Coincidence or … ?


I use Microsoft Money 2002 to manage a number of financial accounts locally on my laptop. It is no longer supported by Microsoft, but still works the way I like. I run it in a compatibility mode as if it is running on a Windows XP machine. There has been a number or rumours that the next update to Windows may disable some compatibility modes in order to force customers to purchase newer products. These rumours, whilst not being confirmed or denied by Microsoft tend to flare up now and again and there has been rather more this year than previous years.

In order to ensure that I have some kind of continuity, I have started to look at maybe using Excel to do the job. I had encountered a few problems with formatting and a couple of formulas. Nothing I tried seemed to work, so I posted a question on an Excel forum that I used when I working for the council. After about 30 minutes or so, I got a reply. I followed the instructions, but only partly did what I wanted. I thanked the responder and gave a bit more detail. The next reply came back within 5 minutes. Once applied, everything worked as I wanted.

Now for the coincidence. This morning I received an email from Microsoft. I get regular updates as I have a Microsoft account that came with Office 365. This email was advising me that the new Microsoft Budget Template was now available in Excel. Prior to today, the template was only available in America. First impression is that it is something that I can work with if Money 2002 is blocked.

Was it just a coincidence ?

** Update … it appears that the Money in Excel is still not available in the UK. Microsoft are (supposedly) looking into why I received the email **

A bit of a pain …


It’s been one of those annoying days with my tech. It started, or at least I first noticed it today, when I was working my way through some news items on MSN News. I mostly use the Google Chrome browser these days, as it tends to be just the first one I select and I’m used to it. I’m not keen on he MS Edge browser and Firefox seems to getting far too bloated. Opera would be my second choice, but I’m digressing.

So, there was one item that was about someone trying to do wheelies on a motorbility scooter, that looked to be quite funny. But unusually, there was no ‘play’ button on the video. I thought it must be an error when it Resetwas uploaded and moved onto the next item. Once again, there was a video with no obvious way of playing it. This was a job for a Google search. There were a number of results, most of which told me to ‘update Flash Player’ which was wrong, because Flash is no longer supported or to update Google Chrome. This was also wrong as that was only updated on Thursday, so I suspect that the update may have corrupted some of the files. The only other suggestion that seemed to have any merit, was one to reset Chrome to it’s default.

The reset explained that it would clear all my cookies and temporary data, but would leave my passwords and bookmarks intact. It was as good as its word, uptown a point. One of the things I had forgotten was that sites where I request to ‘keep me logged in’ relies on cookies to remember. Now that the cookies had been cleared, I had to re-log in to all those sites.

I eventually managed to get everything back to ‘my normal’ but it took most of Saturday.

Now I remember …


In an update to my last post, I remember why I stopped using Open Live Writer. It’s to do with images. For some reason, when the post is published in draft or final, the images in the post are added to the Media Library and duplicated. If you then amend the post for example to change the image size, the images get added again. So, you could end up, depending on the number of amendments with numerous images taking up valuable space. Deleting just one of the duplicated images results in the image not showing in the post. The image snapped from the Windows Store at the beginning of that post is duplicated eight times as I had to adjust the size a couple of times. Back to Word for now

Gone to meet its maker I think …


I knew it would happen at some point. It’s been a bit off for a week or two now. Then a week last Thursday, there was a major issue starting it! Before I go further, I need to explain what I’m talking about. My trusty (?) and faithful (?)Laptop laptop gave up the ghost last Sunday. Thursday issue was very scary. The stupid machine just would not re-boot. I had just updated some software and it needed a restart to finish. Some three hours later, I finally managed to get it going. Everything appeared to be working fine, if a little slower than White onebefore. All was good on following Saturday, but then just after R*** had finished his lunch the bl**dy machine started playing up again. Serious this time. It took 5 hours to get from switching on to getting to a usable state. So a bit of a panic to ensure that R*** could use my laptop after his dinner. I managed to get his old laptop up and running and logged in as me. His “old” laptop was the same model as mine, but his was white. There had been a problem with it early last year, whilst on his respite. We think that someone had turned the laptop off during an update, which totally wrecked the machine. In November I read an article about how to update a computer to the latest version of Widows, free. So now the ‘White Laptop’ was running with  Windows 10 and Internet Explorer 11. Panic over and we would be hopefully safe from any problems.

<><><><><><><>

Last night, I was busy doing a crossword when found I could not work out a word that I did not have all the letters for. “I know,” I thought to myself “I’ll use The Sage” only to find that it was not on this laptop. The Sage The Sage screenshotis a dictionary, thesaurus and anagram solver. There’s a lot more to it than that, but that is what I tend to use it for. I then realised that there were a few programs/applications that I used to use but were not on the ‘white’ laptop. I fired up the old machine to try and identify some of the software that I was missing. This time it only took 45 minutes to start, which was a great improvement on last Sunday. I think I have got all I need, although my full back-up seems a lot smaller than before, so maybe I need to check that.

