Sunday, February 7, 2010

Updates - Cambridge Guided Busway (CGB) and Windows 7

Not a lot of cycling this weekend - twice down to the shop for the newspapers. There has been quite a lot in the press - Cambridge Evening News, about the Cambridge Guided Busway -CGB recently. Or as I heard the "Mis" guided busway. I bet there are quite a few people to the North of Cambridge looking forward to its opening. The good news is that it will be accessible to all. One advantage of the construction is the "platform" style method of getting on and off the bus. Seen here in a picture I took a few weeks ago.


The date for when we expect it to open is still uncertain though and the Operators have hit out at the delays. Two operators have plans to use the CGB, which requires specially adapted buses. The same article does suggest that the contractor BAM Nuttall faces late delivery penalties of £14,000 per day.

Another article also reports that the CGB will be travelling to Transport World 2020, a conference in Sydney to report on the CGB. Apparently he will also visit the Adelaide busway to share knowledge. The trip to the conference is being paid for by the Conference organisers and he is paying out of his own pocket to visit the Adelaide Busway. I know that it is right that we ensure our Council spends "our" money properly, it seems a bit harsh that he is funding the Adelaide part of the trip personally - there can't be many people who would consider visiting a Busway to be holiday!

Windows 7

I was talking about my experience of Windows 7, which I loaded onto my main Desktop computer over Christmas. Basically I like it. There are a number of features that make it a more productive environment that the previous Windows Vista OS. I did not do a clean install I did an update which might have caused some glitches but nevertheless although the update took several hours it ran very smoothly. I am not sure what it was doing during all that time - but it did it.

There were some issues at first:

Windows Media Player 12

This program caused problems at first - whenever it ran it took up to 50% of the CPU updating the media. W7 has some troubleshooters and accesses more on the Microsoft website - some of these implied they could fix a damaged Library. Although I ran them they did not seem to highlight where the problems were, but did indicate there were problems. In the end I removed all of the pointers that WMP12 used to indicate where media was stored and added pointers to the actual folders back in directly. (W7 has a new concept Libraries which point to Folders where such data may be stored.) WMP12 considers music, video and pictures to be "stuff" it watches. I trimmed it back to my music and apart from a more manageable session of "updating the media" it has been fine since. When starting WMP12 is does do a Media update check but it does not take too long to complete and relinquish CPU performance. (For reference I have around 40Gb of music and 180Gb of pictures.)

WMP12 has changed the GUI for sync'ing which was a minor irritant - but I have gotten used to it - I just feel it is less consistent than before.


The approach to backing up has been made more accessible, but the performance of backup seems to have been hugely degraded. For Vista I used to do a system backup from time to time, say every couple of months. I also would do a full data backup then incremental backups each Sunday evening. Once the 1.5Tb disk was full I would switch to a second disk. When that was full I would re-cycle the first disk. It seemed to work and although the main Backup would take quite a long time (12hours) the incremental backups were usually finished by Monday morning. With W7 the incremental backups can take 24-36 hours. As a work-around I now only run the incremental backup once a month. Then on a weekly basis I run a Microsoft program called Synctoy will keep directory pairs in sync in terms of the files stored. I run this every week and keep a number of locations, including my email, cycling data, music and photographs in sync on a third USB disk. It runs very quickly (less than 10minutes for an update) and is a very convenient. The forums do report that Microsoft is aware of the problem

Multi-Function Printing

I have an old MFP HP7410 printer - which has served me well over the last few years - it has printed out more than 25,000 pages and is great for scanning and serving as a fax machine. After upgrading to W7 I also upgraded the HP software but although the printer will print some of the scanning software no longer seems to work properly. I can scan a document, see it on the computer screen, but then it disappears when saved. Life was too short to sort this one out. My work-around is to used "Windows Fax and Scan" software. It might not have all the bells and whistles - but it works. Sometimes software becomes too complex for its own good I think.

Wacom Bamboo Touch

I used a pen and pad instead of a mouse. It is much easier and an input method I am well used to from my days designing and laying out silicon chips. When I upgraded to W7 there were some foibles where the pen input worked most in most of the situations, but not when installing software and getting a Yes No confirmation box up. (I used the cursor keys to select the YES box). I also lost the ability to write on Sticky Notes and use pen input on the Microsoft Office tools. I upgraded the driver software but things did not really improve. In the end I unloaded the Wacom drivers and re-loaded them and pen input was restored. It is great to be able to review a presentation or document by writing notes on it and emailing it on. I also use the Windows Journal program to keep handwritten notes - I am seriously considering a Tablet computer as my next Laptop replacement. I find the pen input so much more productive.


The compatibility has been really very good and W7 is much easier to use and has released some disk storage (200Mb) as well. W7 is much better in a number of subtle ways. I find going back to Vista a bit of a pain now.

The only niggle is that as a Chrome user there is some strange interaction bettwen Chrome/Flash and Microsoft Outlook. My workaround is to read my email from a web browser and only start Outlook from time to time to store away my email.

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