Looking forward to Windows 10

There are 6 Windows computers in the house (not including a phone), and yesterday those little Get Windows 10 icons imagestarted appearing in the system tray (you may have to install updates for this to appear, specifically the optional KB 3035583). Windows 10 is supposed to start rolling out July 29, and is a free upgrade for non Enterprise Windows 7 and 8.1 users. After you click that icon, you will be given the opportunity to “reserve” your copy, and after that you’ll see a new notification in Windows Update.

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So here’s why I’m looking forward to Windows 10:

The Start Menu is back

The single-most stupid thing (IMO) Microsoft did with Windows 8 was losing the start menu on the desktop. The desktop became harder to use because of it. I have to do various extra clicks to get where I’m going for this reason. It turned happy Windows 7 users into confused Windows 8 users.

Cortana

I’ve watched with interest how effectively some people are using voice recognition on their phones, including dictation. Siri and I simply do not get along. Nevertheless, I believe that voice navigation and dictation are promising features, and I want an opportunity to get serious in trying to master them. I know that Windows 8 has voice recognition, but I haven’t gotten into it. Windows 10 has the Microsoft’s digital assistant Cortana, and I think it’s time now to get busy with voice recognition in general.

Better tablet experience

I am hoping that Microsoft has finished the tablet part of Windows 8.1. The problem was that one had to go all over the place looking for settings. I like the Windows 8.1 tablet interface, but too many things required access to the desktop to accomplish. I also hope that following on the heels of Windows 8.1, we’ll see a new tablet enabled version of Microsoft Office, and I already have my Office 360 subscription ready to enjoy that.

Free upgrade

One of my two main desktop systems is still running Windows 7. I’ve added USB 3.0 ports to that system, that are not natively supported by Windows 7. It has an SSD main drive, and I’m really looking forward to the faster boot times I see on my Windows 8.1 tablets for this system. Switching back and forth between Windows 7 and 8.1 on the side-by-side desktop systems is a drag.

OneDrive

OneDrive has really gotten my attention. I used to carry around a flash drive to have files with me on the go. I still carry the flash drive, but I never use it. It’s all OneDrive now. The convenience, plus the huge storage space bundled with the Office 365 subscription, turned OneDrive into an essential service for me. Windows 10 is supposed to offer a better interface for controlling what is and is not synced with the local system, an essential feature when you have a terabyte of cloud space, and a tablet with only a fraction of that. It also supports fetching files on a remote computer (already available), but it’s starting to make sense to put this stuff in the cloud. Cortana can even search files on your OneDrive, but not synced to the local computer.

Hopes

  • I hope my Windows Vista era laptop (which has gone from Vista to Windows 7 to Windows 8.1) makes it to Windows 10, and that the fingerprint recognition hardware will still work.
  • I hope that there will be a smooth experience using my computers, whether they are touch-enabled or not.
  • I hope Heroes of Might and Magic 3 keeps working.
  • I hope I will be able to backup all my devices to an external USB hard drive on one of the computers (right now the Windows 7 to Windows 8.1 combination doesn’t work).
  • I hope all my software will still work (especially a concern for the Windows 7 desktop).
  • I’ve used every version of Windows since 3.0. I hope this latest one will mark a sea change in the amount of time I spend wrestling with computer problems vs. the amount of time I spend enjoying my computer for entertainment and productivity.
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Why I will never buy another computer from Dell

I may buy another Dell computer, but not from Dell.

I go way back with Dell. I can’t count the number of Dell systems I’ve had over the years. I know there are three Dell desktops in the house, two Dell laptops and 2 Dell tablets. When I was working, we had all Dell equipment, and we were a Dell reseller. They have been good systems.

The story starts in 2008: a waiter at a hotel restaurant in Atlanta skimmed my credit card, and ordered expensive consumer electronic items from about everyone you could imagine, including Dell, Apple, Tiger Direct, etc. – computers, flat screen TV’s—you name it. My credit card company called me up in a couple of hours to see if the activity was fraudulent. I said it was, and I never heard anything more about it.

Fast forward past several Dell systems to this past February. I bought a desktop system from Dell, a high-end home system. I tried to order it online, but I kept getting contradictory pricing information (one page showed the system, and the next page in the checkout was $100 more with no indication of what the $100 was—it was tax, but they never itemized the tax on the check-out pages), so I ended up in online chat with a Dell representative and he persuaded me with a 10% back gift card to finance the system, 6-months no interest. I gave him all the financial information. Time passed and I received a free tablet computer that was part of the promotion on the system, but I never got the Dell order confirmation email. So I went on the Dell site, logged in and found that there was no order listed for me. I found that the system and ship date were listed under my warranty information, but no order. Continue reading

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Fading memories

My wife and I returned from a trip to Argentina and Chile last month, and already the memories of that memorable trip are starting to fade. What was that bird called? Which town were we in? Today I remember you Arlene, Bob, Lydia, Kit, Jane, Mark, Brian, Carol, Paula, Stephen, Mike and Dianne, and I remember our leader Graciela, of course. If you asked me for a similar list from last year’s trip, I would draw a blank, and will probably be unable to make this trip list 6 months from now.

That’s one reason I take photos. I’ve found limited use for my photos to show others. I put a few on Facebook, and people like them. But the real value of the photos is for my benefit, as they help me relive the experience.

I thought that by writing about the trips, perhaps I might preserve even more. That leads to this article and the image below taken in a remote desert location between Calama and San Pedro Chile.

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Each of those red vertical poles represents a person killed by a cruel dictatorship for no good reason and dumped in the desert, as part of what was called the “Caravan of Death.” This and other images from Argentina and Chile teach me what human beings can do when they are afraid: the seek safety in powerful leadership and in order and in a less-threatening version of the truth. It teaches me what humans do when they get too much power.

I saw stunning landscapes; rivers, lakes and waterfalls; wonderful animals and trees; and fascinating people. But the one thing I hope I never forget is the image above.

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Blog expands to travel topic

When this blog started, I wasn’t much of a traveler except for business. Now that I’ve retired, my wife and I travel a fair amount. “Travel” as a topic has been added to this blog and I intend to write some articles about the places I visit from my own perspective. These won’t be destination reviews—those I put on TripAdvisor.com, but more about how travel changed me.

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Surface Pro 3 backup

I didn’t have a backup of my Surface Pro 3, so when it because unusable, my only option was to do a Refresh, which uninstalled all my applications, and trashed all my settings, product registrations, 100 Windows Update installations, email setup and on and on. It took about a day to put the system back together after that, and I was not able to re-install one application at all. I’m still finding things that don’t work right.

Oh, if I only had a backup. Why didn’t I have a backup? They say an image is worth a thousand words, so here is the image:

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There is no backup except the File History “Back up now”, which only backs up user files, not the operating system or applications.

The reason I’m writing this article is to say that there really is a backup in Windows 8.1—you just can’t find it so easily. Surprisingly, the real backup is under File History, the other File History. Go to the system search and enter “File History” and select the one that has a picture of a folder next to it. This takes you to the desktop. In small type in the extreme lower left of the File History window, there is a “System Image Backup” link that lets you really back up your computer.

To restore, restart your computer while holding down the F8 key (yes, you need a keyboard). Then use the Advanced Repair Options.

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