Americans deserve better

No, not better than other people, just better than what there being offered at the moment.

What am I talking about?  Cars of course!

Lets face it, the current US version of the Focus is based on the 1998 original model.  The rest of the world got a totally new car in 2004, and that model has already been facelifted at least once.  Its the same all around, the Saturn Aura is a Vauxhall/Opel Vectra with a modified rear end (and an American Car of the Year award despite the Vectra’s infamous lack of… ..well anything really in the EU.)

Ford are currently working towards rectifying this, the US Focus should soon be brought into line with the rest of the world, the Mondeo is on its way over there (Or not, they can’t seem to make there minds up about it) as is the Fiesta.  GM may well bring the Chinese market Buick’s to America, and there the Vaxuhall/Opel Astra and Insignia in a more chrome blighted form.  Chrysler is going to start building its small cars based on Fiat platforms, and Fiat will be bringing the 500 (And hopefully the Panda as well) to the US market.

Its a start, but there are plenty of other cars in the EU (And probably Japanese) markets that there is a clear and urgent need for.  There is no better evidence for this than the fact that crap like the Chrysler Sebring, Dodge Avenger, Chrysler 300C, Chevrolet Malibu and the Chevrolet Cruze (anybody EVER seen one on the road by the way?) still sell.

To replace the Cruze, a family hatchback without a hatchback – lacklustre handling and emaciated petrol engines, might I recommend the Astra?  It may platform share, but its a far more accomplished car than the Cruze.  If your really worried about it GM, stick a Chevrolet badge on it to save face, its ok.

To replace the Sebring and its fellow Chrysler slush mobiles I’d recommend French saloons.  A Citroen C5 or C6, or the current Renault Laguna, do the comfortable ride thing way better and also handle at the same time.  There interiors are great, there styling is light-years ahead of the Sebring and there build quality is considerably better.  Avoid Peugeots though, there rather crap at the moment.

What about other cars that would suit the market?  An obvious choice is of course the current Skoda Superb, its twindoor boot is ideal for markets in which a saloon is still seen as a premium product over a hatchback.  It gives you the premium look without the disadvantages of lacking a proper rear hatch.  Its also a vastly better drive than any equivalent car currently on the US market, has a dull but superbly made interior and most importantly – its a Skoda.  That means its just about bullet proof on reliability and quality without being too expensive.

Of course even that will not satisfy some, and they will want a proper saloon with all the disadvantages that entails – how about a SEAT Exeo?  Under its Spanish skin its a previous generation Audi A4 with a more comfortable suspension and tyre setup.  Its comparatively cheep and comes both as a saloon and as an estate for those who want more space.

How about some stylish hatchbacks?  cars like the Citroen C2, C3 and C4 (particularly in Coupe 3 door hatch form), Skoda Fabia and Octavia, SEAT Ibiza, Renault Clio and Megan are obviously worth investigating on the US market.

With the collapse of the faux-4x4 market there a re bound to be those looking for more practical ways of lugging lots of people around.  There’s a large number of cars build for that very purpose around the world, and indeed Chryslers latest offering in this market is supposed to be rather good actually.  However why not try some of the more entertaining offerings from the French manufactures?  The Renault Espace created the model for all modern people carriers and is still about the best out there.  The Citroen C3 and C4 Picasso are both good cars, and I’d mention the Berlingo to those who need only shift 5 people but need van sized luggage space.  The Fiat Multipla is getting on in years and is rather anonymous after its emergency restyle (google to see the original late 1990’s model) but it offers 6 seats in the same rough footprint as a normal family hatchback.  In the EU its wide body can be a pain, a problem that should be far less noticeable on wider US roads.

Other cars that should make it across include the entire Alfa Romeo range, excluding the Mito and the new 149 due to there fugly style.  The 159 may be due for replacement any time soon, but it is by far the best looking saloon made by any company in recent years.  It may lack the shear driving involvement of an equivalent Beamer 3 series, but its fantastic looks and interior is one of the best on the road even today (Also the fact its not bought exclusively by Yuppy wannabies is a major plus.)

