Advantages and disadvantages of Windows 3.0

I hear the question from time to time what the advantages and disadvantages of Windows 3.0 were. Windows 3.0, released in May 1990, is generally considered the first usable version of Windows. The oft-repeated advice to always wait for Microsoft’s version 3 is a direct reference to Windows 3.0 that still gets repeated today, frequently.

Although Windows 3.0 is clumsy by today’s standards, in 1990 it had the right combination of everything to take the world by storm.

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Interface eth0 not configured: the solution

Interface eth0 not configured: the solution

After I imaged the disks from a failing Debian server to newer hardware, I got the error message interface eth0 not configured after issuing the command ifdown eth0. There’s not a lot of documentation out there about this so hopefully this writeup will help you if you’re getting this puzzling message.

This should be the same in Ubuntu, for what it’s worth.

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Windows 10 is out. I say you should upgrade, just not necessarily right now.

Windows 10 is out today. Of course I’ve been getting questions about whether to upgrade from Windows 7 to 10, and I’ve been seeing mixed advice on upgrading, though some of that mixed advice is regarding Microsoft history that isn’t completely relevant today.

My advice is to upgrade immediately if you’re running Windows 8 or 8.1, and to wait, perhaps six months, if you’re running Windows 7, but I still think you should do it. I’ll explain.

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The world’s fastest budget PC

So, a relative’s PC was getting a bit aged, and runs Windows XP, barely, so I talked them into an upgrade. I noticed that Micro Center had HP/Compaq DC5700s for $99. They were standard issue office PCs a few years ago, and there are a lot of them in the refurb channel. We went and got one over the weekend.

“What are you going to do with that?” the sales rep asked. “We only use them as cash registers.”

“Word processing,” I said.

“You sure you want to run Windows 7 on an 8-year-old PC?”

“I wrote the book on running Windows on older PCs. Literally. It’ll be fine.”

I hate calling rank like that, but sometimes it’s what you have to do.

And really, for $99, it’s awfully good. Web browsing is plenty fast, Libre Office runs fine on it, and think about it. Windows 7 retails for $100-$109. So it’s like getting the hardware for free. Or Windows for free, however you want to look at it.

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Things to do for your relatives’ computers this Christmas

I wish I’d posted this last week, since many of us see one set of relatives at Thanksgiving and a different set at Christmas (and perhaps New Year’s). Here are things you can do as preventative maintenance for relatives whose computers could use a little help. Read more

Making gradual improvements, starting with whatever bugs you the most

A long project can be paralyzing at times, making it hard to figure out where to start. A trick that I learned in model railroading is to just work on whatever small percentage of the project that bothers you the most. Then, when that’s done, cycle back, create another subproject that fixes whatever bugs you the most now, and keep making incremental improvements like that until you get where you want.

I’ve used the same trick on home improvement projects, and I applied it to this web site over the course of the last few weeks, doing a series of incremental improvements. It led places I didn’t expect it.
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Go find a hole to crawl into, Techcrunch. And stay there.

It appears that Michael Arrington, the founder of the influential blog Techcrunch, resigned under pressure of AOL, Techcrunch’s current owner. There’s been a big uproar over this, but it all boils down to a conflict of interest. AOL really didn’t have any choice.

The problem is that Arrington decided to found a venture capital fund that was going to invest in some of the things Techcrunch covers. You can’t do that.
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SSD myths

SSD myths

SSDs, like most disruptive technologies, face some questions and resistance. People will grasp at any straw to avoid adopting them. Thanks to this resistance, a number of SSD myths arose. Here are the myths I see repeated over and over again, and the truth, based on my experience actually using the things.

Note: I originally wrote this way back in 2010. The drive technologies I speak of as state of the art are rather aged now. But the principles still hold today, and will continue to do so. Hard drives have gotten better, but SSD have gotten better at a more rapid pace.

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The Nlite-d Compaq revisited

I installed antivirus software on the Compaq today. As expected, it weighed things down–boot time doubled, to 40 seconds, and memory usage approximately doubled, to 212 MB.

I can’t do much about the memory usage. But half the system memory is still available for apps, which should be fine. Upgrading the memory is always an option for the future. The boot time was fixable.I ran Jk-Defrag, which is probably my favorite utility now. Full optimization didn’t take long on a system with so little on it. I used the option -a7 to sort by filename, which works surprisingly well.

To help the memory usage a little, I yanked the Microsoft Office stub out of the startup group. All that does is preload some of Office at boot time, so Office apps load faster. But modern hardware negates it. With that running, Word loads in about two seconds. Without it, Word loads in about two seconds. Windows XP’s prefetching gives the same benefit for free, so there’s no point in wasting memory on the Office startup piece.

The two changes dropped the boot time to 30 seconds, which is pretty good, especially on a conventional drive. A minute is typical for a stock Windows XP system, even on new hardware. Solid-state drive manufacturers brag about how their products can boot XP in 30 seconds.

I wonder how fast they’d boot if they’d been installed off my Windows CD?

Memory usage and boot time will jump some more when it comes time to actually use the system–scanner drivers and digital camera software need memory and take time to load. But that’s OK. My goal was just to reduce the overhead somewhat, since antivirus software is an absolute requirement these days, and its overhead is only going to go up. I ran across a year-old stash of virus definition files recently, and today’s files are more than 50% larger. The number of viruses out there is growing, and they are becoming more complex.

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