Unofficial Windows 9 concept

Unofficial Windows 9 design concept flip.it/Vs4EU

Now you’re talking! It is a pity this is unofficial, and will have no chance of ever being built this way, but I can hope that someone at Microsoft is listening.

Windows 8point1

One half of the experience has been good, the other, well, not even not so good.

I’d be extremely disappointed if I owned an RT device right now, though I hear good things about WinPhone 8.

Judging by my experience iOS7 has no competition here, yet, but does seem to have an increasing amount of competition from Android, though my own experiments in Android are not exactly favourable.

Ultimately I do just want a device, and resulting workflow, that just gets the job done.

I’m also learning the art of Sketchnoting!


Girl at work bought a refurb MacBook at the w/end. The new computers were all funny little boxes on the screen! #windows8 #fail

Turned out there was more to the story too. She hated the Win8 GUI, and so did the sales guy @PCWorld. He tried to sell her a Mac, but as she couldn’t afford it she sought out the refurb on eBay.

Now two companies sell a start button

RT @paniq: Now two companies sell a start button for Windows 8. I sense an anti-trust coming when MS brings back the start button in Win …

An Early Look At Windows 8

RT @SAI: An Early Look At Windows 8 Baffles Consumers $MSFT by @jyarow flpbd.it/VHr9Z Complete car crash, and I am already using it.

The end of an era – Windows 3.x

BBC NEWS | Technology | The end of an era – Windows 3.x

I never had the ‘pleasure’ of using 3.1, though I’ve got an old Toshiba laptop buried somewhere that I think came with it, set up with a very Ubuntu-esque brown theme that I remember more than the OS itself!

I can understand it being used on old desktops to this day, but still issuing licenses for embedded stuff?
There must have been much better alternatives around in the last 5 + years!

Microsoft Update..

Microsoft Update

Just why is Microsoft Update such a pain in the @rse?
Ok, I accept that for most people, running legit copies or properly hacked, just auto-update, or auto-download, is ‘good enough’, but what happens if, like me, you want to see what is being loaded, and maybe choose not to have something download at the time?
I had a few minutes with my mom-in-law’s laptop today, couple of ‘fixes’ to do for her, and like always I like to just check what updates she has missed etc. I always spend a few minutes doing this for her, auto-update is set, but you never know. I do the same with her AVG anti-virus too, today being no exception. No surprise, she had an AVG update, so I let it load, left AVG to do it’s stuff and turned my attention to Microsoft update.
I really wish I hadn’t bothered, and thankfully we are not talking it causing any problems with the system, that is another story.
No, the problem was that I had to spend 15 minutes at least clicking buttons and installing activeX, getting lost in update loops, and still being presented with a ‘not today- see these trouble shooting links’ error message. For God’s sake, I know the machine has had activeX installed, it worked last time, why do I have to install it again today? Why do I have to sit through minutes of green progress bar, three times over? Yet still end up with the stupid error message?
For all it’s faults Linux has this nailed, even more so with apt. Ok, I’ve had it fail, but only mid-download because of network problems. It does not take me minutes to tell me what is ready to be updated, it takes seconds. Same with my Mac’s, and both systems offer a separate simple to use software application to do it, not some God awful web interface and Internet Explorer reliance to do it (I know I can use ‘software catalouge’ or something obscure).
I simply want to check if there are any oustanding updates, what they are, and choose to download them if needed. I don’t want to have to spend ages clicking this, okaying that, and watching odd progress bars.
C’mon Microsoft, you certainly did not become dominant by merit alone, this is simple, basic user interface stuff!

Compatibility Problems with Vista: Switch to Alternatives? – OSNews.com

Compatibility Problems with Vista: Switch to Alternatives? – OSNews.com

Ok, I’m not using Vista, I’ve not used Vista, I’ve not even seen Vista in operation, yet, and I guess I’m not interested either. The first time I come into contact with it it will be as a ‘fix this’ situation, and I would put money on it that it will be the XP+ version, Home, or possibly Home Premium, and will be, from what I’ve heard or read, next generation WinME.

