15. 11. 20
posted by: O. Sinclair
Hits: 4104

Following a discussion on Google+ I started looking at the number of "messenger/chat" applications I am involved in and supposed to be alert to. Some of them have online call functions, some not.

In any case, here goes: 

  1. Skype - totally necessary for business and social communication
  2. Viber - a kind of Skype, not so widespread but very useful, the desktop client is better than Skype (on Linux)
  3. Yahoo messenger - as I have yahoo mail account I use for various things
  4. Google Hangouts/Talk - as I have a gmail account I use a lot
  5. Telegram - for those who value privacy 
  6. Whatsapp - widely spread phone app here, totally crap computer interface but necessary for business and social communication
  7. Facebook messenger - I don't use it much myself (too much "social noise" when you working) but it is in all honesty sometimes the easiest way to get hold of someone

I also used to have ICQ but was left with so few contacts using it that I with some relief deleted it. I also have a Twitter account but killed that one off, I find it uninteresting and more "noise" than useful information.

So there you go - 7 chat/call applications. And supposed to work on laptop as well as phone. This is madness.. I am simply going to have to kill off or stop using at least 2. 

Then I would love a software that integrates the remaning in the same interface - but that does not exist. I do not envy the programmer who will try and take on this task either. Facebook regularly change their interface, Skype and Viber are not very informative about theirs, Telegram I don't know. Whatsapp I am not even sure they publish anything about how to interface with their application.

I think it might be time to say bye to Yahoo Messenger, I have only 1 or 2 contacts really active on that platform. Then I might just have to give up Viber for Skype, no matter how much I like Viber. Not so many contacts on Viber (perfect in some ways, less "noise") while Skype is the widely used platform for my business contacts.

How I wish there was a standard for this so that 1 software could access all of them.

15. 11. 16
posted by: O. Sinclair
Hits: 3628

For years and years I have used Mozilla Firefox as my preferred browser to access internet, actually since before it was even called Firefox. During the years have experimented with others (Konqueror, Rekonq, Qupzilla, Opera and of late the new Microsoft Edge) and of course sometimes found myself locked in the "only works with Internet Explorer" box.

But I have always returned to Firefox. Until now. For reasons beyond my knowledge there are sites and functions that either simply do not work in Firefox or they "eat my computer alive" by taking an enormous chunk of memory and CPU.

So I find myself on Chrome, the browser made by Google. I avoid logging in to my account as I have no use whatsoever for "sharing on all my devices". There are aspects of the design I find very crude BUT it is faster, does not choke on certain websites and is more frequently updated.

I will continue to update and try out new versions of Firefox but for now, with a somewhat heavy heart: Chrome is a better working option

15. 08. 13
posted by: O. Sinclair
Hits: 3970

If you follow news at all and in particular IT news that is not exactly new information. Microsoft officially released Windows 10 on 29 July. Interestingly the CEO Satya Nadella chose to be in Kenya at a launch party in Nairobi!

This time around Microsoft offers the new version as a free upgrade during 1 year for all licensed Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 (Servicepack 1) users. So should you upgrade and if so, how?

I have been using it myself via the "Insider" program (don't worry I still use Kubuntu as my main system) and now have the official release. So far I like it, I think it is a great improvement over the mishmash that Windows 8 is. So for Windows 8 users I absolutely recommend it.

For Windows 7 users it is a different scenario. Most users (at least those I know) are perfectly happy and may not like the changed user interface at all. For corporate users there are some new functions (easier to access company servers is an example), for home users it depends. If you want to stay updated and plan to keep your computer for some time then yes - sooner or later Microsoft will attempt to stop maintenance of Windows 7. Meaning security updates and so on will no longer be available.

But if you are happy with Windows 7 and do not plan to keep it beyond July next year well then I don't see any huge reason. You might upgrade just before you offload it (by whatever means) so next user can keep on getting updates. Note however that it is very likely that your replacement will run Windows 10 (given you buy another Windows computer that is of course).

Something to note if you are on a slow and/or capped (limited data) connection: the upgrade can be quite large, I have read figures of up to 5.5 Gb. That would mean 25% of my monthly allowance on my home/office internet...

Issues for us on limited internet are further that it is near impossible to switch off automatic updates/upgrades (there is apparently a way to say you have a "metered connection" but I have not figured that out yet) and that it by default "calls home" quite a lot. The later is of course also a privacy issue if you care about that (sadly few do).

Here is a link on how to switch off many of the default "call home" functions. This will if nothing else save you bandwidth.

So how do you get it? Well your Windows 8 or Windows 7 must be updated with all Security updates. Head to Windows Update and if you are not set for Automatic Updates then check for updates and install all of them. That might mean quite a few if you have tried to save expensive internet for other use but there is no (that I am aware of) way around it.

Very likely you will have to do a few reboots and check for updates again. When all is done a small "Windows" icon should appear in your system tray area, click on that and "reserve your copy". From there on it is a matter of patience and how fast your internet is.

