10 reasons why I don’t need Windows Vista

XP vs Vista
Image from CustomPC feature: XP vs Vista

The Christmas edition of PC Plus arrived this week. This month’s issue contains a “Wishlist 2007” booklet, at the back of which is an article entitled “Wow! 10 reasons why you need Windows Vista”.

  1. The interface looks amazing

    It does. I’ve used Windows Vista, not for long, but long enough to know that it does indeed look lovely and cool. But in truth, I don’t really care about looks. Windows XP looks fine for what I need.

  2. Simple but powerful photo gallery functions

    The tagging facility would be quite cool, to be honest, but it would require me to manually tag the 40,000+ images I already have stored on my PC, which is why I don’t use that facility with Google Picasa or Corel Paint Shop Pro Photo XI at the moment. I’m an information architect — I have a way of organizing my photos which works perfectly for me.

  3. Supremely fast file-searching facilities

    I really do know where most of my files are — that’s years of working out a filing system that works for me. For the few files that I can’t find I use Agent Ransack which is way quicker than the built-in XP file search.

  4. All you need for top class gaming

    The article argued that Vista treats games differently. So do I: I have my own dedicated games partition running XP.

  5. You can get Windows Media Center built in

    I don’t want Windows Media Center. I watch the odd DVD on my PC using WinDVD, and listen to MP3s with WinAmp. That’s about it.

  6. Speed up in a flash

    Does ReadyBoost really work? Besides, I’m quite happy reinstalling XP every year. I really am. I can decide what I want and what I don’t. It’s like a spring clean.

  7. Foolproof to set up

    The XP installation is simple. I’ve got it down to a fine art now. And with Norton Ghost 2003 the job is made much simpler and quicker.

  8. Parental controls

    I’m not a parent.

  9. The super-handy little Sidebar

    One word: Yahoo! Widgets. Okay, that was two words.

  10. A secure safety net for you to perform over

    I admit that Vista is more secure. But perhaps at the cost of asking too many questions: do you want to allow this? do you want to allow that? Some friends have said that it’s more annoying that ZoneAlarm’s ever constant pestering! If you’re careful though, you can make XP pretty secure.

So … that article hasn’t convinced me that I need Windows Vista. I may be forced to buy Vista in the future, but at the moment I certainly don’t need it.

I can do everything that I want to do, quite comfortably with Windows XP SP2, thank you very much. And besides, XP happily talks to my Psion via PsiWin 2.3.3 (some Vista users have had terrible trouble getting it to work).

A really affordable way to pay for the things you want

Bank of Scotland - A really affordable way to pay for the things you want.

Now, firstly I’m not a customer of the Bank of Scotland, so I’m not entirely certain why they sent me this piece of junk mail, and secondly I’m no financial expert but I can’t help think that they’ve got something fundamentally wrong in the message they sent me.

It’s not been that long since the Northern Rock building society hit the news headlines, and its customers hit the high streets to withdraw their life savings, because the money that they were lending was more than its customers was paying back … so WHY in the world are banks still heavily promoting loans?

This letter was inviting me to take out a loan from £7,000 to £25,000 to pay back over two to seven years at a typical APR of 9.9%.

What gets me is the way that they advertise it: “A really affordable way to pay for the things you want”.


Here’s a really affordable way to pay for the things you want, that the banks won’t tell you about: SAVE UP FOR IT.

Each month (or week, or even choose a timescale that suits you) put aside a bit of money and sooner or later you’ll have enough for that new PC you have your eye on, or that 160GB iPod, or 42″ plasma TV, or …

That letter is going into the shredder now.

Holiday in Kinloch Rannoch

Welcome to Kinloch Rannoch

On Thursday afternoon Jane and I drove up to Kinloch Rannoch, which is a small town about 20 miles west of Pitlochry, itself about 30 miles north of Perth, bang in the centre of Scotland.

We were booked into the Macdonald Loch Rannoch Hotel for two nights, a modernised hunting lodge with an incredible view of the loch.

Friday morning: the pond

We arrived in the dark. The following morning I opened the curtains and said to Jane: “Ooh, you get a nice view of a pond.”

The “pond” was actually Loch Rannoch — 9 miles long and on average just over half-a-mile wide of deep, Scottish water.

