Software

Dear Firefox

Leaving Firefox for ChromeWe’ve been together a very long time.  Since version 2 of you.  It’s been a long time coming but I just can’t take all this fighting anymore.  I’m leaving you for Google Chrome.

It’s not how you look, that’s what kept me with you for so very long.  No matter how much you changed, and holy crap do you change, frequently…  I could keep you looking like the day we met.  You are so wonderful at customization.  You can fit anyone’s mood.    But…  As things go, looks aren’t everything.  Goodness knows I’ll miss my full window title bar.  Every other browser has written them off, but I spend so much time finding hidden treasures and even placing some in my own website titles.  Now I’m supposed to stuff all of that in the width of a tiny ass tab.

This past year you’ve been stubborn, unwilling to work with flawed websites and your add-ons have been so poorly written or abandoned, that at times you were simply unusable.  It seemed like with every new change you made, it would break half a dozen add-ons.  Even after I cleaned the whole existence of you, removed every add-on and returned you fresh, you continue to fight me.  I just can’t take it anymore.  Open Source or not, I’m simply over you.

While Google has some habits I don’t care for.  Yet I’d rather live with that then to constantly fight and bicker with you.  Sure, Chrome’s font rendering isn’t always as pleasant as yours, or other browsers for that matter, it does spend less time working out CSS.  Don’t get me wrong, it took a lot of effort for Chrome to be usable to me.  I still scowl at it’s layout and lack of a full title bar.  To make the bookmarks work for me in a manner that makes me fairly comfortable.  I don’t completely trust the company that Chrome works for.  I think sometimes they are spying on me.  But I’ve nothing to hide so I have nothing to fear.

Chrome does frustrate me with it’s caching.  Many websites have on-load dynamic content.  Chrome won’t make use of that unless you install an extension that turns caching off or unless you use CTRL+F5, visitors don’t get to see it.  They miss out on so many cool things because some company decided speed was more important.  Google angers me with their “we know what’s good for you” attitude.  Thankfully their community of extensions allows me to have things my way.  It’s a shame not all their users will get the full experience as they don’t know what an extension is, let alone how to install it.  Still…  Chrome doesn’t give me grief over SSL certificates like you did.  It gives me a choice.  Sometimes you refuse me any choice, Firefox.  Chrome doesn’t ruin ajax script the way you sometimes do.

This whole experience isn’t really about what I love to use anymore.  Like email programs, it’s a choice of the lesser evil.  Right now I don’t love any browser anymore, just choosing the one that isn’t pissing me off as much.  I’ll still use you when I’m designing a website for cross browser compatibility.  But for now, my choice of browser for every day use is Chrome.  Honestly I tried, but I can’t fight it anymore Firefox.

Sincerely,

Denny

My Freeware Lists

FreewareIf you’re looking for suggestions for software to use on your computer, your Android Phone or your Windows Phone.  I have maintained a list of free software I use on all my devices for years now.  It’s a great way to keep your costs low.

I check the lists frequently and change things if something no longer works or I find something new.  Also on the occasion when something goes sideways.  An example of this, is when I let my Kingsoft Office update to their new WPS Office structure.  However, after their 30 day trial, they disabled my ability to edit and save files I had been using for years.  They wanted to railroad me into either a monthly or yearly payment plan to restore my abilities.  Thankfully places like Filehippo and Majorgeeks keep older versions so I could go back to my good version 😉

Just look around my website.  As you can see, I do amazing things with free software.  From web design, to graphics, entertainment, tech support and loads more!

Freeware Short URL: http://gden.net/free

Android Short URL: http://gden.net/android

Windows Phone Short URL: http://gden.net/wp

I realize not all my phone apps are free.  Can’t have it all I suppose.  I try hard to steer clear of “in-app purchases”.  That’s about the same thing as Free2Play video games.  Or micropayments as they are sometimes called.  It’s a quick way for those who are competitive to get screwed fast financially.  I absolutely refuse to play those on my computer.  So my phone games are generally free with ads that don’t drive you crazy, or paid in full with no in-app purchase nonsense.  I think Earth and Legend and The Bard’s Tale are the only exceptions to that rule so far.  Even then, you don’t have to buy anything in game to play them.  You can get everything with a little effort.

Someday I hope to get another Mac.  Then I’ll make another list for that as well.  Though, right now I’m in no rush.  I really only use them as an overpriced reference tool anyway.  I was going to go for a Mac Mini, but after reading how they neutered them to death to the point of merely being fat tablet with no screen and runs OS X…  Maybe I’ll go for another Macbook Pro.  Though I’m still pissed they removed the DVD drive.  Doesn’t really matter.  I’m perfectly happy with my setup.  Still, would be nice to have.

