Windows 7

I am on the horns of a dilemma. My Dell Studio XPS  machine – which will be 4 years old in May – is suffering from applications not playing well with the Operating System. Some of this is the result of installing and un-installing a multitude of applications over the past few years and a contributing factor is having forgotten applications still hanging around long after I stopped using them. That is, of course, if I ever did use them in the first place. Even the best PC clean-up utility available will still fail to get everything. Believe me, I’ve tried a number of them over the years.

[stextbox id=”Information” float=”true” align=”right” width=”300″ mright=”10″]Nuking is a technical term used by trained professionals to describe the process of wiping the hard disk and re-installing the Operating System.[/stextbox]A PC which has been around a while can definitely benefit from nuking the system and starting over.  One of the advantages of doing this  is that you have the opportunity to inventory your software applications, determine which ones you don’t like/need/want and vow not to re-install them on the pristine copy of the OS you’ll have after you’re through. This, of course, gives you the freedom to install new software applications that  you don’t like/need/want.

I am on the cusp of wiping the slate clean and starting over and my dilemma is that of deciding which OS to install once the hard drive has been sanitised. I have my choice of installing:

  1. Windows 7 – I currently use this OS
  2. Windows 8 – I’ve got this on my test machine and have found it not to be quite as bad as anticipated
  3. Linux – I have Ubuntu dual-booting on my test machine and Mint running as a virtual machine on the Dell Studio XPS

So which one should it be? On one hand, Win7 works for me. On the other hand, I hate to get Win 7 all set-up, configured & applications  installed only to have to do it all over again in 12 to 18 months time because of Win 8.

I could just go ahead & install Win 8 since there are work-arounds for most of the major interface complaints but there are still a few “why in the hell did they do that?” items – like scroll bars -that I am somewhat loathe do deal with on a daily basis. Hopefully, someone will cobble a work-around for those.

[stextbox id=”Information” float=”true” align=”right” width=”300″ mright=”10″]Dr. Data tried this approach on his test machine and – after hours of trying to make things work the way that they ought to – wound up Nuking the system and starting from scratch.[/stextbox]Before you say “Why not save time and trouble by upgrading Win 7 to Win8 and thus avoid having to re-install the world?”, I should mention that such an upgrade also migrates the bad settings, misconfigured applications and other gunk  from Win 7 to Win 8, often with less than desirable results. So much for the ease of migration between Windows Operating Systems.

[stextbox id=”Information” float=”true” width=”150″]WINE stands for “WINE Is Not an Emulator”. [/stextbox]Finally, I could do exactly what I’ve wanted to do for many moons and make the move to Linux. The problem is that I’ve got plenty of $$$ invested in Windows applications for which there is not a Linux version. Even when there is a version of, say,  XYZ available for Linux, I would most likely have to buy the Linux version as if I was buying the software for the very first time. Linux does have WINES which allows one to run things like MS Outlook in an X environment but it does not get along well with the Windows software. It’s dollars to doughnuts that Dr. Data has a bunch of applications that fit into this category.

Where will all this end up? It’s hard to say right now but sooner or later, Win 7 on the Studio XPS is going to get to the point where Dr. Data’s hand will be forced in one direction or another.

You may – or may not – remember my announcement earlier this year that I planned to be an “early adopter” of Windows 8 – at least as far as my test machine goes. I finally found a bit of time two weeks ago, fired up the # 2 PC and set about upgrading from Windows 7 to Windows 8.

The first thing that happens when you arrive at the Windows 8 Upgrade Site is that Microsoft downloads a widget to check your system for compatibility issues:

  • Do you even have Windows 7 to begin with
  • Is your machine capable of running Windows 8
  • Do you have any software applications on your machine that won’t work with the new OS

That bit of folderol seemed to take forever took forever but the widget finally announced that my machine was good to go. I handed over my credit card information and initiated the download of the upgrade package. Once that was done, the widget started work on the upgrade itself. Now here’s where the fun begins.

The upgrade widget told me that to continue the process, my PC would have to reboot. Nothing unusual about that request so I let the widget have its way with my machine. Following the reboot, the widget announced that it was resuming the upgrade. So far, so good. After a bit of thumb-twiddling on my part, the widget suddenly announced that my test PC was incapable of running Windows 8 and went to EOJ. Did the widget change its mind somewhere along the way?

