Wednesday, September 30, 2015

I now have Windows 10 -- one instance of it

Well, I have Windows 10 now on one computer, the HP Envy.

Preliminary impressions are that it is simpler than Windows 8.  But when I tried to find the Action Center, Microsoft goaded me to log on to the account.  It also advised me I could set up a Pin. 

The next time turned the machine on (and the power had been disconnected once totally to move the electric outlet back to UIP, the machine forced me to log on to Windows 10 with my email and my Microsoft password, which I had fortunately memorized.  I didn’t realize it would do this.

The notification icons are different.  There is some controversy over which security company should be used, which I’ll talk about tomorrow on the Internet Safety blog – still getting facts from vendors on Twitter messaging.

Some sites (AOL) required reentry of passwords (but Facebook and Twitter did not).  Final Draft required re-activation with the product code to get out of read-only mode. 
Another concern as again a hurricane approaches is staying connected (I’m not near the Ocean and about 300 feet above sea level).  The iPhone hotspot to Verizon LTE works almost as well as the Comcast connection through a home router.  A UIP and a generator are a good idea. 
I’ll have to keep tabs on the question as to whether the update process causes hangs.  I’m told by Geek Squad that there were problems with “reservation mode” updates at home, which in-store conversions to W10 at Best Buy should circumvent, but these problems may have been resolved by now. 

Update: Oct. 1

One little problem.  Sometimes, the keyboard input (the letters) stops working if the machine goes to sleep.  A restart always recovers the function.  Will check further.

Update: Oct 2

Got the same fake hardware error after an attempted random HP restart even in W10.  Resetting power button does bring the machine back up.

Update: Oct 4

Today I had some trouble with Quick Access in the File Explorer, which caused thumbnails to be invisible, and for renaming and copying to directories in Explorer to be impossible (it still worked in command prompt).  The problem went away when I forced closed it when hung once.   

Sunday, September 20, 2015

NYTimes columnist slams "toxic work world" as suitable only for those without families

Take a look at this op-ed in the New York Times Sunday morning, by Anne-Marie Slaughter, “A Toxic Work World”, link here.  Note the sentence at the beginning that the modern competitive workplace works only for those young, healthy and wealthy enough “not to have to care for family members.”  That could be read as, the deliberately childless, except that with an aging population, the demand to care for parents can now ambush anyone.

But it’s also true that back in the 1980s, in the narrower mainframe culture, programmers were typically absolutely responsible for their own work and nothing else.  They were always on call for just their work. In the 90s that tended to change, as systems became more automatically interconnected.

But read he columnist’s analysis and suggestions.   She points out the that workplace even three decades ago had evolved out of a world of one-earner families (husbands).  That had changed by the late 70s, but the workplace was slow to catch up.

Update: Sept. 27

Readers's letters are here

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Wikipedia wants contract developers for development of a Digital Library Card Platform

Wikipedia is looking for developers to create a Digital Library Card Platform, announcement here. 

The project will streamline the process by which Wikipedia editors gain access to paywalled research accounts. 

The developers will work on a Unix platform.  The contract description does not mention which languages are needed?  (Java?? C++??)
The project comes about as part of improving open source and open access, addressing ultimately some of the problems that Aaron Swartz had one faced.


Saturday, September 12, 2015

Male participation in the workplace is dropping; is "hyperindividualism" in H.R. the reason?

CNN Money has a telling article, “Why have so many men stopped working?”, link here. It starts out with the resume of a man who had been a database manager and business analyst until the early 90s and was laid off in the brief post-Gulf War recession.  He became a house-husband and stay-at-home dad and never found another IT job, even as the economy took off under Bill Clinton.
The article discusses the drop in the percentage of working-age men in the workforce. Many causes – including female competition, but a major reason that companies didn’t manage keeping workers trained very well after the mid 1980s.  One reason Obamacare floundered technically was that older professionals, who might have been more thorough in testing the systems, had left mainframe IT, after mismanagement  (and short term thinking leading to constant turnover) earlier. 
I took a job with a small company in 1988 (rather than stretching my luck with an upcoming merger of Chilton in Dallas), then moved to a more stable company in life insurance in early 1990, where I would be stable until after 9/11. 


Monday, September 07, 2015

Lithium battery safety and laptops, notebooks, and smartphones

Do laptop computer and possibly smartphone users really need to be concerned about fires from lithium ion batteries? 

NBC Washington covered the problem tonight, before the first day of school

The main pointers, besides not damaging the equipment with careless use, seems to be, first, use only replacement batteries from the manufacture, and second, don’t overcharge (most batteries today should not be plugged in when the charge is between 40 and 90 percent), and use on a hard, non-metallic surface with airspace. And pay attention to safety recalls.  It is also recommended that charging be done when someone is awake and attending. 

There have been a few house or apartment fires around the country from laptop batteries, but a lot more from power strips that really weren’t surge protectors.  There has also been controversy about the batteries on planes, but usually they would have been already charged (already becoming a TSA requirement sometimes).

Josh Kirschner has an article on “Techolicious”, here;   and here is the chemistry lesson. 


Thursday, September 03, 2015

Ever consider Open Office?

Here’s an interesting debate:  Is Office365 (which you renew every year) a better deal still (with its relatively modest cost compared to past box purchases) in practice than Open Office (developed by Sun)?
Apparently, Apache Open Office can be used on Windows (7 or later) or Linux (or Unix), but I don’t see it available directly on the Mac – but it would be logical that it should be, because the Max OS is “partially” built upon Linux underneath (more like a cousin than a sibling – as explained here ).  The terminal mode commands are similar.
Here’s a perspective by Nick Heath of Tech Republic, on the practical considerations for organizations in choosing between Office 365 and Open Office,  link
I’ve never considered using Open Office at home.  No one talks about it.
One thing about the Best Buy renewal of Office 365 – Best Buy doesn’t process the credit card until the day of the renewal, which means you can get a premature expiration notice from Microsoft (Aug 13 posting).


Tuesday, September 01, 2015

HP Envy: suddenly, the video display goes extraterrestrial with the colors

Tonight, a very strange video card problem.  On my HPEnvy desktop, the Microsoft extra-solar planet shore scene came up with interesting colors, red instead of blue for the shore.  It really looked like Titan, maybe. But then when I played videos or looked at stills, there was a lot of bleeding red where it did not belong.

I restarted the machine, and the problem did not go away, an in fact the black screen had a red tint.

So I unplugged the machine for a minute, replugged it, then brought it up under Windows 8.1 abbreviated startup as usual. This time the problem went away and the colors were normal (the book took longer than usual for a quick-start).  The best reference I could find on the problem so far was here