Problems might just be gone …


For a few weeks now, I’ve been having performance issues with one of my Windows 10 laptops. I’ve uninstalled software that I rarely use, but the issue seems to have remained. What happens is that I’ll be using for example Microsoft Word and suddenly it hangs with the message “Word is not responding” and this will happen three or four times during the session. I end up having to restart Windows and hope the problem has gone away. Often this fixes the issue, but occasionally it doesn’t.

Today, while I was looking at the Task Manager application, I noticed something called ‘software reporting tool’. I had not seen it before and so I ran an online search and discovered that it is a program that checks to see if any software is going to affect the Google Chrome browser. There were reports that it has a high CPU usage when checking and the check often takes 20 minutes or so to run. The date on the file is 4th October which seems to coincide with the second time I had problems. Things seemed to improve after I removed my other printer, but then problems re-emerged a few days later.

The sites I looked at (and I always check a few to see if they say the same thing) told me that the process is not necessary and can be stopped. They also said that Google may restart the process again whenever the Chrome bowser updates. It gave instructions on how to prevent it running and how to prevent Google from restarting it. The instructions for this can be found at https://www.ghacks.net and searching for ‘how to block the Chrome Software reporter tool’.

It may not fix the problem, but the tool sends scan information back to Google, so there may be privacy issues here.

We shall see if there is any improvement.

<><><><><>

On another point, this was written using the WordPress editor on an iPad Mini. I had not thought of that as an option, but it seems to work quite well. I do need to understand how the HTML style tags work for formatting, but there must be a tutorial out there.

 

Too clever for my own good …


This is a little techy. I have been having a problem all week with the performance of my main laptop. Applications were slow to open and even slower to close. I scoured the internet for answers and did everything, bar re-installing Windows, that was suggested. But the problem remained, and it was getting worse. Some programs were now not even opening. Then today I had an idea. You see, I have two laptops on my home network, both with an attached printer. At the beginning of the week, I thought it would be good if I could print to both printers in an effort to save ink, as the other printer never gets used. After a couple of hours and a fair bit of stress, I got it working. I then installed the other printer on my main laptop so that it could be seen. Then all I had to do was to ensure the other laptop and printer were switched on and I could print to it. Really quite pleased with myself at that point.

I didn’t really want to have the other laptop and printer to be on all the time, so I shut both down. This was on Monday afternoon. On Tuesday, I started to notice the performance issues. As Tuesday was the day when Microsoft updates Windows, I put the problems down to that. When there was a second update pushed on Wednesday, I was convinced that everything would now be okay. Not so. The performance had improved slightly, but not so as you would notice. It was getting so bad that I began to think I had a virus or something. I searched the internet for the problem and the answers were as I expected: run an anti-virus; run an anti-malware; run a disk clean-up even reformat hard drive and start again. Well I tried all except the last one, but nothing seemed to work. Then another search, came up with something. I may have a corrupt drive recently installed. Hmmm … the only driver recently installed was the printer driver for the other printer. I thought I would have a look at that. I removed the printer from the device list (an I assume that removed the driver) and did a full reboot, rather than a restart.

Now (touch wood) it seems to be back to as normal as it was before. I had a quick online chat with the printer help desk (free thankfully). It would appear, that when the other laptop and printer were switched off any software that you can print from would be looking for the printers when the software opens. As the printer was off, it was not visible and so the delays. I’m not entirely convinced, but it does seem to have been resolved.

(Written with Word 365 – blog template)

Update to an update …


At the beginning of the month I posted about a knitting project I was working on. I updated later after Patternhaving an issue with the pattern. Since then, I have had to restart the thing twice more. I seem to have a problem somewhere between row 11 and row 14. One of the stitches is “SK2PO” which I understand to be ‘Slip 1, knit 2 Goodbyetogether, pass slipped stitch over’ and I think that this may be causing the problem. I don’t know why or how, but it is after the row with this stitch that everything goes to pot.

So after a total of 5 restarts (not including the start when I ran out of the tail) I have decided that the pattern is to be binned. The yarn I got will come in for something else I’m sure. It apparently knits up like Double Knit, so there will be plenty of patterns I can use it for.

Random Microsoft rant …


Yes, it’s that time again when I have a bit of a rant at, what is arguably the most successful IT companies ever. I have to say, that I/we have a fair bit of personal IT equipment in the house. I have two laptops, three tablets and two smartphones, K*** has a tablet and a smartphone and R*** has two laptops and a tablet. The laptops are all Windows laptops with mine running Windows 10. R***’s laptops are still running Window 7 and 8 respectively, but that is because of the way he uses his computers. He only uses Internet Explorer and YouTube so he has no need for all the ‘whistles and bells’ that later versions bring.