Backups, they’re not just for Geeks anymore!

Doctor WhoBy now the number of computers I’ve repaired are in the high hundreds and might be over a thousand.  I’ve been fixing computers since before I joined the Navy in 1994 and it’s been my career ever since.  Though sometimes when I’m helping someone with their computer, I feel like I’m Doctor Who and using my Sonic Screwdriver, I have to pull a miracle out of thin air to help someone before they lose all their data forever.

Just last night, I helped a friend recover her digital photos from a computer that Microsoft themselves deemed unable to be saved.  After a bit of mucking about, turns out her hard drive had started to become corrupt and the system would not boot up no matter what option was chosen.  So instead I downloaded a Linux Live CD.  Booted to it instead of using the internal hard drive.  Then using a USB Flash Drive managed to copy her photos and documents.  Managing to save them, as thankfully part of the hard drive still functioned, but with much frustration.

Of course I rambled on about how backups would’ve saved her all of this headache.

There are lots of online backup and cloud services out there.  Many offer some sort of free account option that gives you between 2 to 5 gigabytes of storage.  SugarySync, Carbonite, Dropbox, Mozy, just to name a few. These could be lifesavers to many of you out there.  Especially since I don’t know many people these days who even have actual hardcover, book style photo albums anymore.  Meaning, many of today’s shutterbugs don’t have hard copy photos in photo albums like we did as kids.  Thanks to digital cameras and smartphones, almost all images are digital and never make it to print.  Any time they want to show you a picture, it’s on their phone, tablet or have you come to their computer to show you.  They don’t print out photos.  I do on occasion, but even then, I do the same thing.  Trick is, I can show you any picture or document I have on any device I have because I use SugarSync.  Not only does it backup my files, but it shares them across all my devices.

Like this:

SugarSync Cloud Backups, Syncing & Sharing

The mindset of, ” I don’t care how it works, I just want it to work the way I want it to work.” is a bunch of rubbish.  You either learn to take better care of your personal files on your computer, tablet or smartphone.  Or accept that your memories may one day be wiped out forever.  This also goes for keeping your Anti-virus and Malware scanners up to date and scan regularly.  Otherwise when it dies, there may be a time when I or one of my colleagues have to give you that look as if someone in your family died because you just lost all your bookmarks, digital photos, important documents and your music collection all because you didn’t take a few minutes to care if your files were saved elsewhere…  Not to mention the possibility of a big repair bill.  It’s your device, they are your files.  It’s your responsibility to ensure they are safe.  Not Mr. Tech, and certainly not Doctor Who.

Now you could simply pay a monthly fee and have all your files backed up and shared across your devices.  However, in the long run you could spend hundreds to thousands of dollars over several years to backup your entire music collection, your enormous collection of self photos that all include your right arm {ahem Bethany}, your Nobel Prize thesis on ending world hunger, or if you’re like me you have your entire DVD/Blu-ray collection in digital form so you don’t have to have 5 bookshelves full of movies.  (Instead they’re all in boxes in the closet for safe keeping.)

I’m a thrifty person.  I manage to back everything up using the following tools.  This way I don’t have to pay a recurring fee to keep my files safe.  I don’t expect anyone to mimic what I do fully, but if you just do one or two of these, you’ll thank me later if your device goes boom (or poof if it lets out the magic smoke).  I’ve been doing much of this same method for almost a decade now.  I know I saved a lot on monthly charges by doing these few things.

SugarSyncSugarSync Free (5GB) – As I mentioned before, I use this to backup my Pictures, Documents and other miscellaneous files that I have.  I actually have 6GB of free space because I did some things they asked me to do and got an extra bit of space for free.  I don’t have an extensive photo collection, perhaps just under 2GB of photos, less than half a gigabyte of documents and another gigabyte of other nominal stuff.  Since they are under the 5GB limit, I use just the free service offered by SugarSync.  Unfortunately I can’t save my music this way as I have nearly 8GB of music.  So I use my smartphone as a backup drive for my music.  I’ll tell you more about that in a bit.

SugarSync allows me to not only backup my files, but I can view them on my PC, my Laptop and my Smartphone.  So if I want to show someone a photo of my kids, I can just open SugarSync and in a few seconds any photo I have is available to me.  I can even send links to other folks for them to view the photos on their own computer, tablet or phone.

