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  • Why I love – and hate this site.

    Posted on FamilyMan Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums Outside the box Rants Why I love – and hate this site.

    This topic contains 25 replies, has 12 voices, and was last updated by  PKCano 6 months ago.

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    • #166826 Reply

      FamilyMan
      AskWoody Lounger

      Like: Someone is tracking and warning of the carelessness of Microsoft.

      Despise:

      * Using a search engine to find info on Windows Update KB numbers with “Ask Woody” because the site search field turns up dozens of pages.

      * Clear instructions on what to DO about KB files often has vague, or no, suggestions.

      Take the previous round of Windows updates, and the current ones I’ve been putting aside until today. Among the second-last set of updates were several MS Office related. There’s no easy way to find them here.  So I always search for the “KBxxxxxx” numbers on Google, along with “Ask Woody”. Anyway, that last time, a post on this site basically said to always install Office updates. I thought, “Good.  I don’t have to check a dozen KB numbers any more – just install them.”

      So today I did that with a few new Office KB files.  But just after that I searched for other new KB numbers… and I read a post saying current MS Office KBs have been released again – but no indication why the poster mentioned that, if they’re safe, if they’re unsafe…

      Like many others I do appreciate this site. However why is it so d**n hard to find information on KB files?

      Often when I do find the KB file mentioned, instructions are vague – if there are any at all. And/or the posts read more like a later chapter in a book, that makes little sense because you didn’t read all earlier ones.  (No clear statement either way if you should, or shouldn’t install a particular KB file.)

      Here’s an example: Windows Update currently shows KB4057400. Add “Ask Woody” to that on Google (because a direct search here turns up 11 pages of results). The first result is this:

      https://www.askwoody.com/2018/windows-patches-are-rolling-out-now/

      Now ‘CTRL F’ doesn’t find 4057400. So I scroll to the bottom, see multiple pages, click and CTRL F ‘4057400’ on each page – and finally find it mentioned on the last page, where it quotes another post:

      “If Windows Update offers KB4056894 then install it. If Windows Update doesn’t offer KB4056894, then if Windows Update offers KB4057400 then install it. If neither update is offered, then wait for the February 2018 Windows updates.”

      …. and:

      “I installed KB4056894 Monthly Rollup. If you have AMD and you feel unsure, download KB4073578 and install it manually first then the Rollup. See AKB2000003. EDIT: See @abbodi86 ‘s comment at #165285. Normally it is not recommended to install unchecked Preview patches, but in this case KB4057400 Preview probably contains the AMD fixes found in KB4073578.”

      We’re now in February. So the first quote hints to install it. But that’s ambiguous at best. (It was typed before today – possibly before 50% of systems on the planet were just BSoD’d from install it.)  And the second quote makes that older and vague advice even more ‘iffy’… Ok, so it probably contains AMD fixes… Nice to know, but what exactly does that MEAN!? AMD owners should go ahead, or shouldn’t?  Intel owners shouldn’t go ahead, or should?  So then you have go searching what this ‘AMD clause’ refers to, to ensure installing 4073578 isn’t a mistake.

      The second search result leads here: https://www.askwoody.com/2018/a-quick-overview-of-january-patching-recommendations-for-windows/ which is the same two quotes again, along with this added comment:

      “Both ways are valid (and better than the directions I gave in the Computerworld article). You should choose MrBrian’s approach if you aren’t overly concerned about a looming Meltdown/Spectre attack. But if you’re worried about an imminent attack (which is to say, one that happens before the February patches have time to stew), go with PKCano’s approach.”

      Note here:

      * A reference to an article located somewhere else.  Is that info in a magazine, on an external website, on this site – who knows – no magazine issue number or URL is provided.

      * Both ways are valid – but different – and better(!?)  So no point looking up the first reference anyway. Which leaves these two…

      * …. which say do #1, or do #2, until Feb patches ‘have time to stew’.  Does that mean wait til March, or does it mean install all other Feb patches except these ones until the others produce no problems.

      * Also, option #2 has this vague AMD reference again. So do AMD/Intel owners go ahead/wait – it’s not said and no previous ‘chapter of the book’ is referenced – so again, who knows.

