Windows

Thanksgiving – Weathering the Storm

Yesterday, while sitting in Starbucks writing a few notes with my iPhone and waiting for my coffee, I could see storm clouds darkening the sky far off in the distance. It’s not an unusual sight and often is nothing to get too excited about. The news reports have all been about the high winds and wintry weather warnings due in our area. I’m referring to the news I actually pay any attention to. Politics are avoided. With Thanksgiving in a few days, it’s not a bad strategy to avoid unnecessary nonsense.

Now a day later I can hear the rain on the roof of the shop start tapping along with the blowing wind as the temperature drops down to a more seasonable cool temperature range of misery. I had spent some time earlier this morning playing around with the Chromebook’s Linux beta support and running Tshark and tcpdump in the Linux shell. I was able to install non-graphical dependent programs using apt. Apt seems to work better than expected, but I’m not convinced I’d actually use a Chromebook for any pcap file decoding. Lately I’ve been trying to be more practical in my minimalist approach to any computer usage I would use as a “grab and go” daily driver.

With the latest Windows 10 update, I must reluctantly admit that the latest Microsoft OS incarnation does fulfill the majority of my computing needs. I had expected that I would limit my choice to either Debian on a IdeaPad or a Chromebook. Neither has proven to be as flexible and as functional as the latest Windows update. This is somewhat annoying to me because I always feel the need to have Wireshark available on my laptops in case I need to assist someone who needs help troubleshooting communication issues which may actually be application related as opposed to true telecommunication issues. Since Wireshark has such wide protocol support it has become my favorite troubleshooting tool for many situations. OSX, Linux, and Windows support Wireshark well enough, however most of the users I deal with predominantly use Windows 10. Some have recently moved from Windows 7 to Windows 10, and sometimes have issues that I don’t see Linux users dealing with. Message analyzer is no longer supported, so Wireshark continues to be the easiest network monitoring tool for many.

I would still recommend Chromebooks for anyone who needs a low cost and efficient computer for basic web browsing, email, content writing, and basic photo editing. I know Thanksgiving can be an opportunity for friends and family of some fellow computer enthusiasts to ask for computer assistance and or recommendations. This year I would not be surprised to find Windows 7 to Windows 10 as one of the popular topics – other than politics or smartphone comparisons.

This year weather will probably be a safe topic to discuss, but don’t be surprised if the conversation turns to Black Friday shopping. What better topic to discuss the pros and cons of different operating systems, Phone, tablet, or PC based upgrades with associated “savings” deals could spur interesting conversations – provided the weather doesn’t dominate the conversations.

My advice this year is either go for a Chromebook if you have basic Internet related content needs, but if you happen to be one those workforce members who just got updated at work from Windows 7 to Windows 10, then having your own personal computer running Windows 10 Home might be useful for some self learning opportunities. This could be useful in becoming more comfortable in using an upgraded work computer. You can still load Linux as a virtual machine, or Windows Subsystem for Linux. I find myself using Powershell more than I had expected just because it’s available and has a lot of potential for simplifying some tasks you might otherwise normally use the dreaded point and click method

If you’re more involved heavy with media related content creation, than a Mac is probably worth the additional cost. If you already have a reliable computer, than you may find the latest Windows update as a fresh install is all you need. This could make your computer feel like a brand new model. The only issues that limit this is how long a certain model of hardware is supported by the OS upgrade, or manufactured driver support. Usually I can get more use out of a older computer by installing a lightweight Debian based Linux distribution. Unbelievable as it sounds, the latest Win 10 upgrade is running rather well on some of my older laptops – including Netbooks. It may be worth looking into before spending your hard earned money on a new laptop.

I think I might just hold onto what I already have. I’m getting everything done I need to, and I rely more on my phone than any laptop. Upgrading could be worth looking into since my iPhone 7 is starting to lose battery life.

I guess if the weather degrades anymore this Thanksgiving, I’ll at least have my phone with me. Maybe this Thanksgiving laptops aren’t even a topic that will come up. It’s all about phones this year. Even tablets seem to have faded into the background. The weather is always topical – especially if the rain blows hard enough, and the temperature becomes hard to ignore.

