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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The toy that destroyed the world

Commodore 64, VIC-casing but with C64C-coloring.
Commodore 64 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are few things which alone could destroy this world besides atomic bombs and disease and even one of those is within our capability to be rendered  harmless. It is all about intention. Many years ago I purchased my first personal computer, a Commodore Vic 20, a very basic machine with less memory than a modern-day credit card! After a while I upgraded to a Commodore 64 but even that machine was very limited by today’s standards. The only great advance regarding computers at the time was that they had shrunk in size, they were far smaller than their predecessors and could now perhaps become a useful domestic device. Well that certainly happened as we all know. With each passing year the personal computer has gone from strength to strength. It was only with the introduction of The Internet though that the computer came into its own. Many households can now connect to the world in which we live, something only dreamt about years ago. It was around 1982 I bought that Vic 20 and two years later the 64. I had been attending a Methodist church at the time though I wasn’t at that time a Christian. That came in 1989. One day I had occasion to visit the then vicar of the church as I remember to help with a small electrical problem and the subject of computers entered our conversation. I always remember his reaction, ‘They are just toys’, he said. He was so right but I had yet to learn that. Toys they may be but they are powerful and have the capability to destroy the world if miss-used. Therein lies the problem. Because human beings are in control of their manufacture and use there is always the danger they will be used for all the wrong reasons. That is already happening and is slowly becoming a giant-sized problem to the world. Technological advancement has a down side and can be used against us in many ways. What does the future hold for us all if we have to rely on computers in order to live out our lives? Inevitably computers will control everything we do……..all we think, earn, spend, purchase will be recorded and can be manipulated. Should we buy into it all or does our conscience tell us to beware? To me it smacks of the ‘mark of the beast’ as described in Revelations………….you decide.

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

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

Windows 10

English: Windows in Hukvaldy castle
Windows in Hukvaldy castle (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Over the years I have had many problems with my computers, most of which were minor or reasonably minor and were resolved fairly easily. Not many of those problems were due to the operating system in use, Windows XP and Windows 7, my last two. I was encouraged to try the new Windows 10 system, similar to its immediate predecessor Windows 8 but supposedly with improvements and best of all it was on offer for free. How could I resist? I took the bait and well, everything seemed okay, any minor glitches were automatically sorted out but since using the system I have experienced quite a number of problems. Windows 10 isn’t as great as they might like us to think it is. I get the screen freezing up and programs ceasing to work, cursor disappearing, computer start-up very slow at times yet alright at other times. This appears to be due to update activity, especially when the machine is first switched on in the morning. Windows 10 seems to be unstable at times. I run routine maintenance every day, clearing away temporary files and updating the security program but I have no control over Windows updating itself as it is set to do that automatically. It could be switched to manual updating if I chose to do that but then I might miss important updates. I switched off the computer one evening (Sunday) recently and there were no problems. When I switched it on the following morning the machine had problems. The machine became unstable yet again and I found I couldn’t get programs to respond. One of the worse things is when the cursor is very slow in responding but mostly that is because the computer is busy doing other things like updating itself. I also discovered that the list of installed applications wasn’t showing when the icon was clicked upon and neither was the start-up panel where short-cuts can be stored. I noticed also that one of the tray items was missing. I could still use the machine but these inconveniences made it more difficult when doing certain tasks. Microsoft help pages are all on the Internet with directions often to private companies offering help for a fee of course. There is little or no help to be found within the Windows 10 program itself so for someone who isn’t technologically experienced any problems can prove to be a nightmare. Think about the elderly who use these systems but haven’t a clue what to do when things go wrong. I have some experience but I wouldn’t say that my limited knowledge is of much help with many of the issues I am faced with occasionally. Windows 10 could be better, it should be better and there should be some mechanism by which simple problems can be quickly resolved. Microsoft (and other companies) should not abrogate their responsibilities and leave the problem solving to their customers to sort out. My recommendations? Well at the moment I might say throw the computer in the trash bin! Obviously I won’t be doing that but it proves one thing and that is like it or leave it we are now lumbered with them and the problems they sometimes cause. The computer, the Internet might have their good sides but their bad sides can be done without and them not working as they should is one of them. Bring back the quill!

