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 - 

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

 - - - - - - - - - - 

[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 -

"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."

"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

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...

 - -

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. 


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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.

 - -

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Does It Work?

Someone recently responded to a computer I have for sale with

“Does it work?”

I was terribly offended! All the hours I work, fretting over every detail…

Does it work?

Working 6 days every week, little pay…

How rude, I thought.

This is not a rant so stick with me here till I’m done.

I recently went to eBay to find a computer to build for myself for some new work I’m taking on. It had to be pretty new so I didn’t get caught in that “sorry, your computer is older than 5 years...” nonsense and miss out on some regular income. I did my due diligence and found THE best deal from a dealer with perfect feedback that had a regular company with 45 employees that rescued computer equipment, checked it, and resold it. Awesome! Right?

Well, then I got my package.

OH! The joy of a new (to me) computer! This is the newest desktop computer I’ve owned (I think).

I installed my graphics card, RAM, and wrestled to get the new SSD mounted. I had to modify the case slightly to get the third monitor hooked up to the graphics card, but this was not my first rodeo.

Time to power on!

“ALERT! Air temperature sensor not detected”

Do what?

I went through ALL of the BIOS setting and couldn’t find any override, but I did find that this error had been reported and recorded several times before I received the computer. So, if the seller truly goes through every computer, they knew there was a problem.

After a few hours of research I confirmed that yes indeed there is supposed to be a temperature (thermal) sensor mounted to the chassis front, but this one was MIA.

I discovered the next problem – the Microsoft Windows COA (license key) that was included was no good. Thankfully I own (at great expense to myself and wellbeing) a set of Dell service disks and was able to get the COA issue rectified legitimately.

I contacted the seller and explained the problems. The response was to send it back. I did not want to spend $35-$50 for return shipping. They said they would pay. I asked them for a thermal sensor. They said they didn’t have one.

So, do I undo everything I have done to this computer, (except for the new COA [free to them now at my expense]), send it back and get a refund?

This is where reading the fine print is imperative; yes they will pay return shipping, yes they will refund my money, but my refund is less a 20% restocking fee.

And a quick scan of eBay shows that the least expensive replacement with similar specs will cost at least $60 more, and new problems won’t be revealed until receipt.

So… am I supposed to lose $100+ because someone either dropped the proverbial ball or just misrepresented their product? Since the money trees I planted last fall failed to sprout, that wasn’t going to happen. I just need to push through, but leave appropriate feedback at eBay since this joker isn’t worth a 100% feedback rating…

… and eBay fails to accept my negative feedback. Yep, it just keeps getting better.

So, how did it turn out in the end? I’m typing this right now on the aforementioned computer. It’s not done yet, but the final part (thermal sensor) will arrive Monday. The part itself was not terribly expensive, but the hours of research, reading, finding part numbers, and so on are “non-billable”; that means all that time and effort made me $0. Being a sole proprietor, I cannot work for free; every minute counts. If my minutes are not spent making money, then I am losing money.

Does it work?”

I understand now.

Buying used things is risky business. People sell you broken junk, but it’s your fault, not theirs. I have tried really hard to find local sources for computers and parts, but it ain’t happenin’ captain. Broken palmrests, power supplies that go “POP!” and ruin my test equipment, WAAAAAY overpriced

Does it work?”

Ya; I feel ya’.

But you have to realize who I am; I’m the guy that fixes that stuff. You got broken stuff? I fix broken stuff. I can fix anything. My only limitations are economic feasibility. Some things are too expensive to fix; they’re just not worth the expense.

I’m the guy that fusses over stuff until it’s right. Yes, I quoted you $XX and I worked on it for 3 days until it was right… and I only charged you the $XX I originally quotes… I’m that guy.

Ya, okay, maybe I am ranting… a little.

Does it work?”

Yes, it does; and I work harder.

Maybe if people were a little nicer, maybe if people were more considerate, maybe if people weren’t so dishonest…

Okay, I’m dreaming now.

Remember, I’m the guy that fixes stuff…

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