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Home of my tech rants, free programs, and a story or two…

Windows OS Support

As of right now, all of the programs that I make available on this web site and any future programs will continue to support older versions of Windows including versions of Windows going back to Vista. Windows XP support will be phased out starting with System Restore Point Creator. The amount of people using Windows XP is dwindling fast so at this point I feel that keeping support for Windows XP is an undue burden on me to continue.

As I stated before, older versions of Windows including Windows Vista will continue to be supported. If that means I can’t move past utilizing Microsoft .NET Framework 4.0, then so be it. .NET 4.0 is the oldest version of .NET that’s still supported on Windows 10 and Windows Vista. Yes, there’s a lot of things in future versions of .NET that could make my life easier but that would eliminate support for Windows Vista and that’s something I simply don’t want to do.

I need to maintain support for as many versions of Windows as I can. Despite Microsoft’s heavy handed approach to upgrading users to Windows 10, there will always be people who will choose to stay with an older version of Windows and I intend to support these people now and in the future for as long as I can.

SugarSync… A lesson in ruining a good thing.

SugarSync used to be my tool of choice to keep my data backed up and synced between my computers. This included my desktop and my notebook and my brother’s computer as well. It allowed me to maintain a single music library that was exactly the same on both of my computers so as to make sure that no matter where I was I had the same content. I also used it to keep other files and folders in sync between multiple computers. Whenever I would change something on one computer it would automatically be replicated to my other computers via the cloud backup service.

SugarSync version 1.0 was a power user’s dream. It gave a lot of control over how to use the service and it had all the bells and whistles which was great for the power user like myself. Then came along version 2.0 which took away some of the power user stuff but kept most of it in. I wasn’t too worried about it since it still had a lot of the power user functionality that I needed to use the service.

Now we have version 3.0 which is an absolute piece of crap. They have taken any and all power user functionality out of the program. Want to check the status of your files as they are being backed up/uploaded? Nope, can’t do that. It says it’s uploading but where’s the percentage? In past versions you could see that but in version 3.0 you can’t do that. In version 2.0 they introduced something called SugarSync drive that mounted your SugarSync account like a network drive, it was an amazing feature. Where did that go? You guessed it, version 3.0 took it out. Then they took the ability to sync music directories out of the service simply because… oh crap, we could corrupt iTunes libraries. But I don’t have iTunes on my machine, I won’t let that piece of crap software on my machine. But still, you won’t let me sync music directories because it could corrupt an imaginary iTunes library that doesn’t exist.

With version 3.0 SugarSync managed to alienate the entire power user section of their user base just to make their software easy to use for computer know-nothing idiots. Well, they actually managed to make the software more difficult to use because they over simplified their software.

Let this be a lesson to you folks, there’s a way to make your software so “easy to use” that it can actually be more difficult to use for those people who used past versions of your software. SugarSync is completely guilty of this. A person I know said it best… “Make something any fool can use and you make something only a fool can use.”

I used to be a paying customer of SugarSync for four years… now I am not.

Oh, and one more thing SugarSync. If you don’t know what you’re doing in kernel land don’t go playing in kernel land! That’s right, your file system filter driver that you used to determined what files changed often blue screened my notebook. Lesson number two of the day is this… If you don’t know what you’re doing in kernel land don’t go playing in kernel land! It tends to send your users to a blue screen of death and in my case, a corrupted file system in which, thankfully, CHKDSK was able to correct and salvage the file system. Thank God I was running NTFS and not FAT32 or I would have been really fucked.

Windows 8.1 Update 1… it’s not that bad (REALLY!), Part 2

Here I am, July 1st. Still running Windows 8.1 Update 1. Yep, still running it and I haven’t at all thought about going back to Windows 7. I even bought a ModernUI app from the Windows Store! Very cool.

Now, there have been a few bugs that I have seen come up while using Windows 8.1 Update 1. It seems that when you close a ModernUI app the icon from it remains on the taskbar. It’s like the taskbar hasn’t been informed that the ModernUI app has closed. Could it be because of a weird interaction of Windows 8.1 Update 1 and ModernMIX? I don’t know. I have however did some testing.

