Like most of us, I was excited when Vista came out.  Microsoft promised great things.  I was pretty quick to install it too.  I have a pretty nice machine so I figured it would be a cinch.  Unfortunately, I had some problems from the start, especially getting Aero set up.  One new video card later, I got it working.  Sure I love some of Vistas features but I am really starting to wonder if it is all worth the trouble.

Let’s face it, when it comes to performance, Vista isn’t getting the best reviews.  It uses a lot of RAM and CPU.  And don’t get me started on Trusted Installer!  Aero is cool but the fact is, on both my home PC (Dual Core 3.2 G processor with 3 G RAM) and my work laptop (Dell D830), I have Aero turned OFF!  I find it uses up too many resources. 

Now I don’t mind all of the UAC (User Access Control) prompts.  I do feel a safe and secure knowing that Vista won’t let anything happen without my explicit permission.  But when I can’t delete a file on my own computer I start to get mad.  On several occasions lately (including one today) I’ve literally had to restart my PC before Vista would let me access a file to delete it.  Who does Vista think it is?  I’m the admin on this machine!  That is annoying.

On top of all that, I’ve been struggling to get a RAID array set up on my home PC.  My motherboard supports it, I’ve got all the drivers updated, and the RAID utility confirms that my array is configured properly.  But Vista doesn’t care at all!  I thinks I have two drives where I expect to see one RAID 1 (Mirrored) array.  I’ve been on the phone with ASUS, the motherboard manufacturer and they have confirmed that I have done everything correctly.  They blame Vista.  Is Vista at fault?  Who knows.  But right now I am starting to think it is.

 

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Pictures Folder Right now I’ve got 4,234 pictures taking up 8.53 GB of space on my desktop computer.  As a matter of fact, I’ve got a boat-load of video files too since I recently bought an HD Video camera.  And 33 GB of music too.  So soon I’ll be exploring ways to back up all of this information.  But for now, let’s talk about tagging! 

The other night I wanted to organize all of the pictures on my PC.  Sure, I’m a Vista user but I still haven’t figured out all of the features included with it.  I fired up Windows Photo Gallery to see what it can do.  It’s a pretty intuitive application so before long I had all of my files organized and tagged.  Tagging is a cool concept.  If you aren’t familiar with it, when you tag a photo (or another file), you assign it a category.  But unlike the folders that we store photos in, I can put many different tags on a picture.  So if I have a photo of my wife and I, I can tag it “Andy” and also “Rebecca”.  Plus, if we are on vacation, I can tag it with “vacation” or “skiing” or whatever. 

Although Windows Photo Gallery is part of Vista, I also have Windows Live Photo Gallery, which is a free download.  It seems to have a few more features then the version included with Vista and, as far as I know, it works on Windows XP too.

Why tag photos?  Now that my collection is organized with tags, I can easily search my collection with Windows Photo Galleryphoto gallery search for specific pictures.  If I want to see all pictures of my wife and I on vacation, I just enter “Andy Rebecca vacation” in the search box and BAM, I get what I was looking for.  Or I can search for “Rebecca Hiking” or “Friends Skiing” or “Family Beach”.  Plus, I can sort the results by date, tag, folder, etc.  Pretty cool, huh?

Tagging It’s really easy to do.  I started off tagging photos in bulk.  My files are already organized in nested folders with meaningful titles such as “Skiing-> Big Sky” or “Vacation -> Italy”.  Andy I’ve (already) got tons of pictures of little Ben in folders like “Ben -> Week 1″.  So to start, I selected every picture in the the folder called “Ben” (including 6 sub folders) and tagged every picture “Ben”.  I did the same for the vacation photos.  I found folders named after various holidays with my family so I tagged all the photos “Family”.  You get the idea.  Within a few minutes I put some simple tags on most of my pictures.  Since the thumbnail viewer is pretty good and I have a wide screen monitor, it was easy for me to then open folders, select lots of pictures at one time and apply more specific tags such as “Andy”, “Rebecca”, “Grandma”, etc.  Plus, I removed the tags that didn’t seem appropriate from my earlier “bulk tagging”.  For instance, there were pictures in the folder Ben that were just of other family members.

The project only took about an hour and I was pretty well tagged up, but I am sure I’ll keep on tagging my existing files to get more accurate.  From now on, I’ll be tagging all of my pictures as I import them from my camera.  My tagging strategy is pretty simple.  I have tags for people such as:  Andy, Rebecca, Mom, Grandma, Grandmom, Grandpop.  Plus I use last names for siblings and their children.  So “Doe” would be used for my brother John Doe, his wife and all of their children.  And one for Friends too.

I also have activity/event tags such as Weddings, Vacation, Skiing, Sightseeing, Beach, Outdoors (hiking, etc).  You get the idea.

With 4,234 pictures and still growing, I’ve got a lot of great photos, and some that aren’t so great.  But I hate to delete photos, (even though I should start doing so).  But with Photo Gallery, I can also Rate pictures!  So I can put 5 stars on all of my favorites.  By doing that, I’ll be able to filter my pictures even more!

