Hey, I can see my house. Sort of. The Google Map car never drove up my lane, but using Google Street View I can see the lane that leads to my house, and a bit of my driveway, and I guess that's kind of cool for about 10 seconds.
Last week Whistler and Squamish (and the rest of Canada) were added to Google Street View, a sometimes useful tool that you can use to pre-navigate your way around a city. I've used it to scope out buildings before I get there so I don't spend 20 minutes driving circles around the block looking for a street address.
I really believe there should be laws requiring people to prominently post their street address. Some buildings don't seem to have them, or they're in strange locations, or use a small font. Sometimes the order of signs make no logical sense, as one minute you're at 722 and the next 840, or the address on a corner building is on the wrong side of the building to be useful.
But while Google Street View can be helpful I don't really see the point of it most of the time. It's cool technology, and I invite everyone to take a Google Street View trip to New York City or Los Angeles. If something happens in the news you can usually go to the place it happened to get a sense of the neighbourhood or city.
But other than the momentary thrill of seeing your house on the Internet for the first time it's really not that useful to me. And the Whistler edition may not be that useful to many people, as most of the village is located along a pedestrian stroll that isn't accessible by the Google Street View vehicle. As well, a lot of our amenities aren't road accessible, like the mountains, the golf courses, the parks and the trails.
Still, it's there if you want to use it. Just drag the little person icon onto almost any road or street in Whistler and you can be transported there magcially. Go nuts.
Windows 7 release nears
While most reviewers are going to wait until Windows 7 is released on Oct. 22 before reviewing Microsoft's latest operating system, a lot of information has been leaked recently and some of it is not good.
For example, Cnet.com reported that in early tests Windows 7 is not faster to boot than Windows Vista, despite some claims to the contrary. That's bad news, as watching Vista boot is like watching your grandma program a VCR.
It may appear to load faster because your desktop appears faster, but testers were measuring how long it took for your computer to become usable and it was in the range of a minute and a half compared to just over a minute for Vista. One machine also got slower as time went on, presumably as more applications and widgets are added to the boot list.
But while some negative press is out there the tech reviewer from the Wall Street Journal was all smiles, and titled his review "A Windows to Help You Forget," with the opening line of "In just two weeks... Microsoft's long operating-system nightmare will be over."
The reviewer tested the final version of Windows 7 on several different machines after playing around with the beta and release candidate versions for nine months, and came to the conclusion that, "It is the best version of Windows Microsoft has produced. It's a boost to productivity and a pleasure to use."
There were a few negative points - the long installation, troubles upgrading from XP, too many editions at launch creating confusion and a stripped-down suite of applications - presumably to keep the anti-trust lawyers at bay. Some people won't mind that last point. Microsoft is famous for bundling software with other software you don't want quite as much, but they left out things like e-mail, photo organizing, video editing, address book and calendar. You can download these things from Microsoft, but that takes more time.
Another negative, as I see it, is the fact that Windows 7 doesn't come bundled with Security Essentials, a free anti-virus, spyware and malware program that is getting great reviews. You have to download that separately as well, and this should probably be the first thing you do when you unbox Windows 7.
Some features the Wall Street Journal reviewed I wasn't aware of. As someone who usually has about 20 different windows open features like the reworked Task Bar will get a lot of use, as will the Jump Lists that link you to frequent actions and files while booting programs. There's also a feature called Snap. Drag any file to the top of the screen and it will open in full screen mode. Drag any file to the side of the screen and it will open in a half-screen window. It you grab the top of a window with your mouse and "shake" it by moving your mouse back and forth it will make all the other windows disappear until they're recalled.
There's a lot more to be written about Windows 7. Check back in two weeks after the Oct. 22 launch.