This is not the problem I see here, though the comments on this article do generally push down the wrong track with OSS/GNU arguments, or proprietary versus Open Source etc.

No, what I really read into this is the self same problems, or observations, I’ve seen since day one with my more serious involvement with software, and the underlying OS.

90% of the users I come into contact with do ‘think’ Windows ‘is’ the computer, and have no idea about the alternatives, but those same 90% are the ones with the most basic problems with virus, malware infections or plain stupid computer mistakes.

In my work situation the software used ‘is’ the computer, the Windows bit is almost irrelevant. If the software we use ran on Linux, with KDE as a desktop, no one would notice.

If that same software set ran on a Mac, and the company considered the expense worth it, we would be more productive.
But, I realise it is not quite so simple. There are no clear cut lines here at all. My view is that the OS should be almost totally unseen, and it is the desktop environment that is important. Even more important than that is the moving of many apps away from the desktop, or computer, to remote servers as services. This applies to a working environment as well as a home environment. If Michelle is ‘typical’, and I accept that this is a difficult ‘label’ to stick on anyone, we are all different, she uses Firefox, a card game program, occasionally writes a letter (or some very simple DTP task) and transfers photos/music by drag and drop to her phone. Pointing out some of the great productivity features on a Mac is lost on her. At work she does not use a locked down Windows system, but has some almost draconian rules about usage. There she uses MS Office, almost exclusively Outlook and Word, a very regulated set of web pages, and one 3rd party application that is Windows only for data access to one function. At work I use a locked Windows desktop with Outlook, Word, Excel, several ‘catalogues’ and information databases, and one (almost) custom management system. In virtually all these instances of software application they could be provided by ‘services’ or a proper server-client setup, and I’m willing to bet the whole set would be easier to use at the user end into the bargain, however to do this would require the change of mindset, and effort, from not just our employers, but by the providers of the applications used. No easy feat as they on the whole are firmly entrenched in the conventional ‘Windows system’.

I think the problems choosing an OS will not go away for a long time yet, and I can only hope that in many ways things such as the availability of smart-phones, thin-clients and a shift to ‘web 2’ services will actually push the relevance of the actual OS backwards and drive compatibility and compliance to the front.

But I’m not holding my breath…

Cleaned Windows.

That’s right, after I said I was enjoying the Windows experience it went a bit amiss, I got angry, and its gone..

Xandros is in its place because of it’s Crossover Office abilities, and I did a deal to use the laptop for Windows…

Cant really explain why. I think its because I find Window so infuriating half the time. One tiny thing and I was reaching for an install disc, and an excuse.

Can’t even say that I really like Xandros, given my love for Mac, and learnt love of Gnome, it is tuff going back to KDE, and visually Xandros is behind the pack. But, that is not what this is about. Xandros offers the best out of box experience after Windows on x86, things should ‘just work’.

Another key factor, and one that I couldn’t ever have foreseen, in making this switch back to Linux is Michelle.

She hated Windows… really did not want to use it…

She uses it at work, but, no, given the choice her she’d pick Xandros or Ubuntu..

Wow.. this really says something for Linux on the desktop.

Window blues…

I can really understand how much I disliked Windows. It’s so… umm.


Everything about it is, umm, crap.

Still I need to use something, and recent Linux events have knocked my confidence a little.

I just want to use it as a tool.

Windows whoas…

Not mine, well, not my Windows, just my misfortune.
Just finished another God awful install of Windows. W2K this time, with SP4 from disc.

Tried all afternoon to repair a WinME install, everything going OK, except it would not actually repair it. What particually pissed me of is the Win error report messages – Error in – How useful is that.
Safe mode, but no access to CD. Great.
Archives upside down searching for boot discs, only to discover there is actually a difference between a boot disc, and a start disc. Arcane DOS sessions needed to create one, my trusty DrDos one no good in a situation like this.

