Tag Archives: User interface

Three Flaws of Metro UI in Windows 8 CP

I’ve been running Windows 8 Consumer Preview for a few days and I should say Metro User Interface has no bright future for a regular PC with a mouse and a keyboard. All this tiling nightmare is an attempt to make a structural multi-purpose information display, and that idea has three big issues:

  1. User need is overestimated. I don’t have a need to see multiple screens/tiles simultaneously, like weather and emails and photos, etc. My desktop (or, whatever, monitor screen) is not a control panel of the aircraft where, for instance, this need is present. Even if it was, it would need to be frozen, fixed for each and every display or tile.
  2. PC is considered in a wrong way. My PC is not a giant mobile phone. On a mobile phone with a tiny touch screen that free space would be probably useless. Yet I enjoy and appreciate the free space on the desktop. PC is special in that regard. Apple does not mix mobile and desktop, why Microsoft should?
  3. Core concepts are overlooked. Basically common sense is put underneath MS corporate intelligence as it seems.  Simplicity is good, limitation is not. I don’t mind multitude of controls, small fonts and complexity. I hate rules that cannot be hacked. I am annoyed with the whole approach of “follow the pattern”-style in mouse navigation. It is not convenient, period. And don’t tell me shutting down of PC is stupid, that is my cow and it is up to me what to do with it.

I like new ideas and I know it is difficult to change. The most difficult is to understand that your mind thinking pattern is wrong. But in this case there is no revolution with Metro UI. I just feel it.

Metro UI Claustrophobia in Windows 8

Windows 8 StartI installed Windows 8 Consumer Preview on one of my secondary computers to see if it is playable. The kids were puzzled at first, but then realized that movies link works and there are new games hidden behind the Metro tiles.

I agree that Metro UI is more suitable for touchscreen hardware, and if there is no such hardware is present, it is difficult to justify its usability with only mouse and keyboard (although there are some very handy keyboard shortcuts).

I like Windows interface in general and I believe that Windows 8 works better and faster (that I can witness) than Windows 7. Yet, Metro User Interface is not a revolutionary move on PC screen. It is meant to be simple, which is a good approach. But a computer remains a very sophisticated device and Metro UI on top of it feels overwhelming to me, because as a power user I don’t mind multitude of controls and … empty space on my desktop. Empty space on my desktop is inspiring, as it can be filled with anything. Empty space in Metro is not easy to fill.

metro-1

Windows 8 Developer Preview — Perfect Stranger

win8-8102New Metro interface of Windows 8 Developer Preview (build 8102) — available to everybody to download and try — has puzzled me from the first screen. I understand the concept, but I don’t see how it is going to be productive in its way to access programs and present information from the web. Font is not distinctive. If somebody likes clean and neat display, what is Metro going to look like then? This Powerpoint style of bright and big square titles is not new at all. Look at some screenshots below (click to enlarge):

metro-1

Look at new Control Panel (click to enlarge):

metro-2

 Or another one:

metro-3

The “problem” with running of Metro applications is that you cannot close them. If you leave them and run something else, they get “suspended” — look at the new Windows Task Manager (click to enlarge):

Windows 8 Task manager

 And another one:

Windows Task manager cpu

If you need to disable Metro in Windows 8 Developer Preview, do the following:

Press Windows key + R to get Run command. Type “regedit” and press Enter. In the registry editor find the key HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Microsoft\Windows\CurrentVersion\Explorer\RPEnabled
and change its value from 1 to 0. Restart the computer. You should be done now. But what is the point of running Windows 8 without Metro??

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Norton 360 v.5 — Yellow Flickering in the Black Hole of Customizing

norton-360-v5If you like to use power stuff , try Norton 360 from Symantec promotion page here. It has been updated to version 5 recently (version 2011). Norton 360 v5 is a huge security and computer maintenance suite that includes several modules: PC Security (antivirus and firewall), Identity Protection, Backup, and PC Tuneup. In this version, similar to Norton Internet Security 2011, Norton 360 features the latest generation of the Norton reputation-based detection and prevention technology. Here’s the direct download link to the 90-days trial: http://buy-download.norton.com/akdlm/dm/estore/downloads/OEM/N360/5.0/N360_5.0.0.125_MS_LOEM_MRF1441_5671.exe?LNG=EN&None&fileExt=.exe

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Adobe Acrobat X Pro — Curving in the CS5 way

Adobe Acrobat Pro XAdobe has released a new version of its famous PDF editorAcrobat X Pro. Top new features are the following:

1. Improved import function to MS Word, so it is supposed to precisely keep tables relative positions, images, multi-column text and even font attributes.
2. PDF Portfolios: combine few documents (wide range of files) in one polished PDF container with multiple colors pallets, themes, and styles.
3. Rich media: insert media files like audio, Flash Player compatible video, and others.
4. Action Wizard: automate routine steps for easy application.
5. File versions comparison: self-explanatory
6. Extended Reader functionality: let me quote Adobe: Enable Adobe Reader X or Reader 9 users to participate in shared reviews, fill and save forms, and digitally sign and approve PDF documents.
7. Interactive PDF forms: Intelligent form field recognition (!). You can track and manage responses.
8. Permanent information removal: Permanently delete sensitive information.
9. Online file sharing

As I can see, new version of Acrobat makes it not much better than just a good old Acrobat with a new makeup, because all these new functions are cool but not essential. As for the interface, I thought it should resemble CS5 style, but the buttons are completely new, please look at the screenshots below.