Of course, all this is dreaming – the US market is not really growing enough to support these brands entering it just yet.  But who knows, maybe after trying out the new models the big three are bringing in from there European operations, US buyers will start to demand more from there cars than before?

And maybe France will renounce the republic, the Pope convert to pastafarianism and the batshit bannanas will be beaten out of Tom Cruise and other scientologist nutballs?




Oh wait, I promised you furry porn didn't I?  Erm, bah I’ll have to leave you hanging for now.


Mac my bitch up

Some of you may already know that I already own one mac, you know me too well and will be added to the depopulation list when the revolution comes.  For those of you ignorant of that fact let me enlighten your pitiful little minds.

A while ago my grandmother wished to get into computing, I tried her out with a variety of second hand laptops to get her going.  First was a windows 95 machine, with a whole 12mb of ram, which I had running a lightweight Linux distro (Beatrix I believe its called.)  She had issues using that, and to be honest I can rather understand this, blue and yellow screens are a bitch to read after all.  Second was a Windows 2000 laptop, a little slow but perfectly serviceable to this day, she eventually had to give up on because it was too complicated.

Her main problem was using the mouse, it had too many buttons for her basically.  So I found myself thinking like this: What type of computer is there thats designed for people who have issues understanding the idea of multiple buttons on a mouse?

And the answer was obvious: a Mac.

So I scoured the second hand shops and came across a G3 iBook (white not clam case sadly) and set her up with this machine.  At which point my grandfather decides to play the family game of being irrationally paranoid and insists she get rid of it.  He is a nice guy, just has his irrational moments.  So the computer went home to live with my mother, who uses it to read fan stories in bed.

At least I hope that’s all she uses it for… *Shudder*

Anyway! story time over, its now time to share with you the good news!  Today I found myself a lovely G3 iMac tray-loader in Bondi Blue.

Yes, its one of the first series and its working faultlessly.  233MHz, 160MB of RAM, not sure yet about the HDD space, running OSX (The first version at the moment though digging out a Panther install at the moment.)  For £34.

Actually whack on another £4, I had to taxi the bugger home since its so heavy.  I have it running right now… …ok its crashed right now since it decided to open a modern web page in IE for Mac (on a 233mhz processor.)  But that’s besides the point, the point is: I have one of the best looking computers ever made and its surprisingly good.  Ok the interface is weird and its got a CRT display, but its amazing how fast this machine runs for a 233.  I can’t seriously belive an equivalent Intel/AMD machine would be running this well but thats probably due to Apple’s ability to code for specify hardware, allowing for far more optimised code than any other OS used to dealing with a wide variety of different components.

However that said I am wondering what running a video (Obviously not a DVD on a 233, especially considering its not even got a DVD drive) on this machine will result in.  I’m guessing Kentucky Fried Silicone Chips, but it dose have a basic video editor on it, so maybe it will do just fine.

Stay tuned you revolting perverts, and maybe next time I’ll include some furry porn to wet your… …well I was going to say appetites but I never know with you lot.

Don’t want to upgrade anytime?

If your like me, i.e. a closet communist secretly hoping for the downfall of all these revolting capitalist pigs around you when the glorious revolution finally erupts in a tumult of blood and… …er, well if your like me then you hate Windows Anytime Upgrade.

Its pointless after all, you already HAVE the version of Windows you need, and the other features available are utterly pointless.  Bitlocker has plenty of free alternatives and… …what was the other reason to buy ultimate?  Choose between 35 different languages…

So apart from bitlocker there is no feature of Ultimate that isn’t in Pro anyway.  So why have the annoying link?  After all you have already found the guide to disable the program from starting and removed the link from your start menu, so how do you get rid of it from the control panel?

Open your start menu and type in “gpedit.msc” then run it.

