Archive for the ‘Windows’ category

New Laptop

September 13, 2018

Well on Tuesday my new laptop arrived from HP. Ordered on Sept. 1, arrives on Sept. 11. I requested priority shipping. The website said 2-4 days for extra $40. I hate to think what regular, non-priority shipping was like.

The laptop is an HP Spectre series with 15″ screen, 8Gb of Memory and 500Gb Solid State drive. Old computer was also HP but with 13″ screen. I still get my employee purchase discount which is about $250 off the price.

So it arrived by FedEx. I had to sign for it which was to be expected. After all, the box says “Intel Inside” which translates into English as “Steal Me”. They tried to deliver on Monday, but no one home. I told the driver that you said it was going be delivered on Tuesday so I wasn’t going to be home all day Monday. Driver tried to deliver during the 1.5 hour that I was out.

So the laptop has 2 USB-C ports, 1 USB-A port (the old fashioned kind) and a HDMI port to connect an auxiliary monitor. Also, it has headphone port and power connector.

I’ve been setting it up over the past few days. Took over an hour for the first boot and load of Windows 10. I had considered buying a Mac, but decided that it would have cost me over $1000 more to get a Mac laptop similarly configured.

First steps were to download the Dropbox app and login and find my files that were stored in the cloud. Then loaded Chrome browser from Google. Logged into Google and magically all of my web shortcuts reappeared. I was impressed.

Then logged in to Microsoft and downloaded MS Office. I have subscription to MS Office, so no additional fees.

Next, I was looking for a PDF editor. First try was PDF Suite. They added a couple of other utilities that I thought might be useful, but when I tried to load them. Loader says “Virus Detected”. Not good. The loaded the PDF editor. That didn’t go well either. App locks the file and prevents my ability to change file name. Support person argues no viruses. I tell her if Windows says virus on my computer, then it doesn’t get installed, PERIOD.

Call support and tell them I want money back. She tries to get my to take 50% discount. No dice, I tell her. I want 100% back. I stood firm and said I want 100% back. Eventually I got my way. Received email confirming refund. Will need to check credit card account to see if the refund was really done.

I found another PDF App called PDF Pro 10. Works much better. Two major things that I do with this app. First is to reorient pages from portrait to landscape. Second is to delete pages that I really don’t need to save.

Next step is to get copy of NoteWorthy. This is an app for editing sheet music. I have been using this for about 8 years. Email to support with license info. They immediately sent me a link to download the app. No muss, no fuss, no money. Happy customer. For anyone that does any work with sheet music, this is a great app.

Next step was to install drivers for audio interface that I use at MA Grand Chapter OES and the Mixcraft recording app. All set for next May.

Final step was to download HP software to connect to my HP printer. This allows me to scan files directly to my laptop. Connect to HP support site. No fee.

BSOD Final Chapter

September 1, 2018

Well, I received the recovery thumb drive from HP. I managed to boot the drive okay. But only got 20% into the recovery before the process came to a halt with a fatal error.

Called HP support. Support guy said would have to ship the laptop to repair center for repair. Estimated cost was going to be about $400. My guess that it’s the hard drive.

I told him I would get back to him on repair. I figured that for not much more than $400 I could get a new laptop that was better, faster, cheaper. (Well, maybe not cheaper).

Looked at Mac’s but would cost at least double what a comparable Windows laptop would cost.

Ships tomorrow. I’ll post pictures when I receive it.



BSOD Update

August 30, 2018

Still dead but making progress. I talked to nice fellow in India this afternoon about the problem. He was very helpful. He walked me through running diagnostics.

So the hard drive and memory are fine. He offered the link for downloading the recovery disk. I told him that wouldn’t work because I had no other computer (other than my iPad) to create the thumb drive.

So he ordered up a recovery thumb drive for me. Shipped out via FedEx this afternoon. I should receive tomorrow afternoon. He was nice enough to waive the fee (about $50). I had told him that I was a retired HP employee. Maybe that helped.

Unfortunately, I will end up scratching my hard drive. Not to worry, 95% of my files are stored in the cloud (Dropbox, Google Drive, etc.). I will have to reinstall a bunch of apps that I use, but that’s easy.

Should be a reminder to everyone. Do your backups.


