Windows '95 Revisited

It's a bird!
('s a bird all right and an ugly one!) 
He's plain!
(You said it brother, he's as plain as the Prairies!)
It's..... Cyberian! 

(Yeah...yeah... don't get your blood pressure imitating Carl Lewis... he's just a guy....)

Ok, folks it's Cyber time again! And this time, as a special treat for you all, I do what all columnists hate to do - eat crow! I have been slamming Win '95 in my column every time I write about it but after some lengthy usage and testing I have come to the conclusion that I was (wait for it now..... ) wrong!

When I say that I was wrong, I don't mean that I was wrong about Windows '95 not being a good multitasking operating system or about its weakness in the multithreading area but I was wrong about it being just a hyped-up and beautified version of Windows. It is much more than that, but to really see the beauty of it, you have to have some good, 32-bit applications running on your machine (which preferrably will have to be a Pentium 90 or better with 16MB of RAM and oodles of hard disk space - uh, oh... though it started out as an apology this seems to be turning in to another one of my Win '95 bashing sessions!) Seriously, Windows '95 performs remarkably well in the areas of plug and play, networking and multitasking (to an extent) if you have sufficient resources. I grant you that the resources aren't exactly the sort that you find in your normal, humble PC but more of the type found in what one games magazine calls ninja PCs (I like that name, don't you?) but if you do have that kind of resources, then Win '95 is for you.

I have already talked about plug and play in my previous article and so will not go in to much detail except to say that the plug and play facilities in Windows '95 is much better than that found in almost any other popluar OS for the PC. (I have heard good things about the plug and play facilities in Linux, which is a UNIX clone for the PC, but have not actually seen Linux in action and so, cannot comment on it.) When compared to OS/2, Windows '95 is leagues ahead in plug and play. In fact, OS/2's plug and play is so user-unfriendly that I didn't even realize what it was when I first ran OS/2 but Windows '95 works really beautifully in automatically detecting and configuring the devices connected to the computer. Of course, when you take the almost infinite number of combinations that peripheral devices attached to the computer can take, plug and play under Windows '95 isn't always on target but even then, it usually warns you of device clashes and allows you to manually reconfigure the devices. I really loved it but the not so technically oriented people out there might not be so enthusiastic.

It is not even two months since Windows '95 was officially released (W-day was Augut 24th for those who are not in the know) but already, a lot of Win '95 applications have started hitting the shelves. I have tried out Corel Draw 6.0, Norton Anti-Virus, Norton Utilities, After Dark, Office '95 and Microsoft Plus. I have been using most of this stuff for a while and boy, does it make a difference! The 32-bit applications run really well under Win '95 but the 16-bit applications are another story entirely. Though, Win '95 is supposed to run comfortably with 8MB of RAM, 16-bit applications have been found to run much slower (around 30% slower) than when the application is run under Windows 3.11 for Work Groups. The application had picked up speed when run with 16MB of RAM but had still run slower than its speed under Windows 3.11. I had some nasty experiences with DOS and 16-bit Windows applications and that was one of the reasons for my original unfavourable reaction to Windows '95. I have since been able to get the DOS programs to work by tweaking the configuration but there are still 16-bit applications such as Animator Studio from Autodesk which just crash when run under Microsoft's new OS.

As I am currently working with a machine with a 1GB hard disk, I have not bothered to check up on the space taken up by the new '95 applications except in one case but I have a sneaking suspicion that the new applications are much larger than the old 16-bit applications. The only application for which I checked the space was Microsoft Office '95 and that took a whopping 100MB for the installation package, which came on CD. This is about double the old Office installation package size and if this is an indication as to the size of the other applications, then you do really need a ninja PC to run Win '95! Though the size of the packages might have increased, so has their performance and you can see some really good enhancements all around on all of the packages. The single package that I really liked was Microsoft Plus for Windows '95. This is not exactly an application and doesn't do much in the way of increasing your productivity but it does allow you to customize your desktop to an amazing extent - and hey check out the pinball game, it's great! Microsoft Plus comes with a lot of systems analysis tools which can be run in the background while your computer is not busy and though I think this should have been included with Win '95 itself, it is a much welcome thing. Plus also has got a lot of customized screen themes such as dangerous animals and mystery and if you use one, for example dangerous animals, your whole desktop changes to suit that theme - your icons change to show tarantulas and other poisonus creatures, you get jungle noises for system events, even your screen saver has got some animals in it.

