Monday, April 02, 2007

Vista (and iTunes video playback)

About three weeks ago I bought a Windows laptop computer at Costco (sorry Apple, I would have preferred a Mac but I could not afford the one I'd have been satisfied with). Nowadays these things all come with Windows Vista, which, being new to me, made Costco's generous return policy especially important. The machine I bought is an "HP Pavilion dv6253cl Entertainment Notebook PC".

So far so good. Pretty much. A couple of things have bothered me, though.

I've not been partial to Symantec security products for some time, but that's what's bundled with the machine so I'm using it for now. Along the way, something prompted me to run Microsoft's free online "Windows Live OneCare Safety Scan for Windows Vista" (beta). Son of a gun if it didn't report several instances of something called "Trojan:HTML/Bankfraud.M" buried in some gzip files in my Firefox cache. I don't know why Norton didn't notice these things on the way in, nor am I all that confident it wasn't a false positive by OneCare. What I know is that, for reasons rational or not, I have more confidence in Kaspersky and will buy a second license to put on my laptop.

The other thing that bothered me was the incompatibility with iTunes. I read all I could find about the incompatibility that's widely known and figured it would be no big deal. It hasn't been a big deal and iTunes is working well on my new computer. With one exception, that is: video playback. Watching videos with iTunes on Vista was only possible if a slow slide show would have been acceptable. The video playback remedies on Apple's website had no effect. Scratch videos on iTunes.

Now it turns out there's an issue with iTunes on Vista with SATA hard drives, and that's what's been bothering me all along. A post on the iTunes support forum said the poster had been able to get videos to play properly by copying them to a flash drive to avoid the SATA hard drive. Sure enough, when I tried my thumb drive the video played beautifully.

I suppose Apple or Microsoft will have this problem fixed before too long. When they do, I'll be about as satisfied with this new computer and this new operating system as I expected to be.

As I type I'm reminded that the keyboard seems to be defective, failing to register spacebar strokes rather frequently. Maybe it's just some stickiness that'll clear up with usage. In fact, I think I just cleared it up by forcefully striking the right side of the spacebar a few times. It's OK as I type now.

If I had to do it over again, I would. I think Vista is solid enough, and will get better as issues are discovered and patches issued.

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