Monday, December 3, 2018

Distro Hunt/Hop

I love fixing broken things; it's a compulsion. If it is broken, I can't walk away; I have to fix it before I can settle.

It's just the way I am.

But, my stuff is not supposed to break, ever. When it does, it irritates me to no end.

I despise Microsoft's Windows operating systems. It breaks, and breaks stuff all the time. It ships as a broken product more times than not. Like a plague, it is everywhere.

I have to use it when I'm working; I have no choice.

If I had a choice, I'd use my favorite Linux distro, MX-17.



But, and here is the point, MX has been malfunctioning lately.

One of my work stations is a high fluting HP Envy desktop computer. It was problematic from the start. It has Windows and MX installed on, not without much despair. The first attempt at installation was strange, but was not the first experience like this. If I booted the pc into MX, it was fine, but if I booted into Windows, the GRUB menu disappeared and I had no more access to MX.

I have experienced this before with HP computers, recently.

The fix is to ignore the UEFI interface, and install both operation systems in a "legacy" environment. That is odd for a computer made in 2015, but... it works.

...or, at least. it did.

Now, when I boot into MX, it locks up. It seems a little random, but it locks up every time, eventually.

I thought it might be Firefox (seen it before), so I went into the settings and turned off all hardware acceleration. That didn't fix it.

Next work station, a Dell, developed a new issue - one of the screens flickers. It works fine in Windows, but in MX one of the screens flickers. It has worked fine all year, until I moved it. I have yet to try a different monitor and cables, but, it works fine in Windows...

One of the joys of Linux is "community" - a group of enthusiasts and developers there with help and suggestions.

Although, when you get people that are very passionate about something, nerds and geeks alike, emotions can run high, and feelings, well, do you see where I'm going here?

I don't dislike the community, but I'm not comfortable there. My fight or flight has always been flight because fighting online is not healthy or profitable... There was never a fight, but the mods over-lording the posts and one of the developers stalking me... I haven't left the community, and I only snoop around the forum to see if anyone else has similar problems and solutions, but I resist the urge to post anymore.

Options:

1) In typing this, I think I need to bench the Dell. First, re-seat the graphics card and see what happens. Next, replace the monitor and cables.

2) Use only Windows on my workstations. Have Windows installed on them only. Personal computers can have Linux only, or both, but are for personal use only.

3) Try another Linux distribution. Oh boy. Deepin has a new edition that people seem to like, and Deepin is debian-based like MX. The support is rather lacking due to the language barrier (Deepin is made in China). They do have an English speaking side to the forum, but there was only one guy in there that could answer my questions; who knows if he still frequents the place. Zorin was great when I first tried it, but seemed to get worse as time went on. And, it is 'buntu-based. The 'buntu's were getting worse with each release last I checked (April '18) so... Then, the other that stands out in my mind is Solus...

Yep, it is time to designate a computer for distro hopping... again.

Let the fun begin.

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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Public Announcement

It is with sadness that we announce that
All Things New PC
is now

closed to the general public.

In pursuit of regular, reliable, steady income we have taken on contracts to do "remote" work for companies.

This is not a decision we took lightly.

After looking over the books, and embracing the reality of only so many hours in a day, this was the logical choice.

The most difficult part of this decision has been saying goodbye to you, our loyal customers -

We will miss you.

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Saturday, October 13, 2018

Windows 10 October 2018 Update

UPDATE - Microsoft is aware of several problems and apparently has the October Update on hold - 

"...support agent reportedly said, adding that the update has been temporarily paused..." 

https://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/3064428/the-october-windows-10-update-fix-has-created-a-brand-new-problem

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[Original Article]

The days to keep an eye on your Windows 10 computer are during or after the second Tuesday of April and October of every year. This is when Microsoft releases their biannual update (read "upgrade") of the Windows 10 operating system.


Patch Tuesday

You do NOT want to be caught in the middle of something important, then find out your pc is going to be busy for the next 60 minutes to 3 hours choking down the latest Windows 10 version. I usually force mine to get the update (upgrade).

Windows 10, Get the update

I'm a little concerned because I can't get my computers to update. Two computers that got a fresh install of Windows 10 this week have gotten hung up on the October 9th security update. Each computer failed to install it twice, and did a subsequent roll back.

That never gives me a good feeling.

And, they don't seem to want to find the October Update to version 1809

I'm the guy who is supposed to fix computers... when Microsoft gives us crap, I can't make lemonade out of it (believe me, I've tried!).

Never fear, this is quite normal.

You buy a brand new car, you take it back to the dealership for 24 months getting the "recalls" repaired.

Windows 10 is the same.

Things will smooth out in a few weeks.

If you need help, I am here for you, my faithful customers. Give me a call 11-6, Monday-Friday. After hours, leave a message; I WILL call you back.

Are you not using Windows 10? Are you still on Windows 8? Windows 7?

Keep an eye on your calendar; watch those "end of support" dates.

Windows lifecycle fact sheet

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Sunday, April 15, 2018

Is Xubuntu Dying?

I often joke about human years compared to "computer years". For instance, if you have a computer that is 10 years old, it is 100 years old in "computer years".


That's not really accurate, but that is just my parable version of just how fast technology is moving and changing these days.

I'm amazed at how many "new" things are introduced, then vanish as if they never existed. A few weeks ago I was reading about the Steam Machines. I remember first seeing them at Walmart not that long ago and thinking, "ya! Chalk one up for the linux/opensource guys!"

If you weren't aware, the Steam Machines were nothing more than computers stuffed into attractive cases designed to compete in the game console world.