      Sorry I can’t find a clearer example, atm, but this is one of the CLEARER times when searching for info. (About 40% of the time the advice is more vague or not present – even weeks later.) Sometimes the site will say similar to: “Wait until next month and we’ll update info…” But no update comes. So you wait another month. Page still has no update.

      As I said, I’m grateful for the time I do find answers here. So I’ll still be searching for the KB number and “Ask Woody”. I also realise this site isn’t here for my benefit alone.  But gee, is it really that difficult to have one indexed page listing all KB numbers – that hyperlinks to relevant info if required – but also simply has: “Safe to install”, “Never install”, or “Wait” – rather than cryptic comments that require ‘reading previous chapters of that book’?

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #166838 Reply

      MrJimPhelps
      AskWoody MVP

      @familyman: Would you like your money back?

      We’re all volunteers here, including Da Boss, Woody. He barely makes enough money from the site to keep it going. We’re doing the best we can to make the site as useful as it can be. Therefore, your suggestions and concerns are valuable and are definitely considered.

      Group "L" (Linux Mint)
      with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
      5 users thanked author for this post.
    • #166845 Reply

      MrBrian
      AskWoody MVP

      Thank you for the feedback :).

      Regarding searching, it’s a known issue that web search engines index only some of the content of this site.

      Different people on this site have differing advice on how to handle the January 2018 updates. My advice for Group A users has the attribute that no updates are installed manually. Manually installing updates is more dangerous – especially lately – because they are not subject to the blacklisting that Windows Update can impose for problematic updates for certain users.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #166848 Reply

      MrBrian
      AskWoody MVP

      This site has a search feature that can find content missed by search engines due to the issue I mentioned in my last comment.

      3 users thanked author for this post.
    • #166849 Reply

      MrBrian
      AskWoody MVP

      Regarding my advice: I didn’t mention Intel or AMD processors because my advice should work for either.

      • This reply was modified 6 months ago by  MrBrian.
      1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #166847 Reply

      anonymous

      ? says:

      what money?

      i have dyslexia and january patching sent it into high gear. i have machines with windows 7 some are AMD and some are intel. i follwo the group b patching method. i got confused trying to read up on all the caveats so i installed KB4056897 on an AMD machine which promptly killed it at reboot. had to use a windows 7 recovery disk to revive it. while preforming the recovery i also had to relearn my way around that command prompt. in the AKB no boot instructions it maybe would be nice to add a line about running DISKPART:> list volumes, so people know where everything is and how to properly address the commands. anyway, after i asked recovery environment to remove the kb by using”revertpendingactions” ( i tried unsuccessfully to nail down the exact update pcakage name so i could specifically remove just the offending update) i was ready to install the updated security fix KB4073578. more confusion, i did not know whether to apply one or the other or both. eventually, PKCano advised me to apply KB4073578 which i did on all machines AMD and intel and everything is running smoothly (until the next rodeo). i appreciate all the people who post on this site (Noel C. MrBrian et. all) because they bring with them a wealth of shared knowledge and talent and experience. bw (before woody) i was at the mercy of merciless microsoft and a jumble of google leads which was difficult to say the least.  oh yes, my rant? “The eyes are the WINDOWS to the soul.” so sue me microsoft!

       

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #166856 Reply

      MrBrian
      AskWoody MVP

      n the AKB no boot instructions it maybe would be nice to add a line about running DISKPART:> list volumes, so people know where everything is and how to properly address the commands.

      Which substep of step 1 did you use to start Windows Recovery Environment?

      • This reply was modified 6 months ago by  MrBrian.
      • This reply was modified 6 months ago by  MrBrian.
    • #166861 Reply

      MrBrian
      AskWoody MVP

      But gee, is it really that difficult to have one indexed page listing all KB numbers – that hyperlinks to relevant info if required – but also simply has: “Safe to install”, “Never install”, or “Wait” – rather than cryptic comments that require ‘reading previous chapters of that book’?

      Others have asked for this or similar, but Woody in response said it would be too much work, if I recall correctly.

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #166865 Reply

      anonymous

      ? says:

      oh, in bobbyb’s first screen shot of DISM at the top you can see where he went into the winpe and it looks like he went from >X:\windows\system32 to X:\ maybe by using chdisk or cd then it looks like he ran DISKPART to get his bearings? and then into executing the list installed packages? so he could remove the specific offending update rather than “RevertPendingActions”.

