Tag Archives | Windows

What are the Great Pluses and Minuses of Windows 8.1?

It’s been quite some time that Microsoft has launched Windows 8 and now just last month (17thOctober 2013), the company was seen launching its advance version called Windows 8.1. The latest version carried some of the aspects of the previous Windows 8 version. Though it was seen with certain improvements yet was criticized for several flaws as well in windows 8.1 version. This has therefore compelled the users to first check both the pros and cons of this latest edition from windows. The below is the list of some of its great pluses and minuses, let’s check them out:

The Pluses

Handy Version

One of the important positive sides of Windows 8.1 version is that it occupies less space for storing it over your machine or mobile devices. As per experts and reviews it requires a very small storage hog as compared to the previous Windows 8 version. As per the company, the footprint of Windows 8.1 is very much smaller in size and would give you a good space of around 8 to 15 percent storage space over your machine or mobile devices.

Supercharge Search

One of the important features of Windows 8.1 is the simplicity and fast pace in which you can search anything using the same. Similar was the story with Windows 8 wherein you just have to start the screen and you could easily search for content, settings, apps or any other thing over the internet. But the fact is Windows 8.1 takes the same to a next level with the feature of Smart Search, which is backed by Bing. So the moment you search out anything, you can get instant results in the form of facts, pictures, maps, videos, and several other relevant links, which gives you an orderly buffet of info.

Smarter Multi-tasking

The idea of having several application windows open at the same time is a good idea, which seemed impractical for long and also in Windows 8. However, in the latest version of 8.1 it comes with a feature called Snap, which helps in resizing the smaller windows to any size you want with the help of simple finger swipe. With this feature, your multi tasking tasks become very much fast, which means that you can browse the sites while you have a conference call over Skype.

The Minuses

No Enhance Level Apps

Despite all hue and cries from the company, there were hardly any changes seen over the application side especially over the Windows Store in the current version of Windows 8.1.  In fact just two enhanced level applications were seen including Food & Drink and Health & Fitness. So nothing really new to enjoy with Windows 8.1 version!

No Great Changes in IE 11

The IE 11 found in the latest version has very little amount of changes, which is more or less similar to IE 10 with limited amount of changes in it.  A majority of features found in IE 11 are not at all found in Windows 8.1 version. As per experts IE 11 can be called as a big waste of time as nothing really tangible is being added in it.

Unable to Address the Problems seen in the Previous Version

Though you can notice certain cosmetic changes, additions or application upgrades in the latest version but it simply fails to address the basic problems evident in Windows 8. So, all the problems, which occurred earlier in the Windows 8 continue to thrive in 8.1 thus giving you a poor experience, which is just the opposite to the things claimed by the company.

Final Word

The newer version of windows seems to have hit the market with a big bang, however, before using the same, it is always recommended to check both plus and minus points. A few of these are discussed above.

Kelly Marsh is a freelance journalist who has been writing about mobile technology, customer relationship management and women’s health for more than a decade. These days she is busy to contributes on Social Cloud


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A Quick Tour of Windows 8 Beta

Microsoft are well known for their Windows product line which is popularly known to be a desktop/laptop operating system. The people at Redmond have been working really hard on getting Windows popular on other devices popular today: smart phones and tablets. They have already gotten into the phone market through the early days of Windows Mobile and now Windows Phone. However, soon Microsoft will enter the tablet market (with a bang!) with their new operating system: Windows 8. The alpha was not that great, however Microsoft made many changes and after its release, Windows 8 Beta (download here) was downloaded more than a million times in a single day!

win8 1 300x168 A Quick Tour of Windows 8 Beta

Windows 8 will power both regular consumer computers and tablets. More of the latter by the looks of it since it was basically made to work really well on a tablet or PCs with touch screens. This new interface is known as Metro and it tries to make interacting with the OS simpler through well sized tiles. For a person not familiar with touch devices, there might be a learning curve involved. It makes no sense to call this new operating system Windows when there aren't any windows!

