Manipulation

Heteroptera, digital manipulation
Heteroptera, digital manipulation (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Three days ago I posted an entry called ‘Finally’ regarding the removal of the X Box app. from my Windows 10 machine in which I expressed my joy in finally getting it removed. If you didn’t know then you do now, that I do not play computer games and don’t want them sitting on my machines taking up space. With today’s new computers apps. or to give them their proper name, applications, are widely used and form the main way of using the computer. In real terms apps. are merely items of code or programs which perform a particular task or tasks when called to do so. Every computer that was ever built uses programs of one size, shape or form in order to work. Apps. are merely small programs which sit on the machine which can be called upon at the flick of a finger. Not all apps. are useful to everyone and some might say many of them are pretty useless, it all depends upon the user. For myself I have no need for most of the possible uses offered by computers and therefore do not need the many different programs now called apps. on new machines. On this machine which is running Windows 7 there are an extremely few ‘special’ programs, ones which I have personally downloaded for some particular task. I simply have no need for them. On my other machine however, the one running Windows 10, it is a different story. I bought the machine two years ago mainly because I thought it would be good to have a back-up to this machine. It came with pre-loaded apps. of course but once I’d used the machine a few times I realised that most of them would never be used by myself. I did at that time uninstall many of them, at least those which could be uninstalled for there remain a few which cannot unless, as I mentioned in the previous post, they are removed using code. Today, which is May 2nd, I updated my Windows 10 version or rather it was done automatically. It took quite some time to download and install though again it was all done automatically. When I opened the desktop I saw that many new apps. had been added and not one of them I will ever use. There were six games and other apps. such as Skype and Netflix and a couple of Windows accessories and they all got deleted. The thing was that each time I deleted a game and returned to the computer minutes later more had been put on my machine! This to me is another example of how we in the west are being groomed and manipulated into using computers more and more in our lives. Technology is advancing so much so that it will be difficult to avoid it in years to come. Windows 10 or Microsoft (amongst others) are encouraging us to use our voices to switch on applications and even order them online using our voice. It is already in the home through devices that can be asked questions (connecting to online search engines) and other devices which switch on appliances or lighting. Do we live on The USS Enterprise? Those fictional  capabilities are becoming more the reality. Oh and don’t mention reality, there will be a day when many will prefer the world of the computer images over the real thing if we are not careful.

English: Footpath at Coveyden near Sevenoaks. ...
Footpath at Coveyden near Sevenoaks. The local people call this area “Coveyden”. The footpath passes by Apps Hollow, which used to be called Apps Bottom and then on past Whitley Forest ending at the B2042 road alongside The Woodman public house. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Escape from reality will be the norm! What is wrong with us that we need so much technology to feel life worthwhile? Those driving this world through technological advances will one day have us all under their control……..if we let them. This is very much the thin end of a huge wedge, believe me.

Shirley Anne

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Finally

Xbox Live logo since 2005
Xbox Live logo since 2005 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No, I am not referring to my project this time, though that isn’t far off completion. In fact the only thing that requires to be done on that at this point (time of writing) is painting the floor and we purchased the paint to do that yesterday, that is Saturday 28. Also yesterday I was finally able to get X Box removed from my Windows 10 computer. The machine I am using to write this is my Windows 7 machine. Not being versed in computer operating system code language I was unable to remove it myself though I know it is very simple to do. All that is required is to write a short line of code and execute it but of course it is knowing what to write. Many years ago I could write in Basic or Assembly language and became quite good at it but I never studied machine code and any other computer languages, it wasn’t necessary. So my knowledge is very limited when it comes to anything to do with writing code. Ever since I purchased the machine, which is now over two years ago, I have wanted the X Box application and others removed from it. Microsoft in their infinite wisdom elected to pre-install many ‘apps’ and for me most would never get used so what is the point in having them on the machine taking up space? Some of the applications could and have been removed by myself but some require the use of ‘Power Shell’ to remove them. Power Shell being the program which gives access to the operating system language. The computer has the Power Shell application pre-installed for anyone who wants to use it and knows how. Anyway I chose to contact Microsoft and have them remove X Box for me. That meant allowing the engineer to access and control my computer remotely. He removed the program in a matter of seconds but it had taken me quite some time to have reached that point having been side-tracked through being connected to the wrong department. Ah well, it is done now. When I use the Windows 10 machine it is infrequent and very basic, much in the same way I use the Windows 7 machine. Everything else computers can do doesn’t interest me, I have no use for them, especially playing games.