    • #166872 Reply

      MrBrian
      AskWoody MVP

      oh, in bobbyb’s first screen shot of DISM at the top you can see where he went into the winpe and it looks like he went from >X:\windows\system32 to X:\ maybe by using chdisk or cd then it looks like he ran DISKPART to get his bearings? and then into executing the list installed packages? so he could remove the specific offending update rather than “RevertPendingActions”.

      Please post your feedback to bobbyb at https://www.askwoody.com/forums/topic/2000009-getting-out-of-a-no-boot-situation-after-installing-windows-updates/.

    • #166875 Reply

      anonymous

      ? says:

      whoops, precision counts in computing and in life… what i meant to say is Chkdir not chkdisk. i like chkdir because then i don’t have to remember to use “quotes”. left handed hunt and peck, you know?

    • #166881 Reply

      anonymous

      ? says:

      wow, sorry to burn up the cycles… Chdir, chdir, yes it is chdir… (chdir or cd0

      enough from me

      • #166885 Reply

        PKCano
        AskWoody MVP

        ?says

        Been a long time since DOS Days, eh?  (Snicker) 🙂

        1 user thanked author for this post.
    • #166890 Reply

      anonymous

      ? says:

      yes

      or maybe it is gil bates monstersoft forcing me to learn terminal

      or maybe because it is legal here and/or George Stranahan’s woody creek home brew whiskey or, or, or.

    • #166903 Reply

      Cybertooth
      AskWoody Lounger

      Replying to the original post:

      Part of the problem is that the advice necessarily changes as new information comes out (reports of problems with patches; new versions of patches; and so on). Therefore, trying to keep track of the shifting sands can be highly frustrating. That’s why I read but ignore all patching recommendations until Woody gives the green light and the instructions are spelled out in Topic 2000003 (I’m in Group B). I don’t touch the patches until that time.

      Here at Woody’s, there may be (but I’m not aware of) a similar, regularly updated “soup-to-nuts” topic for Office patches. If there isn’t, it too would be a handy guide to have on the site.

       

      2 users thanked author for this post.
    • #166900 Reply

      anonymous

      ? says:

      my apologies to FamilyMan for hijacking his post. i hope he gets the correct info in order to get january patching behind him. spring will be here soon!

      another side note for PKCano, my AMD machines had no offer of .net except 4.7.1 upgrade, the intel machines had KB4055532 which, of course i swallowed. no indigestion, so far.

      the disk cleanup/DISM for AMD took out:

      KB2647753 “update rollup” 08/14/2012

      KB3092627 “fix for KB3076895 MS15-084 08/10/2015 (XML Core)

      KB3101722 “NDIS (eop) MS15-117 12/10/2015

      the intel machines that took KB4055532 spit out two additional KB’s:

      KB2973112 “.Net 3.5.1 (security update) MS14-053 08/08/2014

      KB3122648 “.Net (security update) (dos) MS16-019

      off to walk the doggies, thank you

       

    • #166908 Reply

      Noel Carboni
      AskWoody MVP

      To the original poster:

      You may just be finding it frustrating that it has become so complex and difficult to manage one or several computer systems.

      It’s not the fault of this site, Woody, or those who are contributing here.

      The world has simply gotten more complex, and Microsoft really isn’t working as hard as they once did to make it easier. Perhaps their level of effort became unsustainable.

      Don’t feel bad. There are those of us with 40+ years computer experience and we ALSO find it frustrating that it’s become so complex to manage one or several computer systems.

      My advice: Relax. Don’t feel pressured to do anything, and ask specific questions if something’s unclear.

      Woody offers one big piece of advice, easily visible, backed by more experience and wisdom than you might think, and quite easy to follow: Don’t install patches if his MS-DEFCON level is at 2 or 1.

      Watch for posts like this one (MS-DEFCON 3: Lots of caveats, but it’s time to get patched ), whose time has come and gone already for February, that identify what to install and what to think about when installing, and you won’t go far wrong.

      -Noel

      4 users thanked author for this post.
    • #166911 Reply

      PKCano
      AskWoody MVP

      What people who are not familiar with the site don’t realize is that it is a filter.
      We have input from many sources that we filter to make the recommendations. As the input changes the recommendations may change.

