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Don’t read too much into the PC sales drop just yet

If you’ve been paying any attention at all, you probably know that new PC sales are in the toilet–out of the five biggest vendors, the only one whose sales managed to hold steady in Q1 2013 was Lenovo, while the other four saw a sales decline. So now Slashdot linked to a ZDNet piece stating that Windows is over, and said it must be true because ZDNet always sides with Microsoft.

Let’s not read too much into that. The author of the piece is a longtime open-source advocate. The points he raises are completely valid, but if there’s one person who’s going to take Microsoft to task, it’s Steven Vaughan-Nichols.

Microsoft has a long road ahead, but there is precedent for salvaging the boondoggle known as Windows 8. And I don’t think Windows 8 is the only factor here.Read More »Don’t read too much into the PC sales drop just yet

If you needed another reason not to buy Windows 8….

I’m still waiting for someone I know to tell me he or she likes Windows 8. I’ve seen some strangers online say they like it, but not a lot of them, and many of them appear to be astroturfers because they just like it too much. I’m sure Apple loves it, because, like my boss told me, a lot of older apps (like anything older than Office 2010) won’t run on Windows 8. So, if you have to re-buy all your software anyway, what advantage is there to buying a Windows 8 machine over a Macintosh?

In fact, that’s exactly what his parents did. They gave up on Windows entirely and bought a Mac Mini.

The other approach, of course, is to buy a Chromebook. A lot of people seem to be doing that too, seeing as it’s the best-selling laptop on Amazon–so much so that they don’t have any stock, and third-party sellers are scalping them for $80 above retail like they used to do with Nintendo Wii consoles.Read More »If you needed another reason not to buy Windows 8….

Don’t look for me waiting in line to buy Windows 8 at midnight

Windows 8 is out. Yawn. I won’t be standing in line. I wait a minimum of a year to install new versions of Windows anyway, a practice that’s beein serving me well since 1994, and I skipped Vista altogether at home. I had it at work, so I know I didn’t miss anything. If Windows 8 is worth having, I’ll know about it by this time next year.

Windows 8 comes out later this year, but I won’t be moving just yet

So Windows 8 was released today. I won’t be moving to it anytime soon.

There are some people who make a habit of waiting for Service Pack 1 to be released before upgrading to a new version of Windows. The trouble is, I can think of one instance, Windows NT 4.0 Service Pack 1, that was much more problematic than its predecessor. And in more recent years, service packs have become more arbitrary. Knowing that practice exists, Microsoft releases Service Pack 1 based more on uptake than on actual need.

So I have a different rule I follow.Read More »Windows 8 comes out later this year, but I won’t be moving just yet

Things I wish everyone knew about home computer security

I’m a security professional by trade, with two certifications. I’m not responsible for defending your computer networks, but I want your networks to be secure. There’s a really simple reason for that. If your computer and your network is secure, then it isn’t attacking mine. Or anyone else’s.

Several fellow subscribers to a train-related interest group that I like got hacked recently, and have been sending out spam messages. They’ve received a lot of advice in the hours since. Some of it has been good, and some not as good. So I tried to think of some things that people could do in about 30 minutes to keep the crooks at bay.

Incidentally, the computer crooks won’t be going away. Computer crime happens because the criminals can make more money doing that than doing something legal. The only way to make it stop is to make it too hard, so that getting a real job becomes more profitable. You won’t solve that problem in 30 minutes, but if we all take that single step down that road, we’ll make the world that much safer. So, with that, let’s roll up our sleeves.Read More »Things I wish everyone knew about home computer security

Getting Firefox out of the doldrums

John C. Dvorak asks what’s wrong with Firefox, and suggests forking as a possible solution.

It sounds to me like one or more plugins he’s running is causing problems. I run Firefox on Vista (unfortunately), with as few plugins as possible, and I don’t have the issues he describes. Memory usage does spiral out of control if I go long enough between restarting the browser, but restarting the browser once a week keeps it tolerable.
Read More »Getting Firefox out of the doldrums

Remove ghost device drivers from Windows 7

If you want a way to remove ghost device drivers from Windows 7, or other recent versions of Windows, it just got easier.

What’s a ghost device driver? When you change or remove hardware from a Windows system, Windows keeps the old device driver lingering. You don’t see it in Device Manager, but the time Windows spends chasing ghosts increases boot time, in addition to consuming some memory, registry space, and disk space.

It’s not as much of a problem as it used to be, but if you want your system to run as quickly and smoothly as possible, you don’t want it wasting time managing hardware you’ll never use again. (Don’t worry–if you change your mind and plug the hardware back in, Windows will reload the driver.)Read More »Remove ghost device drivers from Windows 7