Shirley Anne

The good…….

The blue 'three triangles' logo, which station...
The blue ‘three triangles’ logo, which stations have to display, identifies approved MOT test stations. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

……the bad and the ugly. To be truthful Monday presented me with the good, a wee bit of the bad but none of the ugly. Come to think of it there is no such thing as the ugly. If we are talking about people every one is beautiful…..in their own way (sounds like a song), we are all God‘s creatures. Monday was the day I took my van in for a service and an MOT test. The appointment was for eight-thirty but as usual with me I arrived almost thirty minutes early. It didn’t matter as some of the staff were there. I left them to get on with it and took the mile and a half, well a little bit short of that, walk into the town centre. I had a large sum of money to deposit. I arrived there half an hour earlier than the bank opens its doors so I popped into ‘Nero’s‘ for a large latte and waited. Although the weather forecast was for rain it remained dry until mid-afternoon but by that time I was at home again. I made the deposit and then did some browsing in a department store looking at clothes. Whilst in there the service station called me to verify the level of service I had asked for. The MOT test had by that time been completed and my vehicle had passed the test. It wouldn’t take long for them to complete the service so I made plans to walk back but first I had some more browsing to do. The service station is located on one of the main trunk-roads out-of-town where  several large stores are located. Before calling at the service station I visited two of the stores, the second of which was an electrical appliance and computer outlet, ‘Currys‘, part of the ‘Carphone Warehouse Group‘. I called in to ask about a problem I was having with my Windows 10 laptop which won’t connect to the Internet even though there isn’t a problem with the adapter. It recognises the router and connects to it. Apparently it is a Windows 10 program fault. The odd thing is I had been on-line using the machine the previous night! As I seldom use the machine there was no urgency in solving the problem. My main machine runs Windows 7 which in my estimation is far superior and gives me no problems whatsoever. Anyway while in the store I browsed the fridge and fridge/freezer stock and immediately saw the fridge/freezer I would buy if the one I mentioned in yesterday’s post doesn’t improve. It was time to get to the service station to collect the van. It had cost £40 for the MOT test and £85 for the service. I was happy enough with the charge and paid up. I didn’t drive home though, instead I drove to the pub and treated myself to a meal. So everything was good. I have been keeping a close eye on the flowerbeds at home looking for bluebells appearing and when I finally got home I saw a few in different places in the front garden. Soon after I had gotten indoors to change my clothes and put on my overalls I went into the front garden and dug out those I had seen. I went into the rear garden and likewise saw a few more dotted about here and there so dug those out too. That was the bad part of my day but it is something I am going to have to do for quite some time yet.

