Surface Pro Antics; Another Reason to Avoid Breaking News; Putin’s Patriotism

Chaos Manor View, Saturday, March 28, 2015


Warning: this a day book, and I no longer type fast.  These are more notes toward learning the new system than anything like a finished product.  When I am done with Precious, the Surface 3 Pro running beta Win 10, I’ll put it all together into a column for Chaos Manor Reviews, which I hope to revive. Meanwhile, day book notes.

1615: the Time Warner cable connection to the Internet just died. meaning that I cannot update this until it is restored. One grows accustomed to being able to fix errors, but unreliable high speed negates that. This Time Warner failure is nearly always about this time of day and lasts about an hour.  Perhaps someone comes home and downloads – or uploads – stuff? Pure speculation, of course.

1622: seems to be restored. Short interruption today.

Begin day book:

I think Microsoft has some secret plot to drive Surface Pro users mad – at least those who keep their Surface Pro in a docking station, under power at all times. I have tried to find every power setting—and there are several, some hard to find – and tell it that when the system is under mains power, it should go to sleep NEVER. You’d think that wouldn’t be hard to understand. Never is not a complex word.

Can’t do it. After a few hours it goes to sleep. Eventually I get the screen to turn on – sometimes the return key does it. Other times the power button is needed – and I get the instruction that I need to press and hold the Windows key, then press the power button. Alternatively I can press control-alt-delete. So I hold down the Windows key and press the power button. The screen goes dark, and up comes the message that I can hold down the Windows key, then press the power button. Alternatively I can press control-alt-delete. Now doing the same thing several times hoping to get a different outcome is not usually productive, but with Microsoft you never know, so I try it again. The screen goes dark for a moment, then up comes the same screen. I figure five tries is enough, that’s what it it going to do.

Control-alt-delete causes the screen to go dark, then up comes a demand for a password, and lo! I have the use of my Surface Pro. Why it tells me to do the Windows key-power button thing is not known to me; some Microsoft in-joke I suppose. Or maybe they really do use customers as a quality control department and eventually someone will tell them and they will try this themselves? This only started after the massive updates from Tuesday.  Bet they’ll have another update pretty soon…

Obviously if you use the Surface Pro as a portable you cannot leave the thing awake all the time, so the power settings for when it is on battery must be different. I tell it to sleep after several minutes. When I go to wake it I get the same routine, and after futilely trying the Windows key-power button thing I do control-alt-delete, enter the password, and I can use the machine again, but of course things have gone past what I wanted to make a note of, and I have missed part of the lecture or demonstration trying to get my tablet working.

After a couple of iterations of that I get out my paper log book and make notes the way I have for decades. The bound, page-numbered, lined, hard-bound log books cost a couple of dollars and no matter how many I use a year it won’t add up to the cost of the tablet.

When Microsoft shows adds of people doing things with the Surface they don’t show all the security monkey motion so I suspect this is peculiar to the beta testing of Windows 10 and at some point of the developers will listen to someone who is trying to USE this thing to get useful work done. Hope springs eternal.

On passwords: sure, tablets need some kind of security, but Microsoft wants a complex password so that when you log on you are also logged on to the Microsoft account also. That means a long and complex password. That means to get to your tablet, which has gone to sleep during the jokes and introduction, so that you can take notes when the presenter finally gets past the friendliness and comes to some point you need to make note of, you must type in that long and complex password, and of course you missed what you wanted to remember. More points for carrying a good paper log book.

Maybe tablets need a quick and easy password – like a four digit number – to get into them when they go to sleep. Hit any key, type in the passcode, and make your notes. But to think of that you’d have to be a user, and developers can’t be bothered to USE they stuff they want us users to pay for. Ah well.


And I have today:

Hi Jerry,

I also have a Surface Pro 3, and it is a little quirky. The wake up function doesn’t always work, and it appears to be unresponsive to taps or holds on the power button. In that situation, mine will often respond to holding down one of the volume keys (I don’t remember which one) along with the power button for a few seconds. Microsoft says that will wipe everything and restore the original windows, I’ve not had that happen, so I can’t guarantee what I do is safe, though I’ve not had problems with it.

I think the Surface Pro 3 has had chronic Wi-Fi problems, though it has gotten better with recent system upgrades. But the form factor, the pen, the travel keyboard are all excellent. I use a Logitech blue tooth keyboard at home, as I don’t like touchpads

Thanks for your site.

Live long and prosper

Jack Jacobson

All true, and why I keep using it although Microsoft keeps trying to drive me mad. I thought tablets would be the wave of the future the first time I saw Bill Gates using one, and they got better so long as he was a user. But he moved on to being a philanthropist, and has equerries to take his notes, which I do not begrudge him, but the driving force to make tablets useful sort of went away then, and Microsoft is stumbling in its revival. If the Surface Pro would stop[ changing its settings to revert back to teeny tiny print, I could live telling it to sleep never when the cover is open, battery or not, and maybe we can all get along. I just hope that they ARE using customers as quality control; at least they are listening. The Surface Pro has enormous potential; I just hope they get some user in the development cycle.

Eric Pobirs tells me “ Up Volume and Power held down together is how you get into the UEFI (BIOS) of the Surface.” You probably don’t want to go there—I certainly don’t.


