So I dusted off my Dell XPS 9350 laptop yesterday to check out the improvements of the Windows 10 Creators Update. As I have not touched the thing in many months, there were many, many updates previously that had to be applied. That alone took about 2 hours, including updating the BIOS and other Dell related software. Why after all these years is Windows so slow at downloading and applying updates? There was one point it was taking so long (30 minutes+) to apply the updates prior to reboot I had to manually power off the laptop and switch it back on again.
Then there was the hassle of getting the Creators Update. It didn’t show up in the Windows Updates list, so I have to hunt around for the Windows Update Assistant which did the job for me. The time spent dealing with this and the other stuff took another 2 hours.
Now, ordinarily, a user wouldn’t leave updates for several months – not after the mess of security flaws we’ve seen hit the news headlines. But even so, to have to go through all the steps I had to go through to get things up to date – it should NOT take four hours to do it. And my XPS is no slouch – 16Gb RAM with 1Tb SSD with SkyLake i7 processor is not to be sniffed at.
If there is anything I would beg of Microsoft – please improve the update process. Make it easier for customers to upgrade to the latest releases in a single process rather than lots of little ones. And the fewer reboots as a result of that would be just grand.
Windows Servers. What a load of old tosh. The past three weeks or so have seen me tinkering unnecessarily with the blasted things because of Microsoft’s inability to write an operating system which is so super sensitive to hardware changes – principally because of licensing – that just by upgrading underlying virtualisation software triggers the operating system to think it has a new network card. You can imagine the chaos something like that can cause!
It’s not just that which makes me despise Windows Server. For similar reasons, if a dedicated server chassis dies and needs to be swapped out – you’d better have a spare because any hardware changes will cause Windows to freak out. Linux has no problem with such things providing you’re using a modern distribution and reasonably up to date hardware. Generally speaking, with maybe a very few exceptions, Linux Just Works(tm).
Don’t get me started on those people that are still running the now 15 year old Windows 2003.. (though this article about Fasthosts running Windows 2003 for their backup platform made me laugh a lot more than it should – and bury my hands in my face for leaving an obsolete OS in charge of managing critical customer backups).
The whole WCry situation around these parts has been, strangely, pretty good – indeed, a lot more people have taken an interest in their backups and patching their systems and this is only to be commended. A good old major outbreak tends to kick people in the teeth and get them thinking about disaster recovery.
Just because I use MacOS and Linux isn’t making me complacent – oh no. Very recently Apple just released updates to iOS, MacOS and WatchOS to fix a rather nasty exploit, as well as general performance updates. It’s one of the reasons I went back to iOS – Apple has become very good at rolling out updates much faster and on schedule than the likes of Samsung.
The server on which this blog runs on utilises something called KernelCare which patches the kernel in real time for newly discovered exploits. This has the advantage of:
- Not having to wait for the OS vendor to release a patch.
- You don’t have to reboot the machine.
In my testing of KernelCare, it has worked very well. If you’re using it in a VPS, it must support full virtualisation – paravirtualisation won’t cut it.
Meanwhile, Microsoft should stick to producing office productivity software and gaming (Xbox One) – it’s what they’re good at. I’ve completely lost faith in their desktop and server operating system divisions.
An annual subscription to Microsoft’s Office 365 service for 5 PCs/Macs that gives you the complete Office 2016 Home suite (Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Access and Outlook) usually costs £79 (inc VAT).
But for a very limited time, you can purchase a full year’s subscription up front for just £49.98 (saving £30) through Amazon.co.uk.
I’ve just bought one, and it’s extended my subscription under December next year, when it’ll revert back to monthly billing,
(First spotted at Windows Central)
Oh, Apple. What an enormous pain in the bottom you are at times! Nearly four months away, and I return to discover that your software is just as buggy as when I left. But, when it works, is infinitely better than that offered for and by Windows / Microsoft. The last straw was when I created a spreadsheet in Excel 2016 on the Dell UHD laptop, only to find that due to dodgy Windows scaling, the row sizes were all over the shop when the same file was opened on a Mac also running Excel 2016.
