Tag Archives: Design

Windows 7 – my first impression

I was at a preview session for Windows 7 last evening and in short, I am impressed.

I am quite excited and encouraged by what I saw in the demos and from having a quick play with it on a netbook. Microsoft just might have got it spot on this time around but at the very least it appears to be a big improvement on Vista.

Windows 7 Taskbar peek
Windows 7 Taskbar peek

First impressions

It’s fast. Starting up a 1GB netbook running Windows 7 took what seemed like 1 or 2 seconds. As our demo guy moved through various apps and processes it seemed very nifty indeed.

It’s clear. From the visual aspect (lots of semi-transparency, large icons and a general feeling of de-cluttering) to the levels of windows involved in various processes, the whole OS is more simplified, straight-forward and easy to use.

It integrates. The demo we saw only showed syncing of Windows Media Centre between a PC and X Box but it was easy, seamless and quick considering the volume of media that was on the machine.

It’s fun. One of the interactions that I took a shine to was by clicking, holding and shaking a window, all other open windows are hidden. Theme packs (based on traditional Windows themes) are bundles of wallpapers, interface colour schemes, soundscapes, bookmarks, RSS feeds and more based on a specific country. There’s 20 ‘official’ theme packs to choose from with an Irish one available post-release via the Microsoft website.

Searching in the Start menu
Searching in the Start menu

Other good stuff

For designers the re-organisation of the font library sounds like a welcome change. If like me you have a few hundred fonts installed, selecting fonts from dropdown menus in Photoshop, Flash or even just Word is a bit of a nightmare. Windows 7 will automatically hide seldom-used fonts from these menus. Within the font library itself you can manually show/hide particular fonts and font families to your own preference also.

PSR (Problem Step Recorder) is a new addition to the Windows OS. Essentially, it’s a small program that allows you to record a screen-capture sequence of an interaction on your computer and submit it to Windows support to help resolve problems.

Windows 7 will also have full bio-metric support as well as support for third-party multi-touch devices.

Bad stuff

Admittedly, I haven’t done a huge amount of reading on it but I hear upgrading from Vista and indeed XP might be a bit of a nightmare. There’s no option currently available for non-DVD drive netbooks but there may be a solution released some time in the future.

When can I have it?

It’s on sale to the general public on October 22. If you’re a business customer you can get it right now under volume licsensing. Prices on their website are in dollars (boo) starting at $120. Follow them on Twitter as @win7ireland for updates and competitions or find out about upgrading from XP and Vista and all that jazz over here.

I’ve got no idea how easy/tough it’s going to be to upgrade my parent’s PC to Windows 7 but I’m going to give it a go when I’m down there in a fortnight. I think it’s going to make life a lot easier for them.

Many thanks to all the folks at Microsoft and Edelman Ireland for the demos, Q & A and the lovely surprise of a copy of the OS to take home.

Culture Night 2009 – “see all sorts”!

Culture Night 2009 is happening tonight and there’s a huge variety of free events on all around Dublin and around the country for it.

There’s so much on, I honestly don’t know where to begin and I simply haven’t had the time to write a proper post about it.

Darragh did however and if you want a quick guide to some of the special stuff that’s happening at Dublin Culture Night, check out his post on Culch.ie. Check out the full brochure and maps on the website at culturenight.ie.

There’s a record-breaking attempt happening in Tralee tonight as part of their Culture Night. They are trying to set the Guinness World Record for the longest Irish dancing line ever and need over 10,000 bodies to do so! There’s prizes for every 1,000th person who registers too so get registered and get involved if you can. Best of luck to them!

Don’t forget to throw a glance to Liberty Hall as it gets all lit up by Playhouse for the next few weeks. Be sure to upload your photos to the special Pix.ie group at http://pix.ie/group/playhouse.

Whatever you get up to this weekend, have a blast.

Fancy a festival or few?

Absolut Fringe wrapped up last night with the Absolut Fringe Awards but don’t think that because Fringe has passed for another year that you’re going to he short of things to do for the next few weeks. There’s heaps of stuff on around the country. Here’s a taster of what’s on out and about over the next while…

The National Ploughing Championships

This week the annual National Ploughing Championships hits Athy, Co.Kildare. Probably the last event of the year that you’ll need your wellies for and a sign that summer has sadly come to an end. The event is in its 78th year and as usual thousands are expected to visit the 600 acre site between Tuesday and Thursday of this week.  Check out www.npa.ie for all the info you need.

Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival

Kicking off this Thursday the 24th in spectacular style with Playhouse and running until October 11th, the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival will be offering up a range of performances, talks and special events all across Dublin. Check out the programme here, the blog here and DTF on Facebook and on Twitter.

Galway Oyster Festival

The 55th Galway Oyster Festival kicks off this Thursday (which is also Arthur’s Day) with the annual Irish Oyster Opening Championships. Aside from the the oyster tasting and Guinness to wash them down, it’s party central with the Magnificent Mardi Gras Party on Friday and the Oyster Festival Gala Ball on Saturday. The full programme is right here.

Culture Night

Culture Night is happening this coming Friday the 25th of September and there’s over 400 different events on around Dublin and around the country including Mayo, Cork, Galway, Belfast, Letterkenny, Limerick, Roscommon, Sligo, Tralee, Waterford and Wexford. There’s just so much happening I’ve been trying to write a blog post about it for days now! Check the website here for the programme, interactive maps and all the other info you could need. Check them out on Facebook and Twitter too.

Open House

The fourth annual Open House event takes place in Dublin from October 8th to 11th and in Galway from October 16th to 18th. Organised by the Irish Architecture Foundation (IAF), a range of free tours and talks are organised to some of the most architecturally renowned buildings of each city. Check out the programme here and be sure to book tickets in advance as these events fill up really quickly!

Cork Guinness Jazz Festival

The 31st Cork Guinness Jazz Festival hits the fair city of Cork on the October bank holiday weekend, kicking off on the 23rd and running through to the 26th with more live gigs and workshops than you can shake a stick at. Check out what’s on at www.guinnessjazzfestival.com.

Wexford Opera Festival

If opera is your thing then Wexford is the place to visit between October 21st and November 1st when the 58th Wexford Opera Festival takes place. There’s concerts, choirs, recitals of national and international fame on the bill. Have a peek at the full programme is online here.

Playhouse: only days to go!

In case you haven’t been anywhere within sight of Dublin’s Liberty Hall by night lately, you won’t have seen messages scrolling along its’ facade telling you to go to www.daft.ie/playhouse and animate Liberty Hall.

Playhouse is a project that’s running as part of the Ulster Bank Dublin Theatre Festival which takes place in Dublin from September 24th to October 11th, sponsored by Daft.ie.


“Powering the display are 100,000 low-energy LED lights, installed into 330 windows on the south and west faces of the building. These lights can illuminate each window as a solid colour turning it into a tiny pixel that’s part of a giant display.”

The most awesome thing about this project is that you and I can get the creative juices flowing and make an animation that will be brought to life on the face of Liberty Hall. You just need to grab yourself the lovely easy-to-use app from the (sexy) website, animate away to your hearts’ content and submit your creation. There’s even a video importer option and a processing app available if you’re feeling a bit more ambitious! Check them all out there.

I was lucky enough to be at the launch of Playhouse a few weeks ago when we got to see some sample animations brought to life on the building and it looked fabulous. I never thought I’d ever call Liberty Hall “beautiful” but I stand corrected. – for 2 weeks at least it will be a sparkling gem on the Dublin skyline. Simply can’t wait!

Here’s a wee video Darragh took on the night to give you a flavour of what to expect, questionable soundtrack aside :)

Ticketmaster usability flaw?

I arrived at the Ticketmaster website this morning to try get me some Nick Cave tickets. This gig was selling really fast so add that frantic rush to it’s 9am and I haven’t had any coffee yet. Where did I automatically start clicking to select my tickets? Why the first ticket type option of course.

“There are currently no tickets available for this event.” Or something to that effect is presented. WHAT?! It’s sold out alerady?! I was repeatedly bashing away at the site in hope for another 5 mins before I realised I was selecting Wheelchair Attendant tickets and not the usual Full Price option, which is at the bottom.


Between that and the CAPTCHA and MasterCard SecureCode hurdles, I’m worn out. Am I the only one who thinks this form is really badly laid out? No offence to wheelchair users and their attendants but they are in the minority of customers at this point of sale. Or maybe I’m just a bit thick.

I got my tickets in the end. If you’re a wheelchair attendant who was trying to get a ticket, hope you had better luck than I.