win8 2 300x168 A Quick Tour of Windows 8 Betawin8 4 300x168 A Quick Tour of Windows 8 Beta

The famous Start menu is no longer a menu but more of a screen with applications. To run you simply click on it, no more going to Start > Programs > Application. Each application is also colored differently to make it easier to differentiate from others. A hover of the mouse towards the right of the screen brings up what would be the system tray in older versions of Windows which includes: the time, network status, a search tool and settings for the current active interface. They did not get rid of the traditional desktop for those who fancy some traditional Windows computing. One thing is obvious the start menu is not there, fishy… Disabling the Metro UI restores the old Windows look, but what's the point?

win8 3 300x168 A Quick Tour of Windows 8 Beta

Much like other operating systems today (especially the ones on smart phones and tablets) there is a place you go to get apps. Android has the Android Market, Apple has the iTunes Store, Microsoft however, have the Windows Store. You can get games, applications and all sorts of goodies. The bad: for some reason I was unable to install anything from it (I tried a few free apps), either it doesn't work well in a virtual machine, not licensed to my location or something else.

win8 5 300x168 A Quick Tour of Windows 8 Betawin8 6 300x168 A Quick Tour of Windows 8 Beta

I tried to run a classic from the Xbox Live games section, Solitaire! In its full screen glory. Internet Explorer is also revamped to work as a fullscreen app. Pages are shown in full with no toolbars to mess up the experience, to visit something else, simply right click the screen and the address bar with everything else is back. SkyDrive is finally in an app worth using for once, although it is obvious I haven't been using it for a while…

win8 7 300x168 A Quick Tour of Windows 8 Betawin8 8 300x168 A Quick Tour of Windows 8 Beta

win8 9 300x168 A Quick Tour of Windows 8 Beta

So how much does all of this cost in terms of CPU, memory and other resources? Let the new task manager help us out:

win8 10 300x168 A Quick Tour of Windows 8 Beta

Verdict: Microsoft has really done a pretty good job with Windows 8, especially after listening to alpha testers' complaints. The new Metro interface I believe will revolutionize user interfaces of the future and I wouldn't be surprised if other OS start imitating. There are still some kinks and issues to be addressed (such as the store not giving me apps!), but hey it's still a beta. Let's hope they deliver another Windows 7 and not Vista ;-)!



ReactOS: The Open Source “Windows”

A few days ago, I came across an interesting operating system known as ReactOS. Like many Linux OS it is open source and free to download. The only difference, it is NOT Linux or even a Unix-like OS! The first few lines of the site's home page explains what it is: "ReactOS is a free, modern operating system based on the design of Windows XP/2003". How much is it based on Windows? For one, it was designed to be binary compatible with Windows which basically means that you can install and run Windows applications AND install Windows drivers! They also kept the looks as close as possible to Windows without getting Microsoft pissed (as in icons, start menu design etc…).

reactos0 300x254 ReactOS: The Open Source Windows



Don't get excited yet though. It is still in its alpha stage (that is before beta). Nevertheless, if you are eager at trying out like I was :-P, they have several download options available, from a regular installation CD to a VirtualBox compatible virtual machine. I decided to go for the regular installation (only 65MB for the ISO) and run it in VirtualBox. As you can see it is similar to XP's installation wizard, nice and blue.

reactos1 300x199 ReactOS: The Open Source Windows

The developers cut back on the programs and and applications, so you have none of that bloat Windows sometimes install. It doesn't even come with a properly working browser (there was some version of IE that didn't quite work). However, applications are only a click away since they provide a way to get your favorite software.

reactos2 300x254 ReactOS: The Open Source Windows

I right away tried to get Opera installed (it did not want to download Firefox at the time for some reason), it failed the first time (took over CPU) and I had to kill it through the task manager, which is familiar ;-).

