Friday, October 9, 2015

LibreOffice 5.0.2 is SLOW - wait for a fix

Note to all LibreOffice fans: Don't install version 5.0.2! If you already installed it, try downgrading to a previous version. Version 5.0.2 is painfully slow, and the more you use it, the slower it gets - to the point where it's impossible to use.

Watch for a fix from

In the meantime, version 4.4.5 works great.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Windows 10, After Two Months

I bought a new laptop PC two months ago. It came with Windows 8, but was sold as compatible with the soon-to-arrive Windows 10 operating system. After about a week of use, Microsoft invited me to upgrade to Windows 10 for free, and I jumped at the chance. So I've been running Windows 10 on my laptop PC for a couple of months now, almost from the day I bought it. Mostly, I like Windows 10. It is chock full of really nice features, and (so far) appears to be a worthy successor to Windows 7.

I do have a few objections to it, which I will enumerate here.

1. Upselling

One thing I don't like about it is I feel like it's constantly upselling, trying to get me to download or buy more and more software. It's built-in advertising. Ironically, the upselling efforts backfire with me, as I usually end up uninstalling or at least deactivating the software that is doing the upselling.

2. Bloatware in the install

Another thing I don't like about it is that the Windows 10 upgrade came with its own load of bloatware or crapware. I'm still finding all sorts of apps and programs that I really don't want, and it takes me a few minutes every time I find one, to uninstall it. I've noticed, to my annoyance, that some of them can't be uninstalled.

If you leave the bloatware on your PC, it eats up disk space, which isn't a big deal, but it also eats up memory and CPU time, and those two things matter. In addition, the bloatware may be doing things in the background that you really don't want your computer to be doing. That takes us to the next point.

3. "We're watching you ..."

A third thing that I don't like is that Windows 10, and many (if not all) of the apps that come with it, are set by default to snoop on everything you do on your computer, and phone home to report it to a cloud server somewhere. Microsoft and its minions intend to perform "data mining" on this information, or sell it to third parties who will do their own "data mining", all this so that they can "enhance your online experience." That means that they want to sell you stuff, and they're going to bombard you with slyly targeted come-ons, designed to separate you from your money. And your privacy. You need to go into the Settings menus and manually disable all of this invasion-of-privacy stuff.

4. Forced upgrades

Finally, one thing that I find irritating to the point of profanity is Microsoft's insistence on automatically downloading and installing updates to the OS and the drivers, whenever they feel like it. I don't mind Windows 10 telling me that an update is available, but I absolutely hate the way it takes over my computer when it decides it's time for the update. I wrote a couple of posts about this problem and its solutions, here and here.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Hey! Microsoft! Stop being so RUDE!

Keeping your Windows PC updated is a safe and prudent thing to do; it's true. I'm sure that Microsoft thought they were being helpful when they forced automatic updates upon us in Windows 10. But they didn't stop to consider that the implementation was PUSHY and RUDE. Windows 10 (and, by extension, Microsoft) presumes to know what's best for me and my computer at any given moment. It doesn't consider that I may be doing a time-critical task, like:

  • Giving a presentation to a client.
  • Skyping with someone halfway around the world.
  • Suffering through an IRS audit.

It just takes over my computer without any warning or permission.

In my previous post, I wrote about how Microsoft's Windows 10 is set up to automatically download and install any upgrades that Microsoft decides are important for you to have.

When this happens, your computer doesn't alert you or warn you. It just goes ahead and does it. The download takes top priority over anything else The program that you're running slows down, and it may even look like it's freezing. You can't open a File Explorer window to look at your hard disk. If you try to open the Task Manager to see what has happened to your PC, it takes forever to open, and then it informs you that something is consuming 100% of your CPU, all of your available RAM, 100% of your network bandwidth, and probably even 100% of your hard disk bandwidth.

(Yes, your hard disk has limited bandwidth. You can't read from and write to it at infinite speeds.)

Because it's stealing all of your network's bandwidth, other devices on your network will also be affected - especially things like other people's computers, tablets and network-connected cellphones.

You can change settings in the Control Panel to disable automatic installation of the updates. That's described in my previous post. But there is not a Control Panel setting to disable automatic downloading of the updates. You may not think this is a problem, but if you're on a busy network and one of these top-priority updates comes down the pipe from the Mother Ship, it freezes your whole computer and many of the other devices on the same network. It is both crippling and irritating for you, and it's also irritating to everyone else who is affected by your computer's download.

Many people have complained about this problem, but MS hasn't seen fit to fix it yet. (Their attitude is "Just get used to doing things our way." Not acceptable.) The Web reveals an easy hack that anyone can do to regain control over Windows 10 automatic downloads. The trick is to  designate your network connections as "metered connections". This article in HowToGeek tells you how to do it. If that article doesn't help you, this one in LifeHacker might work better.

