Archive for August, 2015

There is no “free” breakfast either

August 23, 2015

I recently had to register a grandchild for middle-school. The staff was all gushy about how all the kids could now get “free breakfasts” at the school.

They seemed puzzled at my look of displeasure.

First, it isn’t free. I am paying for it via taxes at the local, state, and federal level.

Next, this benefit comes from claiming lots of poor kids go to this school. So, I am to be happy that we now officially have more poverty? This school is in a quite wealthy community that is booming.

Also, it is a bit of a culture shock to be in an era where parents are not expected to feed their own kids. What are they still expected to do?


Skyrim continuity lapse: Stop talking about dead people!

August 13, 2015

Silly thing, but I noticed that the folks milling around in Skyrim don’t seem to register when another NPC dies. They still chatter away about them as if nothing had happened.

Toying with getting a Dell XPS 13 and then doing a retro W7 install on it.

August 12, 2015

You may think I am nuts, but I am seriously toying with getting a non-touch Dell XPS 13 – but want to pop W7 on it. Apparently doing so can be an ordeal the way Dell has their machines set up. But then, others have pulled it off and there are guides. I would like the rule-breaking challenge of doing it, if nothing else.

If I can get the tech of an XPS 13 (the crazy battery life and low weight) coupled with a more mature OS, that sounds tempting.

Someone is selling a like-new XPS 13 locally for $500. I am wishing hard I didn’t still have overdue things to catch up, as that would be ideal.

The only enticement to a new one is that you can now get the non-touch with 8 GB of RAM and the upgrade to a 256 GB SSD.

If I do go with W10 at some point, it will need to be Pro as that gets me the group policy features that eliminate things like OneDrive easier.

Seriously though, didn’t anybody at MS see this backlash coming? DDidn’t somebody ask, “Hey, maybe some people might feel weird having their keystrokes logged or their bandwidth sucked or all the baked-in apps they don’t want?”

One can find online feedback going back into last year as users flogged some of these items. MS got plenty of negative feedback, but they just ignored it.

MS still hasn’t gotten rid of the last of the Sinofsky and Ballmer influence.

Predictions for W10 (after being right on W8)

August 9, 2015

I predict MS is going to have to dial back on the auto updates. Drivers always used to be optional updates. Many of us preferred to use the hardware vendor versions or the latest betas. We also had a need to get driver hotfixes, especially as issues with specific games came up.

MS could make driver updates something that require user prompt and really should do it. This lets users check to see if there are problem out in the wild before letting MS install it.

MS will also have to deal with the reality of the corporate world at some point when it comes to updates. My agency runs 24K desktops and a growing number of mobile devices. There is NO WAY our IT department can risk bricking an entire Windows deployment due to a bad patch or driver update.

The nature of a corporate deployment is that you may have thousands of the same make/model of machine. So one bad patch or driver can hinder the ability of thousands of people to get anything done until it is fixed.

Our machines are so locked down I can’t even update Java or delete a desktop icon due to zero admin rights.

Updates are handled in staged installations after being tested by IT.

IT staffs also don’t like things like Live Tiles, as they soak up system resources and may also distract from productivity.

Our IT staff will also not permit MS to have W10 act as spyware for the purpose of trying to target ads. They will likely want to lock down all “phone home” aspects out of concerns over security and loss of productivity.

My predictions are that MS will be forced to do these three things:

1. Make driver updates optional and maybe set all updates as optional.
2. Beef up the ability to opt-out of the “sharing” and create on master “leave me alone” switch.
3. Create a “business version” of W10 that has no sharing and no auto-updates as default settings.

It will also allow the full W7 desktop UI as an option and not ship with Live Tiles as a default. Thousands of users trying to find their stuff and learn a new UI on company time ads up fast.

Windows 10 second try. It works, but not to my liking yet.

August 7, 2015

I played around with W10 on a guinea pig machine last night. This time it did work as an upgrade to an Acer Aspire One netbook with other programs installed (like MS Office). However, while I got it to at least function this time, it still needs a lot of work before I would use it in a work/play machine.

Here are some things needed to make W10 more useful:

1. Make it fast and easy to restrict searches to files on the computer only. The default folds in web searches, which clutters the searches when you want a file on the computer. This one can require a lot of hacking around to change, especially in the Home version. If I want to search the web, I will do it in a browser. Windows searches are for finding local files.
2. A built-in app uninstaller in add-remove programs that treats it like how W7 (and previous OS versions) did things for Windows features. It was fairly easy to switch off features you would never use. W10 makes removing unneeded apps a difficult process that requires use of PowerShell and sometimes registry hacks.
3. Bake in the ability to restore the W7 start menu. Some of us really like the two-column view that has things we use a lot, like Control Panel and Computer, always there in the second column. W10 makes you hunt them up and then pin them manually. If MS was smart, they would take a hint that other software companies are selling tools that let one customize the start menu with ease. It should just be part of Windows. Users like to have a start menu (bloody lesson learned with Windows 8) and they also like to have it be configured to their preferences.
4. Allow users the option to ditch Cortana and still keep a rudimentary Windows search function. I can rip Cortana out by the roots, but doing so kills off the entire Windows search function. I just need a simple search function for local files.
5. Make OneDrive optional. I have no plans to use it. Again, treat it like a Windows feature that can be turned on and off.
6. Ditto for OneNote. I have no plans to use it. Let me turn it off and have it stop cluttering my start menu.
7. W10 seems built around selling me stuff and often acts more like a giant spyware program than an operating system. It makes Facebook seem shy. I want a simple way to enable a “Privacy Mode” that sets all user data options to the most restricted settings. I don’t want Cortana to get to know me. She is creepy and I want her to go away.
8. Automatic forced updates are a disaster waiting to happen. At the least, MS needs to fix the issue the freshest drivers from venders like NVidia being automatically rolled back by W10 updates.

Anyhow, I still regard W10 as being beta from a user perspective. It requires a lot of manual work to get rid of unneeded junk, create a modicum of privacy, and make simple things happen (like restricting searches to local files).

It isn’t saying much to offer that Windows 10 is better than Windows 8.

August 1, 2015

That is kind of like saying that being kicked in the shin sure beats being kicked in the crotch.

Windows 8 set a bar so low one would need a shovel to get lower.