I arrived home from Europe Friday night in time to spend a quiet (and much needed) weekend at home. My last stop was at Developer & IT Pro Days in Ghent, Belgium. The conference was well attended and featured a keynote by David Chappell.

Ghent is a beautiful little town about 30 miles northwest of Brussells. Its narrow cobblestone streets, plentiful restaurants, and numerous canals and bridges give it a uniquely European feel, and while it reminds me somewhat of Amsterdam, it lacks the seediness of the Dutch capital. Just a couple of blocks down the street from the speaker hotel lies Gravensteen, otherwise known as the Castle of the Counts. I spent a delightful morning touring through it and enjoying the artifacts displayed inside, which included suits of armor, crossbows and other weapons, and a cool display of torture instruments. As in Blarney Castle, I sense that the castle’s medieval inhabitants had little trouble convincing guests to talk.

In short, Ghent is a wonderful place to visit. Here are a few photos I snapped as I roamed around town.

Castle of the Counts Canals of GhentRooftops of GhentMorning at the Castle

Just before I left for Europe, I ordered a new dual-core Dell PC featuring 4 GB of RAM and Vista Ultimate. I spent much of the weekend setting it up, installing all the apps that I use, and transferring files from my old PC. So far I’m pretty happy with it, although Vista has rendered my Linksys wireless print server useless and reports occasional problems with my Netgear wireless network adapter. (So far, the adapter seems to work just fine–knock on wood.) Also, since I’m running the 32-bit version of Vista, it only sees 3 of the 4 GB. I’m totally annoyed by the constant badgering from User Account Control (UAC) and a little miffed to see that Apple got it right in their brilliant Mac vs. PC Vista security ad. But the drawbacks are offset by the built-in media center support and the totally awesome Instant Search feature.

The biggest knock on Vista, of course, is the sordid driver support. The OEMs are way behind in updating drivers for popular peripherals. Not a problem as long as you don’t care to print or connect to the Internet…