Sunday, December 13, 2015

More Windows 10 annoyances

I have been putting off the Windows 10 upgrade on my main laptop and now Microsoft is getting more annoying.  I would like to turn off the 'notice', but, I haven't see any option.  More annoying is they pop up their notice over top of whatever I am working in.  I was lucky in that I wasn't doing anything dangerous in the online game, but, this is something that should not be done for advertising an upgrade.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Latest Win10 update and annoyances

The latest Windows 10 update was installed on the netbook without an issue.  It is a older and slower Netbook and the update took about four hours.  For modern and faster machines it should install in a fraction of the time.  Once it was done and I rebooted it ran without a problem.  Again, I don't notice any slowdown on the machine and what I normally use still works.

The annoyance is on my Windows 8.1 laptop.  Microsoft keeps 'nagging' me to update, but, right now I don't think I want to.  I don't like the idea that they force upgrades/updates and I have no choice.  The other things is it keeps 'phoning home' on things and I don't have a chance there.  The last annoyance is in Windows update as Microsoft keeps checking the upgrade when I don't want to upgrade.  Not a major problem, I just uncheck it.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

My Windows 10 upgrade experience


It finally happened, Windows had a notice on my netbook that the Win10 upgrade was ready.  First thing I did was to make sure I had a backup of my data just in case.  I wanted to do my netbook first as it is an older, slower machine and if the upgrade worked well on that machine it should work well on my high end laptop.

The machine is an Acer Aspire One D255E.
  • CPU - Intel Atom N455 - 1.66 GHz
  • Memory - 2 Gigs (I upgraded from 1 Gig last month)
  • Storage - 160 gigs


The process itself was very painless.  Be prepared to spend at least three hours for the upgrade.

Download, Configuration and Installation

Once you click the start it is almost hands off.  All you need is patience.  For the most part it does a good job of telling you what it is doing.  Towards the end it even informed me that it was taking a bit longer than normal which in itself is a nice touch from Microsoft.

The following screen captures is what you should see during the installation up to the point of your customizing the setup.

Custom Install process

Once you get through all of this you can start the final process.  I strongly suggest you pick the custom option.  This way you can turn off the sharing of information and ensure your default browser stays as the default.

Your old password is used

I am not sharing everything with MS

More things I turned off

Here is where you can modify default apps

I turned off a number of apps as I have my own

I like this, they know it is a bit slow & lets you know

When done it brings you to what you are familiar with

I tested out Old School Runescape

It actually seems to run better in Win10

There are other things I will be doing, but, there are online articles explaining this better that I can.  Do a search on 'How To Stop Windows 10 from using your PC bandwith' on how to turn off your sharing your bandwidth for downloading Win10 upgrade.

This blog was written on the Win10 netbook in Firefox and so far I have not encountered any problems.  Avast worked without issue, Irfanview worked without an issue and Runescape runs without a problem.

Update 2015/08/16

So far it has been running very well.  Did an update and it worked well and asked to reboot when finished.  Browser updated without issue and playing OSRS is nice and no lagg there.

Thursday, July 09, 2015

Facebook and Android - Updated

I am a frequent Facebook user.  I like the way to keep in touch with friends and family and the rare chat.  The thing I don't like about Facebook for Android is that it is a pig on resources.  I have a Huawei cell phone and it has very limited memory.  Facebook and the messenger app takes almost 200 megs for the app itself and a lot of memory when running.  It is the same on the Google Nexxus device I have.  I looked around for a replacement as when I tried to download and install updates on the phone I didn't have enough free space.  The other problem is that at times it would take over a minute to launch at times when all I want to do is quickly log in, see if there are any updates from family and then log off.

There are a good number of apps on Google play and I tried a number of them and quickly uninstalled them.  I won't name them, but, full page add on start is not a way to get me to use it long term.  I understand the need to make money, but, a small ad at times would not be a bad thing.  Others took up the bottom 20% of the phone and cycled continuous ads.  Again, I understand the need to make money, but, that chews up my monthly data limit each month. 

I finally found an app that looks good, no ads, small (200k) and did what I needed it to do.  The app is 'Social Lite' and it looks like the web version of Facebook.  It launches within a few seconds (even on the cell phone), uses minimal memory (76 megs on the tablet when running) and very responsive when touching various items.  I haven't tried to upload photos yet, but, when I do that I am usually on my laptop as that is where most of my photos are stored.  Facebook is launching a 'lite' version for other countries, but, not here.  I don't understand why they have to have a massive app with every bell & whistle when I don't use most of that on my Android devices.

I will be playing with this for a while and if it looks good I will be upgrading Jane.  She really hates the massive impact the Android App has on her machine and when it runs in the background it also has an impact on her online gaming.

