: transparency effects, a gadgets sidebar, 3-d window switching, smooth fonts. But then, once I had seen through the transparent glass in about 30 seconds, I realised with greater shock that there was so little new to see.

It has taken almost six years and thousands of man hours to produce an OS that is admittedly pretty, but also pretty much identical to Windows XP. All of the key security features (especially Windows Defender) are available free for the earlier system, as is the new web browser (should you be daft enough to prefer it to Firefox), and media player. It is indicative that it took one man a year to design the Vista shutdown button, and a shame to image all the worthwhile programming he might have implemented had he been allowed to cut free from the red tape.

Worst of all, my friend had the 64-bit version of the system. Though very fast, like trying to drive a Ferrari with the handbrake on, if you cannot run the programs in the first place it is not much use at all. This version of Vista does not support RAW photo files as standard, but the Microsoft RAW viewer that you can download does not support 64-bit Vista. Neither does AVG Antivirus, or iTunes. 64-bit processing is going to appeal most to hardcore digital photographers and multimedia fanatics, but if its capabilities in these fields are hamstrung from the start, then the product simply will not sell. Vista presents a scene of wasted potential, and like many people I will be sticking with XP - stable, secure, faster and opaque - for while yet.

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Posted by Alistair at 9:20 am


Anonymous John C said...

I've not actually seen much of Vista yet, here at Newcastle Uni we're all still running on XP. I can't say as I'm in much of a hurry to change either. I've seen a couple of people using it and my initial thoughts from only a few seconds of looking were that the flashy interface was all a gimic. I mean you can apparently choose the sort of clock face you want in the corner of the screen - I just want one that can tell the time!

Makes you wonder what the next version will be like...

1:21 pm  

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