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A very subjective review of Avast! Internet Security 5.0.677

avast-securedI like applications from Avast. I know it is not wise to be hooked on security software, because when you get used to something, you isolate yourself from all the other similar stuff, and one security tool is never enough. But still, to me Avast makes incredibly pleasing software. The main thing I like about it (And I mean anything starting from free Avast antivirus) is that it’s completely seamless and not intrusive at all (especially when you shut down the sound messages). I hate when an antivirus behaves like an unexpected guest, setting his rules instead of following your rules.

So I installed Avast Internet Security version 5.0.677. And it is great from a user interface perspective. Yet there are some very important features to mention. As I reviewed in one of my recent posts, Avast free antivirus v.5 performed with flying colors in the drive-by test. That basically tells you a lot about the company, because it takes time and effort to watch those web threats spreading around. In the Internet Security package have some extra stuff to appreciate: a sand box tool which allows to run any program in the virtual environment (similar to instant virtual machine):

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McAfee Internet Security. In the kingdom of boredom and ignorance.

mcafee-2011-front-guiI have installed McAfee Internet Security with 6-month complimentary subscription for Facebook users, but I’m confused to tell whether it is version 2010 or 2011, because it is not shown anywhere. Maybe it is just a smart marketing move, but I would call it a sneaky move, as the packaging design on their official website shows no difference. About window tells me the following: Security Center version is 10.5 and VirusScan 14.5.

First I’d like to say something good about McAfee IS. Installation went very easy and fast [screenshot] — no reboot required, no annoying registration forms, no nothing. Installation options were presented well [screenshot]. The program, once it is running, feels very light on system resources. It would be ridiculous to say that a McAfee application cannot get its job done, as well as Symantec these guys probably spent a fortune in Reasearch and Development and most tests and reviews say they are good. But there were some really surprising things to me.

Couldn’t-care-less Protection

mcafee-scan-finishedI take care of my files, and if there’s something I need to know — I need to know that in details. OK, Mcafee IS found few viruses during the scan of some downloaded samples and presented the report:

Ok, I want to see the details of the viruses and Trojans found in my files, so I click the links to see an explanation. A new window opens in the internet browser where I can see exactly that McAfee has empty database entries under the names W32/Autorun.worm!ji and Generic.gh. With risk assessment Low it probably means that they have no clue of what they found and how to prove it is a virus. Or maybe the engineers at McAfee just don’t care. Because for the suspect Artemis!83A917492B0D [screenshot] they even have no trace in the database, “page not found”, 404, you know. What did they find then? Not much, I’m afraid it just what is called “false positives” — files with inner structure elements which resemble elements of malware. And I don’t mind pointing to some dangerous areas, as no one can be 100% percent sure, but tell me something reasonable, suitable for a human. Literally: “We are not sure, but this file looks suspicious, click here if you want to know why… We suggest we delete it, or quarantine (isolate), so you could decide later what to do…” Here’s what I call human approach.

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Norton AntiVirus 2011 — Black Behind

Symantec has updated its “Windows 7 spoken here” security software page with offers for Microsoft customers. (I guess running MS Windows makes me automatically relevant to this category). Here’s the link: http://buy-static.norton.com/prod/html/partner/msft_EN.html 
There you have Norton 360 Version 4.0 (old link) and new Norton AntiVirus 2011 version 18.1.0.37.
Direct download link: http://buy-download.norton.com/downloads/OEM/18.1/NAV_18.1.0.37_MS_LOEM_MRF1325A_5452.exe?LNG=EN&VENDORID=MICROSOFT (there is a missing file extension, so when you finish downloading, just rename the file to add exe extension)
The feature of this offer is 90-days trial period — long enough to try and make a decision.

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New Apple iPod — closer to true iPhone than ever

I always liked Apple’s iPods, but iPod Touch has been my favorite. This upgrade is truly surprising, because Apple iPod Touch this time has never been closer to iPhone 4. For me that’s what really needed, because I use “cheap” mobile phones anyway (I’ve never been careful with mobile phones, but it is difficult not to be careful when it costs more then 1000$ (without contract)), and for me iPod Touch is not only an outstanding player, but also like a small PC (which iPhone is). Now it is coming with HD video recording and built-in microphone. I mean here, you can enjoy iPhone technical and design excellence without buying it, because new iPod Touch is almost new iPhone 4 but without the phone part. New iPod Touch - image courtesy of Apple
Look at the highlighted area on the screenshot, see the phone buttons? Now two built-in cameras make it great for phone or Skype-like communication via WiFi.  

What else? 7.2 millimeters thin steel curved case, Retina display with 960-by-640 backlit LCD display (326 pixels per inch), Apple A4 chip (replacement of old Cortex-A8 architecture), built-in three-axis gyroscope, two built-in cameras (rear camera shoots HD 720p video).  

Really nice.  In a way iPod Touch is a miniature of iPad.

The price is the following: 8GB $230 / 32GB $300 / 64GB $400.