Micro SD CardMicro SDHC Memory Card ($23.75 for my Android)  – So I grabbed me a 32GB SD card from Amazon and I’ve been moving it from Smartphone to Smartphone as I’ve replaced them.  Either because I’ve upgraded to a new phone, new cellphone service provider or because I dropped my phone down the staircase in front of my apartment.  In any case the SD card survived and I have my entire music library saved to it.  This does two things.  One it’s another place to keep my music files in case my hard drive craps out or my apartment burns down.  Two because I can use my Android as an MP3 player while I go for my daily walks.  I’ll never understand why anyone with a smartphone would also have a separate MP3 player these days.  I can only think it’s because they overlooked the fact you can do that or because they like wasting money.  It certainly is an inexpensive backup plan for my music 🙂

PowerArchiver Backups PowerArchiver ($22.95) – Actually I only paid $19.95 because I bought it in 2005. Almost 10 years of this amazing product.  It’s a lot like WinZip, only it’s faster, cheaper, you get lifetime upgrades.  Plus it’s most invaluable when it comes to doing my monthly backups.  Once a month I backup my entire computer.  Sure I could make an image of my entire computer, but when I say I backup my whole computer, I don’t actually do that.  I backup all my personal files.  I don’t actually like making an image of my computer as I’d be keeping all the driver updates, endless junk files that got created when installing and uninstalling software and more.   That’s like keeping a copy of all the dust in your house.   Just icky.  PowerArchiver allows me to create nifty files that I walk through a fairly simple wizard to create.  Once created I just double click the resulting file each month and it automatically backs up whatever I previously asked to backup originally.  Including new files or changed files.  I even have it slap on a date to the resulting .zip file.

Example: Documents.pbs (the PowerArchiver backup file) created Documents_10-01-2013.zipx file on October first.  It did all the work for me, and only took a few minutes.  I do that for each file.  I can even have PowerArchiver schedule to do this automatically, but I don’t, as the less software I leave running the better my PC performs.  Since I do this once a month, it’s just as simple for me to double click those few files myself.  Then copy the end result to my external hard drive.

External Hard DriveExternal Hard Drive (2TB – $100) – The most expensive component, and it does come with a couple of really low risk issues.  While I can backup all my files, photos, music and my entire DVD/Blu-ray libarary… I also run the risk of losing it all if there is a fire and I don’t manage to grab it on my way out.  (providing I’m home when it happens of course)  Also, it can suffer from disc failure as well.  Whether it be magnetic corruption, mechanical failure or what-have-you.  However, that’s only a risk of loss if the original data was previously lost on my PC.  Even then only a partial loss as my music is on my phone.  My photos and documents are backed up to other devices and the cloud.  So honestly the only real risk is losing my movies as that is the only place they are stored.  Well, that isn’t true either, I could just rip them again from the hard copies in the closet.  Provided I ever want to be that bored doing it.

USB Flash Drive USB Flash Drive (32GB – $23.99) – This little gem stays in my pocket.  If my house burns down, I’ll likely grab my pants and it will be in there.  It has my most important files, backups of all my websites, and copies of all the software I use.  This comes in handy when I do tech work on site and their internet either isn’t working or so slow I would want to tear my own eyes out waiting for a download.  I keep it up to date when I have a few minutes to kill.

As you can see, none of my backup methods are actually hard, nor are they very time consuming.  A little bit of preparation and preventative maintenance, I should never have to worry about losing things that are digitally important to me.  Granted, that doesn’t account for theft of physical items as we well know.

If I may quote the Tenth Doctor (David Tennant – my favorite!) from the episode “School Reunion“.  Only I’ll replace the word “physics” with the word “backups”.

Right, backups! Backups, eh? Backups, backups, backups, backups, backups, backups. Backups! Hope you’re getting all this down.

~ The Tenth Doctor (David Tennant)

Words to live by.

PC Gamers Getting Boned by BSware!!

Fuck DRM and Unnecessary Bullshit Software!Having played the same old games for the past five plus years, I was completely obvious that the world of PC gaming had gone to the dogs.  It’s no wonder I was simply happy doing what I was doing.  Replaying Thief: Deadly Shadows until my eyes bled.  Taking my frustrations out on the hookers in Grand Theft Auto IV.  Mucking about in World of Warcraft.  I was bored, but I was happier doing that over what I’ve been doing lately.  Such as trying to find a new game to play.  Talk about frustrating as hell!