 

Update : I took it in for a check up and decided to get a reinstalled copy of Windows 10.

 

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

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

Nice surprise

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

I was sitting with my computer this morning (Monday) waiting for ‘Windows‘ to load up. Most times I leave the computer in sleep mode but occasionally I shut it down altogether. Even though it had been left in sleep mode it was taking some time to open. I see a lot of activity from the little disc monitor LED whilst it is doing the housework but this time I noticed an unfamiliar icon in the start-up tray on the right hand side and it is still there as I write this in the afternoon. When the opportunity arose I clicked on the icon to see what it was. It was an invitation from Microsoft Corp. to download the new version of Windows, that is Windows 10. They plan to make it free for anyone who wants to use it. I followed the instructions on the screen to register my interest by leaving my email. That was stage one. Stage two will take place when the program becomes available. When that will be I am not sure but when it happens the download will be free. Now that is a nice surprise. I learned about this offer from Microsoft some months ago and I was wondering if and when it would happen. It appears they have set the ball rolling so hopefully I shall be using Windows 10 in the near future, presently I am.using Windows 7 which I have found to be one of their better versions and have had no problems with it. I do hope their latest version is as good as they say it is but only time will reveal that though from what reports I have heard it is the best yet by far. About a year ago or more I purchased Windows 8 for E to use on her machine as she was at that time using Windows Vista and was having untold problems with it. Version 8 is a good version I will admit but I was never tempted to buy it for my computer as version 7 has proven to have met all of my needs. Many of the features on version 8 would have been wasted on me. Version 10 evidently has even more features so I am wondering now if I will be tempted to use them. In any case as long as the new version is at least a good as version 7 I will be happy.

Shirley Anne

I hate my computer

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

My computer has a mind of its own. I’m sure I’m not the only one in the world who gets frustrated with her machine. Over the last couple of days I have been wrestling with my computer’s strange behaviour. Windows did an automatic update which took over an hour to complete. If Windows was a better system we wouldn’t need updates so often would we? I do realise there are issues regarding Internet security that need to be addressed and also the occasional improvements to the program but when I look at the update history it is very long indeed! I am currently using Windows 7 Home Premium which, knowing Microsoft will be superceded by a new version of Windows in the not too distant future. I believe Windows 8 is already being trialed in fact. I wonder how much better it will be? I have to admit that over the years there have been many improvements in the Windows programs with each one generally better than it’s predecessor, except for a couple of versions that didn’t seem to make the grade, like Vista for instance. Anyhow, back to my computer. I found that after the last update my computer began having some problems, specifically with my blog site. At first I thought the problem was with Windows because when I placed my site as the home page it wouldn’t work. For a few years now I have been using this blog as my home page, mostly for convenience, although I have many web sites stored in my favourites bar folders which are displayed at the top of the screen and are just as easy to access. With that in mind I place my blog url in there with them but it made no difference when I used it. The problem I realised wasn’t with Windows but with WordPress. I could get the page by writing it in the browser bar but when I tried to sign in I kept getting ‘Internet Explorer cannot display this site’ messages. Eventually I could get to my site’s dashboard but then found I couldn’t navigate elsewhere on the site or if I did I had to do it after many attempts. All other web sites were readily accessible. I verified that the problem wasn’t with my computer at all after I attempted to access it from E’s computer. The problem had to lie with WordPress. As I write this everything is back to normal but I am waiting for something else to go wrong. Computers are great when they work and programs are great if they work! On occasion I get disconnected from the Internet because either my router is playing up or the traffic is too heavy. Generally I don’t have a problem but it is annoying when I get disconnected whilst in the middle of doing something. We have yet to get fibre-optic cables at local level but I know BT is working on it gradually improving the system for everyone. In the meantime we have to suffer the limitations of copper wire. My connection speed is quite high actually but nowhere near as it would be if the system were fully upgraded. I don’t really hate my computer, which is actually very good. It is an Aspire 8943G with an i7 Intel processor and many other great features.

Shirley Anne