Update 2015/07/12

I installed Social Lite on Jane's machine and so far she loves it.  When she clicks on the icon it is there in about 5 seconds.  She is playing games and she will be letting me know if there is an improvement on the responsiveness of the games without Facebook running in the background.  What we all love is that she gets back almost 200 megs of storage space.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Father-in-law computer. Next project isn't going to be easy

I was asked to back up all of the files my father-in-law has accumulated over the decades and put them on to USB memory sticks.  Think it is real easy right?  Not really.  Here is what I will be working with:
  • Pentium class computer, old slow processor (well under 1 Ghz).
  • Windows 95.
  • No USB ports.
  • No network card.
  • Almost 100 3.5" floppy drives.
  • A good number of ZIP disk drives.  He has a parallel port model.
  • About 100 CDs and DVDs.

The last item was real easy, I popped that into my new laptop DVD drive, oh crap, it doesn't have a DVD.  Not a problem there as I am lucky to have an external CD/DVD drive that works in Windows 8.1.  I found a good number of CDs that I didn't create and quickly backed them up to a new folder on the machine.

The rest of it will take a bit of slogging.  He has not used the machine in over a year so I am really hoping it will boot up.  My father-in-law tended to store his documents, spreadsheets and pictures on external drives as he didn't want to fill up the hard drive.  Here is the order of what I will be doing:
  • Copy all documents that are on the hard drive to a CD.
  • Copy all docunments that are on the ZIP disks to a CD.  If the machine doesn't boot I am going to have to attach the ZIP drive to one of my older Linux laptops and pray.
  • Buy an External USB 3.5" drive (Canada Computers has them, YAY!) 
  • Check out a newer USB DVD drive as the current one is the size of several bricks and just as heavy (and slow).
  • Read every floppy on my new Laptop using the external USB drive and backup to the new directory.
  • Copy all documents from the CDs and then start making copies of the files for my sister-in-law.
After all of that is done I will also make a backup copy to my 1 TB external drive as multiple backups is a good idea.  Keep in mind that what technology you are using today may be obsolete in a few years and if your files are important then migrating them to a new medium is something you will need to do. Another thing to remember, if you buy a new laptop without a DVD drive you may want to invest in an external USB version.

Update 2015/07/02:

Finished the job.  Canada Computers did have that floppy drive and it worked very well.  I didn't have to install any software as Windows detected the drive.  It took almost two days, but, 81 folders, 3,722 files and a total size of 1.2 Gigs all the data was transferred.  This also includes my converting various graphic files to JPG format. All of the files were backed up to a USB flash drive.

The ZIP disks were transferred, but, the machine he had failed to boot.  It looks like the hard drive failed there.  That wasn't a major problem as I had an old Windows 98 machine with a parallel port and the ZIP drive ran from there.  The only 'fun' was installing the driver as the install floppy had errors. I will have to pull apart the machine and see if I can use the USB adapter for IDE drives and see if there is anything there I can salvage.

Sister-in-law is happy as a lot of images and documents created over the decades have been saved and available to all of the family.

Next mini-project 

Now to start scanning the various photo albums that we picked up.  I know a number of them I did scan many years ago and I will have to see what pictures I didn't scan and digitize them.  I reorganized my office layout so that the scanner is just a short reach away and I moved the printer to where the scanner was.  This isn't a major change, but, having the scanner a few inches away rather than several feet will make this an easier project.  The old layout worked as I didn't scan very often.

Had to do a quick fix to my netbook

I was planning to upgrade my old Acer Aspire1 Netbook.  The machine has an Atom N455 processor and 1 gig of memory and a HD of about 160 Gigs.  It was going to be my test machine on how well Windows 10 would work on it after the upgrade.  I did a lot of cleaning on the machine removing all of the software I won't need and backing up all of my data.  Last Monday the machine showed 0% battery and I thought I left it on and it discharged.  No problem, I would leave it plugged in over night and continue the cleanup.  The next day it wasn't charging and I had a battery that reached end of life and would not charge.

I checked the local big boxes, but, they don't carry a replacement battery for the netbook.  I checked Canada Computers and they had a replacement battery in stock.  A quick call confirmed they had one and held it for me.  While I had them on the phone I asked if they had a 2 gig memory stick for the machine and they also had that and held it for me.  I dropped the laptop off at the store about 16:00.  I had them install the memory as I know that it is a bit of a job taking apart the machine and replacing the memory.  The technician thought it would take several hours and he would call me when it was done.  They called me back at 18:00 and the machine was ready to be picked up. 

I picked up the machine the next day and did a quick check to verify that everything was good and then paid for the upgrades.  Battery cost me $50, memory $20 and the technician was $40 (money well spent).  They even took the time to clean out behind the keyboard and the keys that were a bit sticky are working great now. 

