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Adventures in Windowsland
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Published Friday, August 05, 2016 @ 6:14 PM EDT
Aug 05 2016

For what it's worth, I upgraded all three of my PCs (one desktop and two laptops) to the Anniversary Edition of Windows 10.

One laptop was already running Windows 10, the only one on which I was able to successfully install it earlier this year. A relatively new machine (2014), it took several tries to get it up and running.

With the availability of the Anniversary Edition, I figured I'd update the current Windows 10 laptop and the other laptop (2008) and desktop (2009) running Windows 7. I started the update last night, so that I'd have the weekend to recover if anything went wrong.

Unlike my initial attempts with the first releases of W10, this one went smoothly on all three machines. The trick is to start the update, then walk away. It takes several hours, the machine reboots several times, and if you sit there watching it, you'll go insane. "Just a few minutes..." can mean over an hour in Microsoft speak, depending upon your computer's processing speed, internet connection, etc.

So, what's it like, being up to date? Honestly, I don't believe I've used any of the highly-touted new features. It keeps bugging me to try the personal assistant Cortana, but until speech recognition becomes faster than my fingers and mouse hand, I'll stick with my current methods.

My major worry is about the continued usability of the old, 20th century 16-bit command-line console programs I use on a daily basis that originally ran under Windows NT or XP. So far, so good.

And yes, I've tried, without luck, to find conteporary replacements for those critical old programs. I'm waiting for the day someone uses on me the line I used when I was a software support rep: "I'm sorry, we only support versions released in this century."


Categories: Windows


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Frozen out
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Published Friday, February 05, 2016 @ 5:11 PM EST
Feb 05 2016

Windows 10 continues to be a source of ongoing adventure.

Every few days, my machine randomly freezes solid. The mouse cursor is unresponsive and even control alt delete isn't recognized. The only thing to do is hit the power switch and hope the open applications refreshed any recently open files.

As usual, MIcrosoft has no specific solution for this problem. Searches suggested it had something to do with Windoes' active-state power management feature: in power options, PCI Express, set both options to off. We will see. The freezes don't happen daily, If I make it to next Friday, I'll consider it fixed.

Unless you have an urgent need to go to Windows 10, I'd suggest waiting. Word is there will be another build released before the free ugrade offer expires on July 29.


Categories: Windows


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Tech update
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Published Friday, January 08, 2016 @ 11:37 PM EST
Jan 08 2016

To be honest, since leaving my job in November, I've spent most of the time since relaxing... reading fiction, watching films I've missed, and upgrading one of the three computers in my office to Windows 10, a process that negated any beneficial effects of my otherwise stress-free routine.

The latest major Windows update this week took over an hour to install, and when it rebooted, of course, the start button didn't work and none of my taskbar apps appeared. While Windows said it was done updating, the hard drive activity light was on solid. So, I did what anyone with over three decades of computer experience would do... I went to dinner.

When I returned, the machine's disk was no longer thrashing, but then the taskbar apps still weren't there. Again, calling on my extensive background, I restarted the machine and went upstairs to watch NCIS.

Upon my return, the taskbar apps were back and the system appeared to be responsive. Suspicious, I opened the event viewer and checked the error logs, which I had cleaned out before starting the update. There were several thousand errors.

So, I deleted the logs, restarted the machine, and went to bed.

The next morning I was about a half hour into my normal routine when I remembered the previous evening's hilarity. Obviously the machine was working now. At least there weren't any problems other than the OS changing the default application for opening pdf files from Adobe Acrobat to Microsoft Edge. An easy fix.

I glanced again at the error log files which were substantially smaller but contained scores of obscure messages. Suddenly a box appeaeed asking me if I'd like to know what's new with Windows 10. I clicked on it, and:

Faulting application name: WhatsNew.Store.exe

My recommendation remains to stay on Windows 7 unless you have some compelling need to go to Windows 10. If you do, and you've had your machine for more than three years, consider buying a new one with Windows 10 installed.

On a positive note, I finally got my Android phone to cast videos to the tv via Roku, and because of the nifty server-side include codes in my template pages, the copyright notices always display the current year.

It's the little things that count...


Categories: Windows


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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


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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


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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


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