Sunday, October 5, 2014

Smartphone notification overload

Years ago before I invested in a smartphone and still had the flip kind, Facebook and Twitter came along opening new lines of communication online.  When they first started (Twitter especially), smartphones were for the rich or uber-geeks, so FB and Twitter created notifications via email and text message to keep you in the loop when you were away from the computer.

I managed several pages on FB and accounts on Twitter, so I created both email and text notifications.  Now that I and practically everyone in the world have smartphones we have apps for both products which provide their own notifications.

Because I never went to their web sites anymore, I neglected to disable the email and text notifications and the result was notification overload.  I ignored it for several years, but decided to finally get rid of the duplicate notices.  It is pretty simple, but you have to go to the web sites to disable them.




I hope you find this article useful,

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Windows 10 Technical Preview

After Microsoft's worst Windows release ever, Windows 8, they are reverting back to the traditional desktop interface for Windows 10 for desktops and laptops.  More or less anyway.  The tile interface has been integrated into the Start menu which returned for this edition.

There are a couple of things to explain here.

Worst release ever?  What about Vista or Millennium Edition?  Although these releases were dogs, they didn't abandon the GUI and force everyone to use one designed for a small subset of devices.  Windows 8 was a knee jerk reaction to the invasion into phones and tablets by Apple and Google.  And while the tile interface worked well for handheld devices, forcing it on desktop users was just stupid.

Another thing: I abandoned daily use of the Start Menu a long time ago in favor of pinning all my frequently used apps to the Taskbar where they are always easily available.  So I disagree with most analysts that say removing the Start Menu was the reason Windows 8 failed.

So what happened to Windows 9 you ask?  In Microsoft's scrambling to recover from the Windows 8 disaster, they developed several updates to it and as with all corporations, much discussion followed about what to do with them (my speculation). Two were ultimately released as updates (8.1 and 8.1 Update 1).  What else can you do after releasing a botched product?  But Update 1 was most likely Windows 9 at one point.  They also debated releasing Windows 10 as Update 2 for 8.1.  In fact, references to it can be found in the preview.

This is an early beta release of Windows 10, so there is not enough there for me to justify releasing it as a new version of Windows yet.  But apparently there is more to come.  Let's just hope it is not features for the sake of features but rather genuine improvements to a reliable OS.

If you'd like to try it out, you'll have to join the Windows Insiders program.  You can run in it a virtual machine (VM) on your current computer.  I used this article to install it on mine.


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Do NOT automatically install Windows updates!

This seems like a good time to remind everyone not to let Windows automatically install updates.  I set it to download them automatically and install them when I am ready.  I usually wait a week or so to ensure there are no problems like Microsoft's latest batch, then install them.  This month, Microsoft had already pulled the problem updates before I installed them.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Windows 7 versus 8 or 8.1

I wrote a blog post a couple of years ago about Windows 8 Preview, but never published it.  Today I deleted it since many people on Windows 7 now and 8.1 was released last year.  If you are using anything less than Windows 7, upgrade to it immediately.  My recommendation is to backup your data files, then perform a clean (or fresh) install so you don't drag old problems forward by upgrading.  There are plenty of other sites that will cover how to do that.  Just upgrade.

But why not Windows 8/8.1?  If you have a Windows phone or tablet, you already have a version of Windows 8.  That's as it should be since they are finger friendly devices and Windows 8.x is a finger-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) originally called Metro.  But for a desktop or laptop without a touch screen?  Why bother?  Yes, there are plenty of enhancements beyond the GUI, but the "Metro" GUI is beyond frustrating.  I use it on a regular basis, so I' not just a nay-sayer.  In fact, I've forced myself to use it for over two years.

The only way it is usable is to click on the Desktop tile to get to a normal desktop.  Then it is still maddening to get to all the tools you used before 8.x.  I pin all my frequently used apps icons to the taskbar so that they are always visible and just a click away.  Windows 8.1 added the option to boot straight to the desktop, so naturally that is what I do.  It also adds Close buttons on Metro apps like all the app windows you are used to.

Microsoft has finally come to terms with their bone-headed decision to force Metro on everyone and the next version of Windows 9 promises to be more like Windows 7 with a traditional desktop design.  We shall see if it is worth the upgrade.  There are rumors Microsoft will issue a preview edition as they have in the past.

But really, Windows 8 and later should all be free or extremely low cost upgrades for desktops or laptops as penance for Microsoft's mistake.  They owned the desktop world and then gave their customers a reason to explore their competitors offerings.  First because of their slow response to viruses and malware, then Metro.  Remember when you got your first copy of Windows?  It was probably 3.1 or 95 and you got it free because there was no license control.  Microsoft should give away Windows 9 to re-establish their desktop market share.