Oh, and if you want one, you'd better hurry... they will likely be discontinued soon.

Steam itself is alive and well, and runs on any platform.

So, if the Steam Machines die, that means their entire life cycle was just 3 years (30 computer years ;) ).

Back to the topic at hand - Xubuntu. I stumbled across the Linux distro Xubuntu almost by accident when I was reading an article about Media Center PC's (another thing that has come and gone).



Xubuntu is a lightweight offshoot of the well-known Ubuntu, Canonical's golden child. Back during 2014, it was wonderful! It was my goto operating system that I ran on everything, for everything, and even installed it on customers' pc's.

The update cycle for any Ubuntu spinoff is based on even numbered years and offers support for several years. The experimental, short-lived, hold my beer/see if this works is done on the odd numbered years and is only supported for months. (Xubuntu 16.04 3 years, 15.10 for 9 months)

I started with Xubuntu 14.04, released April (04) of 2014. It was lovely! I really felt that I had found my home in the Linux world with Xubuntu. Version 15 came out and all the new stuff and reviews were outstanding. I tried various other distros based on 15 and just could wait until the "real" version 16.04 was released in April of 2016.

Then the day came! Oh boy!!!

But, wait, where did all the coolness of 15 go?

I noticed they made a new interface to download install software and programs from the repositories... but it didn't work. I had to download and install all my favorite programs via command line in a terminal window. So now we are going backwards because that is the biggest complaint against using Linux, but that problem had been solved 100 years ago (human or computer?).

Next, I had a major snafu with the Network Manager on my streaming computer. Google came up with a fix, but I didn't realize the info was for previous versions of 'buntu. The result? My streaming pc now could not connect to the internet.

16.04 had a different package of software for office stuff. No big deal right? They all handle the same files, right?

The packaged version had some glitches. And, to make matters worse, I hadn't converted all my machines to the new 16.04 yet so I was working on and modifying files in 2 different programs. These files were my bookkeeping for my business. I almost lost everything in this, and that is not something you want to do when it comes to income and taxes.

I managed to recover, but I had to find another distro for me and my customers.

I noticed other distros that used Xubuntu as their base switched and went to debian. I mean, if Google did it, then there must be something to it, right?

Even after switching over to another distro, I still kept an updated copy of Xubuntu 16.04 on a thumbdrive. Even with all its misgivings, the "live" version was still good for fixing things.

One of those things was OS signing.

UEFI machines, laptops being THE WORST, must have an OS with proper signing/keys or the device will not boot the operating system. I have lost countless hours, non-billable hours fighting this stuff.

The cure? Install Xubuntu 16.04 and Grub Customizer. Xubuntu 16.04 has the correct key/signing so it will boot, then, Grub Customizer will find ALL OS's and make them available in the GRUB menu. From there I could customize everything and make it boot correctly.

So, here we are. It is April 2018. It's just about time for Xubuntu 18.04.

Is it going to be good? Will I rename it "TURDbuntu"?

Then I saw this -  https://xubuntu.org/news/testing-for-xubuntu/

"We hope that you’ll join us in making Xubuntu 18.04 a success. We think it’s going to be the best release ever, but if the community can’t find the time to contribute to the release, we can’t guarantee we can have one."

Really?
 
"Xubuntu is a community project. That includes all of you. If the community doesn’t care until it’s too late, what should we take from that?"

So does this mean the end of Xubuntu?

I have watched other distros based on 'buntu turn bad, but I'm shocked about Xubuntu.

Will it live, will it die?

 - -

Friday, April 13, 2018

New Yahoo

My day started with this


Oath? Never heard of them. AOL? Yea, aren't they like that annoying neighbor kid that you can't get rid of?

Nobody every reads this TOS stuff because it's written by lawyers for lawyers in a language that must make sense to them, but for some reason, I kept reading...



Um, what?!

"Privacy Controls"? Not easy to find once you've clicked off, but here it is
https://policies.oath.com/us/en/oath/privacy/controls/index.html

It pretty much just links you back to all the old setting links that you found, maybe once in your lifetime, but could never figure out where they were after that.

I see stuff like this with a scrutinizing eye, then I look in the mirror and ask myself,

"Why do I still use Yahoo Mail?"

Back in the day (2 decades ago [for you millenials, that's when we chiselled messages onto a stone, then tied it to the leg of a pterodactyl]) Yahoo Mail was the best thing out there; the competition was things like Hotmail, AOL, and the like.

But today, what do we use for email? Do we need email?

I think the answer for me is in the question, "do I really want to integrate ALL THAT STUFF from 20 YEARS of emailing?"

I think it's easier just to complain...

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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

This is the One I Told You About


Sometime today Microsoft will be releasing their Spring Creators Update. Not all computers will receive this update at the same time. It may take a few days before your desktop or laptop downloads and begins to install this very important update.

When this happens, your computer might act slow and maybe just a little “crazy”.

Your computer will restart and give you this screen. DON’T WORRY! This is all very normal for these type of updates.

Do not turn off your computer. It might stay on this screen for a long time, but that is ok. Just be patient and let it do its thing. 





K

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Winter Storm Warning

"Winter Storm Warning... 2 - 10 inches of snow possible"

Well, okay. I was ready for a snow day, but this is what it looked like at my home in the northern part of the county.


That does not constitute a snow day.

We ventured out travelling to the south end of the county where the shop is located. It started out fine, then progressively got worse to the point there was fog and heavy snow severely limiting visibility.


Driving through slush, I questioned whether I should have come today, and how long and how bad this was going to get.

We arrived at the shop.



And, now, at almost 1PM, this is the view outside from my workstation.


That's funny.

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