- Importing 8,163 photos and videos into Photos caused Photos to crash half way through. Thankfully as Adobe Lightroom organises photos by year, I did one year at a time and everything is now inside the Photos ecosystem.
- Restoring iTunes to a new machine (regardless of platform) while you have an Apple Music subscription is the biggest load of nonsense I have ever encountered from any software company ever. All seemed to go well – iTunes picked up the freshly copied Windows iTunes folder and organised/consolidated it as it should. But, alas, while Apple Music was switched on and signed in, iTunes told me otherwise. A workaround was to browse and/or play something directly from the Apple Music catalogue web site (within iTunes – iTunes essentially acts a glorified browser), then offline stuff could play. In an attempt to fix the problem once and for all, I turned iCloud Music Library Off (and Apple Music) and switched them back on. Big mistake. As soon as that happened, iTunes attempted to reupload music and match, resulting in the duplication of all Apple Music albums and tracks. At least some 2,000+. Sorting out the duplicates in the Gilbert & Sullivan 450 track multi-disc album was, to say the least, [censored] annoying. This was even after nuking the entire iTunes library and letting everything (inc. matched non-Apple tracks and iTunes purchased tracks) download again from Apple’s servers. This incident has made me extremely nervous of ever having to restore an iTunes library from a backup. Maybe Apple is promoting Apple Music’s strength as an online service that you really never need to back up to anything other than their servers? *shrugs*
- Playing Team Fortress 2 using the AMD Radeon R9 370X is fine and dandy, but things went a bit wonky straight after Steam/TF2 installation, with TF2 and Steam quitting immediately as soon as the game started. Restarting MacOS seems to fix it.
- Switching to Apple’s Two Factor Authentication was a pain too. If you had Two Step Authentication, you have to disable that, create a new series of security questions, then wait a bit before the Two Factor Authentication settings pop up on the iPhone or iPad. Trying to get the Apple TV to recognise HomeKit involved logging in and out about six times before it finally worked. Lots of logging in and out across all devices overall. Apple Watch needed a reboot to get the MacOS unlock functionality working, else the system complained that it couldn’t find the watch.
Otherwise, I am enjoying the Retina display, the quad core processor, and super fast SSD drive. I’ve come to the conclusion that Windows is not ready for 4K/UHD and above displays. Not until software developers start making the use of it.
But I will remain a Mac/iPhone/iPad user for the foreseeable future. The alternative is good, but for me – and despite all the problems with Apple’s software division – it’s not enough. Apple have won. I surrender.
Santa Cook will take to the stage to show us the brand new iPhone 7 and what it can do.
With Samsung announcing that the earliest it’ll be swapping out Note 7s with new models using batteries not made by its own manufacturing facility (apparently Samsung will be using a third party for the time being until they can bring it back in-house) on the 19th September, I’m tempted to hand back the phone, get my money back and just bite the bullet and buy the iPhone 7 Plus.
The Galaxy S7 Edge uses a Samsung manufactured battery, so I’m now quite nervous about keeping that one around. Not that there’s been any reports of an S7 Edge exploding. But it does make me wonder about Samsung’s confidence in its own manufacturing facilities.
Update: Another two Note 7 explosions – one in Australia, and another in the US.
But we’ll see. Mr. Cook has seriously got to wow me with the iPhone 7 before I can make that decision. If he does, then I’ll have to start making arrangements for the return of the Note 7 and selling the S7 Edge. Fun! If this is the competition, I might as well just stick with Apple..
How I love technology at times…
In other news, I’m trialling Apple Music again after a three-month absence. Since then, Apple has rolled out two new iTunes updates (bear in mind I’m still using Windows 10), and have made a couple of changes to the backend logic with regards to Apple Music/iTunes Match. I won’t touch iTunes Match again with a 50ft bargepole. Why they’re still offering it given reports that they’ve essentially duplicated the functionality with Apple Music and removed DRM from uploaded non-Apple Music files when using multiple devices, is beyond me.
Apple Music is still a little buggy, even under Windows 10 and Android. But Apple are slowly getting there. There are still issues with syncing, and I still see error 502s and similar when downloading quite a few files – but it’s much better than it was. I’ll continue to experiment.