      There is not enough manpower to sort through all the sources, change the directions continually, organize the data, and put out ONE cohesive “do it this way” directive. It would take a big organization.

      We are ONE Woody and a few MVPs trying to administer to a huge population. And we are all volunteers. We appreciate all of you out there who contribute to make the site as helpful as possible. And if it’s a little chaotic, so be it.

      Thank you all.

      4 users thanked author for this post.
    • #166931 Reply

      Elly
      AskWoody MVP

      Hello Family Man,

      Woody had to eliminate threaded replies, because the site was redlining the server (too much traffic). When we had threaded replies it was much easier to see what a particular response was referring to, and whether that person or anyone else had more to say about it. It was a conversation that we could follow along with, rather than cookbook instructions. So, you are just getting one part of that conversation in a particular reply… and it could be very specific to someone’s hardware and software and OS…

      To not have threaded replies been frustrating for me, and I’m not new to this site… I’m not a volunteer here… but have learned a whole lot from the good information here, like how much telemetry I want, and how to control it, in addition to updating advice.

      There are a lot of people that update right after the patches come out, but they know how to restore their systems, and are doing the testing, and reporting it here, so the bugs can be identified and avoided by people who just want to stay out of trouble (like me!).  If you jump into one of those conversations, and think that is advice you should follow, you can quickly get into problems. By the time Woody changes the Defcon level, most of the problems have been discovered, and you can move forward with some confidence.

      I much preferred the threaded responses… but I’ve seen good efforts from the MPVs under both set-ups, and the information you get (check out where it is in the responses, though) is sound, based on competent expertise.

      The MPVs do have different backgrounds, and different reasoning for different approaches when it comes to managing a computer. They share their real life experiences and reasoning, and have had long discussions about those differences, and even changed their individual recommendations over time… so there isn’t just one way of doing things (unless you are following Microsoft’s way… and it was working… then you wouldn’t be here in the first place!).

      If you are wanting specific instructions as to updating, only, check out when Woody posts his Defcon changes, like Noel Carboni says. When Woody gives the all clear (or clear with reservations) the post will refer to his ComputerWorld article, with the most current information and caveats. That has links, for you to reach step by step instructions… but you need to know the information in that article, to make your own decision about how you want to go forward. It addresses each version of Windows… just read the info for yours, if you start getting information overload.

      I have nothing but gratitude for Woody and the MPVs here… and encourage my family and friends to use the Amazon link on this site, if they like it when I answer once of their computer questions…  ’cause the answer came from here!

      Win 7 Home, 64 bit, Group B

      7 users thanked author for this post.
    • #166932 Reply

      The Surfing Pensioner
      AskWoody Lounger

      Why do I love it? It’s like watching a soap opera on geekdom, which additionally provides valuable information about updating my computer (or not, as the case may be): I can’t seem to stay away. Why do I hate it? It won’t load fast enough – the poor old server can’t cope with the massive influx of visits. I think it’s time MS provided Woody with some financial support – after all, he’s enabling its customers to survive its incompetence.

      5 users thanked author for this post.
    • #166970 Reply

      Cascadian
      AskWoody Lounger


      As I said, I’m grateful for the time I do find answers here. So I’ll still be searching for the KB number and “Ask Woody”. I also realise this site isn’t here for my benefit alone. But gee, is it really that difficult to have one indexed page listing all KB numbers – that hyperlinks to relevant info if required – but also simply has: “Safe to install”, “Never install”, or “Wait” – rather than cryptic comments that require ‘reading previous chapters of that book’?

      Welcome to the AskWoody Lounge, FamilyMan. I’m glad you looked around and found your way to an appropriate place to comment. It shows you care as much about those around you, as you do of getting your voice heard. Very much appreciated. I am not offended by your rant, and hope you receive my advice the same way. Rant of course is just a title that helps let off steam, not accusing you of anything untoward.

      You have come to this site in a backwards manner, and are searching through the caverns using a map from another source. This method is bound to lead to dead-ends. The homepage here, like most blogs, shows current items of discussion only. There is an amazing archive of information that is not immediately obvious to newcomers.

