Just an old-time professor

For a few years in the mid 2000s, I took a number of courses at the county college (2-year, Associates-granting public institution) taught by this 1 professor, H. I propose to tell some storys about him, that he told me or that we had.

Continue reading Just an old-time professor

Stupid UIs for file sharing in Windows

File sharing in a small network (like at home or a office with just a “workgroup”) has always been finicky to my memory. With the current (20H2) version of Windows 10, Microsoft’s official help shows it is being made unneededly hard by some stupid user interface. (I don’t use “stupid” often – my choice here is because I think it really is unneeded and unjust these are the way they are.) I will revise this if anyone – from Microsoft or not – lets me know how these are legitimate.

Continue reading Stupid UIs for file sharing in Windows

How does Windows decide a drive’s capacity?

When testing drives of uncertain trustability, on one that was unreadable and disassembled for metal Disk Management on Windows 10 2004 gave me this when playing with it:

Title: Convert Details. Text: The disks that will be converted contain these volumes. Tree list. Root: Disk 0. Branch 1: Simple Volume 78953578496 MB. Branch 2: Simple Volume 1070596096 MB.
Evidently this disk has a cumulative capacity of over 80 billion megabytes. This would be 80 thousand terabytes, or 80 “petabytes” per SI (power of ten) standard definitions of “mega”.

I do wonder what the physical drive passed up the data bus for Windows to display these very bizzare sizes to me. Right now (October 12, 2020), the biggest 3.5 in. hard disk (so electromechanical) on Newegg is 18 TB. This disk was reporting/reported as 4444× larger than that.

Also the numbers were not displayed according to my user account personalization, which specifys decimal separators.

Microsoft’s animated explanation of “Windows Hello”

Microsoft has a history of hiding “easter eggs” in the Windows directory, including the teddy bear and “SULFNBK” whose icon appears to have been made in in Paint.

Cruizing through a current (20H1 / 2004) installation of Windows 10, I turned up the following GIF:

Explanation of image in first paragraph after it.
Filename is @windows-hello-V4.1.gif

Here is my explanation of what is going on for blind persons, and to highly how really weird it is to everyone:

  1. The words “Windows Hello!” appear. The main character appears, a filled in black circle with one arc slightly above the top third of the circle.
  2. Circle turns into a horizontal line for a second, and then back to a circle. It is an eye that just blinked at us.
  3. A light blue smiley face (two eyes and smile) appears in the upper left. At the same time, a ninja/cartoon bomb appears at the right and moves towards the eye.
  4. The eye watches other ninja-bombs follow. It looks up at the blue smiley. While this is going on, biometric lines have been appearing around the smiley.
  5. The eye moves to the blue smiley while the ninja-bombs (five total) line up to fill in a password field, taking the place of the round dots usually seen when typing one in: ●●●●●
  6. The eye arrives on top of the blue smiley and they both disappear in a blue flash.
  7. The eye reappears in the same blue color as the old smiley. It moves towards the ninja-bomb-password and changes back to black when there.
  8. Using its eyebrow like a Pac-man mouth, the eye eats the ninja-bomb-password one ● at a time.
  9. When done, it flips its eyebrow around twice and changes from a single (cyclops) eye into a two eyes, thus becoming a (different from the first!) smiley. It winks with its left eye and fades out.

Other than the product name (Windows Hello), there is no text to localize, which is easy, but there is more going on here than the obvious “Windows Hello uses facial biometrics to replace passwords” that may need explanatory text anyway.

I don’t use this feature of Windows, so I can’t say where this is used in the setup or day-to-day use of it. It has a mesmerizing story to it, so it can loop forever without being too bad.

How to get Windows 10 on a Toshiba Satellite A665 that won’t even boot

I went through some irritation to get Windows 10 installed on a discarded old laptop, so am putting it here for every one else.

Continue reading How to get Windows 10 on a Toshiba Satellite A665 that won’t even boot

Windows messed up my icons unneededly

I just exchanged my monitor of many years for my grand father’s. The one I had been using was almost exactly square, this one is closer to 2:1 horizontal to vertical. After turning my PC back on and signing back in, I find my desktop icons are all scrambled around, even though the old arrangement could have been maintained within the new default resolution.