Let me back up a bit so you know where I’m going with this.  Before now, I had played nothing but the previous games I mentioned, plus a bunch of others including Runes of Magic, Last Chaos, Unreal Tournament, Unreal Tournament 2004 and that’s about as new as my games got.  All I needed to play them was just the games.  No unnecessary extras unless I deemed them necessary.  Including Curse, an addon manager for Runes of Magic and World of Warcraft.  For the longest time I updated the addons manually to keep the unnecessary software off my computers keeping resources free and my computers running smooth and clean.  Only the online games themselves had their own built-in updating mechanisms which is all any game should ever need.  For any standalone (single player), offline games I had/have, patches can be downloaded manually and installed by the user with minimal effort.  So patches were easy and covered.

I’m incredibly aware of DRM (Digital Rights Management) and all the bologna that goes with it via the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and how for the longest time buying MP3 music was a pain in the ass.  Until they backed off on the music part and now you can buy MP3’s via Amazon and others and play them on all the devices you like.  Working for an Internet Service I see DRM just about daily.

I also know very well about the battle against Software Piracy.  It’s been raging on for many years now.  I understand that software publishers don’t want to lose revenue over stolen games.  I can also deal with needing the CD inserted to play a game or online activation to play a standalone game.  That inconvenience is more than enough for any end user.

But forcing the end user to install third party software just to be able play a game is outlandish.  They cover it all up with terms and actions such as download management, automatic updates, social media inclusion, in-game web browsing (seriously??), and in-game forums (like chat wasn’t enough?).  But what they are really doing, is keeping your software in check.  Keeping you honest.  Not allowing for any third party modifications.  (Side note, I realize only stand alone games should be modified as modifying online games would likely give the player an unfair advantage, e.g. cheating.)

So the past 2 weeks or so since I quit WoW, I’ve been trying to find new games to play.  When I realized that most new games include some nonsense extra software I don’t agree with.  Even some old games I used to play before now require things I don’t want or need running on my computer.  I don’t agree with these things being forced upon me or anyone else.  The image above shows just some of the shit I’ve run into just wanting to play a game.  Though I also refuse to run out and buy a console.  I’m not in a position to throw down hundreds of dollars on a console and then buy another couple hundred dollars in games.

One, I don’t want social networking in my games.  I don’t like Facebook.  Never have and never will.  This image pretty much portraits how I see Facebook, and to me it’s useless.  I only use it once a day at most, because that’s the only method I have for several people.  Sure there’s a Facebook link on my site, again, so other Facebook junkies can find me.  But I don’t want Facebook anywhere near my games.  Or any other social media for that fact.  Having other players in an online game is the only online social networking I’d ever want.  Other than that, I’d rather go out in real life with real humans who don’t have their brains saturated in social networking nonsense.

Two, unless my game is an MMO (online for those who don’t know the acronym MMO), I don’t want it automatically installing anything that isn’t pertinent to the game itself.  Even then, good programmers will make an updater in the games “launcher”.  Such as World of Warcraft and Guild Wars (2).  Runes of Magic used to be fine, but now they have some GameForge bullshit that now gets crammed down their players throats.

Three, any standalone (single player) game should never require an active internet connection.  With the exception of a one time activation.  Now I know you can put Steam in offline mode, but Steam shouldn’t even be necessary unless that was your preferred method to obtain the game in the first place.  Games sold in the store such as Skyrim and the up coming Thief 4, should not require another software just to play it by yourself.  Me, I can’t stand Steam and to have to be forced into using it to play my games is complete and utter bullshit.

This just means that me and people like me will likely just not spend our money on such games.  We like our games to be DRM and bullshit free.  Or at least keep the DRM to a simple activation or CD check.  In all honesty, these required extra software packages are likely collecting data and forcing advertising on you as well.  Not too mention the possibility of their databases being hacked and your account being compromised.  Offline games should never have to endure such a fate.  Ever.  It’s just another thing no one should have to put up with just to enjoy the things they spend their money on.  And honestly, it seems that this kind of thing would promote piracy, not prevent it.  Much like when I watch a movie and have to suffer watching two or more warnings about piracy.  I often think to myself, if I had stolen the movie from the internet, the person who uploaded it would’ve likely been nice enough to cut that crap out for me.  It sucks to feel like the MPAA is accusing you of doing wrong when you’re not.  Pirated games won’t have DRM on them.   Though I’m not promoting piracy by any means.   Just comparing why folks would.  I’ll stick to my DRM free or minimal DRM and Indie games.

