It was my time, I guess


Saturday morning, I woke up at 3am and couldn’t get back to sleep no matter what so I did what I remember as advice from a while back and got up to do something. I have to chose wisely because if the dog wakes, I’m in trouble. So, I got on my computer to start blogging. After all, there will be two posts that come out on Sunday.

I did my regular routine and logged in and checked for updates and there wasn’t something there as an update for virus checking so I let it do its thing and flipped back to my browser to do some blogging.

About 4am, I looked at the notification tray and noticed that there was a notification so I checked it out. I was eligible for the upgrade to Windows 11. Wow.

Since the announcement of the release of Windows 11, I check daily to see if Microsoft had decided if I was eligible for the upgrade. I had run the upgrade checker and my computer was indeed eligible but not yet, apparently. I even switched to the Edge browser to see if that had any influence. Nope.

I back up regularly as a routine so I jumped at the opportunity to do the upgrade.

My time had come. I’m guessing Microsoft has logic like:

“if some.loser.is = awake@3am.EST then give it to him”

Unlike other major upgrades in the past that could take a day or two to download, I was really anticipating downloading over the fibre connection. It was quite impressive as it sped through the download. I wasn’t going to be able to get my blog posts done in time for the installation. I’d read that there would be a reboot or two during the process. I counted three and I was plopped in front of the ready screen.

It was newist looking but basically had the same details as Windows 10. I hit ENTER and was prompted for my PIN. It worked so things had carried over and I was logged in. Sort of. The desktop wallpaper was the same as my old one but it was rotated 90 degrees. This didn’t sent warm fuzzies about what was coming. Right clicking and I was able to replace it with a stock image from Microsoft. It was there that I decided that I would go pretty easy on the operating system to get started.

Later, I decided to give it another shot and load the original image and it fit into place nicely.

It’s a different approach since I normally customize the heck out of everything to make it mine and to fit into the way that I work with a computer. My default browser was still Brave but I switched to Edge just to be conservative in my approach.

Then, there was the damned taskbar that I’d read about. It does indeed look like the standard Macintosh one. It was at the bottom of the screen and the icons that were in my previous configuration were still there. Surely I could change that so I started poking around in the settings menu. There was nothing to be found although I could left align the icons if I wanted. For years now, I’ve put my taskbar on all my computer to the left of the screen. In these days of wide screens, it makes so much sense to get a little more real estate for reading on the screen. Ironically, I do it on my Macintosh but can’t do it here now. The best I could do to reclaim the real estate was to hide it.

The best thing is that everything is working well except when I came to write my weekly summary of things post. There are a lot of links in there and CTRL-C / CTRL-V worked differently in Edge. In fact, the first time I tried to do it, I was prompted with a message that that the rules had changed and it was more that the link that would be copied / pasted but the entire title of the article as well. I could see the value of this but that would require some rejigging of routine here and I’m not up for that. Edge did let me change the default but CTRL-C / CTRL-V was still doing something behind the scenes to slow things down. Rather than figure it out, I switched back to the Brave browser.

Particularly with the weekly roundup post, I have two windows open for the review and then the post to the new document. I gave the new Snap feature a workout. It worked nicely on my widescreen monitor. Only a thin blue border lets you know which was active. I did lose track during the back and forth and so the “Find my cursor” feature came to my rescue.

Eventually, I got the two blog posts done, walked the dog, and then started to poke around and see what there was to see. The taskbar was indeed discomforting. It seems to be the one thing that Microsoft changes with every operating system when I start to think about it. I’ll get used to it but I sure like the simplicity of the ones that I’ve written for myself or the ones that come with Linux. After all, it’s just there to start the program.

The Settings area was intimidating. Instead of the old familiar approach, there was actually a great deal of explanation as to what would happen if you changed a setting. I smiled; you could become more computer savvy by reading things while working with your computer! My first run through basically was looking for privacy stuff. I’m not a fan of settings that let you help the developer by sending feedback when you’re doing something or something that doesn’t work right. If it’s a problem, I want to be the person who decides to communicate my lack of knowledge.

In the meantime, I’m still running kind of a “Stock” Windows 11 and quite like it. Logging in seems faster, the default widgets are interesting, the interface is familiar now that I’ve hidden the taskbar, it recognized all the things that I have attached with a problem that I’ve seen, and it just runs like an operating system should.

That’s not to say that I’m done. I have a bunch of research tucked away for when I decided to customize things.

I may end up doing a deep customization as time goes by but so far, so good.