Say I open a ModernUI app and force it to be full screen (bypassing ModernMIX) and then pull up the Windows Task Manager and then manually kill off the ModernUI app’s task, the icon for that task stays in the taskbar as if the app is still running. I have no idea why. I’m thinking that it may be an actual bug in Windows that Microsoft needs to know about and fix.

I have gotten over not being able to use WindowBlinds and the look of the UI doesn’t even matter to me anymore. I have gotten used to it.

As I stated in Part 1 of this blog post, now that I have actually taken the time to actually use Windows 8.1 and customize it what I need it be (more of a desktop OS than it was out of the box) I can’t see why I hated it so much. I look forward to the future Windows 9 and will probably be in line to buy a license of it when it becomes available to consumers.

I did test on a Windows 8.1 Update 1 virtual machine installation. I have two installations of Windows 8.1 Update 1; one in a virtual machine and one running on bare metal running on the same hardware. The virtual machine version doesn’t have ModernMIX installed in it. I opened up the Weatherbug ModernUI app, minimized it, loaded the Windows Task Manager window and selected the app instance and pressed End Task. The icon stays on the taskbar. Yep, it’s a bug in Windows and Microsoft needs to know about this. If anyone has a way to contact someone at Microsoft to report this bug, please send that info to me so I can report this bug.

Windows 8.1 Update 1… it’s not that bad (REALLY!)

Another Windows 8.1 blog post… crap, you’re going to be hating on it again. Aren’t you? No, not this time.

So I had to reload my computer’s operating system because things were getting “glitchy.” At the time I was running Windows 7. And by “glitchy” I mean things wouldn’t work correctly for no good reason. Programs would steal focus ripping me out of a full-screen game (Diablo 3). Needless to say, being ripped out of Diablo 3 while your character’s in a fight might just end up with your character dead. Windows Explorer would crash for no good reason when right-clicking on a file. What was causing it? I really don’t know but my working theory is that the Windows Registry was probably… uh… broken? Corrupt? Oh well, whatever the reason, things weren’t working correctly. So I reloaded my operating system.

I unplugged all of my SATA hard drives from their power connectors except for my SSD on which my OS will be installed on. I then popped in a freshly burned copy of Windows 8.1 64-bit into the DVD-RW drive and did a clean install. Now, I have an upgrade key so installing Windows 8.1 with an upgrade key is a bit more complicated than with a full license. I’m not going to go into the process of doing that here because that’ll just bore you and that’s not the point of this blog post.

Anyways, I installed Windows 8.1 and updated it to Update 1 and so far things have not been that bad at all. I have been using it for about a week now and have started to even use some of the ModernUI apps that are on the Windows Store (with ModernMIX of course). Oh yeah, I installed Start8 and ModernMIX to bring back a more desktop-like experience. With these programs installed the Windows 8.1 user interface isn’t really that bad.

I have WindowBlinds installed but I’m still using the default Windows 8.1 theme because there’s some kind of bug in WindowBlinds in which if you use any other theme other than the default Windows 8.1 theme the secondary taskbars on secondary monitors keep jumping up and down like a kangaroo.

What does that leave me? The default Windows 8.1 theme, the bland colored theme that comes with Windows 8.1. Do I care? Honestly, at first I cared but I guess as time progressed and I used the operating system more the user interface design started to not matter to me more and more. So what if I don’t have a stylish theme? Big deal!

Oh, back to Start8 and ModernMIX. I use several ModernUI apps including Facebook, Twitter, Slacker Radio, and WeatherBug. These apps are great. Now that I look back on the hate that I spewed regarding Windows 8/8.1 in the past, I have to wonder why I did that. Some of these ModernUI apps are great and with ModernMIX it makes them coexist with the traditional desktop just like any other desktop program that I have installed on my machine. And Start8 makes it so that I can completely avoid the ModernUI Start Screen. Yes, I have not seen the ModernUI Start Screen at all since I installed Start8. Again I ask… why did I hate Windows 8/8.1 in the past? I really don’t know.