      Please allow me to point you towards the AskWoody Knowledge Base. It holds articles by MVP’s that cover a wide range of subjects from getting started to staying current. Kristy has a pinned article that is an active cross-reference to the rest of the articles: https://www.askwoody.com/forums/topic/knowledge-base-listing/

      In this area you will learn the underlying ideas and language that will help you interpret the current advice articles that you stumble into using the outside search engines. Of significant importance is determining if are most comfortable following a GroupB or GroupA method of applying monthly patches.

      Rather than continuing on here, please look into these articles to learn the difference in the words of the MVP’s that contribute advice here. Wishing you the best.

      • This reply was modified 6 months ago by  Cascadian. Reason: typo fix
      7 users thanked author for this post.
    • #166972 Reply

      Cascadian
      AskWoody Lounger

      Apologies, I’m still retraining on the separate pages of non-threading comments.

      I missed the Page 2, excellent replies. While responding to a Page 1 comment. Which started a Page 3. I should have read more first.

    • #167000 Reply

      woody
      Da Boss

      is it really that difficult to have one indexed page listing all KB numbers – that hyperlinks to relevant info if required – but also simply has: “Safe to install”, “Never install”, or “Wait” – rather than cryptic comments that require ‘reading previous chapters of that book’?

      Lemme show you what we’re up against. Just this month – the past 12 days, before the Patch Tuesday deluge hits — we’ve had 700 or so new or modified KB articles.

      I would love to maintain a list, like Susan Bradley does on windowssecrets.com, that lists all of the patches and Install/Wait/Never Install. But maintaining a list like that would be a full-time job for at least two people — and they would have to agree on the criteria for acceptance.

      (For what it’s worth, Windows Secrets Newsletter is own by a large conglomerate. AskWoody is owned by an overwhelmed volunteer.)

      Susan used to keep a list of Windows and Office patches, from a system admin’s point of view, but she finally gave up last October. Just too much work.

      The only approach I’ve found that works is to wait until patches look good, then give a blanket go-ahead — MS-DEFCON 3 or 4 or occasionally 5 — with warnings about known problems.

      With Windows patches now coming out in batches (Monthly Rollup, Security-Only, Cumulative Update) that’s the only way most human beings can handle the patches, too.

      Microsoft makes about a gazillion dollars a month – and spends millions supporting its patches. AskWoody.com makes about ten dollars a month, on a good month. I’m trying to make the site more self-sufficient, but advertising revenue is down throughout the industry and I’d hate to put up some sort of paywall.

      That said, I should’ve linked to my Computerworld article. (They’re all listed here.) And I think we can do something to put a link up at the top that points to the most recent MS-DEFCON advice. I’m already doing something like that at Computerworld, where I have a mid-month update on patching problems called Patch Alert.

      If it helps, I share your frustration. But there are only 25 hours in a day….

      4 users thanked author for this post.
    • #167001 Reply

      woody
      Da Boss

      Apologies, I’m still retraining on the separate pages of non-threading comments.

      I’m having problems with that, too. My guess is that we’ll have to upgrade the server again (sigh) before we have enough horsepower to drive nested replies. We’ve been redlining it even without nested replies.

      3 users thanked author for this post.
    • #167047 Reply

      Sessh
      AskWoody Lounger

      I’m having problems with that, too. My guess is that we’ll have to upgrade the server again (sigh) before we have enough horsepower to drive nested replies. We’ve been redlining it even without nested replies.

      So, whether the site is the way it is currently or the way it was before that the majority of people seemed to prefer, redlining happens either way? Is there any reason against reverting back to how it used to be and ride it out until an upgrade happens? I am a little confused as to how nested replies can cause server redlining. Isn’t that a traffic issue? I’m sure the site gets a lot of it.

      1 user thanked author for this post.
      • #167048 Reply

        PKCano
        AskWoody MVP

        Is there any reason against reverting back to how it used to be and ride it out until an upgrade happens? I am a little confused as to how nested replies can cause server redlining. Isn’t that a traffic issue? I’m sure the site gets a lot of it.

        In addition to the amount of traffic, with nested replies each visitor has to reload a HUGE page when they navigate the site. This as opposed to the relative short pages in this non-nested format.
        The longer a thread/page, the longer it takes to reload it. And that loads the server.

        3 users thanked author for this post.

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