What’s your name?


I read about this this morning and almost skipped over it until I started thinking about it. Maybe I could use it.

On a typical day, I have a number of windows and tabs open. Way too many, I know, but I do start from a base home screen and then continue to open windows and tabs to be productive (at least in my mind) and then shut them down at the end of the day.

It was one of those things that I didn’t know I had a problem until I saw the solution!

Out of the box, Windows does give windows a number although it tends to be the URL of the active tab. Doesn’t it make sense that you should be able to give it a meaningful name? We do try to do that for everything else on the computer.

A new experimental setting for the Chrome browser (it appears in Opera but doesn’t seem to work and it appears as works well in the Brave browser) and it’s a simple setting in the collection of experiments.

chrome://flags/#window-naming

The setting is for the default but you can switch it to enabled. You’ll have to reboot the browser for the change to take place. Now, to name a window, just right click on the title bar away from a tab and the option to name the window appears as an option.

So, how do I see this benefitting me? Well, as the day progresses, I’ll keep opening new windows and use the Alt-Tab combo to move to the window that I want. At this point, I just have Snip&Sketch and two windows open.

I know it’s a little small but the window with the frame around it is my window for Ontario Educators. As you may know, I don’t follow them all but have them all organized into Twitter lists. When I want to know what’s happening with my Ontario folks, I’ll just flip to that window and check out the lists. You can see at the right that I captured the creation of this post in the WordPress editor.

More importantly, I have all the Ontario Educator lists in a window that’s just called Ontario Educators. The blog post is in a window that I haven’t named so it’s named by the content of the tab. Maybe I should name that window Home or Start or something.

It’s not a world changing feature and with just a pair of windows open, it might not even make sense. But, I’m sure that the value will become apparent as the day progresses and more windows appear.

Fixes


I didn’t know that anything was broken until I was getting ready for “This Week in Ontario Edublogs” and had logged into Zencastr. Out of the blue, it reported that there was a problem with the sampling rate of my microphone.

Now, you have to realize that I have two monitors, five blog posts in tabs, my shared notes in another tab, Zencastr in another one and then a few other tabs that are always open.

But, in my mind, I knew just where to find that setting in the Control Panel. While I’ve used Windows 10 on that computer for a while now, I’m still more comfortable there than in the new-fangled settings. So, I did what I normally do and use the search to search for and launch Control Panel.

This is what I got.

A whole lot of nothing. Sure, there was a text entry area and I could type but there were no results.

Fortunately, my learning from years and years ago had been effective. I had a shortcut to the Control Panel on my desktop. So, I minimized everything to get in there where I found that, according to my computer, all was right with the world and my microphone.

For that moment, I switched to another microphone which gave the same error message but we were able to complete the show.

Then, I started to do a bit of digging and the lack of a search is a “known issue”. See a typical story here.

Windows 10 Warning: Anger At Microsoft Rises With Serious New Failure

I guess it’s kind of comforting to know that I’m not the only person doing a screen capture of nothing. I did what a normal person should do and asked Windows to check for updates.

Nada. Nothing.

At least from the article above and from other reading, I’m not the only one with this issue.

But, I look at Microsoft on this one. This isn’t some obscure little thing buried in the operating system. That magnifying glass is right on my taskbar. It’s pretty crucial. Fortunately, I kind of know my way around a computer and I do have a well organized storage scheme. (at least in my mind and that’s all that counts) But, if I was using a search to find something, I can’t help but think I’d be more frustrated than just being a bit upset.

It’s not just Microsoft. Regular readers will know that my Macintosh had an issue and I had to wait a while for Apple to release a patch for it. Now, “patch” in the Apple world means Gigs of information. I compare that to Linux where a patch is a small bit of code and turned out very shortly by the community after being identified. In other worlds, often you have to wait a while for a fix.

So, I will have to wait for an update from Microsoft on this one.

If I was in a hurry, there are a number of fixes for this one that involve going into the registry and tweaking things. Somehow Bing is at the heart of this from what I’m reading. At this point, I can live with knowing that something is broken so I’m hesitant to break things even further.

But, there’s got to be a department called “Don’t fix it if it ain’t broken”. That appears to be what happened in this case.

Windows on Android


A day of freedom for me was having to turn in my iPhone to my employer.  Like the Blackberry before it, the thing was functional.  It made phone calls, connected to the internet, and let you install and ran applications.  You know, the stuff that you have one for.

And, it was customizable.  You could put a desktop image on the background.

