Newsletter Archives

  • Windows 8.1 is an excellent choice

    More interesting mail this morning:

    My clients are frustrated with [unexpected and frequently destructive Win10 patches] and I don’t have a good answer other than one I have chosen myself. I moved my personal computers, except for one laptop back to Windows 8.1 as it seems to be clear of the update mess and it has update support for about 4 years. Do you recommend this as a solution to individuals who don’t care to know that Microsoft screwed up, they just don’t want their Windows 10 computer to have to be repaired again via a clean install of Windows and then manually reinstall all applications and user data? I don’t know anyway to protect them from unrequested updates that may then cause their machine to not boot. Telling them to backup is beyond the skill of most average computer users and even if so, how would you know when to do a backup as the updates happen in the background without warning.

    Excellent question.

    Windows 8.1 remains the most stable version of Windows — even more stable, of late, than Win7, and considerably more stable than any Win10 version. It has the fewest patches, the fewest bugs. You can block updates until you’re ready to install them (hopefully with an eye to the AskWoody MS-DEFCON setting). General usability ain’t much, but if you install a Start menu replacement like Start10 or Classic Shell (now open source), it’s fine.

    I’d say get ’em on Win 8.1, and gradually move them over to Chromebooks. Any dissenting opinions?

  • Chromebooks may get the capability to dual-boot into Windows

    I’m gradually weaning myself away from Windows-only apps, using cloud-based apps (through both Chrome and Firefox) to get most of my work done.

    There’s an interesting update on the XDA Developers forum about Campfire, Google’s Bootcamp-like project that will (if all works according to plan) allow you to run Windows programs on a dual-boot Chromebook.

    Interesting stuff.

  • If you want a Pixelbook, now’s the time

    Google’s going to release a new Pixelbook one of these days, but for right now this is a deal that’s too good to pass up.

    To quote Google:

    Save $250 on a Google Pixelbook, originally from $999, now from $749. Offer valid starting July 16, 2018 at 1pm PT through July 17, 2018 at 11:59pm PT. Available only to U.S. residents aged 13 years or older with U.S. shipping addresses. Our offer can’t be combined with any promotional codes or with other bundle offers running at the same time.

    i5, 8 GB, 128 GB SSD for $749

    i5, 8 GB, 256 GB SSD for $949

    i7, 16 GB, 512 GB NVMe SSD for $1,399

    Pen costs an extra $99. Two USB-C ports that can be used to charge. “OK Google” enabled. (Google had a similar sale in June.) All three ship tomorrow. All have 24-month 0% financing available.

    Discounts like this don’t come scot-free. There are rumors of a new Pixelbook 2 in the wings — 4K display (3840 x 2160), Win10 compatibility. But if you don’t want to wait, this is an amazing deal.


  • Even Chromebooks get the offline blues

    Looks like many – most? – Chromebooks veered offline yesterday, after an update broke existing WiFi connections. You could still log on to a network manually, but if your setup (or company or school) relies on an existing internet connection, your machine turned belly-up.

    Frank Catalano has the story on GeekWire.

    Microsoft-itis. It hit Apple last week. Now ChromeOS.

  • Is there a Chromebook in your future?

    No, you don’t need to spend $1 K on a Google Pixelbook, or $500 on a Samsung Chromebook Pro. There are good, cheaper Chromebooks that still pack all the oomph most people need, such as the smaller $311 Lenovo Flex 11 and the older – but still good – $290 Acer Chromebook 14. (All of those are affiliate links – click on them and AskWoody gets a tiny percentage, with no increase in price to you.)

    Whatever your poison, check out JR Raphael’s 40 Chromebook tips for maximum productivity for some “hey, I didn’t know that” advice. Good stuff.

  • An uber-review of the Google Pixelbook

    Excellent article by JR Raphael in Computerworld:

    The common conclusion with Google’s Pixelbook is that you’d have to be crazy to buy it, but that assessment is based on a flawed and myopic premise.

    I’m thinking my next laptop will be a Pixelbook. In fact, I’m crazy enough to wonder out loud if it’s “good enough” to function as a desktop replacement – just plug it into my big monitor, attach the mechanical keyboard and mighty mouse, plug in the Ethernet cable and maybe bring in the external hard drive.

    My 7-year-old’s school is adding Chromebooks, not iPads and certainly not Windows PCs. Good move, IMHO.