Slow, modern Heptameron, story two (II)

Back in 7th grade, I attended on instruction at a perennially, nearly terminally underfunded private school and met the person who, in elapsed time, has been the longest friend I have had to date.

(Side story.) In the first “Harry Potter” book, the school librarian is described as “looking like a perpetually underfed vulture”. Perhaps from experience, I parsed it as “perpetually underfunded vulture” for years.

Continue reading Slow, modern Heptameron, story two (II)

Microsoft’s half-and-half troubleshooters

It’s another interface proofreading failure from Windows!

Introduced in, I think, Windows Vista and retained to date, troubleshooters are standardized appearance little programs that Windows runs to solve a few common issues, like networking and sound. The current list is at Windows Settings > Update & security > Troubleshoot.

Here a screenshots of two of them, with the same irritating mistake of not making the instruction text agree with the options presented:

Playing Audio [Windows Troubleshooter]. Select a device to troubleshoot / […]Select one of the listed devices or […] select I’m having problems with a different device. / Options: NVIDIA High Definition Audio is disabled, I don’t see my device listed
I do not have enough interest to install Vista or 7 in a virtual machine and see when the wording changed and which is the original. I first noticed this, with the same text problem, in the Devices and Printers troubleshooter on April 13, 2019. Aside for looking stupid, this can’t make accessibility sense. Anyone that uses a screen reader, let me know.


Entertaining PDF errors in old (“legacy”) Edge

My opinion on Microsoft’s newest idea of their web browser, Edge, being taken from Google’s “Chrome” engine is based on surface impressions only. I still don’t use it for anything, but in earlier days noticed it had some really neat error messages. Firefox got rid of their “This might void your warranty!” warning on about:config, after (more understandably) removing the description of web cookies as “delicious delicacies”.

On December 19, 2019 (I’ve been planning this blog post since then), I tried to open a 0 byte PDF file in Edge and got this:

Scroll with lines of text blowing off the paper. Message: This PDF is corrupted / We won’t be able to open this one. Button: Report problem Link: Privacy statement

The information becoming mixed-up-ness, “blowing in the wind”, is a powerful one to me. There is some reference I am missing remembering, but I think it is close to Weir’s “Silent Conversation” ex-Flash game.

Around April 3, 2020, I made the same mistake and got this instead:

Folder standing up partially open with flying bug (looks like bumble bee) circling out of it. Message: Nothing to see here / Oops! Looks like this PDF is empty. Button: Report problem Link: Privacy statement

The bug-flying-out-of-container is symbolic of emptyness, and is usually seen in reference to an empty wallet. The explosm people (one of them) used this to advantage in their #1654, where two moths (?) were exchangeable for a gigantic horsefly (?) at a bank.

Sadly, to me, all that is gone now and we have this uninspired looks-modal-but-isn’t error:

We can’t open this file / Something went wrong. / Button: Refresh

Boring, less useful than the revised “legacy” message, and a useless option. I call this a loss. (Am filing it under “Interface Hall of Shame” because they went backward in usefulness of the message.)

Going through backups – Windows is happy again

I recently decommissioned an old Western Digital “MyBook” from before 2010 that had been my parents NAS when I lived with them, in the house they had where I grew up. Because I was not sure if there was something worth saving on the various backups and WD used I think an ext* filesystem, I had to restore it (1.51 TB) to a local drive to go through it.

I have a 1.81 TB drive as D: but it was half full of dashcam videos and also the most recent backups from before my parents and I went different directions. To get around this, I copied the oldest backup of my father (Windows 7 backup, using those opaque *.wbcat files) off the drive, deleting them from the NAS, and then removing obvious and large duplicates v. the most recent backup I had. I did this through 5 backup sets before getting to my mother’s backups, which used File History.

Somewhere in there I took a look at my dashcam footage and found that I had kept recordings of my back seat when the rear camera just sat on the cushions waiting for me to fix the mounting. I forget how many GB that was, but each video segment was maybe 300 MB for a few minutes.

Anyway, I have pared the duplicates (via SearchMyFiles, unpaid recommendation) across the 5 NAS + 1 prior (most recent) backups so that I have more than 10% free drive space on D:. This means Windows no longer colors the bar graph red instead of blue. YaY!