reactos3 300x254 ReactOS: The Open Source Windows

I decided to test out its binary compatibility to Windows (and I didn't want to keep running Opera…) by downloading the Windows version of Firefox and installing it. The installation was successful, from beginning to running the browser. I also decided to try it out in VMware, all good!

reactos4 300x254 ReactOS: The Open Source Windows

ReactOS looks like a very promising operating system. It could truly revolutionize computers, especially in places where migrating to newer Windows is a pain. I could also see this OS running on cheap portable devices, maybe even one of those OLPC laptops. If they plan on releasing it fully and keeping it update, "XP" just might be the longest living OS in existence!

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Easing the Windows to Linux Transition

It's been almost a month since I've made a complete transition from Windows to Linux on my main working computer (my notebook to be exact). The longest I have ever gone with Linux installed was a month, mostly due to needing to use software that works properly only on Windows (also those that are not compatible with Wine). However, this time I have decided to find alternatives, even if it takes a while to get it running properly. I decided to write this post to help people choose a distribution that works well out of the box and Linux alternative to common Windows software.

What is Linux?

Contrary to popular belief, Linux is not exactly an operating system (OS). It is the software component that links applications to hardware (or loosely the software/hardware bridge), commonly known as the "kernel". Yes, Windows has a kernel as well, but it is proprietary! Due to the Linux kernel being released under an open source license, people can make changes to it to suit different hardware and environments. As a result, Linux is found in many devices from phones (Android is a Linux based mobile OS) to set top boxes (such as the Dreambox) and of course computers. Thus, you have many, many, many choices when it comes to finding a Linux distribution to install on your computer.

Why Linux?

Compared to Windows, Linux results in much cheaper licensing costs (possibly zero). Linux is generally more secure, due to the way it is built and ironically its lack of popularity compared to Windows. It is not immune to security threats though, security also depends on the end user's actions! It is also quite lightweight, most distros on a default installation run satisfactorily on less than 1GB of RAM. You also have distros made for low memory computers, there is a distro for just about any device.

Where do I start?

First you need to choose a distribution. DistroWatch offers quite a long list of distributions and their popularity. From experience on trying to make Windows users switch, I usually recommend Ubuntu or one of its derivatives such as Linux Mint (the one I currently use and strongly recommend). Ubuntu is backed by a company (Canonical), is easy to install and use, comes with most of the drivers (even proprietary ones) and most importantly has a large user community where you can get help from.

Installation should be pretty easy, simplest being burning the ISO to a CD/DVD (on Windows I recommend ImgBurn to burn stuff). Pop it in your computer and you can try out Linux without touching your hard drive. If you want to install, there should be a button that launches the installation wizard. Few clicks (and some typing) later, you'll boot into Linux! If your PC does not have a CD drive, try installing from a USB flash disk (pen drive) with the help from UNetbootin.

My wireless and/or graphics are not working (properly)!

Your hardware most likely comes with proprietary drivers that cannot be installed by default during the installation without you agreeing to some license. On Ubuntu (and its derivatives) look for something called "Additional Drivers" in the programs list.

What is X Windows software equivalent in Linux?

Many software developers have Linux versions of their software. Below is a list for common ones that may not have a Linux version yet or anytime soon.

Microsoft Office (Office suite) > OpenOfficeLibreOffice

Photoshop (advanced image editing) > GIMP

Adobe Acrobat Reader (PDF reader) > Foxit Reader

uTorrent (Bittorrent client) > Deluge, uTorrent for Linux (browser based GUI, command line)

MSN Messenger (instant messaging) > Pidgin (multi network support: AIM, MSN, Yahoo, IRC and more)

iTunes (audio player and iPod sync) > Banshee, Rhythmbox

Video editing > PiTiVi

Video conversions > WinFF

DVD authoring > DeVeDe

ImgBurn (CD/DVD burning) > k3b, Brasero

This is not a complete list, but includes software used by common users. Refer to your distribution's manual for installing software, on Ubuntu, look for the Synaptic Package Manager or Ubuntu Software Center. If you really need to run something that works only on Windows, you could try emulating it in Wine. However, Wine alone is quite complicated for a normal user, so you could try using a Wine frontend called PlayOnLinux to make the process a bit easier. There is no guarantee that Wine (or PlayOnLinux) will properly run the application, so keep that in mind!


