Broken Windows — March 2016

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Writer’s note:  I had planned on writing a different blog post this week on why I didn’t go to the Maine caucus a couple of weeks ago, however I feel this blog post is more fitting for my current situation along with many other people as well.  I plan on writing the intended blog post in the very near future, when my computer is much more stable.

 

As a member of the Windows Insider club, I put myself and my main computer on the line for the fast ring of Windows 10 updates.  Up until the most recent update, everything has been fairly smooth as far as functionality is concerned.

 

For those who don’t know what I am talking about, let me briefly explain.  Fast ring updates are pushes by Microsoft to release beta (or in their own imprint at the bottom of the screen “Evaluation Copy”) of new versions of Windows 10.  Comparatively, slow rings are more stable versions of the operating system, but still may have some bugs.

 

Everything was fairly well and good with my computer until last week when I installed Build 14279 of Windows 10.  Since installation I have had nothing but trouble.  Honestly I felt I have not seen so many problems since Windows ME many years ago.  Back then, you prayed that the computer would not crash while using it, but usually happened at least once per day.

 

Well, I have experienced just one huge crash yesterday when I received the blue screen of death with a “Memory Management” error.  I had thought given that I saw a funky frowning face with a countdown timer that my computer had somehow been infected by one of those horrible viruses.  Microsoft really needs to change their blue screen of death to look less like a virus and more like the old dark blue screens from older Windows versions.

 

Besides the awesome crash that I have experienced, here are some of the other problems that I have noticed.  This is not an exhaustive list just what I have experienced firsthand:

 

  • Unable to sign into Xbox live. Makes playing games like solitaire impossible.
  • Live tiles not working. Most of these tiles when you hit the start key are not flipping or updating to anything at all, in fact one of them is missing.
  • Web pages not loading in Chrome. While Firefox really don’t have this problem, it is like Microsoft is showing its hate to Google by impairing its browser.  I don’t use either Internet Explorer or Edge because these are really not good and I have never recommended them.
  • The Weather Channel application does not work at all. Up until this build, this program seemed to work fairly well, but now just refuses to work.
  • Microsoft Store does not update programs correctly. Some updates in this program want to update over and over again.
  • Notification icon does not update when new mail is received.

 

If you don’t have this build, I don’t recommend it.  If you do, let’s pray that the next update fixes some of the above mentioned problems.

 

Ironically, Microsoft had sent a feedback survey shortly before I started writing this that asked if its users like me had experienced lockups or crashes with this build of Windows.  Sadly when I clicked on the link, it crashed before I got to answer the survey.  I guess they will never get my opinion unless of course someone reads this blog.

 

I can now congratulate myself that I got through this post without having Windows crashing today.  Will I be so lucky next time?

 

 

My Review of Windows 10

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This week’s post is all about my experiences with the Windows 10 operating system.

 

After a friend told me that I could create a disc and install the operating system that way, I decided to take the plunge.

 

First let me say that I was using Windows 7 Home Edition and I was rather happy with it, but knew at some point soon that this would become yet another unsupported operating system joining my Windows XP machine.

 

First let me say that Win 10 is a work in progress.  It is by no means perfect and does have bugs.  Some more of an annoyance, some could probably be avoided.

 

I have yet to see any blue screen of death scenarios yet as this is a good sign that the OS is somewhat bulletproof.  That pretty much ended a few operating systems ago and hopefully won’t come back again.

 

However, this OS does yearn back to another Windows version well hated and that was Windows ME.  As that operating system seemed like a beta product, so does Windows 10 in some regards as I will explain in a bit.

 

Installation

 

When I first put in my newly created installation disc in the cd drive, it churned for a couple of minutes before it loaded and was given the option to install the new OS.

 

After I decided to continue with the installation, a little graphic kept spinning for about 20 minutes while checking my system for any potential problems that would happen with the upgrade.

 

When the churning was finished, the installer only saw that the only program that would be uninstalled would be the “Media Center” program.  Now to many people, losing this program would be no big deal, but because I have a USB TV card that I use on occasion, I felt that losing this program may be a huge loss.  However, I researched and found that there were plenty of alternative programs out there that are “better” than what the Media Center program was.

 

So I decided to continue and let the installation go on and uninstall this program.

 

Now the real fun began.  The churning of the installation watching slowly as a circle slowly grew with each percentage completed and the computer rebooting a couple different times during the installation.

 

Time passed…and more time passed.