Attack of the “Downloaders”

DownloaderTen years ago when the world was mostly on Dial-up internet connections.  Software Downloaders would’ve been a godsend.  Now in the age of high speed internet connections the world over, Dial-up is becoming a thing of the past.  Yet, now we are starting to be flooded with Software Downloaders for everything we want to install on our computers.  When I can download a 20MB file in a matter of seconds, what the hell is the need for a 1MB downloader file?  It’s just an extra and ultimately useless step.  Many times laden with ads to get you to install software you don’t even need.  Or praying on you to install something that requires payment.  All these do is muck up the process that should be simple.

Below is a screenshot of software I frequently use and keep a copy of for quick reference for when I do tech work.  Hence every time they update, I download a fresh copy.  With Sofware Downloaders being the main thing I get, I have to scrounge up the links to get skip the useless things and get to the meat of the actual software I want.

File Sizes

As you can see, none of these files are worth making a downloader application for.  Even on a 768K DSL connection, it would take a little over 5 minutes to download the largest file in that list.  So why the need?  Granted, dial-up service still affects a big part of the country.  However, most customers never download updates, let alone repeated file downloads like I do.  More over, it seems more and more software companies are jumping on the band wagon.  The whole thing seems like a “useless exercise in futility” as they say.

Granted, when you have software like a video game that takes hours to download on a big connection, a downloader would be not only useful, but welcome just in case the initial transfer got interrupted for whatever reason.  But in the case of what is now considered small files of 50MB and below.  It seems they are just a complete waste of time and energy.

“That’s- that’s what I think!” ~ Andrew Dice Clay (Dice Rules)

Browsers and Passwords

Browsers and PasswordsI’m gonna go all techie on you for a bit here.  Though it’s for your own good and online safety.

I just spent the last two weeks dealing with infected computers, compromised email accounts, as well as victims of online banking fraud.  The first thing I noticed in every single case, is that people in general, take so little care of their own security.  Mainly their weak passwords and the fact they never update their browsers.  Two very simple things they could do that would likely have saved them all the headaches and panic attacks that is an infected computer or having their credit card or bank account compromised.

We all use our computers for everything from playing games, to paying bills and ordering services.  Yet, a frightening number of folks don’t seem to think twice that their information is so readily available to others who are just looking for an easy opportunity to make a quick buck of off our negligence.  I really mean it’s scary how simplistic folks make their passwords and how they never think to update their browsers to keep secure.  While I do think that many of us who run our own websites can help with that.  I actually do, if your browser is out of date, my website will actually tell you and suggest you update it.  If you try to use a non-secure password when signing up for an account, my website won’t allow it.  Now only if all website owners would do the same, it would help folks across the board.

Browsers

It almost amazes me when I ask anyone to “Open a Browser”, that they haven’t the foggiest clue what I’m talking about.  A browser is the software package installed on your computer that allows you to see and interact with websites.  That is pretty much all they do, but it’s very important to keep them up to date.  It helps keep them secure from any known issues, as well as allow you to be able to fully enjoy the newer content websites have to offer.  Without these updates, you may be just handing your information over to someone just looking to make a quick buck. Also, you could be frustrated in wondering why a website isn’t behaving the way you think it should.  This would be because your old browser can’t handle the newer fancy code that makes the website you’re trying to view work properly.  Many of today’s browsers check for updates automatically, if they find one, they normally will install it.  It may or may not prompt you to restart your browser.  It’s as simple is closing the browser and re-opening it.  For more information on keeping your browser up to date can be found at these websites:  WhatBrowser.org or Browser-Update.org (my favorite) and this video:

Passwords

This is so important and it’s so sad that folks don’t take a few minutes to create a half-decent password.  What’s worse, is they use the same simple password for everything.  This is saying a thief only needs to find the key under the front door mat to steal the house, the car, the family business and clean out all bank accounts.  Making your password the name of a pet, friend or loved one is not a good idea.  Neither is using important dates or phone numbers.  They are too easily guessed.

It’s not actually hard at all to make a simple password a heck of a lot more secure by simply changing things like making it upper and lower case lettering.  Also, change a vowel to a number and use a special character.

Example: password –> P@55W0rd

I changed the letter “o” to the number zero, the “a” to an @ symbol and the “s’s” to the number 55 and capitalized the P and W.  While I would never recommend using the word password as your actual password, you should get the idea behind it.

Also, use a different password for different websites.  You don’t have to commit them to memory, you can write them down.  Just don’t store them in plain site is all.

Even this security expert in the video tells you this.

More information on making Secure Passwords by clicking HERE.