Lemon-Lime on Ice

Lemon-Lime Gatorade and crushed ice is (almost, coffee still #1) my new favorite beverage. I know it seems wrong, but it’s pretty nice on hot humid days – especially when I’m waiting for Windows 10 Update Assistant to finish upgrading Windows 10 on my Lenovo ThinkPad. So slow, I know I should be patient, so I finish some other work I’m chipping away at on another Linux laptop. I downloaded the latest Win 10 64 bit iso also just in case I have to build from scratch, but I wanted to have my current configuration updated by the Update Assistant so I could experience the method many users would choose.
Thus, the cold beverage on such a hot day. (Which I just spilled)
This entire exercise started this morning as a plan to play around with the new Windows Command line. The iso I had on hand was version 1809. That’s how I installed Windows 10 back on my Linux test laptop.
Once I had Windows up and running I tried to download the new Command Line “Test preview” from the Windows Store I discovered I needed the latest Windows May 2019 build. That seemed appropriate – thus my long drawn out process trying to build a bootable usb.
This does take a relatively long time for each step.
I wanted to use the Windows media creation tool to make a bootable usb like my previous 1809 build.
Unfortunately I was greeted with error code 0x80042405-0xA001B.
I reformatted and partitioned a blank usb but then I gave up after a few unsuccessful attempted and used Rufus to build a bootable usb with the iso image I downloaded from the Microsoft Download Windows 10 page.
That was fairly easy and worked very well. I built the usb, but I ended up using the Update Assistant – saving the usb for future testing.

Now when I hit the Windows key & R to bring up the “Run” text field, enter “winver”  I see that I am running version 1903. This version was made widely available earlier this summer, but I didn’t feel the need to upgrade from 1809 at that time. Now it’s probably a good time to get familiar with all the changes. I’m seeing an uptick in users upgrade from Windows 7 ( a little late for some, but right on time for others). There will always be those who wait to the 11th hour, so I expect the end of the year will be exciting. I’m sure retail sales will attempt to capitalize on the last minute stragglers.

I’m going to focus on using the new Windows build as my daily driver for a while. So far, I like the new updated look.

The “updated” command line terminal has decent color support, but it still looks like the old command line terminal.

It was not as impressive as I had hoped, but for the most part everything seems to be working fine. I’m not having any issue doing basic tasks, and Ill be using Windows Subsystem for Linux and Powershell.

 

Consolidated command line did allow me to upgrade my Linux Distro fairly easy. Managing the Distro from the command line is a nice option and I’m sure Ill use it more in the future.

 

Everything feels very “new” and smooth. I don’t see a huge learning curve that would intimidate users moving up from Windows 7, so I would expect more positive than negative experiences from users just being introduced to a “necessary update” This is of course if 1903 is the version most users upgrade to.

I can also see how duel booting Linux or using a Virtual machine would no longer be necessary for me. The Linux support appears to do everything I would want from a linux terminal, and a GUI isn’t a deal breaker. I would like to see where Microsoft takes the Linux support in the future. I can work with this version of Windows 10. My laptop actually feels faster and more responsive with just the update.

Even the Windows Security looks like it got a tuneup. Maybe I don’t need a supplemental Antivirus. Before I get too carried away remember this is all just a test. In the end I’m sure I’ll revert back to MX Linux or just my Chromebook as my long term daily driver – but you never know. This is a very impressive first take.

I always seem to get dragged back into the Windows world for one reason or another. This version is not bad, I can see how a lot of users will fall in love with it.

On a side note, I knocked over my glass of ice cold Gatorade and almost ruined my laptop. I’m not even sure how I did it. I would have stopped writing right about now. Luckily all is well and my laptop is still operating nicely with Windows 10. 

The next issue to deal with will be application compatibility. If your a Windows user who relied on Virtual XP for some older software, than maybe it’s time to upgrade your software.  If you need to backup all your files before you do an upgrade from Windows 7, than a external drive or Microsoft’s “OneDrive” would be a possible solution. Upgrading from Windows 10 1809 to 1903 was not an issue for what few files I had on this laptop. If you have something critical, than backing up is usually worth the effort.