Shirley Anne

What a day

Windows 7 build 7600
Windows 7 build 7600 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Wednesday was one of those days you wished never happened. I went to do a small job for a couple I have worked for a few times. It was simply to replace two plastic three-gang (that is three switches on the same plate) lighting switches with metal ones. The job was a nightmare task but eventually it got sorted. I missed out on an early lunch and decided to call in to the electrical retail store to see if they had repaired my old laptop which I had given them two weeks ago. If my readers will remember I had trouble with Windows 10 and the machine I was told possibly also needed a new C drive. As it happened the machine checked out okay and didn’t need a new drive but unfortunately they had to uninstall Windows 10 as it kept crashing. I had thought the machine was comparable for use with Windows 10 but someone passing a comment in one of my related posts had suggested it might not be. He was right! They apologised for having to install Windows 7 but I told them that actually I was going to ask them to do that anyway whether Windows 10 could have remained or not. I was so glad they had reinstalled Windows 7. I asked how much the service charge had cost me but they told me they were not going to levy a charge. Originally they suggested it would cost £50 so that was a nice surprise. However I had the daunting task of updating Windows 7 and reinstalling the several other programs I commonly use on my computers, Firefox and Chrome browsers, Zemanta, Trusteer Rapport and Norton security. I had to buy a new copy of Norton as the current one couldn’t accept another computer for protection. However I will investigate that later as it should protect three machines. The program doesn’t know that the repaired machine is actually one of those three machines, it is just that everything got wiped when they erased Windows 10! I had spent hours setting things back as they were before but still have the problem of not being able to preview my document library so I don’t know where anything is! I was able to restore all my photos though but will have to arrange them in folders as I had them before. If anyone was to ask me what I thought about Windows 10 I would most definitely tell them to stick with what they have and leave Windows 10 alone. It is a pain the proverbial to be honest and has created many problems for those who have had the misfortune to download it. The many viewable feedback comments from other users tell the tale and there are hundreds of them. So now I have two machines, this one on which I am writing this post is using Windows 7 and the new one which is running Windows 10. I will let you guess which one I prefer. One good thing about Windows 7 is that is doesn’t interfere with the Acer dedicated sound and vision controls for watching movies or playing back music as Windows 10 had done.

Shirley Anne

Testing my patience

English: Acer Aspire 8920 (with 18.4 inch scre...
Acer Aspire 8920 (with 18.4 inch screen) showing its desktop on Windows 7. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Having purchased a new laptop computer I had to spend a few hours setting the damned thing up, installing preferred software programs and re-installing saved documents, files and pictures and such. However as is usual with these things nothing ever goes smoothly does it? Eventually, after much frustration I had everything in place but there are still a couple of snags to sort out like being able to actually see the file titles for instance as they were when they were saved. There is no pre-view so I cannot find anything even though it is there. With the picture files they can be opened by the Windows platform but when it comes to searching by title I haven’t been able to discover how I can do that. Why don’t saved files just get replaced as they should appear in the viewing pane, with their titles? No doubt there is a simple way of doing this but I have yet to find out how, you see I am no computer whizz-kid. For me computers are a means to an end and as clever as they are (they’re not actually clever) they can be a pain in the proverbial if one doesn’t know how to solve their every little quirk. Anyway I am sure I will find a way through the jungle and find that clearing eventually.

The machine itself is a Hewlett-Packard Envy (what a weird name) with the same i7 technology as my Acer which is currently still in the workshop hopefully getting repaired. This machine however has a 1TB storage capability whereas the Acer has only 500GB. The higher the available RAM the faster the processing as there is more space with which the machine can work and that means things happen faster on the screen, not that I would notice the difference! I am of course still trying to get used to the slightly different keyboard and touch pad.

Every new machine comes with pre-installed software which is usually not always used by the buyer. Mine came with a different Internet security program to my preferred one, with whom I have a contract which is automatically renewed each year and charged to my bank account. I had to install it. I use Norton 360. I use Firefox for my browser and have Chrome as a back-up so I had to install them too. Then I had to reinstall Trusteer Rapport, Zemanta and Last Pass and it all takes time. I also had to de-clutter the start menu and taskbar from all the useless short-cuts that Microsoft had placed there. I also had to register, set up passwords and other things whilst fending off pop-up screens inviting me to answer a couple of short surveys by the purveyors of some of the software I had subscribed to. I didn’t receive the machine until ten-thirty on Monday morning and it was around five o’clock by the time I had most of the set-up completed. This is the annoying part of buying a new machine but I will have to do it all again, well some of it, when and if I get my other machine repaired.

Did I say I hate technology?