Once there go to “Administrative Templates” is should be the bottom option in “User Configuration”.  Open up the control panel folder and you should see one option called “Hide specified Control Panel items” double click to bring it up.  Switch it from “Not Configured” to “Enabled” and go down to “List of disallowed Control Panel items” and click on show.  Type in the following “Microsoft.WindowsAnytimeUpgrade” without the quotes of course, then click Ok to close that dialog.  Now click apply and close gpedit.

Open the control panel and bask in the glories of the revolution!


You may now fap.


Windows 7, the update.

Been using 7 for a fair old while now and have got a few stories to tell about the system.

First of all let me just reassure you all that the GUI will grow on you. Not the ribbons of course, god no, but the glass look borders and menus do become more familiar with experience. Of course I've just installed the Windowblinds 7 Beta so I don't actually care about that anymore as I'm back in the Mac look. Ah the joys of having the window controls on the correct, left hand, side. Of course its not faultless, Windowblinds 7 is still a beta and its support for older skins seems a tad buggy. For example the Mac skin I'm using dates back to pre Vista times and thus dose not natively support transparency in its boarder, it can be forced, but the buttons remain at 100% opacity so it rather defeats the object. That's not a major issue however, the major issue is the Taskbar. For some reason, probably the redesign of the taskbar, the taskbar size starts off at maximum every time the computer is turned on, and requires quite a bit of fiddling to get it back to the very slim bar the skin is designed to use. Even then the notification area is not centered in the bar and instead hangs down at the bottom of it.

Really though, this is a minor problem when the rest of it works well enough. Windows Explorer's forwards and back buttons unfortunately use MS's native fugly blue buttons, but that should be fixed with future skins. The main problem is that its got the traditional nag screen until you buy it, and I'm not buying it till its out of beta boys.

Networking gave me a few headaches, for some reason the wifi dongle my computer is using will rarely sign first time, instead requiring another computer to sign in at the same time in the same room. This is not a Windows 7 problem, but rather a problem with the dongle I suspect, but it is rather bazaar. There was also another delightful issue to do with LAN however, one which had me cursing the OS back and fourth for an hour. This started when I attempted to get my PS3 to connect to the net via LAN running off of my computers Wifi dongle. Why? Because the PS3's wifi reception is pants and PS Home is good for pointing and mocking morons. Not so good for Yiffing, but meh if your into that go join second life you strange person you. Anyway, after hooking up a LAN cable between the PS3 and the computer I entered network properties to allow the PS3 to connect via the wifi. Immediately Windows decided that the LAN is a public network... ..public LAN access... ..ok, maybe it assumes all networks are public by default - a good safety precaution with most idiots using computers. However whats this?! My wifi has been declared a public network as well?! and grouped with the LAN so that I cannot set it back to a private network?! I attempted to set it back, with no results, disabled and enabled to no effect and yanked it out before stuffing it back in. To no effect.
What ensued can only be described as "Apperplectic", but I decided to test the net connection to check if it was still working. Nope! Apparently even when set to allow access though public networks it doesn't actually allow it, oh and predictably the PS3 could not connect either.

I soldiered on for an hour, trying every combination of settings and curses to little effect before finally getting the benighted thing to work. I could connect to the net again, and with a few setting edits on the PS3, I could connect via the LAN just fine.

The moral of this story?

Windows 7 doesn't like being connected to a PS3, it would much rather you had a 360... ..ok that's just me being an MS hater, but I do ask that any of you with 7 and a (non Bricked) 360 test it out to see if it happens for you.

Other points?
* The Ribbon interface is still pointless, particularly in a file manager.
* It has never started IE instead of FF when a program links to the net, a crime XP regularly committed.
* Steam works just fine, even its browser which is IE in an ugly skirt, when IE is not installed.
* Tablet support is excellent.
* Multiple monitors work far better than in previous Windows versions.
* The Action Center is remarkably well behaved, and all of its moans can be easily and permanently disabled should you need to do so.

All in all I'm enjoying my Win7 experience rather than enduring it. Its not perfect, but its vastly better than anything else MS has come up with in years. It may lack the value for money Linux and other free OS's have in there favour, but it is actually worth buying if your interested in games.