OK, so how is Windows 8.1 Update 1 running on the same hardware when compared to Windows 7? Actually… Windows 8.1 Update 1 runs better than Windows 7 ever did on the same hardware. it runs smoother and faster than Windows 7. I did have problems in the past with Windows 8/8.1 but I think that was because I upgraded to Windows 8 from Windows 7. Now that I look back on it, I think that was a major source of all the pain that I had with Windows 8/8.1 in the past. Upgrade bad! Clean install good!

So there you have it… a positive Windows 8/8.1 blog post from me. Did you ever think that you’d see one on this site? Probably not.

Am I biased?

Now, I could be biased here. Seriously, I could be. Because I do indeed like Windows 7.

Windows 7 was the first version of Windows that I can truly say has never caused me to want to pull my hair out. It’s fast, it doesn’t get in the way of what I want to do, and it’s rock solid stable. Unless you have particularly sucky hardware, Windows 7 runs smoothly and elegantly.

What Microsoft should have done was built upon the success of Windows 7 which is by far the most popular version of Windows Microsoft has ever produced by working under the hood. I have talked to a lot of people on the Internet and in real life, the general consensus is that they like Windows 7. When you have that majority of people liking your OS, why in God’s name would you mess with a good thing? You take what you have that’s already shown to be a gigantic success and build upon it. It’s smart business sense.

But no, Microsoft had to go and take a major gamble and they lost big time. And Ballmer is seen as the person who ushered in Windows 8 and he paid the price.

I certainly hope that Windows 9 fixes the issues that are so glaringly obvious in Windows 8/8.1 that you’d have to be blind, deaf, and a complete moron not to see.

There’s a vast majority of people who are like us that have grown up with computers or have been using computers for the last twenty years. That is the group that Microsoft basically told to go jump off a cliff with Windows 8. I see Windows 8 as the ultimate insult for those of us that have been with them for decades.

Flat UI design? WHY!?!?

Recently there has been some kind of movement towards a flat UI design. Personally I don’t understand the reasoning behind it. If you ask me, it’s hideous.

We worked for years on UI design to make people feel like the computer was more than just a tool, we made it feel like the computer was part of their life. Much of that was because we designed computers to be easier to use, easier to use programs, and user interfaces that felt like they weren’t just a part of a computer program but also felt like they were designed.

Now, it seems that we have all taken a giant step backwards and we’re all getting on the same bandwagon. It’s like we have fired all the artists and put the engineers in charge of UI design. Microsoft, Apple, hell even Android is getting in on the flat UI design. It’s hideous, I can’t stand this whole flat UI design. Has the whole computer industry gone mad?

So why not just install Classic Shell?

That’s the argument that I see a lot of folks say when it comes to all of the obvious weaknesses that Windows 8 has on the traditional desktop. The answer that a lot of people put for forth is… you guessed it. So why not just install Classic Shell? It’s free, you can get the Start Menu back on Windows 8. What’s to complain about now?

Hmm… Classic Shell, you say? I’d need way more than that to have Windows 8.1 look even close to past versions of Windows.

First I’d have to get WindowBlinds ($9.99) because Microsoft arbitrarily decided that they would remove Areo. Seriously? Why?! Aero was nice, I liked the translucent window borders!

Second I’d have to get ModernMIX ($4.99) because I can’t stand the even few times I have to go to Metro land to change some damn setting that oh crap, you can’t change that in desktop land… you have to do that in Metro land and meanwhile we’re going to assault your eyes while transitioning to it.

That leaves the traditional Start Menu. You could go with Classic Shell but while you’re already using several Stardock programs you might as well use Start8, that’s $4.99. At this point you’re going to have to spend $20 for various Stardock programs. Or, better yet… get Windows 7 that you don’t need to buy all of that just to have Windows look and behave like Windows should look and behave.

Sorry Microsoft, again, as I have said in past blog entries here… you really screwed the pooch with Windows 8/8.1 on the desktop.

The confirmed new CEO of Microsoft is…

The confirmed new CEO of Microsoft is… Satya Nadella. Just like what I reported two days ago.

From the looks of things Ballmer will still be around. *boo hiss* If you ask me, he is completely responsible for the mess and the complete corporate dysfunction that we see in Microsoft these days. I’m sorry, Ballmer should be shown the door and kicked out on his rear end.