So in short, keep your browsers up to date and make your passwords secure (and keep your security software up to date as well), and you’ll only need me once in a while.  I mean sure, I like making money off anyone who isn’t a friend or relative 🙂  But for my friends and relatives (and my awesome site visitors), keep yourselves safe 🙂

Life’s Little Victories…

Robby Flay CheerSometimes you just need to celebrate life’s little victories.  I have one to celebrate today as I got an email confirming that I’m not crazy after all.  At least, less like I’m going crazy.  You know, that feeling you get when you know for a fact, that you’re right when everyone else says you are wrong….

Let me explain…

While I am an Evil Genius and all, I have a lot of tools at my disposal.  There is however, a secret weapon I use to help me when I make these gorgeous websites.  It’s not part of my freeware.  So when I ran across a show stopping issue with it, I tried my best to make the community of users aware of this issue via their forums.  As I had thought that the best place to bring it up.  Hoping that the developers paid attention to their users concerns.  However, I guess not all companies pay attention to their customer forums like other companies do (Hi Blizzard!).

I ended up wasting several days of my time trying to argue that I had found a very serious problem and that it should be addressed.  Instead I was met with self proclaimed experts who clearly thought I was off my trolley, as it were.  Instead of them following my carefully laid out explanation, or trying to reproduce the issue themselves…  They merely made suggestions that I must have overlooked something obvious or that my WordPress installation was somehow incorrect.

I’d like to think that after 5 years of using WordPress, I’m somewhat of an expert of what I can do with it, how to install it and how to operate it to nearly it’s full extent of use.  I don’t go advertising myself as such, as I don’t want to start taking a billion questions about it.  I make it look pretty and I use it, but I don’t want to be tech support for it.  I save my tech skills for computers.  It’s where I excel in life.

As it turns out, this company apparently only focuses only on customer support tickets.  So carefully playing the side of the customer, I was sure to cross my t’s and dot my i’s and made sure that I had every detail they needed right up front (god I wish customers would do that for me, instead of making me beg them to read the WHOLE ERROR MESSAGE!!!! … er sorry got sidetracked…).  Anyway… and with just a few days passing, I received the following email response today:

Hi Denver,

Sorry for the delay in responding.
Thanks for reporting this issue.
We were able to reproduce it and it’s currently investigating by our developers.
The fix should be included in the next update of our software.
We apologize for this temporary inconvenience.

So neener neener neener to all those useless self experts that troll forums trying to make themselves sound important!  Of course, I still have to wait for the next release to find out if they actually fixed it, but since they confirmed I did find a problem, I am at least for now hopeful that I did a good thing.

I concur, Windows 8 Sucks!

I couldn’t have said it any better myself.  But Michael @ Michael’s Techbox said it as elegantly as it comes.  Windows 8 sucks more now in the Customer Preview even more than it did as the Developer Preview which I reviewed a few months ago.  (My Developer Preview Review)

Just to give you an idea, all the ranting and raving I did over Mac before I owned one, and even my final frustration with Mac is nothing at all compared to what Windows 8 has in store for the general populous of internet loving citizens the world over.  Having played with the Customer Preview myself the past few weeks…  In my opinion, it may very well be the final push needed for Mac to take over top dog in the desktop market with Linux still in 3rd place, but gaining ground quickly thereafter.  It’s enough to make a grown, seasoned tech cry for mercy and question his/her very existence.

Lets take a look at what both Michael and I agree on:

The biggest thing is Metro.  No one without a touch screen is going to bother to upgrade to Windows 8.  The few who might do it not thinking, will quickly revert or learn new curse words.  Or touch their screen a little too hard in frustration.  Metro in the Developer Preview was something you could bypass and regain your start menu and use Windows just fine.  It looked good and ran very well.  It seemed like Metro was just a program that was simply “hooked” into the OS just as a replacement to the start menu.  The Customer Preview, Metro is now heavily integrated into the OS and just shutting the PC down is a multi-step process in agony.

If Microsoft insists on everyone buying new hardware, this is hardly the time to mandate that.  The economy while not completely tanked, isn’t in a position to run and buy new gear.  That alone won’t work in their favor.

If they insist on making the Desktop a Tablet, they need to ease users into it the way Mac is doing.  Mac has a wonderful desktop, but you can get to your applications with a tablet movement on the mousepad or touchpad which can be attached to the computer.  Rather than making all their users run out and buy touchscreens at a much higher price point.  When they did that in Lion, it was a bit of a culture shock, but within a couple of weeks it was no problem.  Having Windows 8 CP the past few weeks.  I have even less love for it than ever.  It’s not a learning curve.  It’s forget all you know and learn again.  Knowing customers love of “upgrades” and learning new things, on average, this is going to be more unwelcome for them as it is for the folks like me who have to help them.