Peter Glaskowsky tells me I am being a bit unfair to Microsoft Developers, but he uses his Surface with Windows 8;  that’s probably true, but I got no user manual with the Surface with 8 either.  Perhaps there’s an O’Reilly I should get.

I remain convinced that they’ll get it eventually, which is why I don’t just get an iPad and be done with it, but it takes patience when my Surface likes to change the setting I so painfully put in.  Why must it sleep at all when in its dock? But it does even though I have tried to make it sleep NEVER WHEN UNDER MAINS POWER.

I used to do this enough that I could figure things out, but now I just want them to work.  Probably old age.

Peter also tells me there are some settings that allow the equivalent of a pin code; they are in the Windows 8 edition anyway,  I’ll investigate. I remain hopeful that they’ll get this right, because the Surface Pro has enormous potential.  We’ll see.

Eric Pobirs says:

    Also, you can use a short password, similar to a PIN, with Windows 8.x and presumably Windows 10. In Windows 10, open the Start menu, select Settings, Select Accounts, select Sign-in Options. You can create a short PIN. You can also create a visual login where you select a picture and then overlay a gesture. For example, you could use a group photo and circle a particular person’s face for the gesture.

    Requiring a password on return from standby is a setting that’s goes back to 90s with Windows. It was usually found on the same tab of the Display control panel used to set the screen saver. On more recent Windows generations: right-click on the desktop, select Personalize, select Screen Saver (lower right corner), on the control panel will be a check box for “On Resume, show Login Screen.”

He also reminds me that we chose the long and complex password so that I would be logged in to the Microsoft Cloud account when I logged in on the Surface; it wasn’t Microsoft that imposed that, but you do pretty well have to log onto the cloud when you’re away from home with the Surface Pro.  I have just created the pin number login on the Surface; works in Win 10 beta too.  So that relieves some of the complaints I had, leaving the question of why I didn’t know about them. But I was just learning that stuff when I had the stroke and forgot a lot, so it’s not a fair experiment. Today Precious has behaved nicely in the dock; hasn’t gone to sleep yet.  So perhaps much of this simply should have been notes toward a column.  On the other hand, this is a day book, and you’ve been warned of that.

Peter Glaskowsky points out that they had the pin login all along, probably for the same reason I thought it needed; so I can hardly fault Microsoft for that, except my general complaint that expensive systems are shipped without manuals. Second complaint: lack of redundancy. Maybe the new terminology is better, but there have to be ways to make it easier to go from, say, Windows XP – saw a lot of that in use at JPL –to the new Windows.  But that is a very old problem.



Snopes is skeptical of claims the Germanwings co-pilot was a convert to Islam:
Given that ISIS thrives on attention I suspect they would claim involvement whether he was a convert or not.
The Caliphate is our enemy – it does not help to believe and spread their propaganda.


As noted I have no great faith in the sources of that story. Alas I have little in Snopes, which also has an agenda. I seldom post breaking news, and this is an example of why. We don’t know. And most media are so terrified of appearing discriminatory that they won’t publish facts.

We can only wait and see.


  Dr. Pournelle,
I look to foreign television sources for some of my breaking news intake. German Deutche Welle (in English – my German is no longer good enough for understanding) and BBC sources have few reasons, these days, to hide possible Muslim connections to either victims or perpetrators of crime, and certainly the French Gendarmes don’t. Early reports of any violent crime from most European countries’ and NHK news services seems to include speculation on terrorist or middle Eastern links. Both BBC and DW repeatedly report that no radical Muslim link is detected in the Airbus crash by the investigating services, and the question has been put to representatives of those services many times in interviews and news conferences.
They have reported on some of the evidence discovered for the copilot having some form of illness, and my latest feed reported a denial that the illness was depression. This coverage has not included any discovery of evidence that the copilot had recently converted, even though other private papers and electronic correspondence have been referenced.
20-30 years ago, my experience was that French, German, Swiss, Dutch and Belgian citizens had their choice of as many yellow sources of journalism as I had in English from the U.S. or U.K. While I can detect an editorial slant to both BBC and DW (and NHK) televised and print news, I find them still to be pretty reliable information sources.

I very much hope you are right. I see signs of self induced blindness to certain facts, but I hope I am wrong.  We will wait and see, and I will have little more to say until we have stable facts. Either way we remain at war with the Caliphate – their declaration – whether we believe it or not, and that does not change.


The Hunt for White October

Dear Jerry;

Though  Comrade Putin is still with us, Russia has produced a sympathetic  film about the life and times of  White  Russian  commander Admiral Kolchak !

This is not to say that the world is now safe for the Easter Bunny,

and Faberge egg rolling, but it represents  progress of a sort.

                         Russell Seitz

Putin is a Russian patriot; perhaps super-patriot.. He needs to be understood accordingly. In another note, Russell says

I am bemused to note that while yesterday saw the highest temperature ever recorded on Antarctic Terra firma, 63.5 F, it is snowing as a write in Boston.

That reminds me that satellite observations of atmospheric temperature are getting easier and cheaper: but the new cheaper instruments are not the same as the old, and continuity has a large error bar making comparisons to past satellite observations less useful.  By large I mean up to a Kelvin, which is not serious unless models want 0,01 K accuracy. More on that another time.



Freedom is not free. Free men are not equal. Equal men are not free.




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