  • ChromeOS as up-and-coming underdog

    Y’all know how much I prefer Chromebooks to Windows computers. Far as I’m concerned, for folks who don’t absolutely require Windows programs, the Chromebook’s the way to go.

    It’s a bit tougher sell in companies, though. Lots of inertia. Security concerns. And, admittedly, lots of apps that require Windows.

    That’s why I really enjoyed James A. Martin’s article in Computerworld: 7 reasons Chrome OS computers are ideal for enterprises.

    I would add three more:

    1. They’re cheap to buy
    2. They’re cheap to run
    3. So far, they have very few security holes

    And there’s one big downside: Google snoops mercilessly. There’s not much you can do about that. It’s what they do.

    Keep what little hair you have left. Consider Chromebook.

  • Want to switch to a Chromebook? Have $450?

    Many of you are asking me what kind of Chromebook I would buy, right now. If I could, I would wait a couple more months because the holidays are coming. But in the sea of $200 to $300 Chromebooks, there’s one that stands out – and, no, it isn’t the new Google Pixelbook. In fact, you could buy two and a half of these little babies for the price of a Pixel.

    Look on the right for an affiliate link to buy the Asus Chromebook Flip C302CA.

    Intel Core-M3, 64GB storage, 4GB RAM. 12.5-inch flip-over touchscreen at 1920 x 1280. 10 hours. Pen. Runs apps from the Google Store — a bit rocky right now, but the Android-apps-on-Chromebook scene will settle down a whole lot faster than the Microsoft Store will beef up.

  • Chromebook is making big inroads

    Those of you who follow along here know that I’ve been recommending Chromebooks for a long time. In my opinion, people who don’t have a need for a specific Windows program should seriously consider using a Chromebook. I use mine all the time.

    Paul Thurrott has been going through a gradual transformation, and his post this morning is encouraging.

    Android on Chromebook Edges From Fantasy Into Reality

    It’s time to switch from the current “nothing to see here” mode and accept that the Chromebook threat to Windows is real. It’s also time to wake up and acknowledge that Windows 10 S, as currently designed, represents the weakest possible response that Microsoft could have offered.

    Check it out.

  • Microsoft’s new anti-Chromebook ads show that you really need to consider buying a Chromebook

    I’ve been saying it for years now. Unless you have an overarching need for a specific Windows application, you should consider getting a Chromebook. True, Google will snoop on your activities. But Microsoft does, too.

    The latest ads from Microsoft — detailed by Paul Thurrott today — prove the point. Even Microsoft can’t come up with convincing arguments for sticking with Windows.

    Windows is an old gray mare who ain’t what she used to be. At least Chromebooks work well, easily, securely and reliably.

  • Easy access to your Windows network files – from a Chromebook

    I tried it, and it works. An official Google app, too.

    Chris Hoffman, PCWorld

    Now if Google can bring the whole Play Store to Chromebooks… we have a new contendah.

  • Touching base

    It isn’t like I’m on vacation or anything, but…

    There’s been precious little news in the past week or so – little tidbits here and there, but nothing meaty, except the NSA revelation that dropped on Christmas eve. 

    The NSA, responding to a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit from the American Civil Liberties Union, released a series of required quarterly and annual reports to the President’s Intelligence Oversight Board that cover the period from the fourth quarter of 2001 to the second quarter of 2013.

    The heavily-redacted reports include examples of data on Americans being e-mailed to unauthorized recipients, stored in unsecured computers and retained after it was supposed to be destroyed, according to the documents. They were posted on the NSA’s website at around 1:30 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

    Our tax dollars at work, eh?

    Anyway, I’m just biding my time, waiting for another shoe to drop. In the next few days I’ll look at the MS-DEFCON rating, but I don’t have much hope. December’s Black Tuesday may well be the worst BT in history, and there are dozens (if not hundreds) of conflicting problems.

    So please enjoy the break! Don’t patch anything — we’re at MS-DEFCON 2 for a reason.

    My usual advice applies, though: If you have a new Windows computer, install all of the outstanding patches — even the bad ones. Go through Windows Update, repeatedly, until there are no new updates to install. Your exposure from waiting is greater than the potential for bricking your machine.

    And if you got a Chromebook, you can smile and whistle a happy tune. I’m still playing with a half-dozen of them (from the big InfoWorld review), wondering whether the people I know can get by with a Chromebook most of the time.