Learn Web Programming Easily

Today if you ever wanted to kick start learning a new programming language you would probably visit one of those popular tutorial web sites out there. I started it off with W3Schools (introduced in university) and also used Tizag to supplement and fill in the gaps. However, one disadvantage I found with these sites was the lack of interactive exercises that you can do anywhere. For example, to try HTML you would need a text editor (Notepad++ is my favorite) and at least a web browser to test your code (same with JavaScript). If you wanted to try PHP, the easiest way would be to install one of those xAMP stacks (WAMP for Windows or LAMP for Linux, my favorite being XAMPP). If you check out one of the sites previously mentioned they simply give you an explanation, followed by an example. Progress depends on whether you apply what you learn or skim through hoping it sticks in your head.

During my frequent email checks in Gmail I noticed an ad leading to http://code.he.net. I am quite familiar with HE (Hurricane Electric) and have used their services directly (IPv6 certification, DNS services and Tunnelbroker) and indirectly (they have a large global network, so most of the VPS I have use HE for connectivity). I decided to check out what this code thing was all about. At first it seemed just like any tutorial web site: a list of languages you can learn, community forums, stats etc… To be honest I thought it was one of the usual tutorial sites. I logged in with my HE account (you can either create an account with them or use your Google or Facebook account).

codehe1 1024x559 Learn Web Programming Easily


After logging in and selecting a language I wanted to learn (I chose PHP). On the side you get some suggested, completed and full list of exercises available to you. The main body of the page is a graph which lets you know how many exercises you have been working on over time. Don't let the number of exercises fool you though, each exercise contain many sub-exercises. I wouldn't be surprised if the exercises end up in the thousands if you take the whole site into account.

codehe2 1024x559 Learn Web Programming Easily

I started off with the first exercise, Strings 1 in PHP. Now this is where HE's tutorials differ from the others. You get a terminal like interface in the page. Above that is what you need to do. Rather than explaining, they let the user observe what happens. I believe this method is pretty good since the person needs to actually find the difference and figure out, rather than have it all already explained.

codehe3 1024x559 Learn Web Programming Easily

You need to be quite precise when trying out the exercises though. I tried the first PHP exercise and instead of "Hello World" I gave "LOL" a try. Incorrect answer. How exact do you have to be? I'm not sure since the exercises I tried were short and straightforward, but it could be annoying if they get longer and the mistake ends up being a simple spelling mistake.

codehe4 1024x559 Learn Web Programming Easily

I did a few exercises and noticed my progress was being tracked at the upper left side of the page. The terminal is good at showing you what the result looks like if you run the code.

codehe5 1024x559 Learn Web Programming Easily

If you ever wanted to learn one of the many web languages out there, I suggest you give HE's Interactive Programming site a try. I would suggest combining their exercises with the explanation found in the usual tutorial sites to strengthen your background on the topic. Note that the service is still in beta, so hopefully there are plans for improving and adding content. By the way, they provide their email at the bottom, don't hesitate to contact them, when I had trouble with their IPv6 certification exercises they did not hesitate to provide help :-).

Happy learning!