I’ve gotta start by saying I love Vista.  A lot of people I talk to are still scared of Vista but I have really enjoyed using it.  I’m no expert on the features but I did blog about a few that I liked right out of the gate.  Lately,  one thing that makes me crazy is the TrustedInstaller.exe.  First, you should understand that I built my own machine and I guess either my CPU fan or the box itself (or both) must suck.  Because when my CPU is cranking, the fan revs up and rattles the entire box.  It is really annoying!  And because of this, it is obvious to me every time TrustedInstaller.exe is running.  This thing typically runs at 48% of my CPU and lasts for 15 minutes or so.  I don’t know why it isn’t throttled back a bit, it doesn’t make sense to me.

Anyway, when I first figured out that TrustedInstaller was the culprit, I did some web searching and found a blog post by Scott Hanselman.  I was really glad that I wasn’t the only one suffering, especially someone that I respect like Scott (sorry Scott).  But it validated me, that I wasn’t doing something wrong myself. 

Interestingly, when I looked up his blog post today to include it here, I read something that stood out to me:

“When I see things like this, I think “If I worked for Microsoft, fixing this problem could be a HUGE opportunity.””

Posted 5/28/2007 on Scott’s Blog

Wow, that is awesome because I remembered another post on Scott’s blog from which I quote:

“I’m going to work for Microsoft. There, I said it. I’m going to work for ScottGu’s team in the Developer Division.”

Posted 7/21/2007 on Scott’s Blog

OK, I am pretty sure ScottGu’s team isn’t responsible for the TrustedInstaller.  But Scott (Hanselman), can you PLEASE walk down the hall and talk to someone!

I’m still in the process of getting my computer all set up since the move to Vista.  Like most developers, I have a lot of software and tools to install.


The other day I installed SQL Server but I had a little trouble getting Reporting Services installed because I didn’t meet the requirements. 


I’ve installed Reporting Services a few times in the past on XP.  So before I even started I installed IIS.  To do so, go to Control Panel > Programs.  From there you can click “Turn Windows features on or off”.  You’ll get a little pop-up with a list of features.  I later learned that just choosing Internet Information Services (and the sub topic World Wide Web Services) is not enough.  I know this because that is all I did and Reporting Services would not install!  Luckily I found this article at support.microsoft.com.  I had to go back and choose some extra features of IIS that did not get installed by default.  The article explains the whole thing, but this picture should make it easy to see which features need to be enabled. 


Yes, it is a small picture but click it so see it full size!


 After making these changes, Reporting Services installed in a snap.  Good luck.

Here are a few Vista features and my thoughts after a few days of use.

Instant Search (Thumbs Up)

The first thing I noticed with Vista is that stuff wasn’t where I expected it to be.  This is not Windows XP, that is for sure.  Immediately after I set up Vista I needed to see the Device Manager and I had no idea where to look.  I have since found it by the way.  But what I learned early on is that you can easily search for installed programs as well as files.  You can see in the screen shot that I typed “Device” and as I typed the search started.  The top item was “Device Manager” and it was highlighted so I could hit enter and it opened.  That was easy.  I have been using this to start most programs so far.  I just finished installing IIS.  I couldn’t find the admin tool so I just typed IIS in the search bar.

Lots of Windows Security Warnings and Prompts (unsure)

I heard about this but didn’t realize what it was.  Every time you do certain things you get a security warning.  So, for example, if I open the IIS Manager Vista prompts me with “Windows needs your permission to continue.  If you started this action, continue.”  I am sure there is a way to disable these messages but I have to admit, I feel more secure.  We’ll see how long it takes before I get frustrated.

Lack of Control over Defragmenter (Thumbs Down)

My friend Gary from work has been showing me the ways of a sys admin.  He taught me to use partitions for various files.  He also likes to defragment the drives after making big changes.  I’ve been following his ideas lately but found a snag with Vista.  The Disk Defragmenter is pretty lame!  You options seem to be (after you get past the security warning): a) Run defragmenter on a schedule or b) Deframent now.  That is pretty much it.  I don’t know what happens when you choose b.  There are no options and no status update.  Is it defragmenting all of my drives or just one?  I assume it is doing all of them.  I tried running it on a schedule but I don’t know if it worked.  It was scheduled for 1 AM but my PC was asleep at the time so I think it skipped it.  This morning I tried to run it manually.  So I kicked it off and went to work.  I came home to find out that the PC went to sleep and never finished defraging.  This is pretty lame.  I have heard that Vista manages the defragmenting for us now so I shouldn’t have to worry about it.  I am not so confident in this.

No More “My Documents” (Thumbs Up)

Windows XP had a folder for each user within the folder Documents and  Settings.  Inside each user is a folder for My Documents and inside that My Music, My Pictures, etc.  I like to re-direct my “My Documents” to a different drive and that was easy to do.  But you didn’t have a lot of control over the other “My” folders.  It was all or nothing.   Vista introduces a Users folder.  Inside that, each user has a folder, in my case it is called “Andy”.  Inside that folder you will find folders named Contacts, Downloads, Documents, Music, etc.  No more “My”…I like that already!  Then I found out that you can easily re-direct any of these folders to a different location.  So I put Documents, Downloads, etc on my D drive and I put Music, Pictures, and Video on my M (media) drive.  And I can still use the shortcut on the start menu.  I click “Andy” and I see all of my folders, even though they are located in different locations.  This is very cool.  To learn how to re-direct the files, read this post I found on Ed Bott’s blog (I don’t know him, found it with Google).