If Microsoft wants to make a tablet OS, then fine.  I’m all for it.  Use it on tablets and phones.  Just like Mac does.

I can see once my Windows 7 is finally ready to die, I may very well become a Mac weenie all over again.  At least their stuff talks to all other devices with Mac OSes of one sort or other.  Although I still think Mac has a ways to go, they may have one hell of a foot up on the desktop market very shortly.

Especially if Microsoft doesn’t give us a way to shut Metro off so that upgraders and power users can have a PC they can still enjoy.  While the rest of the world just gives up and goes to Android and Mac tablets.  MS loyalists can just suck it and live in their pretend world that Windows 8 will be a revolution.  I’ve never been that loyal to MS.  Just enough to say I am a PC.  Though… Looks like that might change.

My LG Optimus Elite

Circumstances of an unfortunate situation has led me to get a new smart phone.  My old LG Optimus V, while rooted and able to do my most needed functions, kept me at odds for lack of space every time my apps updated.  I don’t know why and have been unable to find information on how to keep my apps under control.  Each time my apps updated, I’d quickly lose space on my phone.  In a week too two weeks, my phone would go from 45MB space free to under 20MB.  I would reset my phone, reload all the apps by going through my handy list on the bottom of my freeware page.  Only to repeat it within a week or so.  As anyone can imagine, this is endlessly frustrating.

Thankfully, Best Buy happened to have one of the latest phones from my carrier Virgin Mobile on sale from $149 to $129.  Cheaper than when I bought my Optimus V.  (sadly it got lowered in price 2 days later)  Of course, I ended up losing my phone having root.  Though the only reason for me to root my Optimus V was so that I could get rid of the endless bloatware that came with that phone.  So it’s not a deal breaker by any means.  I also learned a hard lesson.  I am a user of Quick Settings as it was handy, and FoxFi to turn my little phone into a wireless hotspot.  I didn’t know that Quick Settings also had hotspot capabilities.  However (comma), little did I know that using apps with hotspot capabilities would essentially destroy my new phone and disable it’s 3G capabilities.  I imagine that this is not an intended issue, but more or less an incompatibility.  So within a day, I had an error 67 popping up every minute or so.  Making my new Optimus Elite unusable.  Again, not a necessary feature.   Knowing how dealing with mobile support techs is far more painful than the folks at Best Buy, I opted to return my faulty phone for an exchange.

Now that I have the replacement, this phone is much faster, and has enormous amounts of space to use.  I simply moved my SD card from my old phone to my new one and now I’ve got space to burn.  I’m sure that I can go a very long time now before having to reset anything.  Other nifty bonuses include Flash support so I can use it surfing the net instead of using specific apps.  I’ve only had the phone a few days, but so far I’m very pleased with it.  Sadly, I still live in Redneck land, so my service is lacking but since I plan to relocate as soon as possible, there is no need to change services.  Besides I love my no contract way of life 🙂

Plus I can finally play my Earth and Legend.  If I used it on my old phone, it would be pretty much the only app I could have on it.  Thankfully those days are now over.  So far so good 🙂

Now, if only I can find a replacement app for Quick Settings as using the default settings system for Android 2.3.7 is a real clunky option.  However, I don’t want it to have any kind of wifi hotspot capabilities for fear of dorking up my current phone.  Suggestions are welcome in the comments here, facebook, google plus or you can email me.

I am a PC!

In this post, I’m going beyond all the things I’ve already covered repeatedly in my previous posts about Macs vs PCs.  Such as for $1800 it should come with something more than the goofy iMovie, Garage Band and iPhoto.  Like they could’ve tossed in some rip off of Office or their Pages crap at least to make it productive.  Not going to go into how I get more for less with a PC, or how much easier it is to find good freeware and open source software.  This post is going to be about the things I’ve had to deal with in the past six months that piss me off about Macs.  In so much as I’ve concluded that I will only keep my Mac around for reference and education, but I won’t be using it for day to day use.  This way I can actually get something accomplished.

File Associations

When Windows doesn’t know what to do with a file you’ve downloaded, however you know that it can be opened by a program you have installed; you can associate the file by it’s extension.  You simply right click it and choose “open” or “open with”.  Then browse to the appropriate program, put a check mark in “always use this program to open this kind of file”.   Bam, all files with that extension will open with the program in question in the future.

My example is a Shockwave Flash file ending in *.swf.  Normally I simply tell Windows to open the file with Firefox.  One time deal and I’m done.