Windows 10 may be inexcusably rude, but it's smart enough not to mess with people's cellphones. People would get very upset if their cellphone charges suddenly skyrocketed due to Windows 10 automatically downloading huge updates through their tethered cellphones.

Therefore, Microsoft allows you to designate a network connection as a "metered connection". Windows 10 won't download updates through a metered connection without asking for permission first. (It's not a matter of Windows being POLITE. It's more like Windows is being PRUDENT. Or TIMID. We could use more of that timidity elsewhere in the operating system.)

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Dammit, Microsoft! Stop doing that!

I was working on my computer with a client today, helping him set up an account, when Windows 10 decided that it was time to install a stack of important updates, and then to reboot in order to complete the installation. It gave me no warning of what it was doing, the screen simply went black. I fought with the computer for about ten minutes, during which time it rebooted a couple of times and finally gave me a message saying that it was finishing installing the updates.

Why couldn't it tell me that earlier? Why couldn't it advise me that it had some updates to make, and ask if now was a good time to download and install them? Windows 7 used to do that.

Actually, I had to go into the Control Panel in Windows 7 and change the settings so that it would behave politely. It used to be just as rude as Windows 10.

So as soon as Windows 10 finished updating, I went into the Control Panel and changed its settings. Windows 10 won't allow me to postpone downloading the updates, but at least it will ask my permission before it iinstalls them. The Windows 10 Control Panel warned me that it was recommended that I allow Windows 10 to download and install updates whenever the hell it wanted to.

Not after today's experience, Microsoft. You locked me out of my computer for ten minutes, when I was in the middle of a critical task. You no longer get that control over me. And if you try a sneaky stunt like that again, I will stop using any Microsoft product: Windows, Office, you name it, it won't be on this computer.

UPDATE: It can be hacked to allow you to disable the automatic downloads as well. Here's how.

UPDATE 2: I followed through on my threat. This PC doesn't have MS Office on it - no Word, Excel, PowerPoint or Outlook. I'm doing just fine, thank you.

Thursday, July 30, 2015

UBreakIFix Boulder review: lots of thumbs up for this one

So, here's a shout out to a local business. I got my cell phone glass replaced yesterday, and after I got back to work, I checked the paperwork and I got the feeling that I had ripped them off. I called them back and told them that I still owed them $20. They told me not to worry about it. But they did fantastic work - perfect workmanship, good timing, great office manners, everything. I figured that the least I could do was tell all of you about them and encourage you to take your business there. That way they will more than recover the $20 they lost on me.
UBreakIFix Boulder (Facebook: and any browser: does repair work on cellphones, tablets, laptop computers, and other small electronic devices. They will do it by appointment or while you wait. Their prices are reasonable. Please give them as much business as you can. Just don't try to rip them off.

Monday, July 27, 2015

What it's like to be a Mormon bishop

In Lloyd Alexander's story The Black Cauldron, the protagonist, Taran, embarked on a quest with several companions. The leader of the quest, Adaon, was a quiet young man, a little older than Taran. Taran often chafed under Adaon's leadership, because Adaon was more skillful, more competent, and more wise than Taran.

The source of Adaon's enhanced abilities was an iron amulet, or brooch, that he wore around his neck. This brooch gave him "uncanny insight and enhanced sensory perception, as well as prophetic dreams." (That's from Taran didn't know any of this. He was simply envious of Adaon's abilities.

In the course of their quest, Adaon was mortally wounded, and he gave the iron brooch to Taran and told Taran that he must lead the quest. Taran became aware of his increased skills, perception, and wisdom. He didn't let it go to his head; he was simply aware of it, but he clearly enjoyed it.

At a certain point in the story, Taran had to relinquish the iron brooch. He immediately lost all of his enhanced skills, and went back to being the clumsy young man he had been before he had the brooch.

That's what it's like to be a Mormon bishop. You are only a bishop for a short period of time - say between three and ten years. During that time, you are blessed with increased insight, wisdom, and perception, far beyond your natural abilities. People will constantly tell you how wise you are, or how far-seeing you are, but you can't let it go to your head. It is a gift that comes with the calling, That's all. You must enjoy it for as long as it lasts, and use it to help others and to lift them up.

Eventually you will be released from your calling as a bishop. When you are released, all of that wisdom and insight disappears, and you go back to being the same dumb guy you were before you were called.

Okay, you do get to keep some wisdom - but it's the wisdom earned the hard way, from trials borne and struggles overcome and tears shed and souls saved. And I hope you get to keep the love that has grown between you and the people whom you get to serve, and who mean so much to you for those few short years.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Election Day 2016 - Say It Isn't So

Please don't tell me that the next U.S. Presidential election will be a choice between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.

UPDATE: If it does boil down to Clinton vs. Trump, then vote for the vice-president of your choice, and wait for the president to get impeached.