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Insanity...
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Published Thursday, June 07, 2018 @ 11:35 AM EDT
Jun 07 2018

...is, the old saying goes, doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

So when for the fourth time in as many months all the wise gurus told me to do a clean reinstall of Windows 10, I got to thinking that there may be a madness to their method.

Whatever conditions that cascade into the inevitable implosion of my PC are probably just going to happen again if I follow this inane advice. I would feel more confident if there was a single explanation for my machine's instability. I spent eight hours reviewing seven different, well-respected technical forums and collected no less than 13 plausible reasons Windows self-lobotomizes itself after running for two weeks or so. And of course, each explanation is provided in the condescending, self-assured expert tone that leads me to believe the user just accidentally stumbled across something that worked on his specific computer.

My laptop has a hybrid hard drive. Part of the storage is a traditional, spinning disk drive, part is solid state disk (SSD). Through some magic, the drive supposedly knows what data is most frequently used and caches that information in the faster SSD storage.

In the past, my backup technique was to clone my laptop's hard drive to an identical drive connected via a USB adapter using a reliable third party utility. If the laptop drive went belly up, it was a simple matter of turning the machine off, flipping it over, removing two screws, swapping in the image backup drive, screwing the cover back on, booting up, and ordering a new external clone drive from Amazon.

Alas, this "superior" hybrid drive can't be cloned because of its magical structure. Instead, you need to use Microsoft's system image backup utility. Windows 10 doesn't have a native program to do this, so Microsoft included the one from Windows 7/8. Restoring this image requires performing a number of time consuming steps before having to arduously copy the external system image back to the new internal drive. To make things even more interesting, there are several references that Microsoft "deprecated" the system image restore function for this utility on Windows 10. Sometimes it will work. Sometimes it won't. If it does, you're welcome. If it doesn't, well, you were warned.

So, here's the plan: Once I restore all the stuff missing between my last backup and system failure- fortunately, just a few hours' worth, thanks to Mozy Online Backup- I'm going to create yet another system image. Then I'm going to replace this hybrid drive with a plain ol' reggly spinning microscopic rust particle drive. I then have to use a USB stick to boot into recovery mode and restore the system image to the new drive. The machine should boot and my problem should be solved.

I'm then going to revert to my old method of cloning to an external drive every day. So, if the drive in the machine fails, it's just a matter of taking out a couple of screws and swapping drives.

Did I say a couple screws? Ah, this is a premium laptop. I have to remove 11 screws, the optical drive, the battery, and then pry the back off with a special tool, being careful not to damage the dozen or so plastic retaining clips.

Ah, progress.


Categories: Microsoft, The Daily KGB Report, Windows


The web edition of KGB Report is published Monday-Thursday, except on holidays. Follow KGB Report and my personal account on Facebook for frequent daily updates.


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Fortunately, it still works in the opposite direction
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Published Thursday, May 24, 2018 @ 7:56 AM EDT
May 24 2018

Donald Trump cannot block critical Twitter users, court rules

WASHINGTON- A federal judge in New York ruled Wednesday that President Trump may not block users from following his Twitter account because the social media platform is a "public forum" protected by the First Amendment.

A group of Twitter users sued the president in July after the @realDonaldTrump account blocked them from replying to his messages. The seven users had each tweeted a message critical of the president before they were blocked.

"Blocking of the individual plaintiffs as a result of the political views they have expressed is impermissible under the First Amendment," Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald wrote in the decision.

"While we must recognize, and are sensitive to, the president's personal First Amendment rights, he cannot exercise those rights in a way that infringes the corresponding First Amendment rights of those who have criticized him," she wrote.

The White House did not respond to a request for a comment. The Justice Department said in a statement it disagreed with the decision and is considering its next move.

Trump has more than 52 million followers on his @realDonaldTrump account, which has become the platform he uses most often to communicate to voters.

"The president's practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end," said Jameel Jaffer, executive director of the Knight First Amendment Institute, which filed the suit.

(via USA Today)

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Windows 10 has crashed on me- again- causing another painful bout of trying to reconstruct everything. Backups are useful, but it doesn't help that Microsoft has designed an operating system and applications with file structures that resist or even conceal themselves from recovery utilities. I'm almost the at the point of considering getting a new system; I've rebuilt this one from the oxide up three times so far. Perhaps four years is the limit for the reliable operation of consumer PCs. Whatever... in the immortal words of Paul Simon, "You know, I don't find this stuff amusing anymore."

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Due to the Memorial Day holiday, KGB Report on the web will return on Tuesday. Follow KGB Report and my personal account on Facebook for frequent updates.


Categories: Donald Trump, Microsoft, The Daily KGB Report, Twitter, Windows


The web edition of KGB Report is published Monday-Thursday, except on holidays. Follow KGB Report and my personal account on Facebook for frequent daily updates.