I think I only used ME for a couple of months, I know why.

Wiped the lot, got backups of personal stuff, not my problem they will need to install all their old stuff back.

I’ve just got to get it to SP4, and AV/Spyware/Firewall. Job done, have the box back.

Madness has passed now!

Well, as much as I ever get over madness anyhow.

Windows got wiped…

It was ‘unusable’,

…and I’m unable to use it.

I’m sure its the amount of system resources that are needed to just keep it firewalled, spywalled, virus protected and safe, and as a little experiment I did some checking on on of the Win2K machines at work.

Spysweeper alone used more resources than the main app in use at work!

This surprised me, and turning it off did produce a huge increase in system performance. These damned machines do not run firewalls either, so God knows what performance hit my machine at home was taking with a fully integrated approach. Now I’m not used to benchmarking, let alone on a Windows box, but my desktop at work has 128mb of RAM, and yet Windows reports that just running the apps ‘needed’ to do the job it was using 327mb of memory, chopping out Spysweeper knocked it back to 229, yet task manager reported that it was only using 17mb to run it!

I decided then to leave it for now. Those machines are 2.5 years old, they’ve never had an upgrade or reinstall, and are proberly choking on their own regurgitated crap, as well as running the most buggy and badly designed custom apps imaginable, so Spysweeper tipping them over the edge is not surprising, and, plain and simple, I’ve realised that:

I really don’t want to try to understand Windows, whatever it’s flavour.

"Windows. Why, after all I’ve said?…"

Sheesh. Am I going mad? Have I become paranoid after fitting a Windows box back into the network?

A AMD XP 2.2 with 512mb Ram is struggling to run… and all I’ve got loaded is XP, WinRar, Firefox and F-secure internet suite. I’ve mapped a network drive to hold documents.

I’m sure its F-secure that is causing the problem, but I’m sure as hell not going to run a machine without something of its ilk.
Ok, Firefox takes an age to load on Ubuntu, but not that long. Opening a folder in Gnome is not instantaneous, but its not glacial!

I think I’m going to have to eat my words and go back to something more usable, for crying out loud, Xandros running Crossover could do a better job of the Windows apps I ‘need’. What I should really do is ditch running Think, wipe the Ubuntu machine, install a mailserver/fileserver on it, move it (and its noise) to the shed, install Ubuntu over Windows, configure it as a clone of the current machine, stick it under the desk as a secondary desktop and run it till it dies, or I buy another Mac. All I need to do to finish the plan is to leave the Suse webserver as it is, just move it to the shed too, and use the Powerbook. Job done.

If she wants to leave Xandros on her laptop, or have Windows on it, its upto her…

The paranoia part, work Win2k machine, autoupdate on. The autoupdate icon in the taskbar looks ‘wrong’, so I carefully right click, pick custom, and read everything. Click the link, get an MS page about a Malware Removal Tool. What’s this I think, I don’t trust it, somethings not right. Goto Win update page, scan machine, and yup, it also appears there so it must be genuine.

Why has it come to this? Why do I question so much that I spend 15 min carefully checking that an autoupdate is genuine just because I think the icon looks funny?

"Windows. Why, after all you’ve said?…"

That’s what Michelle said when she saw the Windows logo…

“But you said you wanted it on the laptop, I just put it on the desktop instead.”

“Yes but all you’ve said about it!”

I know.. I know. All I’ve said about it. The thing is..

The things I’ve said about it still stand. It is a steaming pile of junk for most people. It would not be it the toe rags didn’t want to take over it and exploit all it’s shortcomings. It would not be if Microsoft really pulled their finger out and sorted the thing once and for all, and it isn’t if you are prepared, organised, and careful with how you use it.

If right now someone new to computers said to me “what do I buy?”, I’d tell them buy a Mac.