Rebooting my PC did not result in the widget restarting the upgrade. To do that, I had to go back to square one where I downloaded the widget in the first place. Once again, it told me that my PC was good to go and then asked for my credit card information . . . again. Obviously, I was not going to pay twice to upgrade the same copy of Windows 7 so I fished around in the downloads folder and found the ISO image for the upgrade. I burned the ISO on to a DVD and tried to restart the upgrade process. I was duly informed that I was trying to upgrade a 32-bit system with a 64-bit upgrade DVD and that I should use the 32-bit DVD instead. Trouble is, there is no 32-bit DVD!

After stewing over this for a week and checking with – a great resource, by the way – I was advised to buy a copy of the Upgrade DVD from Microsoft and use that to run the upgrade; exactly what I was trying to avoid in the first place. At this point, my upgrade to Windows 8 – all done purely in the interest of science – is now costing me $56.00.

Microsoft has informed me that the DVD is on its way to me. I’ll keep you apprised of future developments in this saga.

Over the years, I have been asked repeatedly: “What kinda games you got on all those PC’s of yours?”. My answer has invariably: “Well, not very much at all.” I have to confess that I am not much of a gamer and never have been, much to the disappointment of friends – both male & female – family members, in-laws, etc. I’m just not “game oriented”. (It probably originated in my total lack of athletic ability and has migrated to board, card and electronic games.) Indeed, the top three games in my quite small pantheon of electronic amusements are:

  1. Tetris
  2. Sokoban
  3. Centipede

Another game that I have played on the computer from time to time is the old XP version of Space Cadet Pinball. Perhaps, some of you liked it as well. Since Windows XP is riding off into the software sunset, you might want take this game over to Windows 7.

Tech Republic’s Windows Blog offers detailed instructions on just how to move Pinball from XP to Windows 7. The instructions are pretty straightforward and the only thing you’ll need is either an old XP machine that still runs or a copy of the XP installation DVD. (Fortunately, I have both!) Once I get this going on Win 7, I’m going to try running it in Windows under Ubuntu – a nice way to spend a couple of hours.

Read all about it at

A number of my recent TechnoRants© have dealt with computer security. This latest threat deals with the Domain Changer virus which will impact PC’s , MAC’s and probably Linux machines as well so listen up!

The FBI recently broke up a hacker ring based in Estonia that was responsible for unleashing the Domain Changer virus. The concept for this new bit of nastiness originally turned up in January ’07,  has been perfected in this most recent release and is based on a long-postulated threat to Domain Name servers. So, what does it do?

First of all, I’m not going to try to explain Domain Names. Instead, have a look at the Wikipaedia article on the Domain Name System. The Domain Changer virus has infected at least 86,000 computers and is lying dormant until July 9th of this year. On that day, it will “wake up”,  redirect your browser to “fake” versions of actual websites, slow down your internet speed and disable your anti-virus & other security software. The hackers would then make money from ads on those fake websites, many of which are probably for software to “clean up” your PC and get rid of whatever is slowing it down. The hackers would win two ways:

  1. They would obtain your credit card information
  2. The “software” would load more viruses/malware on your system.
In other words, this is the internet equivalent of “Thank you sir! May I have another?”
How do you know if you’re infected? Go to the Domain Changer Working Group website and read the brief information about the Domain Changer virus. There will also be a link at the top of the home page
that will direct you to instructions on how to Detect an infection. The detection bit is all done via the internet and you won’t have to download any software, etc. There are instructions for Windows XP, 7 and MAC OS X.
If you are infected, there is information about tools  to disinfect your system. Finally, there is general information on how to protect your system from being infected.
If you’re a Windows user and have questions, need additional help, etc. Drop Dr. Data a line and I’ll try to give you a hand.


For those of you still using Windows XP, bad news: Microsoft will cease it’s support of this long-lived operating system in 2014. My advice: Move to Windows 7 post haste because Windows 8 is on the horizon and promises a sea-change in how you interact with your PC.

You can see the connection between Windows 95, WIndows XP, and Windows 7 even if some of the new whiz-bangs and gim-cracks are a bit confusing to those whom XP has been the only thing to use for the past decade or more. Windows 8 changes the game – completely.

My purpose today is not to fawn over the Brave New World promised by Windows 8 but rather to comment on the remarks of technology pundits who claim that its Raison d’être is to – wait for it – Save The PC. Continue reading

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