Those of you who know me and/or my blog wouldn’t be surprised when I said that I felt handcuffed.  I got my first Android smartphone and realized that there was a whole different world out there.  Part of my frustration before was flipping through screen after screen looking for an application.  (Yeah, I install a lot.  That’s what memory is for.)

One of the nice features about Android is that you can change the Launcher.  This is the application that makes access to your other applications possible.  And, there’s a LOT of them.

Now, a big of a caveat here … I haven’t tried them all.  It’s just that when I read a review of yet another one, I read about a neat feature that I have to try out.  So, while I haven’t tried them all, I’ll confess to having tried a bunch of them!  And, surprisingly to me, I’m intrigued by launchers that try to work like Windows!  It actually shouldn’t be that big a surprise – Windows 8 was designed for touch and so is your smartphone.

Here are a few that I’ve poked around with, and quite frankly, enjoy the Windows experience with

Launcher 8 WP Style Themes

Screenshot 2019-04-02 at 10.15.19

Computer Launcher for Win 10

Screenshot 2019-04-02 at 10.18.32

and the one that is currently installed comes from Microsoft itself.

Microsoft Launcher

Screenshot 2019-04-02 at 10.21.16

The new wallpaper every day plus the access to all the apps versus a scrolling page has caught my fancy – at least at this point in time.  No advertising is nice as well.

But, ever fickle, I caught a glance at a Windows XP launcher theme.  You know, back when computers were computers…

This post originally appeared on:

http://dougpete.wordpress.com

Please don’t read it anywhere else.

 

What a Difference an OS Makes


Nerdy post upcoming – you’ve been warned.  But, it just might be worth the read for you anyway…

A good friend of mine had the power supply go on her ancient PC so it wouldn’t boot.  She needed some files from her hard drive and asked for my assistance.  No problem, I says, bring your CPU over.  That was actually step 1.  Step 2 as described below happens a day later.

Now, a little background here at dougpete labs.  I have a Sony VPCF1 with an i7 processor that came loaded with Windows 7 and that was my main operating system for about a week.  At the end of the week, I partitioned the hard drive and installed an instance of Ubuntu and the computer boots there by default and remains there for the most part.  Every now and again I’ll have the urge to program using Visual Basic or Visual F# and I’ll reboot into Windows for that.  I have an on again / off again relationship with Wine.

Back to the problem at hand.  I actually had a similar problem with an old PC of my own and had ordered a Sabrent USB 2.0 to SATA/IDE Hard Drive Adapter from Tiger Connect.  With a wide variety of connectors, it’s just a matter of finding the one that works to connect the PC’s hard drive to the adapter that feeds into a USB 2.0 connection which attaches to the computer.  In my previous case, it had mounted the drive under Windows and I was able to get what I needed.

So, in this case, I figured that I would just replicate the procedure.

I rebooted the laptop to run Windows 7 and immediately was reminded of one of the reasons why it doesn’t stay running Windows for the most part.  The fan roars and you can feel the heat being ejected from the left of the computer.  Sigh.  I’ve tried upgrading the BIOS and I think I’ve read every FAQ about CPU heating / fan combinations on the web.  The best answer was a flippant “you’ve got an i7 processor.  It’s a workhorse and designed to run hot.”  I don’t know if that’s the ultimate answer but it was rationale enough for me.  I mount the hard drive and go to Computer and there the drive is sitting there as Drive Q:  Double click to open and I get the message that I don’t have enough permissions to do that.  Of course; it must be password protected.

I’m sitting here heating the room, listening to the fan, and staring at the error message.  I’m resigned to waiting for her to show up.

Then, I thought, what if I went back to Ubuntu?  I needed to check my email anyway and the fan is really annoying.

Within a minute, I’m looking at my friendly Gnome desktop.  Quietly too.  Hand over the heat vent reveals a little warm and the fan gently sending the heat out.  And, on the desktop is the now connected Windows hard drive.  A double click reveals the contents.  Hmmm.  Conscience kicks in so I leave the setup until she comes over and then we copy the desired files to a memory key and she’s a happy camper.  I’m a happy Ubuntu camper.  The computer is quietly doing its thing and saved the day.

There’s a lesson to be learned here though.  Getting to the hard drive was just a little bit too easy.  Lifehacker has a really good article for reading dealing with all of this.  It’s called “How to Break Into a Windows PC (and Prevent It from Happening to You)“.  It’s definitely a good read and offers some good suggestions.  If you’re concerned, make a point to read the article this morning.