Stuff to Do When it Rains

Bahrain had one of those "mother of all rains" yesterday that lasted just about most of the day. Unlike other countries (in Europe for instance), that much rain is not normal around here. The sewers get clogged, cars break down, the sun is gone making it dark and gloomy (it went dark at around 4pm :-s) and people don't exactly know how to drive in the rain. If you are like me and prefer to stay home, here are some things you can do to pass time:

  1. Read a book! Or to make it more interesting an e-book. After getting my Android phone, one of the first apps I looked for was one of those e-reader apps. The best one I have tried so far in terms of functionality, book selection (lots of free) and interactivity is Kobo eBooks.
  2. Watch a TV show or a movie. This one is pretty old and too cliche. Does your laptop come with an HDMI port or provide connectivity to your TV? Hook it up and enjoy the latest episodes from US channels through SideReel. Prefer movies? Try 1Channel. Note: legal issues depending on region.
  3. Play games! Board games aren't for everyone (they are probably in your dusty closet), given the convenience of having a computer around you most of the time. The easiest way of playing games on your computer without cluttering your computer with lots of software is to install only 1 piece of software: Google Chrome. Once installed, you can access the Chrome Web Store, in there you can find not only apps but lots and lots of games (including Angry Birds!).
  4. Rather look for interesting stuff online? No problem, you will probably "stumble upon" something you interest on StumbleUpon. Prefer more "people news" sort of stuff try Digg. More of a geek? Try Slashdot. Don't try a news site, news ain't that good these days…
  5. Play a musical instrument. I've got a couple of guitar, but when it rains and is cold I'd rather stay warm under covers… Solution, musical instrument apps. My favorite is Guitar Solo for Android (free or paid). The chords by default upon installation are those of Hotel California, so even if you are not a guitar player you can still play something. It can even overlay tabs on screen from Ultimate Guitar ;-).
  6. Chat with your friends online. You might not be able to meet your friends for real on a rainy day, but you could always do it through Skype. You will be able to not only text chat but call and even see them through your webcam. There are versions for portable devices as well (from Android to Windows Mobile).
  7. Got a spare computer lying around? Why not try an alternative operating system such as Linux? How is this related to rain? The time it takes to find a good distribution, downloading, installing and configuring should kill time. You may find an overview of different Linux distributions on DistroWatch, along with their sites, download pages, screenshots and more.

As you have probably noticed by now, almost all of the above requires an electronic device. Hope you don't lose power during the rain :-P!


Review: Menatelecom myKey Internet Service

This is the first of a series of reviews of the different Internet services I have used since my last review.

Menatelecom's myKey service is basically similar to what other ISPs in Bahrain offer, Internet through a USB dongle. However, the biggest difference is that they do not use a mobile (as in mobile phone / cell) network, but rather WiMAX. They offer the service under two different sub-service. You can either get it on its own. Or, if you already use the menaHome service, you can get it through the Smart Pack service. The difference between the two is that if you get it under the Smart Pack your download limit (aka data transfer) AND speed will be of your menaHome service. So if you have the 4MB service, all devices under the Smart Pack will be limited to 4Mbps and 40GB of data transfer, all devices will also be throttled at 512Kbps once you use up your limit.  Also note that Smart Pack is only available for those subscribed to the 2Mbps Boost package and above, the service costs an additional BD2/device/month up to 2 additional devices. The device must also be purchased in this case (BD24 for either). If you get it as a separate service, the myKey service, you have a choice of 4 service tiers starting at BD5 up to BD28, with speeds reaching up to 18Mbps. Do note that the "unlimited" tier is not really unlimited but rather 80GB, which gets throttled at 1Mbps if you go over. The device can be obtained either by buying it (no contract) or at BD2 installments for 18 months. You have a choice of two different dongles from two different brands. The Motorola USBw 200, works on Windows only, or the Green Packet UH-235 which works on both Windows and Mac. Sadly there is no Linux support and nothing can be done until either manufacturer releases a Linux driver.