A clean installation actually lacks a few applications most find useful (such as a decent dvd/mediaplayer) so here is a link recommending some post-installation applications.

One last note: there is no real need to rush - this download will be offered for a year. I have read "horror stories" of users getting stuck in the middle of the upgrade and then Windows goes into "endless reboot". For now the word is that Microsoft does not have ready soluton. Unless you are itching to upgrade it might be worth waiting another few weeks.

EDIT: For now this does not work on computers that are joined to a domain - meaning most corporate users on the Pro versions. I have not found any direct answer from Microsoft as to why but the general belief is that a tool for this will be issued when initial problems have been solved

15. 08. 08
posted by: O. Sinclair
Hits: 3723

As so often in IT you "stumble upon" something. Of late I have noticed that both Firefox and Chrome seems to have slowed down and use up quite a bit of memory. So I have been trying to find the reason for this.

While I am not sure this is the whole reason it is known that extensions can cause this, as well as having many tabs open. So I started looking at the exensions I use on both browsers.

Being one who is not particularly interested in adverts or being "tracked" on both browser I used Adblock Plus and Disconnect. After some searching I found an alternative in Ublock origin that can replace both, from what I can see after doing the replace use less memory and the browser both feel a bit snappier. Especially on social networks actually.

As a bonus I got rid of all those "I can see that you are using AdBlock. Kindly stop doing that as.." and so on.

As always this is something that may or may not work for you. Check in the browsers extension for "ublock origin" if you want to give it a try

15. 02. 22
posted by: O. Sinclair
Hits: 2080

For those who know me it is not a secret that I am an avid fan of Open Source Software and a long time user of Linux with the KDE desktop. For those who do not know: unlike Windows or Apple/Macintosh in Linux you have a wide choice of desktop interfaces to choose from. The more well known are KDE (K Desktop Environment), Gnome, Unity, LXDE and XFCE. There are plenty others for those who look for something specific. 

I like and use KDE because while it is very configurable it is also a very vibrant community-driven environment. There is a very open and outreaching community of developers and designers doing their best to actually involve users. There are and have been times when changes have been done that have horrified us users, just like in any other environment when the designers make a hard choice that user see no short term benefit in.

I picked up Kubuntu around 2007 and have never really looked back. Of course I run Windows as I have to professionally know that environment (I have 3 different Windows client and server versions in virtual computer installations) but when it comes to actually gettings my work done Kubuntu it is. 

In the years KDE migrated from a mature but somewhat "stale" version 3.5 to an initially chaotic version 4 where we now are on 4.14.5 that works really well. So of course the devs again decided to migrate to a totally new version that , to no surprise, will be KDE 5. 

I have played around with the early releases but found that it was not stable enough for my needs. However, in just a few months Kubuntu will release a new version and it will be based on KDE5. A much better description of this system that I can give you can find here: KDE Plasma 5.2 review

And then (in May that is) I will find out how it works out for me.... or if I decide to hang on to my very stable and working KDE 4 installation for a while

15. 02. 21
posted by: O. Sinclair
Hits: 2032

Some time during 2015 Microsoft will release the new version of Windows, simply named Windows 10.

Why did they skip version from Windows 8 to Windows 10? Well noone is willing to confirm but I have read 2 reasonably likely theories:

1. To distance the new version from Windows 8 that frankly most users as well as IT professionals find "hardly usable"

2. Due to the old Windows 95 and 98 versions huge amounts of software do a check for "version 9x" during installation and upgrades. A Windows 9 version would create massive confusion and need for upgrades. While that might not be bad in itself (upgrade of code) this is an easy way around that issue

Whichever version is true I look forward to the release for a few reasons as I support a large number of Windows users. The first one is to get rid of the mismash that is Windows 8, the second one that this time Microsoft will allow users a free upgrade from Windows 7 and 8 to the new version during the first 12 months after release. That is actually great news and I assume the intention from Microsoft is to not again find itself in a "Windows XP situation". With that I mean that the majority of users were (and are in many cases still) perfectly happy with Windows XP and saw no compelling reason to pay for an upgrade to either Windows Vista (horror..) or Windows 7. Then you get both the headache of supporting old software for an extended time while at the same time being blamed for an increasingly insecure huge number of computers in operation.

I have tried it out and will do so again (there is a testing program for pre-releases, another good idea by Microsoft) and am cautiously optimistic. It is heavy on resources but I expect that to improve during the testing phase. It works WAY better than Windows 8 where the mix of "touchscreen" interface and keyboard/mouse interface is nothing but frustrating.

There is still no compelling reason for a user of Windows 7 to upgrade but I honestly do hope that many will do so just to get a newer, hopefully more secure and stable, version without having to go through some expensive and complicated upgrade scheme.

I personally loath that you have to open a Microsoft account but then in all honesty: an Android phone will not work without a Google account, anything Apple will not work without an iTunes account. So why should Microsoft not try to tie their users as close to the company as possible?

So yea, as a Linux user I actually look forward to a new Windows version ;-)

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