The machine is running very smoothly now and I think the browsers (Firefox & Google) are launching a bit faster and running faster as they have another gig of memory to play with.  Running Runescape Old School seems to be launching and running a bit better to due to the additional memory.

All I have to do now is wait until the Windows 10 upgrade is downloaded and installed and I will see how it works on an old Netbook.

Right now I am happy as there is a local company who does stocks parts for older machines and technicians who know what they are doing.  The big box stores may be fine for the new stuff, but, they can't beat knowledgeable geeks who love 'playing' on computers.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Got the Windows 10 offer

I have been getting a few questions if the Windows 10 upgrade offer on their screen was legit.  I let them know that Microsoft will be upgrading Windows 7, 8 and 8.1 machine towards the end of July.

The screen would look like the following that appeared on my netbook.
Screen print showing Windows 10 Upgrade offer

I will be doing the upgrade on the Netbook.  It is an older machine, 1 gig of memory, slow processor and small screen.  If the upgrade goes well then the newer machine will get the upgrade.  I didn't convert the netbook as it was the only box that would play Old School Runescape in Windows and it will not run in Linux.

For anyone thinking upgrading all I have to say MAKE A BACKUP.  Save all of your important documents on a drive that is not attached to the machine being converted.  I would also recommend:
  •  Do a scan for viruses just-in-case;
  • Check the drive for errors;
  • Clean out any crap you don't want;
  • Make an inventory of the hardware you have in the machine.

Once the netbook gets converted I will see if I can make a backup of the Win10 image like I made for the 8.1 machine.  After that I will be checking out how the O/S runs and the big one is see if Old School Runescape still runs.  If there are problems I will be looking at one of the various light Linux distros and see what one wll run Runescape.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Huawei Android phone crashes on Contacts

For a few months my phone would crash when I tried to dial out or open up my contacts.  I had to try anywhere from 3 to 10 times before the operation would work.  It took me a while to figure out what the problem was, but, once I made a small change the crashes went away.

Being a paranoid person I put on an anti-virus package on my phone and tablet (along with my wife's tablet).  The installation of AVAST itself was easy as it is in the Google Play Store.  It is a product I used first on our windows machines and it works quite well and does not hog a lot of system resources (especially on my older netbook).  AVAST works very well for us and we have not had a problem.  As I was digging I noticed that it scans files with 'File Shield'.  A light went off as I realized that AVAST was locking the file(s) contacts needed to scan the file when I tried to open either the phone or contacts list.  I turned off the File Shield, ignored the whining about a shield being off and tried opening up the phone dialer.  To my relief the dailer worked and the next thing I did was open contacts and it opened up without crashing.  I did a shutdown and reboot of the phone and did the same two things and it works.  For the last few weeks the machine has been stable.

If you have a problem with the phone crashing on the dialer or contact list and you are using AVAST (or any other a-v product that scans all files when accessed) you may want to look at shutting down that functionality, or, if possible put an exception to the phone/contact applications.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Target - My post mortem on their failure

Get ready people, another person weighing in on how/why Target failed in Canada. I think I may have a qualifications that are relevant to my commenting on this subject. I am a Business Administration graduate and we went through a simulation 30+ years ago where we had to run a business on-line for part of a school year and we had a similar experience then what Target is going through now. That experience allowed us to find out the basics of starting and running a business and how easy it is to go under and the importance of planning in detail starting/running a business. The second is for almost twenty years I volunteered as an advisor and program director in the Junior Achievement program here in Ottawa. Over that period I helped show high school students what is needed to start up, operate and shut down a business. A lot of the student operations didn't make money, but, as a group we learned what should have been done, not done and done differently if we started again.

Consumer research. 

I don't know what business planning (if any) they did, but, from the end results Target didn't do their homework. Target should have researched why Canadians visit Target south of the border and find out why are we buying those products. Up here Target should have done market research on Canadian consumers and where are they located. Where do we buy, what do we buy, what are we willing to trade for cost/quality, who the competition is, what are they offering for price/quality and where are they located. They also need to do research on their competitors. Who are they, where are they and where their customers are located. When the stores Target opened up people were comparing Target to Zellers and the comparison wasn't good, the consumers liked Zellers better and Zellers went out of business selling those products!

Store locations

When they were looking to start they bought most of the leases from Zellers and while it may have been a good deal financially they should have done their homework on why Zellers failed and did location play a part of this. When they did start it was 100 stores and that may have been too many. Here in Ottawa/Gatineau they opened up five locations in about a year. In hindsight it may have been more prudent to open a smaller number of locations across Canada and then assess after 18-24 months before starting the next phase of expansion.