This review will be based on two different perspectives: my own experience using the service (under the Smart Pack) and my friend's experience (using it as a service on its own, unlimited tier). At the time I registered for the myKey service under the Smart Pack (4Mbps menaHome) I decided to go for the Motorola simply because it was a brand which I was more familiar with (and which I thought would support Linux some where in the Interwebs…). The device looks like this:

mykeyfront 106x300 Review: Menatelecom myKey Internet Service          mykeyback 107x300 Review: Menatelecom myKey Internet Service         mykeyfrontusb 97x300 Review: Menatelecom myKey Internet Service

With the USB pulled into the dongle, the device's length is about that of your pointing finger. The USB port swivels up to 270 degrees, which should be enough to position for both comfort and signal. One weird thing about the device is the sticker on its side. Apparently it is not for market placement but rather for demonstration purposes only. I never bothered checking with them if my device was a test / sample device. It's either that or these are devices that come straight from Motorola's drawing board and is missing the service provider's custom designed enclosure.

mykeymarketplacement 300x123 Review: Menatelecom myKey Internet Service

There is no CD with the dongle, but much like other similar devices today, the software and drivers are built into the device. As soon as you plug it in, Windows recognizes the device as a USB flash / thumb drive. You must install the "Motorola Connection Manager" software before using the service. When you register, Menatelecom provides you with the username and password required to authenticate in the network.

motoconmgr 189x300 Review: Menatelecom myKey Internet Service

Enough about the device, now its time to go into the service. After registering for the service with Menatelecom, they gave me a pair of username and password to login. After installing the software and drivers, I tried to get online. Unfortunately I kept getting an authentication failure error. I called their customer support center and the first operator that picked up simply told me to go to Menatelecom's Moda Mall (aka Sheraton aka Bahrain World Trade Center) branch "for any problem with myKey". I was disappointed, first hour I get problems, and help was far away (plus this was in March, to those familiar with Bahrain). I decided to wait a bit, hoping that a new shift comes in and call them again. The second call solved my problem, given the information they took from me, apparently the device was not registered in the network… I had a new set of username and password and boom, I am connected! From various speed tests, I was getting the promised 4Mbps from my menaHome tier.

Further tests on mobility around various places in Bahrain (Juffair, Diplomatic Area and Muharraq mostly) did show a shortcoming of the service. In order to connect and most importantly STAY connected I noticed that I needed at least 3 out of 5 bars. Otherwise, I would disconnect if I happened to wave my hand over the device (for example picking a cup) or if something as simple as one of those stand-up menus in restaurants were in front. There were times I would get such low signals even right next to a wall of window. A USB extender helped a bit, but not much. However, over the past few months the signal has greatly improved to the point where I would get 4 to 5 bars out of 5, even in my room (which seems to be a Faraday cage for signals…).

My friend signed up for the service and got the Green Packet device on the unlimited package. One advantage of the device is that a mini USB B wire connects between your computer and device allowing you to move it around. He was impressed with the speed, it would easily reach 16Mbps out of the "up to" 18Mbps when a well seeded torrent was being downloaded. Unfortunately, an experiment we tried left both of us with no Internet… We tried using each other's username and password to see if account sharing was possible on different devices. Yes it did work, however, soon after both devices would fail at obtaining an IP address. This experiment did show something interesting, it seems like Menatelecom limits speed based on MAC address rather than username and password since the highest speed I ever got using his account was 4Mbps (note: I was already capped and my account would go to 512Kbps only). We called them asking if it was possible to change passwords (hoping it would somehow restore Internet) since we "thought" someone may have been using our Internet :-P… They said it was impossible for accounts to be shared due to the way it works… Our experiment had just proven them otherwise… But it wasn't something to explain to a Level 1 CS agent. Calling again, hoping to get someone more experienced simply resulted in the usual excuse "go to our Moda Mall branch". My friend ended up cancelling his service on the first month, and I spent a few days without Internet on the road (every call resulted in the Moda Mall excuse).