How to disable Game Notification on Facebook

August 20, 2013

A couple of days ago, i posted on Facebook about the annoyance of getting game notifications. I like FB. It allows me to keep up with news from my friends around the country that i would not be able to do otherwise.

But the constant game notifications is just plain annoying. I am happy that my many friends enjoy FB games. But as I stated before, I could care less about your latest exploits on Farmville or Candy Crush Saga.

I don’t think that you can disable all of the notifications, but you can get rid of them. Here’s how.

Open FB on your PC.  Click the “Games Feed” button on the left hand side of the page. You should see something like the following:

games feed


Then click the “friends” button under one of the games. It doesn’t matter which game. And you may have to do this more than once. This will give you a list of your FB friends who have played that particular game.

games feed 1


You should get a list something like the following:

games feed 2


Mouse over the “Friends” button. Then you should see a list of menu choices. I wasn’t able to get a screen shot, because my screen grab app can’t get a mouse over image. So you’re going need to follow along with the steps.

The are several menus and sub-menus on the Friends list. The first is “Get Notifications” after that you will see “Show in News Feed”. If “Show in News Feed” is checked, there should be a “Settings” item right underneath. Click on the “Settings” button. You then should see a list of items to be included in your “News Feed”

Unclick the “Games” item. Repeat the process on each FB friend listed in each game. This will eliminate most of the Game noise, but probably not all. It may take a while to get all of the game notifications. But sometimes you just have to do the unfriend thing. I try to judge the signal to noise ratio (or in some cases, the noise to signal ratio). You just have to judge if it is worth keeping a FB friend.

I hope you find this useful.


VPN Anyone?

August 19, 2013

You might say what the heck is a VPN? VPN stands for Virtual Private Network. VPN’s were originally developed to allow internet users access to the web from behind corporate firewalls. It was also used to allow home users access to corporate networks that were hidden by firewalls. Here is a much more detailed explanation of VPN’s on Wikipedia.

Okay, all well and good. Now VPN’s are used for several other purposes. Here’s a list. (by no means exhaustive).

  1. Security on public networks. If you use public internet access, say at your local Starbuck’s or local library, you are using a public internet. This means that other people with some clever tools can listen into what you are doing. The can see what sites you are visiting. They sometimes see the data you are transmitting. Using a VPN on public internet is a very good practice.
  2. Access to sites that are blocked. Some sites are blocked. Sometimes by governments (eg. China, Middle East), sometimes by corporations, and sometimes by ISP’s.

So there are private VPN’s operated by corporate IT departments and there are VPN’s that are public where you can purchase a license to use their service. I will be talking about the latter case, because that one is the most useful for the average user.

I first started thinking about VPN’s recently when CBS and Time Warner Cable (TWC) started a very public fight. The fight is over fees that CBS wants TWC to pay for the right to provide CBS to TWC’s customers. TWC customers could no longer watch CBS shows on their TV service. TWC also blocked access to CBS web sites on their internet service. I can’t do anything to fix the former problem (unless I buy an antenna or switch providers).  But I can do something about the internet service. I could of course switch TV and network providers, but that is a giant PITA.

The solution is to install a VPN on my laptop. There are several providers available. Most of the providers try a free “try before you buy” license, typically good for a few days. Currently, I am trying out “Avast Secure Line”, Seems to work. I can view the CBS sites. I need to try on MLBTV by attempting to watch games that are typically blacked out. It has free three day license. Then $42 for a year.

Here’s the screen shot of the Avast Secure Line:

avast secureline

iOS solution is a bit different. There are several iOS apps available. Search the App Store for “VPN”. Installation seems to be straight forward. The apps tend to be free. They typically limit initial free bandwidth to 300mb. So you get to try before you buy. After that you have to do in-app purchase to buy bandwidth. The privacy needs for my iPAD and iPhone are more important than my PC. I don’t take my laptop travelling very much. Most of the time it is plugged in to my home wifi. Here’s the link to the app store entry for “VPN Express“. There are other VPN apps. Try them and see what works.

2013-08-19 11.17.01

So my recommendation, get a VPN. Remember that freedom isn’t free, and neither is security. There is way too much snooping going on, Both by the government(s) and others. This is one additional way to keep people from snooping. Plus, now I can watch “David Letterman” and “Big Bang Theory”. VPN’s won’t prevent mail providers like Google or Yahoo giving the NSA the admin passwords to the mail servers. But it does plug an important hole in internet security.