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Windows 10, Me 1
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Published Saturday, December 12, 2015 @ 12:26 AM EST
Dec 12 2015

I had finished all the backups and was preparing to wipe out my existing hard drive by installing a clean copy of Windows 10 when I noticed something odd.

The last reboot of the machine took under 50 seconds, from the time I clicked on "restart" until the time the Windows 10 lock screen appeared.

Ok, Sherlock... first rule of troubleshooting: what changed? Zeroeth rule of troubleshooting: check the cables first.

Aha. The cable between the machine's USB 3.0 port and the external hard drive was disconnected. I had removed it after my last backup and shifted the drive itself to the other side of the desk.

Ok... click on restart. Shutdown, reboot, lock screen, 46 seconds.

Plug in the USB cable and turn on the external drive. Wait until the notebook sees the drive. Click "Reset."

About 30 seconds to shut down. The boot screen appears, and... stays there. Two minutes... six minutes... 20 minutes.

Hit the power button until the machine stops.

Unplug the offending USB port. Hit the power button. 35 seconds later, lock screen.

That's it for the day. Lots of things to check: bad cable, driver software, misconfigured port. Unplugging the external drive between boots is a minor inconvenience, but I can live with it.

Family commitments today. We'll see what Sunday brings. I'm just relieved I don't have to reinstall all my application software.


Categories: Microsoft, Windows


The web edition of KGB Report is published Monday-Thursday, except on holidays. Follow KGB Report and my personal account on Facebook for frequent daily updates.


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Windows 10, Me 0
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Published Friday, December 11, 2015 @ 6:28 AM EST
Dec 11 2015

It's clear to me now that the proper route from Windows 7 to Windows 10 is to buy a machine with it pre-installed, or to do a "clean" install, starting with reformatting the hard drive .

Alas, I took the route Microsoft pushes most- a reminder from the Windows Update app that W10 was merely a button-click away.

I succumbed to the temptation, since it meant I wouldn't have to reinstall all my applications and backup and restore all my data.

Thirty years of computer experience should have told me that slapping a new operating system over an old one was a disaster waiting to happen. But I figured if Microsoft was touting the Windows Update approach, it was the way to go.

Nope.

Once it's up and running, Windows 10 performs OK and has a couple new features that will boost productivity. But I still can't get the machine to shut down and reboot consistently, and the Windows error logs suggest driver and application incompatibilites are widespread and possibly contributing to my ongoing troubles.

Were it not for the fact that my profession requires me to have the latest Microsoft OS running somewhere so I can answer questions and confirm software compatibility, I would have stuck with Windows 7.

So, I have to bite the bullet, organize my files and applications so they can be quickly backed up and restored, and do a full-blown install.

The executive summary: Windows 10 appears to be stable and nowhere near as user hostile as Windows 8. But don't try to migrate to it using Windows Update. Either buy a new machine with it pre-installed, or download Microsoft's Media Creation Tool, which builds a full Windows 10 idistribution on a DVD or USB stick.

Sigh. Imagine sitting down at the keyboard and discovering all the letters had been rearranged, and you have to restore them to their proper positions before you can do anything.

It's like that.

See you tomorrow, I hope.


Categories: Microsoft, Windows


The web edition of KGB Report is published Monday-Thursday, except on holidays. Follow KGB Report and my personal account on Facebook for frequent daily updates.


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Onward and sideways
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Published Wednesday, December 02, 2015 @ 8:45 PM EST
Dec 02 2015

For the third time I installed Windows 10 on my main system. This time it appears to work, or at least I haven't encountered any of the previous difficulties that required me to revert to Windows 7.

The process was not without incident. The "This is taking longer than expected... just a few more moments" message displayed not for moments, but for over an hour. Then it wouldn't shut down. Then when it rebooted, it came up to a black screen.

If you're going to do a Windows 10 upgrade, it's essential you have another machine nearby so you can search Google and YouTube for solutions to these problems. As usual, the worst place to look is on the official Windows support site.

Once you're up and running (and, it seems, running slower than Windows 7), you'll discover Microsoft is like Giant Eagle... rearranging the layout of things for no obvious reason. For example, the Backup and Restore functions on Windows 7 were located on the control panel and named "Backup and Restore." On Windows 10, those functions are located under something called "File History." Why? In my 30+ years in computing, I've never asked or been asked for a current "file history." The term has been, and will continue to be, "backup."

I'm certain more delights await, but I'm committed now, at least on this machine.

To paraphrase myself, calling Windows 10 Microsoft's most advanced operating system is like saying Moe was the smart Stooge.


Categories: Microsoft, Windows


The web edition of KGB Report is published Monday-Thursday, except on holidays. Follow KGB Report and my personal account on Facebook for frequent daily updates.


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