We just installed a network at our office and we have two computers running Windows '95 and one machine running Windows 3.11 for Work Groups and they are all connected! They run just too beautifully for words - none of that dedicated server stuff from Novell you know and you can access the hard disks of the other machines. I worked on a graphic on one machine and accessed it from another machine to use it in a video clip and it was all so easy. You get a network folder when you install the networking option and it has what is called a "network neighbourhood" sort of like the desktop on you get in explorer but this one shows you all the shared drives accessible to you and this allows you to access the hard disk (or selected drives) on any machine connected to the network. It's fast and it's efficient.

Overall, Win '95 is a fairly stable and fairly good operating system for high-end machines with lots of resources and I guess that's the way it is heading in the future as I hear that Win '97 (the next version) will be a merger between Win '95 and Windows NT. As NT already reaquires about 12MB to run, I guess you are going to end up with one power hungry OS. On the plus side, Win '95 is stable, does allow you to multitask reasonably well (a friend of mine copied some stuff from a CD to the hard disk in one window while running a packages from the same CD on another window and it was slow but worked!), is pretty good at running games, is really good at plug and play and does good networking. On the minus side, it is not as good at multitasking as OS/2, is very slow in running 16-bit Windows applications, is very resource hungry and has dubious multithreading capabilities. So, if you have a ninja PC and have oodles of hard disk space and want the latest in operating sytems, Windows '95 is definitely for you but for you to really enjoy it, you should also get hold some 32-bit applications. Otherwise, forget about it and keep on using old, reliable Windows 3.x or upgrade to OS/2 Warp! Have fun!

Cyber Fun

Those who have tried to express emotions through a letter will know of the problems faced by those who e-mail a lot. It's very difficult to let others know whether you are serious or joking. That is why we use things such as <g>, <vbg> and ROTFL when we send off messages. I have already discussed the previous shortened forms (which incidentally stand for grin, very big grin and rolling on the floor laughing) in one of my previous articles. This time, I would like to tell you about emoticons.

Emoticons are EMOTional ICONS or pictures used to convey feelings. The most frequently used emoticon is the smiley face, which looks like this :-), but there are so many variations of the smiley face and I would like to present some of them to you today. So, here goes:

:-o       Wow!                                                         :-w       Speak with forked tongue

:-c   Real unhappy                     :-r   Sticking tongue out

:-| Grim :-( Frowning

:-C Just totally unbelieving '-) Wink

:= | Baboon :-D Said with a smile

:-B Drooling :-x Kiss kiss

:-v Speaking :-X A big wet kiss!

:-V Shout |~( "Someone just busted my nose"

:-|| Anger 8-| Eyes wide with surprise

:-# My lips are sealed 8-O "Omigod!!" (done after "del *.*" ?)

I will bring you more emoticons in another article some time later, till then, bye!

Gamer's Den

There have been a lot of rumours on the gaming front recently about a lot of new games about to hit the scene or in development and a lot of them are sequels - Discworld 2, Descent 2, Heretic 2 and so on and so forth. I guess the games industry is following in the footsteps of Hollywood now that competition has got really tough. Oh boy, somethings never change now, do they?

I haven't been getting my mitts on new games for a while but have heard that the long awaited sequel to "Dune 2" from Westwood Studios is finally here. It is called "Command and Conquer" and though it is called "the sequel to Dune 2" by many, it has nothing at all to do with "Dune 2" except perhaps for the fact that game-play is pretty similar. In this game, the scenario is set somewhere in the near future where the UN is battling a terrorist organization called NOD (or some other such silly name) and the game revolves around coming up with a strategy to beat the enemy. The basic game controls are supposed to be the same as "Dune 2" but is supposed to have improved graphics. I don't think it has any major improvements over "Dune 2" but if you loved that game, you should probably try this out too.

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