I still need to try the VPN apps with MLBTV games that are blacked out for being local. For me that would be LA Dodgers and LA Angels. Not a real big deal. I only care about them when they’re playing the Boston Red Sox.

This and That

December 16, 2012

It’s about time for an update. Two weeks is too long between posts. Paula and Mary are off to church this morning. I am left behind to watch Boomba. We are dog sitting this weekend so that Mike, Theresa and Jonathan can have a weekend away. Now I remember why we don’t have a pet.

Boomba is a good dog but… He is like an alarm clock that you can’t turn off. Last night we was awake at three AM. Whining. So somehow it was my turn to get up and get dressed and take him for a walk. Then he was back up at 0600. Now it was Paula’s turn. Mike & Theresa will be back this afternoon to pick him up.

Well the new computer has arrived. Loaded all of my files from the old computer and shipped the old one to Neil. It’s taking me a while to get used to the new keyboard. Lots of typos. Windows 8 is taking some getting used to. Overall, I am pleased with the performance.

We have been in Southern California for about four months now. Weather is beginning to turn cold and damp. I finally broke down and started putting on a coat. Temp is in the fifties. The weather guy on the news gives about 8 or 9 forecasts depending on our location. LA county is (geographically) huge. Probably bigger than the state of RI.

Life with Mary K goes on. She has her good days and bad days. Her short term memory is getting very bad. I can tell her something one day and have to repeat again the next. Our tastes in TV tend to differ. She likes to watch Dr Phil and the local news while we like to watch Letterman, Jon Stewart, and Stephen Colbert. When she watches Dr Phil, I either go in the office and watch videos online or read. I don’t think she has figured out that I despise watching Dr Phil.

In the reading department, I am reading the biography of Joseph P Kennedy by David Nasaw. Interesting stuff.

Last Monday, we watched the NE Patriots play on Monday Night Football. Of course Mary K doesn’t like football, so she went in to her room and pouted for the rest of the evening. Sigh. It’s not like we watch football every weekend. This was the first football game we had watched all NFL season. She probably won’t be happy tonight. Patriots are on Sunday Night Football tonight. I expect that towards the end of the season we will see more Patriot’s games on national TV.

We met with our new minister last week. He preached at last Sunday’s services. He also came to our weekly bible study meeting. Seems like a nice enough guy. His command of the Bible is impressive. (though I would certainly expect him to be.) The church was to vote on accepting him after the service. Mostly a done deal. He managed to remember everyone’s name around the table. He starts work on Feb 1.

Finally, we got our Christmas letter written and mailed. Paula has a few letters that she will be adding personal notes.

I will probably do a separate post on the Sandy Hook tragedy.



New Laptop

November 30, 2012

The time has come to consider replacing my aging HP Laptop. It’s going on 4.5 years old now. I probably would have replaced it sooner if it were not for my purchase of my iPad.

So here are my decision points. I seriously considered getting a Mac book but rejected the idea based on the price. Well configured Mac books were running over $1500. Ouch!

So considering that I am an HP retiree, I have access to HP’s Employee Purchase Plan. Not a huge discount, but i’d save a couple of hundred dollars.

Prices start around $400 and go up as one adds options like additional memory or larger disk, etc. I can get a fairly well configured laptop for about $800. Also, this time of year HP is heavily discounting stuff.

So here’s where all of friends can help. Most of the new laptops come with Windows 8 or Windows 8 Pro. Does anyone have any experience with Win 8? Is it worth the extra $25 to upgrade to Win 8 Pro? Considering what I’ve read, Win 8 Pro mostly has features that I don’t really need, like access to corporate domains.

I am particularly interested in the <4lb laptops. One way they cut down on weight is to eliminate the DVD drive. DVD drive is external option. I only need a DVD drive once or twice a year. Most of the time I can do without. To me this seems a reasonable tradeoff.

For a disk drive i will probably go for the largest capacity and fasted drive. Nuff said.

Memory. Most laptops come with default of 2GB and options for 4, 6, or 8Gb. Is it worth it to add the additional memory? I think so bot not sure.

Other options are software packages like MS Office, Norton AV, etc, I believe that their are decent Anti Virus packages for free available. I will probably get the MS Office. Price is not outrageous.

Any other issues I’ve missed?