To get to the point. Windows 10 is now ‘provided as a service’ as Microsoft says. This basically means that for home users, there is no choice but to update their computers when Microsoft say so. It is different for business and educational systems, who can refrain from updating if they like. But for us mere mortals, we do as we are told. There are ways around this, but it is often too much hassle.

So on Friday, I noticed that my main laptop was showing that an update was ready to apply. This is what Microsoft called the ’Windows 10 Fall Creators Update’ and is a major update to the system. The main issue I have with this forced update regime is that sometimes Microsoft will remove files that it deems are no longer useful. Now I have a piece of software that I use for my banking. It is what they call ‘legacy software’ which one way of saying outdated. But I call it ‘critical software’ as it suits my purpose and without paying a lot of money, there is nothing similar out there. The same software is on my other laptop, as a backup, which for the past month had been disconnected from the internet in order that it did not update with the possibility of breaking the software. So I bit the bullet and ran the update. It took two and a quarter hours to run! But, in the end, the software ran without issue, so all was good. I now felt that it was safe enough update the other laptop.

It was now 09:30 on Saturday morning. I started up the other laptop and ran the update checker which advised me that there were a number of updates waiting. Clicked on the update button and sat back waiting for it to finish. After about two hours I had a quick look to see what was happening, only to find that two of the updates had failed to install. I did a reboot and tried again. Still nothing. So later in the evening around about 21:15, I ran a utility that cleared some files and tried again. This time I saw that the updates were going through. I turned the screen off and left it too it. I checked about 23:30 and it was still running. It actually finished at 04:20. Just over seven hours to update! Amazing!

{}{}{}{}{}{}{}{}

Aaaaaaagh …


This is the closest word(!) I can think of to describe how I felt, when I turned on my main laptop yesterday evening.  The next few words were da*n, sh*t, bug*er, fu*k, bol*cks and many others, far too obscene to even asterisk out!

Yes, the day I had been dreading since early May had arrived. It was the day that the Windows 10 Anniversary update hit my main computer. There was no way of stopping it. I checked my settings, and see that the update had downloaded during the day sometime. Windows was now telling me that it would install the update at 03:10 the next morning. Ah ha …I thought. Windows is expecting me to leave my machine on for the update to take place. I very rarely shut down my laptop, as I prefer to ‘hibernate’ so it does not take too long to start up.

So here is me thinking that if I hibernate, then effectively my machine is not on and as a consequence the update will not happen. I felt that I was in charge. WRONG !!!!!

I came down this morning at around 06:40 to find my laptop was on and had had a proper restart. Those certain words that I had used the evening before had come into play again. The conversation going on in my head was quite something:

     Positive me: The laptop has restarted without an error. That didn’t happen before, so it must be ok.

     Negative me: Means nothing!

     Positive me: Let’s have a quick look.

     Negative me: It will have failed. There’ll be something wrong. Microsoft … pah.

     Positive me: We’ll check tonight.

     Negative me: Mumble, grumble, told you so, mumble, mumble, bl**dy Microsoft etc etc

This argument went back and forth for until I got back home this afternoon and could have a proper look.

It would appear, that all my misgivings were unfounded. Everything ‘seems’ to work as before. That is, that banking app  I was so worried about was working as it should.

Maybe, I’ll sleep better tonight!

I sometimes hate Microsoft … beware the Anniversary Update my friends …


I must explain. I’ve never been a fan of Apple software and whenever I have considered new IT equipment, I have always looked for alternatives to Apple. I have never had an iPod, I had a unknown music player.My smartphones have always been Android phones. I would never consider an iPhone. All my PC’s and laptops have all been Microsoft. The only exception was my first computer which was a Texas computer. So you could say, I’m a fan of Microsoft. A big fan.

However … this week has been a trial, even for me. I have two laptops. One, I have had for about four years and the second one for about eight/nine months. It is a long story, why I got the second one, and I’ll not go into it today but suffice to say, it was a wise choice at the time.

So why the post title?

On Monday, I decided that my ‘old’ laptop should be fired up and have all the updates that it needed. Oh sh*t! Windows tells me that there are ‘updates ready to download’. I checked what they were, and right at the bottom of the list was update that had the number ‘1607’ mentioned. The time had come for the so called ‘Windows 10 Anniversary  Update’. This was the one that I have been dreading. I was so thankful, though that it was first coming through to the old lappy. That way I could make sure that I would not have any major issues. You see, my banking software is an old Microsoft programme called Microsoft Money.

