Finally: Windows 8

For my New Year’s Eve festivities this year, I decided to stay home and try to finally get my Windows 8 install done on my desktop PC. After some more trials and tribulations, I’ve finally got that done, and the PC is booting into Windows 8 now. Remembering what I went through with my ThinkPad clean install, I know that I now need to go through all the excitement of applying many Windows updates, rebooting, then getting Windows 8.1 through the Windows Store, then installing that, then more Windows updates. So I’ll probably be done with that around midnight. Then, I can start setting up software and copying files back over from my backup drive tomorrow.

I think this thread at the Microsoft support forums contained the solution to my upgrade difficulties: I had to switch my SATA mode from AHCI to IDE in my BIOS. (I’m hoping I can change that back at some point, but I’m not going to try it until I’ve got myself fully upgraded to 8.1.)

I’m hoping that this was worth all the trouble. I think it will be. The end result should be a nice clean Windows 8 install, free of the HP cruft that originally shipped on this machine, and all the various layers of accumulated cruft that has built up since I bought the machine in 2010.

some random apps

I’ve been trying to be careful about how many iOS apps I buy and/or download, since I’ve gotten to the point where I have a fairly ridiculous number of them in my library — a little over 250, based on the size of my “Mobile Applications” folder on my Mac. But there were a lot of holiday app sales over the past couple of weeks, so I gave in and bought a few things that I thought might be interesting.

First, I bought Launch Center Pro, which I’ve heard much about and seems like it could be really useful. I’ve played around with it a bit, and I can see where there’s some potential, but I haven’t really figured out how to do anything that interesting with it yet. I need to read up on it a bit; there’s some good stuff on MacStories that I should read.

Second, I picked up Day One, a popular journaling app. I’m not sure I really need an app like this, since I already write quite a bit on my blog, and keep track of a bunch of stuff in Evernote. But, hey, it was only a dollar. I think I might be able to do some interesting stuff with it, if I also pop for the Mac version, then set up Slogger and/or Sifttter. Both of these solutions seem to be a bit Rube Goldberg-ian, but they’re interesting.

And, finally, I bought Gneo, a task management app that can sync with Evernote. I’ve also been experimenting with Things again. I think there’s a fair chance that I’m going to give up on both of these, and just keep track of my tasks in Evernote directly, which is basically what I’m doing now, but I still feel like my system isn’t working as smoothly as I’d like. And I do realize that it’s easy to waste a lot of time messing with GTD software, rather than actually getting things done, but I don’t think I’m going to fall too far down that rabbit hole.

Between Launch Center Pro, IFTTT, Evernote, Drafts, and a few other apps and services, I think I really ought to be able to do some interesting things, linking apps together and automating stuff. But every time I think of something that would be useful, I can’t find an easy way to do it. Oh well, it’s all fun to play with anyway, even if I don’t actually accomplish anything useful!

trying again, with my desktop PC

I purchased my current desktop PC back in 2010. And my last serious effort to upgrade it to Windows 8 was in 2012. I’ve never done any upgrading on this PC, as far as I can remember, and I’ve never done a wipe & reinstall of Windows on it either. It’s still working reasonably well, but it’s pretty slow to start up now.

It can get to the login screen in a reasonable amount of time, and from there to the desktop reasonably quickly. But, then it takes a long time before it’s really “ready” to launch any non-trivial applications. I’m not sure I have a terribly good explanation for that, but I guess there’s too much random background stuff starting up after login.

My current plan is to clone my boot drive over to an external USB drive, then do a format & clean install of Window 8 on the boot drive, then reinstall apps and copy data back from the USB drive to the boot drive. Well, I tried the initial clone today, and that failed, probably due to a hardware error on the external drive. So, now I’m trying a full format of the external drive, just to see if that works, or if there’s a real problem with the drive. Well, it turns out that it takes a very long time to format a 1 TB external USB drive. I’m not sure why. But, either way, I’m stuck until that’s done. So tomorrow, if the format works, I’ll try the clone again.

I’m not sure at what point I should just cut my losses and buy a new PC, with Windows 8 pre-installed. But I’m definitely not ready to give up yet! If it turns out that the external drive I’m using is no good, I’ve got others I can try.

Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott

Spirit Gate (Crossroads, #1)Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

It took me quite a while to finish this book. In fact, I think it may be the only prose novel I actually finished this year (2014). While I enjoyed it, it was a bit too long, and the ending isn’t terribly satisfying; it’s mostly just setting things up for the next book.

If you’re a faster reader than I am, and/or you have more free time than I do, then I’d recommend this as a good start to an epic fantasy series with good characters and an interesting world. But, for me, I think I’m not going to continue with the next book in this series. I’m going to stick with some shorter stand-alone novels for the foreseeable future.

View all my reviews

Dynamics AX silliness

How’s this for a post title?

Compare Tool causing a failure, forcing an element restore which results in negating the changes made on the element

Yes, in Dynamics AX, the ERP system I work in every day, using the “compare” tool can destroy your code! Admittedly, it’s an edge case, and it’s not likely to happen terribly often. But still. Compare tools should not actually mess up your code! (Merge tools should, maybe, sometimes. But AX doesn’t even have a merge tool. Don’t get me started…)

Dinah and other WordPress stuff

Well, I just updated this blog to WordPress 4.1 “Dinah”. So far, so good. The new distraction-free writing thing is kind of cool. I’ll probably leave it turned on. Other than that, there’s not really any other obvious UI changes that will affect my own use of WordPress.

I’m getting better at doing updates through wp-cli. (I don’t have to search through Evernote to remember the syntax anymore.) And 1&1 seems to have ironed out whatever was causing their install of wp-cli to throw a bunch of PHP warnings every time I ran it. So that’s good.

The big security scare this week shouldn’t affect this site. Still, it’s got me thinking that maybe it’s time to install something like WordFence.

Poor old RPI

This article from Vice News does a pretty good job of showing how my old alma mater, RPI, has become an almost perfect example of all the things that have gone wrong with college education in America. Overpaid executives, growing tuition, growing student-to-faculty ratios, growing administrator-to-faculty ratios, and so on.

If I was a high school senior today, coming from a fairly modest middle-class background, I really don’t think I would want to even consider RPI. And if I did want to go there, I don’t think I could afford it, without taking on some crippling student debt. Which wouldn’t be worth it, since the quality of the undergraduate education really isn’t good enough to support that kind of high tuition. I’d likely get a better education at Rutgers or NJIT.

Farewell, Dr. Dobb’s

Sad to see that Dr. Dobb’s is getting shut down. I had a subscription to the old print magazine for many years. They had some great, useful, well-written articles and columns, from people like Michael Swaine, Jeff Duntemann, and Al Stevens.

There are a lot of great programming resources out there on the internet, of course, from Q&A sites like Stack Overflow to podcasts like .NET Rocks. But I don’t think there’s anything else out there that’s quite like Dr. Dobb’s was, in its heyday.

WordPress security woes and Jetpack observations

For anyone who might be wondering: nope, I’m not using the plugin that got hacked today.

Also: interesting to see the new stuff in Jetpack 3.3. I only have the one site, so centralized multi-site management doesn’t help me much, but it’s interesting how much stuff they’re building into Jetpack that ties back to Though I don’t want to give up basic control of my site, I actually like the ability to pick and choose a few things to “offload” to, as long as it’s still possible to disconnect it all without actually losing any content.