 

Minutes turned hours and the installation was still churning slowly for a total of a mind-blowing 4 ½ hours when the installation finally completed.  I have never seen any installation take so long and was wondering why this seemed to take forever and then some.

 

However, I would soon find out what really happened behind the curtain.

 

The First Time

 

When this program started up for the first time, it asked me to input a 4 digit PIN.  As far as Windows is concerned, this is your new password.  While this seems better, it opens it up to being much easier hacked than a lengthy alphanumeric password.  However, maybe simplicity is where they are heading to.

 

The desktop at startup looked pretty much the same as the same wallpaper and icons existed as before the update.  However, the taskbar included new icons for a new desktop flipper, Microsoft Edge (the new slim browser – sorry no add-ons allowed with it), and an icon for the Microsoft store.

 

The most notable icon on the right side of the taskbar is the “Action Center” icon.  When some notification is presented, this icon lights up and just gets annoying until the icon is pressed and cleared out.

 

I will say that the startup process was cut in half with this operating system.  However, my security software was uninstalled during the installation.  Apparently, it was not compatible with the new OS.  I do feel that the installer should have warned me ahead of time if it was going to uninstall this vital software before continuing and give me the opportunity to not to install the OS.

 

It is no wonder why this upgrade took so long as it was uninstalling incompatible software, but I still think that warnings would still have been appreciated.

 

Overall, the experience with the new OS has been pretty smooth.  Both Chrome and Firefox load faster and my internet connection seem a little perkier.

 

This doesn’t mean that all was completely flawless.  When I went to install Microsoft Bingo, at one point of its installation it stated that it was at “Step 40 of 9”.  Certainly while this laughable, bugs like this could have been avoided with a little better programming.  This really makes the OS look more like a beta product than a finished product.

 

Sound familiar?  To me this sounds like the way Windows ME performed as it acted more like a beta than a finished product.

 

This is why I am part of the Windows Insider group.  This group allows me to get sent to my computer the latest builds of the OS as they become available.  However, this process is not without its problems.  I see in my list of available updates, the latest build however it has yet to be installed for about the last 2 weeks.  The way they deliver updates now is similar to how the file sharing services worked of years gone by.  You got files delivered in pieces hoping that eventually you got the whole file.  Hopefully, Microsoft will realize how dumb this idea was and change it back to how updates were previously delivered.

 

Finally, the start menu is back for those who had Windows 8.  It sort of looks like the child of the old Win 7 start menu and the Win 8 start screen.  I find it too busy constantly flipping tiles and for the most part I just ignore it.

 

I have also found a couple of my games don’t work anymore even though they were not uninstalled by the OS installation process.  I expect that a future OS patch may make them work again.

 

Conclusion

 

If you have Windows 8/8.1, I recommend upgrading now.  If you have Windows 7 like I did, the picture is a little cloudier, but I decided to take the plunge as I saw this as the future and that at some point it will be required no matter what.  If you are hesitant on this update, you have roughly a little less than a year to get this update free.  Since this is the “last update” according to Microsoft, this is basically a no-brainer.  If you own any other older operating system and your computer is capable of running Win 10, then I would get this version from your local retailer as soon as possible.  I don’t expect that this product will remain on shelves for a long time or go on sale because it is available online.

 

Overall, I am fairly happy with Windows 10. It does have bugs and quirks, but it certainly better than Windows ME was years ago.

 

My Grade:

 

Installation:  3 (Depending on what software you have installed, it could be faster than the 4 ½ hours it took on my computer. Just don’t expect to be forewarned of everything it decides to uninstall on its own.)

 

User Experience:  7 (Not perfect, but work in progress.  I expect it to improve with time.)

 

Windows Update:  4 (Seriously, this is NOT Napster.  Don’t make us get our updates like it is.)

 

Overall:  6 (Yes, it has its problems.  However, so hasn’t all the Microsoft OSs?  I expect frequent updates to fix problems, if you can get the updates.)

 

This OS may not be a 10, but when is Windows 11 coming out?  Or will that be called 12?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Halloweenie From Microsoft

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Recently Microsoft released a new beta version of Internet Explorer for Windows 7.  This new version is version 11 and during this Halloween week, it is the perfect time to review it.

 

After previously installing and uninstalling version 10 because it didn’t work with sites like Facebook. I decided to see if 11 would be better.

 

This would be mistake # 1.  There is no official webpage for it except for a download page to announce it as “preview release candidate”.  Unfortunately, this candidate should get the boot.