I’ve used it since I had Windows XP. I never use the internet functions, simply use it as a computerised bank account/cheque book. When I upgraded to Windows 7, there was the fear that this software may not work. Fortunately, it did and it saved me a lot of worries. Then along came Windows 10, and with it more rumours that Microsoft Money would not work. After a lot of stress and fruitless web searching, I bit the bullet and bought a new machine with Windows 10 installed. My idea was that I would use the old machine, as a internet free machine, just for the banking app.

So back to updating the old machine. What the hell, I thought. There is no choice, it has to be done, and I could always ‘roll back’ if the banking app did not work. Three hours later and Windows tells me that my laptop is “Preparing to install the update” or words to that effect. It does not actually call itself the Anniversary Update. That’s probably a media thing. After another three hours or so, the ‘installation’ is at around 63% and I really need to sleep. So I leave it to do it’s thing and hope that it will be all done in the morning.

Morning arrives (06:30 to be exact) and I’m looking at the laptop with an air of disgust. All I have is that blue/grey  screen that shows between turning on and the desktop appearing. Something amiss I fear! No time to do anything now, so I press the power button to shut down. Speedily move on to me getting home from work. I fire up the machined and after a few minutes the damn thing tells be that it is rolling back to my original set-up. The update failed! Down hearted, but not deterred, I click on the Windows update again and the whole process repeats.

Now with the echo of that film ‘Groundhog Day’ in my head, the same thing happens again. Exactly the same as before. Fail! I am now thinking that a Mac has serious possibilities. I scour the internet for possible causes of the failure, and one seems to strike a chord. Someone with an unpronounceable name that looks about 11 years old, suggests that any peripherals such as a printer or an external hard drive be unplugged. I unplug the printer and start again for the third (and as I said to the wife) final f**king time. Of course, the process needs to be left overnight to finish. Another sleepless night ensues.

It’s now 06:10 Wednesday morning and I’m tiptoeing around trying to see if the update worked. ‘B**lcks’ I say quietly. It looks like the same has happened. Same old blue/grey screen. I press the power and go off to work in not the best of moods. Fast forward again to home time. I power up the cursed machine, expecting the worst. Not at all! The thing powers up and it all looks good. A few checks, and it seems like third time lucky. The update has taken! First thing I do, is check the banking app. It works! Everything I try seems to work. Of course that stupid ‘Edge’ browser thing is still stupid, but I have updated! I survived! I can now concentrate on the real issues of the day. That being ‘Great British Bake Off’ going to Channel 4 and Angeline and Brad splitting up.

Now all I have to do, is wait for my main laptop to tell me the update is ready and it all starts again!

…..and not just printers !!!


   Sunday was a  bit of a ‘technology FAIL’ day. It started, when read a report on ‘The Register’ that told me that my PC was in ‘DANGER!!!!’ The ‘danger’ was that much of my software ‘may’ be at risk, due to not patching. Being the careful IT nerd that I am, I immediately logged onto Microsoft, and updated everything they told me to. This took, being Microsoft, a good hour to do. And of course the obligatory restart was required.

   Now, the problems started. Or more to the point, now my PC refused to start !!! I spent the next 40 minutes, trying, without success to get Windows to start. The next 50 minutes were spent trying to do a systems restore from Safe Mode. This is not for the faint hearted, I can tell you. It was after nearly 2 hours worth of hair pulling, gnashing of teeth and copious amounts of swearing, that I noticed that the light on my portable hard drive was continuously flashing. This indicated that the drive was being accessed, which should not happen as Windows is loading.  I removed the drive, and guess what ……… problem solved. It would appear, that my £39.95, 80gb Maxtor pocket drive is goosed !!! The problem now, is, do I buy another ??? For the same money, I can get a 250gb drive, of better quality. I need to think about this one.

   Then, my blogging software packed up !!!! The system restore, had trashed some of the dot.net framework, that had been updated. So, I re-updated again, and everything is now serene again.

   Guess what though ? The HP printer, that I ‘borrowed’ from S****, needed a new ink cartridge. Not a problem, I thought as I had bought a couple, just after he had got the thing. So what is the problem. Well some silly sod, bought the wrong colour cartridge, that’s what. No names are to be mentioned (a no blame culture here), but as I bought the cartridges…… get my drift ?

Sorted .. I think


   I updated my phone yesterday !!!!! Well at least that is what I intended to do !! It did not go quite to plan. I misread what I was updating. I suppose, misread is not quite correct. To be more precise, I did not read what I was updating. As a consequence, I did not create a back-up. So after the update, I was left with a phone that was more or less in factory state. All the personalisation’s gone !!! What a tw*t !!!! Image018I have now got it back to a reasonable state, but am still having problems with the email client.

   I’m starting the big decorating job tomorrow.   Living room and dining room. I think it is going to take a week or two to complete. I’m hoping, that the borders in this room will not be as hard to get off as the ones in the kitchen.