If they had old hardware and just wanted email, net, and simple home office stuff. Ubuntu, and learn again.

If they want to run games, use an obscure scanner, have existing software, or just about any of the normal stuff people do, what choice is there? It’s not really Linux is it?. Whether you are replacing hardware, or using existing, the vast majority of people do not have any real choice. It’s Windows.

I’m more than happy with Mac, I’d run nothing else, but cannot afford to replace a desktop, webserver and a laptop. Ubuntu is cool, and great if you are prepared to ditch all legacy, Xandros is a better choice if you are prepared to ditch some legacy.
But if you aren’t prepared to ditch some legacy apps, maybe some hardware, and learn it all again, Windows does offer some real advantages.

Please, just screw it down, don’t just click blindly at popups and cryptic dialogue boxes, and be prepared for disaster recovery.

A fit of madness?



But after a year without, I’ve just set off reinstalling Windows XP on one of my machines.


Because I can. No really, I’m getting calls and questions and I’m like, well “I don’t use Windows”,
“I mainly use a Mac.”
“What’s that?”
“Well, it’s a superior computing platform that only runs on Apple hardware.”
“Oh. So I’ve got this {spyware/virus/dialer/insert problem here}, you know about computers, how do I get rid of it?”
“I don’t know what you mean, I don’t have that problem, I use a Mac”

You know the rest.. If you can’t beat them, join ’em..

Mac, Ubuntu…. WinXP user. Defeated.

Windows user rants..

I’ve a million and one things on the go, or to do, and I have to spend half a day fixing a Windows ME box with half vague instructions.

Why do I get friggin’ involved.

The bloody machine has had no AV updates since 2001 for crying out loud…

Its only because I cannot get it to run that I’m not bothering to see how many virii it has on there!
Worse is that its owner in a fit of security concerns has deleted Outlook Express, tried to delete IE, in some fit of madness that made them think installing Firefox and Outlook would make them safe….

Laptop, Windows, and a decision.

I’ve looked at it fully. I’ve analysed the software on Xandros, I’ve consulted with the end user, I’ve thought about it, wrestled with it, and I come to the decision.

Windows goes back on the laptop.

It was not easy, but I think I will be making the right choice.

Reasons? There are a few, and I’m still working through the list. In the end I think I’m just going to have the ability to work in the 3 common OS’s when needed. Ubuntu, is Linux, Gnome and mainly open source. SuSE is commercial and an exellent server OS. Mac is my favorite, and until I can afford a mini for a webserver, and a G5 for a workstation will be my main OS. When I can afford them, it will almost certainly be my only OS.

Windows is secondary to the others, an emergency OS, an educational OS, and ‘her’ OS..

Where did the time go?

Ok, I know it really has been ages… I can’t fully explain why, nearest I could get is a suitable epitaph for my life. Where did the time go?

So its determined effort time again, and a realignment of the whole thing.

From now on in, this is my life blog, and as I spend most of my time wrestling with machines of one sort or another, I’ll keep the title, but give things a little visual revamp soon.

Its not that I’ve given up on blogging the machines, far from it, its more a case of being in somekind of life flux..

My jobs changing, and thankfully has got easier over the last few weeks, and I’m finally getting a role that takes in more of the IT admin, and at home I’m finally becoming settled in my ‘tech’ environment. Mind you though, I’ve a wish list as long as this page on the blog, and one that’ll take most of the year to pay for!

Mac is now the center of my digital attention, and boy, am I dying for a couple of MacMini’s to start putting the digital hub together.. then external storage, then a G5, Tiger, and on it goes.

I think the original purpose of the blog has been passed now, to log the transition away from Windows, its almost a shame that this went through Linux, and not to it, but I think I’ve logged the reasons why it has worked out like that.

Its less than a year since I turned of the Windows machines, and I distinctly remember the trigger for doing so. What I don’t remember is the original trigger to lose Windows, but everyday now I find myself looking at Windows and thinking “why won’t it do that?”.

