Sunday, February 18, 2018

Windows 10 Spring Creators Update

No, I don't know what the next "version" of Windows will be called but history suggests it might be  "Spring Creators Update". One thing for sure, you don't want to be surprised when you wake up one morning and it has installed/uninstalled/crashed overnight.

Likewise Microsoft had their share of troubles with January's patches.

So now is a good time to prepare.

If you're not running Windows 10 Pro, the first thing to do is to go here and buy a Windows 10 key for $14.00. Then backup and upgrade (archive.org) Home to Pro.
  1. Select the Start  button, then select Settings  > Update & security  > Activation.
  2. Select Change product key, and then enter the 25-character Windows 10 Pro product key.
  3. Select Next to start the upgrade to Windows 10 Pro.
Then follow Woody Leonard's instructions from here.

To block Automatic Updates (you can say "defer" if you prefer), click Start > Settings > Update & security. Click the link marked "Advanced Options." You can see the "Choose when updates are installed" pane in the screenshot.

Microsoft has changed the terminology several times in the past couple of months, but choosing "Current Branch for Business" in the first drop-down box should assure that you won’t be upgraded to the next version of Windows (presumably, version 1709) until Microsoft says it's ready for widespread adoption. By choosing CBB, you’re avoiding the four-month-long unpaid beta-testing phase, where those who leave Automatic Update enabled get to install and test the new version of Win10 as soon as it's rolled onto their machines.

The Feature Updates box is supposed to delay the installation of new versions (read: version 1709) by the specified number of days. Remember Feature Update = Version change. At this point, we have no idea how that number will interact with the CBB choice in the first box - or even if it interacts at all. The rules seem to change every week.

The Quality Updates box, though, controls how long Windows Update waits to install the latest cumulative update. Remember Quality Update = Cumulative Update. I suggest you wind that up to 30 days, the maximum, but put a reminder in your calendar to check in a few weeks to see if the next cumulative update is behaving itself.

I don't recommend that you Pause Updates using this setting. It isn't clear what updates are being paused. You still want antivirus updates, for example, and even if Microsoft allows those through now, experience has taught that the rules change all the time.

Windows 10 versions 1507, 1511 and 1607 Pro and Enterprise had similar options, but you have to dig through Group Policy settings to get to them.
If you're on Windows 10 1709 "Fall Creators Update" the term will be "Semi-Annual Channel" instead of  "Current Branch for Business".

If you won't/can't upgrade to Windows 10 Pro, here are Woody Leonard's instructions for Windows 10 1703. You're on your own.

With all this doom and gloom, personally I've had good luck.

Cross your fingers.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Edge Is Good For Something

I finally found something that Microsoft's Edge browser is good for.

Last week I was reading an article at Medium.com on "What Really Happened with Vista: An Insider’s Retrospective". It was a good article but the presentation drove me crazy.

It had a CSS "shade" at the top and another CSS "footer" at the bottom. These caused PgDn to scroll too far and you would miss some of the text. Then you'd have to Up Arrow to see the skipped text.



I didn't have enough patience to read much of it in this manner.

Then I recalled that Edge has a reading view.

I copied the URL and pasted it into Edge. In the address bar is an icon that looks like an open book.


Click on that and you're put into Reading view" mode.

Much better.



I concede that there are similar capabilities in Google's Chrome but they all require hacks or non-Google extensions.

Sunday, February 04, 2018

R.I.P CrashPlan

I've been a huge proponent of CrashPlan. I started with the personal offsite backup.

That worked well and I eventually added their cloud backup.

You can read about my experiences here. I'll save you some time. It's nothing but good.

Then...

In August 2017 I got the following e-mail:
Thank you for being a CrashPlan® for Home customer. We're honored that you’ve trusted us to protect your data.
It's because of this trust that we want you to know that we have shifted our business strategy to focus on the enterprise and small business segments. This means that over the next 14 months we will be exiting the consumer market and you must choose another option for data backup before your subscription expires. We are committed to providing you with an easy and efficient transition.
They partnered with Carbonite but Carbonite's offering just isn't what CrashPlan's was. For example Carbonite only keeps deleted files 30 days.

Then during the Black Friday sales I saw an offer from StackSocial for 2TB for life for $39.99. (That has since gone back up to $49.99.)

I had to look at that.

What StackSocial was offering was Zoolz Archive Home. What comprised the 2TB was 1TB of Instant Vault storage and 1TB of Cold Storage.

Instant Vault has to be accessed using a web interface. You can also generate shared links for the Instant Vault storage like DropBox.

Cold Storage has a Windows Service that manages the backups like CrashPlan. Cold Storage uses Amazon Glacier as a store. This means that it takes approximately 3-5 hour to restore from Cold Storage. I don't see that as a problem for backup.

My CrashPlan backup was about 400GB so it's going to take a while to backup all that to Zoolz but it's chugging along just fine.

As a backstop I've signed up for CrashPlan for Small Business at 75% discount for a year.