I think Ill enjoy using this laptop as my daily driver running Windows 10 1903. Ill have to do an update in a few weeks to let you all know how things go. This is only a test.

 

 

 

Forward Thinking?

I had a whole blog post written about using WMIC.exe for anyone still stuck with supporting a Windows 7 OS machine.
It’s a handy little command-line tool for gathering information-about your system, but then I started thinking “this is so backward thinking!” Who still uses Windows 7 in 2019?
We should be “forward thinking”
and realize that nobody’s still using Windows 7 anymore.
Extended support even vaporizes next January for any stragglers out there. Yeah this was probably going to be a bad idea. You could play around with WMIC.exe on Windows 10, but why? I still can’t believe Windows 10 is Microsoft flagship name even though it will be 2020 in less than seven months.
Of course I’m just kidding, I know a lot of corporate staff is still lugging old tired Windows 7 laptops around.  Maybe your IT department is secretly working on the migration to Windows 10. I’m sure it will be less dramatic than the move from XP to 7. sure sure sure
Imagine if you could do all your work with only a Chromebook and web applications. Now that would be forward thinking. It sounds like a pretty simple solution for a lot of the modern work force. It also might be very cost effective in more ways than just hardware purchases. Support would be streamlined, security simplified, and other time and resource overhead scaled back. Wouldn’t this be handy in a time when many companies are looking at their bottom line and contemplating cutting operating costs?
I’m sure this wouldn’t work for everyone, but does everyone need all the licenses and expensive applications we’ve all been told repeatedly over the years that we must have? (No, not a chance.)
There’ll always be those who are stuck working with old tired software and hardware from a bygone era. Some may need a self contained system that won’t always have a network connection, some will always think they need an over abundance of software and hardware resources – even when they probably don’t. Some just want everything and use nothing. Some want nothing and need everything.
It’s hard to let go of your comfort zone, and yes, change can be daunting.
The fleet footed are already operating and producing content with smartphones and tablets. Sure a lot of those happen to be Apple products. Remember when everyone had to have a Blackberry to be constantly accessible and working all the time? How about a typewriter or fax machine. Don’t tell me your company still uses a fax! Emails are even getting long in the tooth. Does anyone even know where to find an actual pencil?
The future is here for some, but not for those who ignore the lessons of the past. Somehow there a few who muddle through for a while continuing to make the same bad decisions over and over.
Is this fear of change or just laziness.
You go into a meeting and are told “We are the future!” And then you look around the room and see everyone using Windows 7. (or the dreaded PowerPoint presentation with default templates) Surely this cant possibly be the future! Get out of there fast if you can before they start handing out printouts of the same exact PPP shown on the projector overview.
I know that often you can’t pick the tools you are given to work with. I’m not even advocating for Linux as I usually prefer, but I do know that everyone has been given ample notice to upgrade before support ends – therefore I would hope you wouldn’t have to wait until the last minute before trying to retrain users, retool hardware, or upgrade a plethora of software applications that may or may not work in their current integration with Windows 10. Keep in mind the transition from 32 to 64 bit architecture also can cause a negative impact on your workflow. Not all programs that may have worked on a 32bit Windows 7 system will run smooth on a newer laptop running a upgraded OS. I hope you have tested all your required applications on your new system builds before the actual roll out. If you haven’t done this yet, then look out!
How many users are running “Virtual XP” in their Windows 7 laptops. You probably should be aware of this. Yes believe it or not, there are still some 16 bit applications floating around. Hopefully you can weed those out and upgrade to newer software. Maybe you’ll discover it’s not only no longer a supported program, but it may no longer be required for any critical or less than critical dependencies. (Possibly no one really needs that software any longer)

