This is where I’ll slightly move away from “the average persons” tasks. Day to day I write or manage software projects, and for this experiment to continue I need to be able to do that on my laptop. Generally I work day to day using python in Eclipse with the pydev extension. This is relativley easy to get going on Windows, download a JDK, install eclipse, download/install python, install pydev. Job done. However I wanted to play with the Microsoft blessed languages, so I downloaded and installed Visual C# express as well. C# is a language I’ve had to use before, so I’m a bit rusty, but should be able to pick it up relativley quickly, and a big kudos to MS as the Visual Studio envornment is still probably the best IDE on the planet (I’m open to suggestions of others which do the job as well, but I’ve yet to play with one that does).
c# uses the .net framework to do all the heavy lifting. It’s a bit like Java in that it’s compiled into byte code and then interpreted so isn’t as fast as something like C++ but makes up for that by being easy and fast to develop in. Some of the widgets that come with the new .net framework (such as the graphing widget) are pretty fantastic and really do make life easy. In a couple of hours I’d refamiliarised myself with the language and written a short program that took in a CSV export from my Current Cost recording box and turned it into a nice graph. Doing the same using the GTK toolkit would probably take a bit longer with a little hacking around as there’s no dedicated graphing widget (that I’m aware of), so you’d have to generate the graph either on the fly by drawing it at a lower level or by creating a jpg and then displaying that in an image box.
One minor issue with the Visual Studio express suite is that there is no built in in subversioning system. At work, and most of the time at home, I tend to use the bzr suite of tools. A quick look on the bzr website and that’s also available for Windows. Download, install and it integrates very nicely into the My Computer interface, and can be called from the command prompt. Easy.
A lot of my dev work is for server stuff, so putty and winscp were downloaded and installed successfully on top of that as well.
Printers are another problem and a bit of a nightmare. I have an HP Photosmart C4180 All-in-One that I bought some time ago while I was at university. Having long since lost the driver disk for this, I nievley just plugged it in and hoped Windows would just find it as Ubuntu does. No such luck. It goes away and gives me a list of printers which mine isn’t in and then offers me the option to go to the Windows update site to find even more. I click that button and wait 5 minutes… then another 5 minutes… then it gives me a bigger list of printers. My printer is in this list (why it couldn’t just have said “We found your printer! Here is the driver.” rather than me spending 5 minutes scrolling through a badly sorted list I don’t know) and then installed it. The scanner wouldn’t work without the software from HP, but otherwise the thing worked as expected.
I have to admit, the boot time for Windows is now slowing down considerably. But my games work and it’s not overly getting in my way yet. So we’ll see.