On the Mac, it had a similar function.  It even had the check box to say remember this setting.  However, apparently Mac goes by file name in general.  So when I open one file such as “mymovie.swf” it does what I tell it to do and open in Firefox.  However, when I try “myothermovie.swf”, Mac goes stupid and doesn’t know to open it with Firefox.  I go back to the first file and it opens fine.  Thus telling me, I have to associate each and every file individually.  What a pain in the ass.

Just install Windows to play games

This is what I get told, when I complain about the lack of games for Mac.  If I wanted to spend another $100 to install Windows just so I can play games… Hey, I got an idea, why not just buy a Windows based gaming laptop and it will not only come with decent productive software, but it can play games too!  NO extra cost needed!  Plus, I’ll get all those nifty keys I love so much!  Like Insert, a proper Delete Key, Backspace, Home and End.  And when I get the whim to play said games, I won’t need to reboot.  Gee, that works out swell!

Dashboards and Widgets

The dashboard.  Just how useless is this thing?  So, if I want desktop widgets (or gadgets), I can only have them in this dashboard area.  Kind of negates the usefulness of being able to “glance” at the weather.  Instead I have to go or “swipe” my way to the dashboard to look at it.  The calculator widget.  So to the special dashboard to play with the calculator.  It’s just as fast to look through the apps menu, or dock it to the dock bar.  What Apple’s developers couldn’t figure out how to put them on the desktop like every other OS does?  Windows… Linux…  I’ve got a swipe motion for the dashboard, it’s my middle finger!

Uninstalling Software does not remove settings

This I’ve found can cause some issues if you want to remove a software by simply removing the app from the applications folder.  If you don’t show hidden files and go into the Library and rip out the applications settings, you may find yourself hurting when trying to reinstall the application.  I’ve only run into this a couple of times, but still what a hellacious pain the ass that is.  Guess there’s something to say about having an uninstaller for every program now isn’t there.

Crap Files

Macs love their crap files.  You can’t see them, they are hidden.  But if you want to zip up some files and shift them to your windows machine, you get a boatload of stupid files you didn’t see before.  Some zip programs for Mac can clean this up for you, but what the hell is all this mess for?  I’ve seen “thumbs.db” and “desktop.ini” on Windows, but not a huge mess of “._name of file.whatever”.  Plus these things can take a good sized chunk of space up too.  On a USB thumb drive, I found as much as 120mb of this nonsense.  Space I really needed as the thumb drive is nearly full as it is.  No matter how many times you remove them, just popping it in the Mac they all come back like a bad rash.

Cycling through open windows

Maybe there’s a trick I have yet to learn, but this confounds me too.  On Windows, if I have my email, my editor, my photo editor and several copies of my browser open, I can cycle through each open window by using ALT+TAB.  For me, it’s loads faster than “swiping”.  On the Mac, I can do similar with using OPTION+TAB.  However if I have several copies of the same program running (like the browser), it only goes the top most window for it and then on to the next program rather than opening up the next window of the browser.  If I want to change windows in the browser, I have to click on “window” and the sub-title of that window to get it to come forward.

There are other things that annoy me about the mac, mostly trivial.  It’s like a camel carrying straw though.  Sure each piece of straw is light and small, but pile enough of them on, and eventually you’ll reach “the straw that broke the camel’s back“.

…  The worst part is, I’ve had this damned Mac for over 6 months now, and I’m still paying it off.  Good thing I’ve chalked it up to an educational item, or I’d really be pissed off.  Wonder if they have a good resale value.  Then I could get a new Windows laptop and enough left over to make a decent size deposit in my savings account!  Owning a Mac is a lot like a relationship I’ve had.  Looks pretty, costs a lot, and if you want it to be productive, you’ll have to spend even more.  Then it clutters up your storage with useless crap.  Also, others seem to have more fun with it than you do.

Macs are what they are, and fit who feels comfortable with them.  Providing they have the pocketbook to afford it.  Plus all the extras they’ll need to buy.  For me, I am now and always have been a PC.

p.s. Linux lovers, I’ve tried that too, you can go through all my Mac posts, and replace the words Mac, OS X and Apple with Linux and have just about the exact same experience minus the cost.  Personally, I think Linspire had something going for ease of use and loads of software with super simple installations, but it apparently wasn’t enough as they got swallowed up and made to go away.  In any case, not going there again either.

Now to try out that Windows 8 Developers Preview.  See what all the fuss is about there.  I’m not getting my hopes up for it, but I can always just learn it and revert back to Windows 7.

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