If you do move to Linux – which I would prefer, make sure you can still do whatever it is you need to do with Linux applications or by using “Wine” to support some Windows applications.
As with typing “HELP” at the Command prompt in Windows to list available commands you can also run, at the Linux bash shell a command called “compgen”.
Type compgen -c to list all the commands you can run. You can see how much potential a basic LINUX system has. Maybe you should get familiar with some, if not most of the available commands.
Linux has some great applications available in most repositories that do much of – if not more of what you need to be productive in many business environments. This doesn’t necessarily mean you should migrate from Windows 7 to a Debian based Linux distribution, but there are possibilities here.
What I’m looking “Forward “ towards is having a basic business work solution that leverages Chromebooks or IPads and web based applications as a very simplified alternative to the old guard standard of “If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” approach. This is really just a procrastination technique that can cause bigger headaches down the road. 
The big question mark will be about security updates and any patches you may need for your system beyond the January 14th 2020 deadline. I’m no Windows 10 super fan, but it is better than Windows 7, and it will be supported beyond the Win 7 support expiration date. Windows 10 will support web based applications via a browser of your choice – so there is some flexibility on how you approach productivity and collaboration among multiple users. I still think it’s way more than most need. I’ll be interested to see how many people start simplifying their approach to productivity via a very streamlined laptop, tablet, and or smartphone setup as they not only “forward think”, but actually “Forward Do”

If you are “the company” or run a small nimble operation you’re probably already way ahead of all this. For sure !

Chocolatey Goodness

One of the reasons I prefer Linux over Windows is the ease of package management.
Apt, Yum, and Pacman depending on your distribution (Debian:Ubuntu, RedHat/Fedora or Arch) just seem much more logical than the Microsoft App Store or even Apple’s software store.

I don’t use the GUI interfaces available on any system if I can carry out the same goal from a terminal. I realize all these systems have a “terminal/Command line” available, but a lot of users have grown accustomed to a graphical point and click method. I haven’t, nor do I enjoy navigating around the screens pointing and clicking – it seems like a waste of time.

This is the section that was cutoff


PowerShell on the Windows System is an exception. I’ve gotten used to using the Windows command prompt and netshell when possible, but always felt that neither lived up to the power of BASH. PowerShell has grown and developed into a useful tool that many Linux users would find worthwhile for system administration and troubleshooting functionality.
When you add in the Chocolatey package management tool/repository you start to see potential for a more Linux-like work flow.

I see that there is also a GUI available for Chocolatey for any who prefer, but installing packages via PowerShell is fairly simple – as is searching and listing available packages.

I doubt i’ll abandon my Linux machine just to run PowerShell, but I think it’s beneficial to know how different Operating systems function and carry out similar tasks you might deal with in Linux.

“list, search, info, and install” are the commands I use the most when using Chocolatey.  The “info” command is extremely useful in providing information on the application you may consider installing.

choco -h 

  • list – lists remote or local packages
  • search – searches remote or local packages (alias for list)
  • info – retrieves package information. Shorthand for choco search pkgname –exact –verbose
  • install – installs packages from various sources
  • pin – suppress upgrades for a package
  • outdated – retrieves packages that are outdated. Similar to upgrade all –noop
  • upgrade – upgrades packages from various sources
  • uninstall – uninstalls a package
  • pack – packages up a nuspec to a compiled nupkg
  • push – pushes a compiled nupkg
  • new – generates files necessary for a chocolatey package from a template
  • sources – view and configure default sources (alias for source)
  • source – view and configure default sources
  • config – Retrieve and configure config file settings
  • features – view and configure choco features (alias for feature)
  • feature – view and configure choco features
  • setapikey – retrieves or saves an apikey for a particular source (alias for apikey)
  • apikey – retrieves or saves an apikey for a particular source
  • unpackself – have chocolatey set itself up
  • version – [DEPRECATED] will be removed in v1 – use choco outdated or cup <pkg|all> -whatif instead
  • update – [DEPRECATED] RESERVED for future use (you are looking for upgrade, these are not the droids you are looking for)
Installing Putty with Choco first removed an incomplete install attempt before adding -y

Check out chocolatey.org for more information including more details on security and the community package repository

Installing TCPview – a package from “Windows Sysinternals”

 

For those who would rather not use the Powershell command line, there is a GUI:

choco install chocolateygui –f -y

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