Bill Gates has been said to have stepped down as Chairman of the Microsoft Board of Directors, he is now a technical advisor to Microsoft. He will assume a new role on the Board as Founder and Technology Advisor, and will devote more time to the company along with supporting Nadella in shaping technology and product direction. Hopefully this means the company will be getting back on track after the complete train derailment that happened under Ballmer.

As for Ballmer, no offense but were a bad CEO. I’m glad you’re finally gone. You had very big shoes to fill after Bill Gates stepped down from the CEO position many years ago and you never came close to filling those shoes. You had no vision and I am not a fan of the direction you tried to give to Microsoft. As for Windows 8, I put the blame for that failed abortion squarely on your shoulders Ballmer. It needs to be shown the door much like you. Windows 8 and Metro should be taken out back and shot. As for you Ballmer, we’ll just show you the door.

I certainly hope that with this new CEO the direction of Microsoft will significantly change. And by that, have Windows 8 and Metro taken out back and shot, Old Yeller style. Windows 8 and Metro is a disease that needs to be eradicated with impunity.

Microsoft’s got a new CEO (rumored)

Rumor has it that Microsoft already has a new CEO lined up for the top spot in the company and that person is Satya Nadella.

OK, who is this guy? This guy is virtually unknown from outside of the company, but inside is a completely different story.

Satya Nadella has worked at Microsoft for more than 20 years. So if you think that Microsoft needs someone who knows the internal culture of Microsoft and knows the company inside and out, you really can’t go wrong with picking Satya Nadella.

Now, for some background on this guy. Satya Nadella first joined the company in 1992 where before that, he was at Sun Microsystems. He has also served in a number of other executive-type roles since before being picked (rumored) for the Microsoft CEO position. He started out at Microsoft in the Windows developer-relations group and moved on to the online services division. In recent years, he built up Microsoft’s cloud computing efforts as the executive VP of its Cloud and Enterprise group.

Unfortunately, with all of that being said above he has never run a company from the top spot. He has however worked as a member of some kind of technology staff at Sun Microsystems along with holding key roles at Microsoft, but never served as an actual CEO. Then again, the Microsoft division he has ran for a number of years is a $20 billion business, larger than many tech companies by themselves.

One of his key visions is the creation of better user interfaces and better backends. Let’s see, better user interfaces. Let’s hope that means that Metro is going to taken out back and shot, Old Yeller-style. Because, believe me… it needs to be. Metro is a horrible concept and is completely alien to what people expect from Windows. Windows consists of windows, program windows. NOT LITTLE COLORFUL SQUARES!

There also seems to be a strong liking of him inside Microsoft. He is highly respected by his peers inside the ranks of Microsoft. This guy has actual technical backgrounds. We can’t say that about Ballmer. Ballmer and his crew have been one of the most hated groups of people inside Microsoft and the complete corporate dysfunction inside Microsoft’s walls is proof of that.

Does this all mean that we’re about to see a complete 180 on behalf of Microsoft? Does this mean that Microsoft is finally going to start fixing itself? Listening to their customers? We don’t know, but we can certainly hope that will be the case. Does that mean that Metro is going to be taken out back and shot at dawn? Again, we don’t know but we can certainly hope that’s the case.

Windows 8 (8.1) vs. The Power User, Part 2

I seriously hope that Microsoft turns around and gets their fingers unstuck from their ears and stops yelling “LALALALA I can’t hear you! LALALALA” because unlike years ago when Microsoft was king of the castle, there is now competition. They aren’t the only game in town now, people have choices now; be it MacOSX, Android, or one of the various distros of Linux.

Microsoft, you’re no longer king of the castle, you have been dethroned. You no longer have the ability to tell people want they should be doing with their computers and how they should be doing it. That right was taken away from you when viable competition came to the game.

Microsoft, if you keep going the way you’re going you’re going to lose the very market that keeps you alive, the Power User. The Power User is the user that suggests new products to their friends and family, they are the people who their friends and family come to to get suggestions on new devices and products. If you alienate the power user you’re going to lose much more than just the power user, you’re going to lose the power of their suggestions and their suggestions are as good as gold. Never underestimate the power of the Power User, they can make or break you.