Shirley Anne

Madness

One Step Beyond...
One Step Beyond… (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Did I mention I hate computers? In this day and age they have become more a necessity than a real need, I never wanted a computer in order to do the many things that can be done with them but when they first came on to the market (way back in 1980 for me) I bought one as a novelty. I had no idea of their potential at that time though I did learn to write basic programs that helped my children to grasp spelling and simple arithmetic which was useful. I remember a time around 1985 when ‘CompuServe‘ had a program whereby purchases could be made through the computer. It was a beginning but not the beginning of the present day Internet. I have seen many stages of development since those days. I last purchased a computer, a laptop, over eight years ago I think, it is the one I am using to write this. The model is an ‘Acer Aspire‘ fitted with i7 processors which far exceeded those available today many of which only use i3 or i5 technology. I’d have thought many more would be using i7 processors by now but it seems not. The idea was to buy something that was future proof to some extent. Well the machine itself has been excellent though probably never used to its fullest capability. It has a wide 17″ screen too which is useful for watching movies. When originally bought it was using ‘Windows XP‘, a really good platform which I found easy to use but then I switched to ‘Windows 7′. It was equally as good and easy to use and after a time I thought it to be an improvement. A couple of months ago I downloaded the ‘Windows 10’ platform which has proven to be somewhat of a problem. Many programs wouldn’t work with it and the computer itself has been affected by the new software which has overridden some of its built-in features such as the Cinema Graphic function. This is a manual function for use when in Cinema mode which enables various control setting adjustments. They are no longer functional. It appears Microsoft programs are deemed better. Perhaps. The signing in procedures are all messed up too and once or twice the computer has hung up during the sign-in process, in fact the computer has frozen on a number of occasions necessitating a re-boot each time. On Saturday afternoon I spent almost two hours trying to get the computer to allow me access because of a software glitch and during the same time Windows 10 was updating and requesting a re-boot as were one or two other software programs too. When the opportunity arose to sign in I was presented with a sign-in screen for Microsoft but there was no cursor and no means to make it appear. After repeatedly re-booting and getting nowhere I began to get thoughts of approaching the computer with a claw hammer in order to beat it’s brains out but I resisted the temptation. Instead, I asked E if she could have a look and maybe spot something I hadn’t noticed. After a couple of similar failures to my own she hit a couple of keys to end the madness and I was in! Those keys were Control (CTRL) and ‘End’ (Top right on the numbers pad). No other combination had proven to end what seemed to be an endless loop in the programming. I gave her a hug but even she didn’t know how it had succeeded. I hate computers.

Shirley Anne

Sometimes wonder

Norton 360 version 1.0 box art
Norton 360 version 1.0 box art (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I had more trouble with my computer on Friday afternoon specifically with Firefox not running the Norton Toolbar. I couldn’t even set the toolbar for it had been removed from the Firefox options! This has happened a couple of times since I installed Windows 10 but it wasn’t Windows 10 that was causing the problem, neither was it Firefox, it lay with Norton. Well in fact some registry files had either been corrupted or had not been removed or overwritten when the last Norton update took place. Norton 360 had to be updated a couple of times when Firefox was updated and Firefox had to be updated to accommodate Windows 10. Now wouldn’t you know it, Windows 10 has had a couple of updates since it was installed too! No wonder things go pear-shaped. It would have been a simple matter to re-enable the Norton Toolbar under normal circumstances but are there ever any normal circumstances with computers? I chose to connect with the Symantec (Norton) team in India for yet another session with them taking control of my computer remotely in order to put things right. I had by this time tried all the obvious things to effect a repair but to no avail. The session started off quite normally and I watched the agent move my cursor all over the screen trying to find the problem. In fact the agent was going over the same ground as I had done but not once or even twice, they must have gone over the same ground six or seven times. I watched in disbelief for the agent was going round in circles. I began to wonder if they knew what they were doing. I use the term ‘they’ for I could not determine the gender of the person from the name on the screen, it was an Indian name of course and well, I am not knowledgeable when it comes to Indian names. Finally the agent decided to do a rigorous scan and after making a restore point stripped four items from the computers registry. The computer had to be restarted three times during the session and of course I had to remain with it to open it up each time. In the process of updating Norton, which was done three or four times but in actual fact could have been done only the once had the agent approached the problem correctly in the first place, I lost two extensions to Firefox. One was ‘Last Pass’ and the other ‘Zemanta‘ both of which I use every time I go online. The session was about to end and I had to remind the agent to re-instate them both so an attempt was made but during the process I had to take control of the cursor myself to show the agent how to do it! I had already spent eighty minutes with the agent trying to solve the problem and I didn’t want to spend another twenty minutes waiting for the agent to hit the right keys! Finally I thanked the agent for the help that I had received but at the same time wondered if they had known what they were doing half the time. The computer is working fine, Firefox is working fine and I am still out with the jury over Windows 10 though it seems to be working fine at the present. My other browser Chrome is fine, I won’t use Microsoft Edge at the moment because of the lack of allowable extensions it has. Norton works well, when it is working properly that is! And it is at the moment, finally!