 

Installing this update seemed to take forever as the little wait symbol churned for about 15 minutes while it installed itself after the initial reboot.  After I gained control back of my machine, I launched the browser only to find out that the same problems that existed with 10 still existed with 11.

 

I decided to launch Windows Update to see if this program had a patch and low and behold, it had a cumulative patch.  Of course, this patch REALLY should have been installed at the initial installation and not be an afterthought.

 

After installing this update and waiting for what seemed to be yet another eternity, I launched the browser only to crash without even loading a single page.  Then I tried it again.  Same result.  Then I tried it a third time and it happened yet again.

 

So once again, I uninstalled another useless web browser from Microsoft.  However, this time when I went back to my working version 9, it too failed and crashed by refusing to load some pages properly.

 

So then I decided to uninstall version 9 and revert back to the last functioning version 8.  It seems to handle all the websites pretty well without crashing despite being significantly slower than either Firefox or Google Chrome.

 

I do NOT recommend anybody download Internet Explorer 11 preview version at all.  It is not ready for prime time or any time for that matter.  I think I will stick with version 8 for a while.

 

My score:  0

 

Summary:  Microsoft’s latest attempt at a browser fails with not loading at all and crashing continuously.  Don’t even bother trying this one unless you like installing and uninstalling useless software.

 

Review: Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7

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Last week Microsoft released the final release version of Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7.   Unfortunately, this suffers from the same problems as the previously mentioned beta version a few months ago.

Facebook still has a problem with things like the Like button and multiple other issues of various types still remain.

The bad thing is that Microsoft will be rolling out this release as part of the Windows Update over the next few weeks.  My recommendation is to ignore this update or wait until Microsoft can fix the bugs in the update and release a more workable version of the program.

However, for those of you like myself that got caught in the beta pre-release version, is to download this update and suffer with it until another version comes out that fixes the problems.  I don’t recommend trying to uninstall version 10 beta unless you want to create problems with your computer.  Believe me, I tried and quickly realized how bad this could possibly be to roll back to IE9.  Interestingly, it seems that Microsoft purposely made it virtually impossible to go back to the old.

Final Score4

 

Summary:

This product not quite ready for release, but then again anybody who remembers back when Windows ME was the in-thing and survived that horrible program will certainly survive this.  Note that this grade applies only to IE10 on Windows 7, not the version released with Windows 8.  IE10 for Windows 8 was not tested.

 

Customer Service – The Newsweek Way

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Editor’s Note:  I am publishing this same post to all my blogs this week as I feel that it is that important on just how stupid a company can possibly be.  Enjoy my frustration:

 

Imagine the following scenario:

 

Mom:  “Here son, have some more broccoli”

Son:  “But mom, I don’t like it.”

Mom:  “I will give you even more tomorrow because I know you enjoy it so much.”

Son: “I don’t want any more.”

Mom:  “But you really want more.”

 

This is exactly the type of scenario that has been created over the last couple of weeks with me against Newsweek.  Ever since the start of the new digital issue, I have been very disappointed with the new format.  Here’s why:

 

There are 8 different platforms to access Newsweek from.  Since I don’t own a Kindle, Nook, iPhone, or Windows 8 computer, I am left with 2 ways to access the magazine.  The first way is to use the web browser and view the magazine online.  Well, I tried that on the first issue and could not get past the first page ad.  To add insult to injury, the small print could not be changed to a larger font.  I tried Internet Explorer, Chrome, and Firefox with the same results.  I just couldn’t get past the first screen.  Given that screen took about 3 minutes to load, I wasn’t going to try to load a different issue to see if it would get any better.  Sadly, this approach made my broadband connection look like an old 56k modem connection.  And, no other webpages load perfectly so apparently it is something wrong with the Newsweek site.

The other way to get the magazine is to use the Zinio Reader, which I have used in the past.  I don’t like this approach because every time I use the program, it wants to download ALL my magazines even though I don’t want to.  The size of the magazines are not of small size either as some of them could take up to 100mb per issue.  Certainly no compression here and nor economical either.  Of course, I decided that this was not the way to go either so I decided to cancel my remaining subscription of 3 months and wanted a different print issue as said on their website.

So I decided to use their email system to request a cancellation.  A week went by and I heard nothing at all from them.  I then sent out a second request asking again of my alternatives.  After a week, I finally got the following response exactly as shown below:

 

Dear Mr. Brown,

 

 

 

Thank you for your email. We have received an overwhelmingly positive response to the new all-digital Newsweek.

 

 

 

We’re sincerely sorry for the wait time, and to make up for any delay in service, we have added two months of free access to your subscription.

 

 

 

In the meanwhile, please try the following help links, which have resolved most of the issues for other subscribers.

 

 

 

Login problems:

 

 

 

Can’t login to Newsweek:

 

http://www.thedailybeast.com/apps-and-mobile-faq.html#login

 

Don’t know my password (or requested new password and didn’t get one):

 

http://www.thedailybeast.com/apps-and-mobile-faq.html#update

 

Not sure where to read Newsweek? Click for help with your device:

 

iPad

 

http://www.thedailybeast.com/apps-and-mobile-faq.html#ipad

 

Kindle Fire, Fire HD 7″, Fire HD 8.9″

 

http://www.thdailybeast.com/apps-and-mobile-faq.html#kindlefire

 

Other Kindle

 

http://www.thedailybeast.com/apps-and-mobilefaq.html#kindle

 

PC or Mac Computers & Laptops

 

http://www.thedailybeast.com/apps-and-mobile-faq.html#desktop

 

Nook

 

http://www.thedailybeast.com/apps-and-mobile-faq.html#nook

 

Android Tablets & Phones

 

http://www.thedailybeast.com/apps-and-mobile-faq.html#android

 

 

 

If you do not want to receive the digital edition, please call us at 1-800-631-1040 to cancel for a refund.

 

 

 

Yours truly,

 

Newsweek Customer Service

 

 

All of the blank spacing above is their doing, not mine.  Not only did they not answer me, but also they were giddy over how well they were doing and even extended my subscription by 2 months!  How is that for not helping the customer properly?  It should be apparent that whoever sent this letter not only didn’t read my letter, but also used a cut-and-paste answer approach to my problem.  This is NOT how you do it people!!

You actually read the person’s letter and respond accordingly, not just send out any old canned response just to get rid of the customer.   To make matters worse, they want me to CALL and cancel my subscription instead.  Anybody who has ever called one of these numbers know that the people who answer the phones are from India and have no real comprehension of the English language whatsoever.  I refuse to talk to people who are clueless with what I say given that they are already clueless with what I have written.

Now I have sent out a THIRD request to cancel the subscription and want an email sent back with my alternatives listed.  I did that back on Monday, 4 days ago, and have yet to hear back from anybody, not even an acknowledgement that the company received my letter.

Of course, I am writing all this to let everyone know just how stupid a company like Newsweek actually is and how disrespectable they are to their subscribers.  I will NEVER renew my subscription with them EVER!!  They are just one example of a poor business model.  I really wonder if they are really overwhelmed with positive responses or just ashamed to respond to the hundreds of people like me angry at their lousy service model.  Web-based magazines will never cut it with me – give me old-fashioned paper anytime.

Shame on Newsweek for their lousy customer service. Let’s all cancel everything from Newsweek and never look back.  They deserve to fail once and for all.

 

 

Product Review: Microsoft Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7 (Release Candidate 1)

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Microsoft Internet Explorer 10 for Windows 7 doesn’t seem quite up to par yet.  After installing the release candidate a couple of weeks ago, I noticed a couple of websites that I use regularly don’t quite work properly.  Amongst the problems:

  • Formspring.me:  This Q&A site keeps popping up a dialog box of ‘null” whenever I try to answer a question.  What this is telling me is quite unknown, but doesn’t sound good no matter what.
  • Facebook.com:   The popular site doesn’t allow me to like anything, post comments, or even right comments.  Maybe it doesn’t want me on Facebook to begin with.
  • Twitter.com:  This site has trouble with tweets being written on occasion.  I guess it don’t want me there either.

 

The only plus side of installing this version to Windows 7 is that you can kiss the separate versions of IE for the 32bit and 64bit systems goodbye.  This version seems to roll both versions into one allowing a couple of my toolbars to finally function properly under a “64bit IE”.  My recommendation is to download this new version, but be aware of the problems.  For most all of my Internet usage, I use Chrome or Firefox instead.  Just keep in mind that this program could be updated at anytime, but since its release I have yet to see an update in nearly a month of usage.  Be prepared for the occasional weird things as I have mentioned above to happen if any of the above sites are used.

My score:  7.  It is worth the time and seems pretty stable except the problems mentioned above.