29 May 2014

Blue Screen Of Death prompts me to change

I have finally made the move to Windows 8. Well, I am about to; the machine is ordered and will be on its way in a couple of weeks. Several things made me go for the change. Seeing the good old Blue Screen Of Death was one!

I honestly can't remember when I saw that last on one of my own machines. It really must be very many years ago and I am not sure I have ever seen it on this desktop which has been going well since 2008. No idea what that particular message means but obviously something isn't as it should be, or wasn't last week.

That alone wouldn't have made me change, though. The machine had been shutting itself down from time to time but since I changed a web site so that it didn't need to process so many hundreds of images each time I changed something that hasn't happened more than once or twice.

It's probably several little things that have made me make the move now. My keyboard is not good and can be a bit of a nightmare to type on. I bought one with backlit keys which was great in many ways when my desk was positioned in shadow in quite a dark part of a room. After a while the key graphics wore away so many were just a blue blur and my son bought me a new one. That was nice but some keys are very sticky, sort of scruntchy and usually the A doesn't appear unless I make a specific effort to check and hit it hard. That has been quite a drag and almost every piece of text has had lots of errors, massively increasing the time it has taken to perform many tasks. It is also now located in a bright place and the back lighting is simply not needed. In fact, the key graphics are now very difficult to read! So I need a new keyboard. Not exactly the best of reasons for a new system but it did contribute.

I managed to make XP read my new XD card in a new camera some time ago but it has never wanted to delete images from the card so, after copying, I have had to run through them on the camera itself and delete through a quite laborious process involving each being selected individually. As I take photographs almost every day that has been a big drag. However, I don't know if Windows 8 will change that so it's more a hope than a reason!

It does take an age to get going. That is a good reason to change. I have tried all sorts of cleaning, removing stuff but all to little avail. I switch it on in the morning and then go and make breakfast. Even then some programmes take a good time to load. That's been getting increasingly annoying and I am sincerely hoping Windows 8 will transform that part of my life. The morning wait was OK but not the minutes' wait while something decided to start up.

Quite a big reason is Google Photos' refusal to edit my images in XP. That's annoying so, amusingly in a way, Google have sort of promoted a Microsoft product there.

Although Microsoft Security Essentials does continue to protect from viruses and is, presumably, updating virus definitions every day, that ruddy red castle icon and the messages every morning that I am at risk did get annoying. I had installed Avast but probably didn't need to and that is always suggesting this or that in an effort to wean me off the free version. All in all a bit tiresome. And you do tend to feel just a little bit more vulnerable, even if there is no real reason for that.

So that lot all adds up to time to change. Desktops are very cheap and, I guess, going out of fashion but a box on the floor is fine for me. I have a tablet and Chromebook for wandering around with. I've ordered a system from Mesh, who have given me equipment that has stood the test of time and my and my children's pretty intense activities since the late 1990s. I am sticking with an AMD processor, a quad core A8 this time with a 2GB Radeon graphics card to give me some future-proofing as I'm likely to use this to watch tv and films. Apart from Windows 8 Pro and 8GB RAM the computer itself isn't that much different but I won't be nagged about upgrades and I have a feeling it will be a lot quicker! The cost is almost exactly the same as 2008. Fascinating, and that includes a 24" monitor. That will be nice but, with a 1920 resolution compared to my current 1440 I have a feeling I shall need my glasses even more and sites will look tiny!

I am also intrigued to see how few programmes I will need to install compared to six years ago. 


Admittedly, the full list does have some duplications but it looks a lot tidier after all the green deletions of things I am not going to need. I used to experiment a lot with alternative software and, in particular, Office and web design tools. Now, Google Documents handle all my day-to-day 'Office' requirements and Serif's WebPlus my site editing. I have several sites, though, for which I'll need Dreamweaver so it'll be interesting to find out if my ancient MX version will still function! If not, then I may be firing up an old machine again for that as there's no way I'll spend as much as a system on the latest Adobe software. In fact, I am looking seriously hard at Wix and others. Maybe even I'll give Google Sites another chance. My lovely CSS code sites were interesting to develop and have some advantages over the somewhat ponderous Serif product but the future is code that is written by the program not me.

Looking at what I need more closely,

Media programs
Total Recorder
Amazon Cloud Player

Design programs
Serif DrawPlus
Serif Photo Plus
Serif WebPlus

Nuance PDF Reader
7 Zip
G Drive
G+ Auto back-up
Tom Tom

No doubt there'll be games and some other odd bits and pieces but that is a significantly shorter list than the one I would have made six years ago.

One matter troubling me slightly is how I can transfer the huge amount of photos and music I have accumulated. Need to give some thought to that. I used a little cable six years ago which worked a treat but I have a feeling it might not work with Windows 8.

I shall write again with progress on the move. As almost everyone else in the world will have moved ages ago this may not be the most vital of articles but I just want to store all this for the record. In years to come we'll look back and grin. Or grimace.