Shirley Anne

Lots of oddities

Mahjong Titans
Mahjong Titans (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If I didn’t know any better I might suggest that Microsoft’s new Windows 10 is an underhanded way to persuade users to only use their products because the way it has been set up makes it difficult to use other services. Some programs need upgrading in order to continue to work with the Windows 10 platform and the new ‘Edge‘ browser refuses to accept many, if not all, foreign-sourced extensions and add-ons. Instead of attracting users to the new system they run the risk of driving them away or not having any interest at all. Until the program has been downloaded new users are not aware of possible resulting problems. I discovered that I could no longer play Solitaire or Mahjong Titans as I used to do occasionally for those free programs and others are not available on Windows 10 and everything has to be paid for by importing them from Microsoft’s Store. That is a little mean in my estimation for these free programs have for years been part of each new version of the platform. Now of course they could argue that Windows 10 is free so paying for the games is a reasonable request but Windows 10 is only going to be free for a short period after which it will have to be purchased. Microsoft won’t lose out in the least for they get their revenue elsewhere. I lost the only purchased game I had which wouldn’t work with Windows 10. When I look at the overall advantages of Windows 10 over the previous versions of Windows I am of the opinion that they are few. They have opted to place an irremovable program or two on the system, one being X-Box to encourage buying games from them too! The start menu box can be populated with icons for applications regularly used but if many are placed into the box, which can be expanded, it becomes so cluttered it makes finding applications difficult. That to me is self-defeating. The personal assistant called ‘Cortana‘ can get to ‘know’ you so that it can predict your intentions. Even your voice can be recognised and learned! This might be suitable for some but I don’t want my computer to know or predict my every move or desires, even if browsing the Internet looking for something. It is similar to predictive texts on a phone, I hate them too! Not that I actually use texting. I prefer speaking to people and certainly don’t want to end up speaking to my computer in order to get things done. If I speak to my computer it is usually to curse it for not working properly! There is an old joke about a new rail service whose trains are all controlled by computers. Passengers boarding are warmly greeted with a message which says, ‘Good morning to all our travellers. Welcome aboard our new train. You will find the seating extremely comfortable and your surroundings are all controlled by our new computer to make the journey as comfortable as possible. There is no driver for this train as the computer is all that is needed to get you to your destination safely. There is no need for concern, the computer is extremely reliable and nothing can go wrong, go wrong, go wrong, go….’
They can’t even get PC’s working properly! What makes you think I am not impressed with modern technology?

Shirley Anne

The whole morning!


