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IE9 RC Overview (and Comparison to Chrome)

A new version of Internet Explorer is almost ready–IE9. You can download the IE 9 Release Candidate (RC) for free. The RC is “feature complete”, which means they might change things, and they’ll definitely fix some bugs, but they won’t be adding or removing any features.

Here’s a video overview I recorded showing the various improvements and comparing it to my current favorite browser, Google Chrome.

Be sure to watch the video in HD, full screen.

How to Test (and Understand) Hard Disk Drive Performance

That’s a screenshot from my favorite free tool for testing hard disk performance–HD Tune (there’s a pro version you can buy, too). That’s from my Seagate Barracuda 7200 RPM 1.5 TB SATA drive backup drive.

The Blue Line–Transfer Rate

First, the blue line is the transfer rate. That’s the speed which the hard disk sends data to the computer when a big file is lined up nicely–defragmented, in other words. Notice that the line starts high (at 126 MB/sec) and drops (to about 57 MB/sec). That’s because the test moves from the outside of the drive to the inside. Disk drives are round, like a record, and so the outside spins faster (in inches/sec) from the inside.


Microsoft Virtual PC vs. Sun VirtualBox

The video above and the article below compare two free virtual machine applications designed for home users: Microsoft Virtual PC and Sun VirtualBox.

What is a Virtual Machine (VM)?

A virtual machine (VM) is a computer that runs inside a window on your host computer. VMs are also great for testing–you can test different operating systems, applications, and configurations without messing up your computer. For example, you could run Windows in a VM on a Linux or Macintosh computer, allowing you to run Windows-only applications. Or, you could test out Linux in a VM on your Windows box without committing to it.

In fact, even if you install spyware, adware, or rootkits in a VM, they won’t infect your host computer. Just shut down the VM, and your computer is as clean as ever. VMs are also a great tool for learning networking, allowing you to connect several different computers when you only have one computer available.

After the jump, my recommendations for home users who want to use VMs:


Photoshop CS5 Preview

Photoshop CS5 has some amazing new features. If you’re a painter, you’ll appreciate that Adobe has put a great deal of time into simulating paints. You can now pull paint from a pallet, and CS5 accurately simulates spreading paint with different types of brushes, blending paints, and even the drying of paint over time.

Any of us who need to change the shape of an object or correct a lens’ chromatic aberrations will appreciate the new warping capabilities. Simply specify points on an image that can and cant move, and CS5 will allow you to move objects around while maintaining their shape. The demo below shows repositioning a referee’s arms into different calls. I just wonder how it would work with a real background instead of solid white–certainly it would require more work.

The demo also shows how to warp a picture to correct distortion at the edges of a wide-angle lens.

SIP on Windows Messenger, Media Center for Windows Vista Business


Hi Tony,

Is there a Windows Vista version of Windows Messenger (SIP Communication)? What version (minimum) of Windows Messenger will run on Windows Vista?

The Windows Vista Business version does not have a Media Center. Can this be added on to it? How?

Ilook forward to a response from you.

Thank you.



Trace Application Activity with Process Monitor (ProcMon.exe)


Sometimes, an application gives you a generic error that a file or setting is missing or unavailable, but doesn’t give you enough information to identify exactly what it’s trying to open. With this free download from Microsoft, Process Monitor, you can monitor all activity on your computer, including the exact registry keys and files being accessed, and whether or not each access attempt was successful.

Process Monitor replaces FileMon and RegMon (tools made by the SysInternals guys, who are now part of Microsoft) by duplicating the functionality of each. To use it, follow these steps: