Sunday, 6 December 2015

More on Windows 10

I've had a chance to live with Windows 10 for a while, and I want to update a few things.

Control Panel

I finally found the classic mode Control Panel. It was hidden in the All Apps section of the Start (Window) menu. It had everything I was used to, and I've pinned it to the start tiles. You can find all the other administrative and system tools down there as well.

Virtual PC

The old Virtual PC that came with Windows 7 Pro no longer works. I use to use it for some older programs that I have, like some label software. I also had installed Sonar, but I've switched to Pro Tools, so I don't really need it anymore. I needed CorelDraw the other day, but I couldn't open Virtual PC, so I'm not sure what I'll do yet. I might stick it on my old laptop, just to convert some files. There is supposed to be a new VM called Hydra, but I haven't found it yet.


I liked it when it first arrived, but I got a new laptop for work that had Outlook on it, which is so much better. I still prefer Thunderbird on my desktop, but it doesn't show new messages in the tiles like Mail and Outlook. I may ditch it when it when my ExQuilla license needs renewal. ExQuilla is the plug in you need for MS Exchange services. It used to be free, but now requires a $10 annual subscription. I have Outlook 2007, but not 2013 like on my work laptop. I'll decide later.


As far a I have experienced, Windows 10 is quite stable. The only problem I have had has been my Creative X-Fi driver, which has a habit of disabling itself when the computer goes to sleep. That means no sound and no midi. I have had intermittent success restarting it in the Services snap-in, but usually I need to restart.

Start up

I think it starts up a little quicker than before. I've ordered an SSD drive, which I'll install next week, and that should make starting up less annoying. My laptops restart in about 20 seconds, as opposed to my desktop (SATA HD) which takes minutes. I wish I could install more memory like my work laptop has (16 GB as opposed to 8 GB). It's really fast. Excel spreadsheets update instantly.


I still don't use it. All my bookmarks are in Chrome, which I have installed on all my machines, so I don't see any reason to use it.


My last post discussed that my Toshiba Encore Mini had not yet updated. Well, it finally did, and promptly "bricked." There is only 16 GB of HD space on it, which wasn't enough to back up the old OS. Fine. It has a 128 GB memory card in it, so I redirected the back up there. Great.

Not. When it tried to boot, for some reason it panicked and wanted to reinstall the old OS. Unfortunately, you need the OS to read the memory card. It looped, and without an OS to install, I couldn't revert. To make matters worse, I couldn't download recovery media from Toshiba. I had to purchase it, and eventually discovered that the model number on my Encore was missing a digit, which made it impossible to use their online ordering system. I also couldn't reach them by phone, and it took about two weeks for their support forum to sufficiently answer my question that I could order it.

Instead, I purchased an HP Stream 7, which boasted 32 GB of HD space, plenty for the install. The good part about that was that I created Windows 8 recovery media, and restored my Toshiba. It formatted the drive a little smaller - I think because their OS recovery partition was larger. That precluded me from upgrading to Windows 10.

Except that when I upgraded my desktop, I created upgrade media. It was tricky balancing when the media was plugged in and when the keyboard was. Eventually, I had a clean upgrade that worked, as well as recovery media. Everything was perfect except that in portrait mode, the screen rotates the wrong way. I've tried many ways to fix it, but none have worked, so now I have just locked the rotation.

I prefer the HP Stream 7, because I can do more with it as a result of the more memory. I have discovered, however, that it's audio system is noisy, so I use the Toshiba to do any streaming that I want to do. That's a good use for it.

I still prefer Windows 10 over 8 at this point, and I think probably over Windows 7 as well.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Windows 10, first impressions

I'm not going to re-hash all the new features. That's been done in all the computer mags, and frankly, I'm not really going to use them.

I have 3 computers that will get Windows 10. The important thing for me was to get all my computers running pretty much the same thing. That was the lure of the free Windows 10 for me.
I had a desktop running Windows 7 Pro, a laptop running Windows 8.1, and a 7" tablet also with 8.1.

Actually, I have another desktop running Windows Me for Score and another desktop running Ubuntu Linux, which I never seem to use, but it is supposed to be able run Score 4 natively with working MIDI. It's not an easy set-up, and when I got the midi to work, Score kept crashing and when Score worked the MIDI crashed.

Back to Windows 10. My laptop was the first to upgrade. I never got the time to upgrade message, but when I opened Windows update, it was ready. Thus far, I haven't run into any real problems with it. There are still some of the same annoyances I had with Windows 8.1. Sometimes the mouse pointer submerges in Chrome, so I have to use the touch screen. Splitting the screen from the keyboard doesn't always fix it now. That's new.

My desktop never gave me the message to upgrade. I finally stopped waiting and deleted the downloaded files in the c:\Windows\Software\Distribution\Downloads folder, and manually called wuauclt.exe /updatenow from the command prompt. That worked. I didn't stick around to attend the upgrade, but everything seemed to go smoothly. When it finished, there was a little problem with the video card driver and my 2-display setup, but that was fixed by restarting a couple of times.

So far everything else has worked except my sound card. That required re-installing the driver. Windows 10 knew to activate the Creative AutoUpdate, but it showed the exact same build I had installed. I ran the installation anyway, and it worked after a restart.

My tablet still hasn't upgraded. It says it's ready and compatible, but I was going to wait. I'm getting close to giving up. Maybe another day or two.

I use Thunderbird for email on my desktop, but it isn't very portable. MozBackup didn't work last time I tried to use it, so I couldn't transfer the setup to my laptop. Instead, my laptop works on Imap and Exchange, so the files aren't local, and they don't delete from the server until my desktop tells them to. That means I use Mail on my laptop and tablet. The new Mail app didn't migrate all of my settings (passwords, mostly). After that, it took a while for it to sync with the remote servers. Now it's fine and works a little quicker than the old app. The layout is a little better, but selecting multiple emails takes an extra step now. I may go back to Thunderbird. Mail did crash once.

Since I'm accustomed to using Chrome, I'll probably stick with it. It has all my favorites synced between my devices. Edge looks clean and quick, but it keeps thinking it's my default browser, even after I've changed it in Chrome. So far, it seems fine on my desktop.

Seems better than before. I incorporates all my calendars, except my Google calendar. I still don't know if I'll ever get into the habit of using it regularly.

Control Panel
Classic mode seems to be gone. That means I have to use Search to find what I'm looking for. I usually do in the end, but it is annoying. I always reverted to Classic Mode in Windows 7. Now I'll have to give in.

I was hoping for some spiffy backgrounds, but there is only one Windows 10 one, which is OK, but I'll probably look for something else. Goodbye Aero. I guess they must have decided that it used too many resources. The colors to seem to automatically coordinate to your background, though.

Look and Feel
It feels quicker, possibly having to do with losing Aero. I'm still not convinced by moving the tiles to Start Menu. Yes, it's back. Is it better than Windows 7? Probably not. At least it is there. I had to reassign my toolbar to the taskbar, but I do like the fact that the pinned apps appear on both displays now. Thunderbird seems quicker ... in fact, the second time I use each program, it seems to work better. It did lose some of my shortcuts from the Windows Explorer. (I'm not sure I've found everything that was in my old Documents folder either.)

Metro is still there as an option, and I may activate it on my laptop touch screen. The charms menu is gone. I didn't hate it like most users. I may look to see if I can re-activate it.

It's stable so far, but I haven't really put it to the test. I haven't checked all the programs I use, so I'll have to come back to those.

So much for now. I'll update once I try doing some heavy lifting. Now, I've got Spotify playing, Chrome, and Thunderbird going. I might try to catch part of a baseball game later. That often screws things up.

More later