View of the loch from the hotel

End of the road

After breakfast — which if purchased on its own costs a massive £14.95 — we took a trip west towards Rannoch Station, which is effectively the end of the road. The only way out from there is either by rail, over the hills or back the way you came.

Looking up the rail tracks

The tourist information leaflets claimed that there was a tea room at the station, so that’s where we headed.

What they didn’t say was that it closes in October, and doesn’t open again until at leasts February. The same is true for the local hotel.

Which is absolutely no use if you need the loo.

Thankfully a local Network Rail employee gave us permission to cross the tracks and find comfort behind a local hill.

Passengers must not cross the line - Warning Do not tresspass on the Railway. Penalty £200

The next train wouldn’t be arriving for at least another four hours, so we took the opportunity to take some photos of the local buildings.

Huts by the side of a railway line

And generally larking about.

Jane hitching on a railway station platform

Before we made our way back down the B846 towards Kinloch Rannoch, stopping every now and then to take photographs of the scenery:

Tower on an island in the middle of a loch

Scene on a loch

There are more photos on my Flickr account: Kinloch Rannoch set.

Holiday week

Last week I was on holiday. It was always my intention to blog as the week went along but I got too involved in other stuff, away from the computer.

I know! How weird. Anyway, here’s how the week went:

Sunday: Deacon Blue

Deacon Blue in concert
Deacon Blue in concert, looking more like Deacon Purple.

Sunday was my birthday. I was 36.

In the afternoon Jane and I drove to Edinburgh, met up with my brother Eddie and his wife Rebecca, went out for a meal and went to see Deacon Blue at the Edinburgh Playhouse.

This gig was my first visit to the Edinburgh Playhouse for a gig since I saw Slayer there on the South of Heaven tour in 1988; Nuclear Assault supported them.

The Deacon Blue gig was the oldest audience that I’ve ever been part of — Sunday morning worship besides. They kept sitting down during the quiet songs!! Hip trouble, I reckoned.

It was also the quietest gig. I think Motörhead’s Lemmy probably sneezes louder than the PA was cranked up on Sunday evening. My industrial-quality earplugs stayed firmly in my pocket.

Still, it was a good evening out. Jane and Rebecca absolutely loved the concert, and sang along to almost everything. I even recognised about five or six songs.

6 Day Riot

The highlight for me, however, was the support act: 6 Day Riot, who I thought were brilliant, quirky, folky and fun. They are a four-piece that play guitars, ukelele, double-bass and drums.

Check them out at MySpace.

I’ve already bought their debut album; and singer Tamara Schlesinger’s solo album too.

Monday: cleaning

Boxes of cans and bottles for recycling

Monday was the first day proper of my holiday, which usually means one thing in Chez Saunders: cleaning.

Cleaning and taking stuff for recycling. It was a good, clean start to my holiday.

Tuesday: DIY day

I woke up bright and early on Tuesday. It was day two of my holiday, which meant only one thing: DIY Day.

New strip light in the shed

First up, the fluorescent light in the shed got replaced. Only £9.99 at Focus — bargain!

Shed with brass plaque: Kadesh

Next up, the brass plaque that had been gifted to us for our former holiday cottage, Kadesh, found a new home on the shed door. Welcome Kadesh, Mk 2.

Bolt on gate

The new bolt for the back gate has been sitting around for months and months. It eventually was fixed to the top of the gate.

Garden hose reel

No longer does out garden hose sit tangled in a heap on the ground in our back yard. It is now neatly wound on this attractive, green hose reel.

New bookcase

My favourite job was to create an extension for my CD bookcase, which I fashioned out of a broken bookcase that was destined for the local recycling centre / civic amenities site / dump. I now have 14 shelves of CDs!

In the afternoon, I sorted out the cupboard in our joint study and installed Kubuntu 6.06 on Mum’s old PC. That was fun. I’ve been meaning to properly check out Linux distros for months.

Wednesday: Moving

On Wednesday Jane’s folks moved into their new house in Anstruther. I went out for a cycle in the morning; hung around Jane’s folks’ new house in the afternoon offering a hand with some DIY.

Thursday: Hospital and holiday

On Thursday morning Jane had an appointment at the hospital; a follow-up from an operation she had a few months ago.

Thankfully all was clear and we could go off for a few days to Loch Rannoch on holiday.