It takes a huge amount of money to start up an operation. What plans did they make to finance each store, what is the cost and the time line before break-even is reached. With the massive opening of 100+ stores it put pressure on the Canadian operations to hit all of their targets rather than having a limited operation which can be used as lessons learned for the next expansion. With a smaller start-up the financial pressures would have been minimized and if they were not meeting the numbers for per store sales the next phase expansion could have been delayed until the finances were fixed. For Target to shut down everything after two years indicates they obviously messed up their financial projections.


What was noticed from the first day is the stores had many empty shelves and that didn't get better over time. Target needed to know exactly how long it takes to move products to each store. While Target did have a good facility in Cornwall, logistics for keeping each store stocked was obviously screwed up. Again, having that massive start-up would put pressure on logistics and a small issue would get magnified. If they had a smaller number of stores it would have been an easier task to see where the bottle neck is and address the issue before the next expansion. You need to know how long it takes products to arrive from the manufacturer, how long it takes to get through customs, time lines required to ship the production within Canada via rail and trucks and then make allowances for bad weather.

Public Relation

This is another area Target made a major mistake. They never managed expectations of Canadians on what would be offered here in Canada. Most people in Canada were expecting a clone of Targets American operations, products and prices here in Canada and that was not realistic and many comments from people here in Canada was product/price/availability was not the same as south of the border. Their web presence, to be kind, was poor. In my less-than-humble opinion is that their web site was a cluster fuck. Most of Targets competitor in Canada allowed Canadian consumers to see what was offered, its price and availability and customer feedback (Hint, Walmart, Future Shop, Best Buy, Canadian Tire to name a few). Even many small business are offering this functionality and the Target web site really was a static paper-based advertisement and never gave the consumer any tools to do research before buying (on-line or at a physical location). Doing a quick look at Target's website in the United States I saw Target had an excellent interactive web site and I don't understand why Target could not make a version of that and make a Canadian version of this.

When Target was experiencing 'issues' keeping the stores stocked up was another failed PR opportunity. They could have used it as an opportunity to educate the Canadian consumers on the basics of logistics, apologize and then define a plan on how Target planned to address the issue so that Canadian consumers will have the products they want in the store with a solid time line.

Finishing up

The last mistake they made is completely shutting down operations in Canada. I don't know if it is possible to keep a limited number of stores running and fixing the issues, but, shutting down everything screwed Target in a number of areas. After this I don't believe Target would be able to re-open in Canada. Malls will probably ask for a lot more up-front after this. Financial institutions would also be asking for a much more detailed business plan and hike the cost of loans to Target. I am willing to bet if Target tries to open up in other countries there will be a lot more questions asked up front by the governments and businesses in that regard and insist on guarantees that will make openings a lot more expensive for Target.

Sunday, January 04, 2015

Ontario ombudsman is a good thing

For a number of years Ontario has had an ombudsman working on the behalf of all people in Ontario.  For most of that time I was not aware of the office.  Last year I saw articles talking about Bill 8 and after a very quick read I liked what I saw.  It expands who falls under his(or her) eyes.  There are those who feel threatened by OO (Ontario Ombudsman) or think they should not be subjected to OO scrutiny. 

Personally I believe if they are a provincial agency, funded by the province or a municipality they MUST be open to the ombudsman.  They should not feel threatened by the OO, but, look at it as an opportunity to have an outside set of eyes reviewing something they are doing.  At the end there will be a report that can be used to help improve what is being done or not being done and better serve the people of this province. 

Some municipalities believe they should be the ones to define the role and hire their own ombudsman, but, there can be problems with that.  They can craft the role in such a way that the ombudsman is a toothless entity restrained from doing anything useful.  Another point is how secure is their position after making a report or series of reports critical of that municipality?  One last point is how would they keep the names of the complainants confidential if they are told to surrender that to the municipality?  An outside independent entity with real powers granted by legislation (including privacy/confidentiality) would be able to do the job without too many worries and would actually give the municipality credibility when they go to the people asking for a bit more money as this is the cost of providing good services to the people as recommended by the OO. How can we get better if we don't know what is being done right, what can be improved upon, what is not being done right or not done at all?

When I was doing volunteer work teaching high school students how to start and run a business I had a good definition of success that I think more businesses and agencies should look at.  It is a few simple questions I ask the students:

• what are you doing right and why is it right?
• what are you doing wrong, why, and how to fix.
• what are you not doing and why?
• do you like what you are doing, if not, why are you doing it?
• can you do it better, faster and cost effective?

At the end of the program the students have the answers to those and I believe the OO can provide something similar to the people so that we have effective government and government agencies that are more aware of their roles and responsibilities.

I hope the current Ontario provincial government proclaims Bill 8 ASAP so that the OO can work on behalf of the people covering a larger section of government and government funded agencies.