A seminal moment came while I was away skiing last week. An English speaking friend asked we if I could help her out with the German speaking Windows laptop, and a task she was having difficulty starting. Now while she speaks excellent German, computer menu’s are not her forte. Simple I thought, change the language for her logon. Nope, Windows won’t do that! You have to have English Windows XPpro corporate, then purchase an add on pack! Whoa, hold-on there.. Linux does this no problem… Why not Windows?

I accept Apple won’t let you do it, least not that I know of, but Windows? How many dual language people are there out their using Windows that this would be so useful for? I simply could not understand how something so simple was not available, I was totally blown away. I could accept a download or two, but no, nothing. I was not only dumbfounded, but unable to help other than point at various menu items and lamely ask what it translated as. I honestly felt useless as could do nothing more than promise to look at some options for her from home. I would be able to take a hack/crack route if this was my machine, but its not, its a small company where she is working part time, and there are other non-English speaking users for the machine. I’m still looking at how I can help her accomplish the task.

Sitting looking at my desktop at work today, Win 2000, I thought how boring it looked, and there is no real easy, free, way to change it! XP is not much better as standard, although easier to change its not within ‘normal’ userspace to do so, not so Linux, in virtual any flavor it is fully customisable. Ok, on the Mac its not so easy, but its so good looking why would you need too?

I think I have finally become so used to Mac/Lin that everything else now seems strange and unusable, and I now have to think ‘how do I do this?’ when in Windows.

I finally feel mission accomplished.

No network

Said I’d be back soon. Not reporting on Xandros though, this time its Windows.

Scanner’s gone the way of all things eventually and died. Well not quite dead, more sort of terminally ill, and no use what so ever, so I put it out of my misery and bought a new Epson 2400.

Nice, shiny, and, Linux compatable.

Hooked up through a nice shiny new USB switch to share on the network, future proofed to USB2, everything taken care of… I thought.

Still got the thing to set up in Linux, but on the plus side Xandros has found it and knows exactly what it is, SuSE, well I don’t think so yet.

But Mr Gates wonderful Windows, another story altogether….

Loaded disc, autoplay, starts installation, hang…..

Task manger, kill installer, restart installation…..

Goes a bit further this time, and pop up next stage of first installation.

Task manger, kill installers, reboot.

Reboots, no network?

Now 2 problems, no network, half installed scanner. Decide to sort scanner first.

Uninstall everything scanner related, reboot (still no network, odd) copy cd to Temp drive, reinstall > Hangs….

Unistall all scanner related, then install from drive by going to each installer on its own and going from there.

Success, it appears, installers still looked a bit dodgy during job, but everything seems to work.

Now to network…

Can’t see any network, check all settings, all OK, check Server… Hmm Samba service not running…. Oh, restart Samba.

Still no network. Is it anything to do with Windows only being on one box. Check from all Linux, they can see each other OK. All as Samba mounts.

Now tried shouting at Windows, and poking at every setting I can think of….

Everything is correct. Right workgroup, right ID, right address,


2 hours of shouting, kicking, changing, checking and rebooting….

Pop, unchecked enable Window firewall, not for the first time either, and I’ve got a network again.


VIP day.

Today marks a very important day in my personal computing history.

I am now down to 1 Windows(tm) machine.

I have just installed the most painless implementation of Linux I have ever had the pleasure, or otherwise, of coming across.

Xandros 2 is now installed on my Laptop…

I think Windows(tm) is almost history.

Moved M’s palm desktop over to the Windows box, ghosted the laptop image, then slapped a XandrOS disc in the drive. One completely hassle free (I had NOTHING to configure manually) install later I’ve got a fully working laptop, that thanks to Xandros is fully usable. Just finished a few critical updates and I can only say that I’m TOTALLY impressed….

God, I think there will be more soon.

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