Top 10 free Windows applications

These applications have been around for a while so they have been peer and community reviewed pretty thoroughly. Most of them are cross platform and they are all high performing applications . Some of them have a pro paid version but all of them are very functional as free applications. I am always using Gimp and I did used to use Scribus .This video reminded me to take another look at it. These applications are very much for 2018 so  , if you have time, take a look. Open Office is good to have loaded if you want an alternative to cloud services. It doesn’t have the high end graphics and presentation capabilities of the Apple and Microsoft alternatives but it works really well. Libre Office is also free and equally as good.

Linux Mint 17.2 Raphaela

Raphaela desktopI first encountered Linux Mint 17.2 when I installed it on an HP desktop computer in 2015. 3 years later and I have just installed it on my vintage 2006 HP Compaq Presario V6000 because the Linux Mint Nadia was unsupported. I was actually wondering whether it would run  or not. As it turns out it is running beautifully and very fast . I have a 1.6Ghz chip , 75Gb hard drive and 1.5Gb ram. I really was not expecting 17.2  to be this efficient. There are a couple of issues , though. When I first put Linux Mint on this laptop because it was struggling to run Windows I lost access to wifi capability. No amount of installing Broadcom drivers helped. Not working with Linux Mint 17.2 either and I have tried everything. I have used every fix I can find on the net and everything else I could think of. I am running wifi off an old D-Link wifi adapter. I have a nice little D-Link DWA-131 but that doesn’t work on Raphaela and doesn’t work on Ubuntu 16.04 either. Works instantly on Windows. The fixes do not work. My old D-Link adapter is reliable across all operating systems. That’s interesting.

I can’t load Virtual Box, which I was hoping , and have tried different versions. No matter. I have it on Windows 10 and Ubuntu 16.04. I probably don’t have enough system resources to run it on this Compaq . There is no excuse for the wifi, though . I have read that the onboard wifi card  for this V6000 can just stop working. Why? I have so much vintage technology which still runs fine and to different degrees to efficiency.

The two other odd things about 17.02 on this laptop is the driver manager doesn’t open first time. I always have to click on it a second time, then I have had tabs crashing on me in Firefox, a new experience for me, so I have downloaded and installed Chromium.

Apart from the things mentioned I am really pleased with how this is all going on my old laptop. This is the one I take out and about and I used to use a mobile stick with it which meant it didn’t matter if I could access wifi or not. Now I have to access wifi with a clunky dongle but I am in no way complaining. I live in 2018. I need wifi.  I have yet to see if it will run off a mobile hotspot.

The graphic display on this laptop is still excellent and it loads programmes like Gimp really quickly. It is working really well. Sometimes you just need to be using  an older laptop because you don’t want to put your new one at risk for whatever reason. I like the keyboard on this and it has stood the test of time since the keys are not worn in any way. Raphaela is cruisy and has given my old Compaq such a cool makeover.

React OS

 

 

react OS

ReactOS is still in the alpha stage so not for your average user , as yet. It is an online collaboration to write a Windows alternative for users who want a simpler OS environment. I created a live CD and a bootable CD neither of which I was able to use as I wanted. I had planned to load it onto my old Linux laptop but the support for Wine and virtual machines is not there on Linux Mint 14 and so I came to my Windows desktop and installed VirtualBox and have since been able to get ReactOS going. I can’t say it was easy or straight forward. I had to wait, reboot, wait, reboot, clean my machine and then finally I got ReactOS installed without a problem. This is a Windows 10 machine so it does work on Windows 10. I have managed to install a theme and you need to go to the computer icon so you can have a bit of a look around. At the moment I haven’t been able to operate the package installer so I can see what is supplied with the OS. I shall be able to load Windows programmes of my own. I am running it in Virtual Box so it is not having too much impact on my desktop computer. I’d prefer to play with it on an older laptop since it’s still in the alpha stage. As I improve my own knowledge and find things out I’ll blog more about it. People do these things because they can. It gives them discovery and learning challenges and an option of collaborating with others who have similar interests and skills. That’s the beauty of 2018.

iPad Pro or Surface Pro?

 

 

There is some good competition going on now between the iPad Pro and the Surface Pro. It means, down the track, we’ll actually get  really good,  bigger tablets than the ones we currently have. It will come down to price, stylus , battery life and use. We need to stop the notion that one size fits all and work on what users need and want and look at what users are using the device for. For some it will be an iPad Pro because they are used to an iPad and have an iPhone. They can easily go between their devices. For now, the iPad Pro is winning on art work capabilities and camera but the Surface Pro has the computing power and capabilities of a desktop/laptop and is improving all the time. The keyboard may or may not be an issue because it will depend on how you use the keyboard and what you need it for.  They are both bigger and so not so portable as such. An iPad mini or small tablet can just go anywhere really easily. A phone is even more portable.

A bigger tablet, though, takes advantage of the real graphics improvements we have had over the last couple of years. The screen real estate is superior and so can display images and videos better. Why peer at a tiny screen when you can really enjoy and appreciate the graphics quality in 2018?

Tablets are very bad at note taking. You can never write as neatly and as small as on paper. You can’t get the feedback properly and it always comes back to writing like an idiot. Yes, you can do some good artistic writing but for normal note taking there is a long way to go to get that screen response to the stylus and then the accuracy we are capable of with our manual dexterity. If either of those tablets could cross that bridge we’d all be winning. Why write when you can type is how it goes at the moment?

With a larger tablet you’d have to consider screen replacement costs should the screen become damaged. You’d have to know the serial number and have some sort of security apps installed because they are portable and then become a temptation to others. Protecting your tablet would become important as is the case with a laptop but these tablets are expensive and so it would be vital to ensure some sort of security if you were going to be taking them out.

How do you decide? The Surface pro is a lot dearer. For some that will decide it. The simpler models are more comparable in price. There are different versions of each so it is important to look at what you are getting for the price. You then have to look at what you would actually do with a bigger tablet. If you are a computer apps person and use a lot of Windows programmes then that is the way you go. iIf you happily use your iPad apps and your already have computing power in a laptop or desktop then that’s your choice if you want a bigger tablet screen. A lot of people would. They can see the screen better, use the screen better and then make better use of the tablet. You have to be able to sit comfortably with it , though, and so it’s important to consider how you will manage that aspect of tablet use without resting it directly on your body.

 

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