Embed from Getty Images

Fun, games and frustrations but eventual success, only because of the person who was of real assistance to me. I am of course, in case you didn’t know, referring to my experiences with the new version of Windows, Windows 10. If my readers have read yesterday’s post and especially one or two of the related articles at the bottom of the post, you will understand what I am about to write. I knew it would happen, it always does, that whenever a new program is installed on my computer (or anyone else’s computer for that matter) there are always issues of one sort or another. The authors of Windows 10 down at Microsoft are ultimately responsible or should I say irresponsible for the disruption of the status quo. For some time now I have been enjoying using Windows 7 with Firefox and my security program Norton 360 but only after resolving compatibility issues with each. That was simple to do and all it took was to update the programs so they would all work in harmony. Then along came the promised, substantially improved version of Windows, Windows 10. Although it is a great version with some extra programs not previously available and innovations which, according to Microsoft, will improve and enhance our experiences both on and off-line, it did come with compatibility issues. Perhaps I should have upgraded Firefox and Norton before I upgraded Windows. Well in fact I did upgrade Firefox but in doing so I lost Norton’s compatibility with it. I also found that Norton 360 wasn’t updating as normal and in fact wasn’t working at all. Fortunately Windows 10’s firewall was in use to stave off unwanted viruses and such like. Now the real problems started for I had to uninstall Norton 360 and then reinstall it, or rather the updated version of it which would be compatible with Firefox and Windows 10. This is where the fun started and the frustrations too. Following the instructions as best I could I was not able to locate the page for reinstalling the program. Uninstalling it was not problem but first I had to download the special tool for doing it. I am thinking at this stage why wasn’t the tool already installed as part of the package? No matter. I uninstalled the program and for the love of me couldn’t find how to reinstall it no matter how I tried. I was returned to the same pages time after time going around in circles. Even using the help desk I couldn’t find how to do it. I was directed to pages wanting me to pay for the program and none asked if I was an existing customer that could be directed to the right pages. For more than an hour I tried to help myself but to no avail so I eventually connected to a Norton representative in a chat room. I asked if they could install the new version of Norton 360 for me and they were only too pleased to do so. After passing me a code number which I pasted into the relevant page they were able to take control of my computer. I simply sat back and watched them and followed any requests they asked of me. In about twenty minutes or so everything was done and more, as they even made sure that Norton was properly added to the Firefox extension list and that it worked. I can say that Norton’s on-line personal support through their chat facility is first-class and it is such a shame that their help pages are so difficult to use. I remember using their chat room aid once before and wasn’t disappointed then. Last year when I wrote about problems using Firefox, which were resolved by Firefox, I mentioned that everything was going smoothly but that no doubt something down line would upset the apple cart. It invariably does. At this point in time I am continuing to use Firefox’s browser because Windows Edge won’t allow extensions such as Norton, Rapport and Last Pass, all of which I use and all of which run on Chrome and Firefox. Come on Microsoft, get your finger out!

Shirley Anne

Weird Saturday

Windows 1.0, the first version, released in 1985
Windows 1.0, the first version, released in 1985 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A couple of months ago I wrote about registering my interest in Microsoft’s Windows 10 with a view to receiving the free download. I waited patiently to be notified when it would be available so that I could download it. On Friday I clicked on the already present icon to see what would happen and the screen opened up which showed it was ready to download. Microsoft actually uploaded files automatically before notifying that it was ready and from what I gather they do it in the background whilst the computer is in use. I clicked on the button to start the download and carried on doing something else but after an hour it was still apparently not finished. I restarted the computer and tried again for the second time with the same result. Finally after three attempts I gave up. On Saturday morning I tried again and to my amazement the download began. Some time later I checked to see what was happening and the download had only reached 20%. I had to leave the machine running for someone had called me out to do a job for them. It was a couple of hours before I returned home and the program had finished but I had to stay with the machine to respond to the screen prompts. The program warns that the computer will restart a few times during the installation and of course prompts have to be answered. Even when the program had completely installed it kept me waiting whilst it made some adjustments. I don’t know if any of my readers have Windows 10 or have experience of it but it looks very interesting and has many new applications to, they say, make browsing the Internet a better experience. Time will decide that claim. I have not delved too far into Windows 10 capabilities but already I have found that certain extensions and add-ons are not usable on ‘Edge’, Microsoft’s new browser so for instance signing in to favourite sites has to be done manually and I assume the information is then saved for the next time. I use Last Pass and sometimes Norton 360 to auto-sign me in to my sites but they are not on Windows 10 extensions. As I write this I am using the Firefox browser to allow that to happen. Another thing I noticed was that my favourites bar isn’t displayed but has to be opened elsewhere and many sites and files are kept in unusual places, all stored together. That I don’t mind but many of them are history and are no longer in use. It seems too complicated to use in certain areas but I suppose that is a matter of getting familiar with it. As I say, I haven’t delved into the programs’ full capabilities as yet so there will be days ahead when I shall be metaphorically pulling my hair out in frustration I suppose. There are some aspects of the program I will never use and I have already set some of my preferences in that respect. More no doubt will follow. Most of my day therefore was spent either at work or messing about on my machine but I had some respite, cooking my dinner and spending an hour or so out on the patio whilst the evening sun was shining.

Shirley Anne