Verdict: the service is great when it works and well worth its price compared to the next service I will be reviewing. However, a lack of Linux support (my netbook is Linux) did put me off a bit. Customer support can sometimes be annoying when the fix for any problem related to myKey is a trip to the busiest part of the country…



Review: Viva Prepaid Broadband

It has been around a week since Viva launched their new service, prepaid (mobile) broadband. After seeing the ads in the press and on the streets, I decided to give them a try, after all for BD10 I’ve got nothing to loose. Before getting into the details, let’s compare the offers of prepaid broadband currently available in Bahrain (along with recharge options, screenshots from their respective sites).


Starter price: BD6
Credit included: Unknown

batelco Review: Viva Prepaid Broadband


Starter price: BD30 / 33 (depending on which USB device, mykey1, mykey2 respectively)
Credit included: None

menatelecom Review: Viva Prepaid Broadband


Starter price: BD24
Credit included: Unknown (e-Go device + data line mentioned in starting price, definition of data line?)

zain Review: Viva Prepaid Broadband


Starter price: BD10
Credit included: BD5

viva Review: Viva Prepaid Broadband

As you can see, Viva seems to be the most affordable at the moment. There is the possibility that other providers revamp their prepaid broadband packages to compete with each other. One interesting feature of Viva’s service is that (for 2 months) they allow you to transfer the equivalent amount you recharge to a Viva prepaid number (recharge BD10 get BD10 in credit to transfer to any Viva prepaid number at the same time). The providers above require the use of a USB based modem. Batelco, Zain and Viva rely on HSPA to deliver their service (same technology on mobile phones these days), Menatelecom however relies on WiMax (you can also use their prepaid service with their regular modem / router).

There is also the speed factor to consider, data according to providers’ sites (assuming the prepaid packages):

Batelco: Up to 21Mbps
Menatelecom: Up to 4Mbps
Viva: Up to 7.2Mbps
Zain: Not mentioned on site.

The following review is about Viva. I visited their Zinj branch (located in Al Jazira, Zinj) on a Friday morning. Luckily there was no queue (unlike when they had recently launched…). The sales rep took me through a tour of the service (note: you can transfer only BD4 initially to your number, bug or intenational I don’t know, total credit minus 1 transferable). You can recharge by simply getting one of the Viva prepaid vouchers you buy at stores. The starter pack price is BD10 that includes the USB device (at the time of sign up it was a Huawei E172 USB modem) and BD5 in credit (good for 1GB of transfer). I decided to also get BD15 worth of credit, after all I was running low on my phone! They include a tiny quick start guide to recharge and transfer credit.

Upon reaching home, I went straight away to plug in the device to my computer (Windows 7). I went through the installation of the software and once drivers are up and running the little LED on your device will blink a specific color depending on the type of network it sees (or none). I started recharging using the included voucher + the one I bought and now had 6GB worth of data and BD19 to transfer. Transferring went smoothly, my phone was now happy. I started the connection and started to download, speeds were acceptable it ranged between 80-150ish KB/s (given I didn’t have the best coverage). Once you end your session you can visit the section to check your available transfer, you get the information in the form of a message viewable in the text messages section of the software (remaining data transfer and expiry date).

The ultimate test was to get it working on the move. I plugged it to my netbook (running Jolicloud Linux), the OS detected the device and allowed me to connect without messy configurations. I got into my car (warning do not operate while driving!!!!!) and started streaming music from the Internet (Viva is not blocked by one of the first intelligent music streaming service, if you know which one I’m talking about icon wink Review: Viva Prepaid Broadband ). I went all the way to Isa Town with a cut in playback, pretty impressive. On the way back home the connection cut off when I was right over the middle section of one of the new Sitra bridges (I was expecting that for some reason…). I tried it out in different locations (stationary this time), including Juffair and the diplomatic area (Manama), in Manama I was able to get moments of 3g+ connection (blue LED color according to manual), most of the time it was at least HSUPA.

So far it is has not let me down in moments of need, in places where I can’t get a decent WiFi connection with my laptop. Hopefully the service does not get oversubscribed and Viva keeps up the good work. Given the price and quality so far, I highly recommend it.