The Surface Pro wastes my time.

Chaos Manor View, Wednesday, June 24, 2015


The good news is that Niven, Barnes, and I had a great story session, and we have themes to make this a great science fiction novel. We had a great lunch too.  The bad news is that I had to waste the afternoon on computer neepery. Now back when I did that stuff for BYTE that would have made good news, but I’m not so much in that business any more.


Windows has improved Outlook and thus made it hard to use. It used to be that it was a very simple matter to View Unread Only in an Outlook folder, but no more. Actually, it was hard to use before. Now it is simpler, but finding out how to do it, not so much. I managed finally. Which is why I continue my love hate relationship with Microsoft. They mean well, and eventually…

Of course Windows “improved” Skype too, and made it impossible to edit contacts, at least on the Mac version; so Dr. Jack Cohen, who works with authors like Terry Pratchett and Annie McCaffrey and Niven and Barnes and me, recently changed his Skype ID and was invisible to us today because Skype wants to keep his old ID and doesn’t show him on-line. I try to edit the old contact I have for him – I know the new SKYPE address – but I can’t find a way to do that. Fine, I’ll delete the old. Won’t do it. Well, add a new one with the proper Skype address. Won’t do that. Eventually he called me, and when I answered it created a new Jack Cohen contact with a different Skype address. It works. I called him with it. But Microsoft as usual improved things so that they are very hard to use by their existing customers.

Maybe it’s better with the Surface Pro? They didn’t bother testing the Mac improvements because after all, who at Microsoft uses Macs anyway?

And it’s worse. We got rid of the old Wi-Fi nets here and put in a new one that works – but the Surface can’t find it. It doesn’t find the Ethernet either, so attempts to get help just cause endless search for nets, which it can’t find. I ask how to make it find a net. Endless nothing.

OK I turned it off; forced reset. Only now it won’t turn on. The on switch brings up the word Surface. Endlessly. Take it out of the docking station. It won’t turn on at all. Put it back. The Word surface comes up then the slide down to turn off your PC. Hit return but it slides anyway and goes off.

I fear I cannot recommend this thing for people who do not have endless time and transportation to some Microsoft store. They are about to convert me to a full time Mac user.

Well I got it back on, but just barely. I cannot make it search for a wireless net. It just won’t look. Now part of this problem was that I was working at 4 pm and Time Warner experienced its daily slowdown. Part of it is impatience. I resolved the Skype problem, at least to a working level. I am going to solve the Tablet problem by getting an iPad and a new Air. The Air battery expanded without limit in my old one and destroyed itself. It was costly but I could use it. Steve uses his. I no longer get paid to learn how to make things work. I have books to write.

I still think OneNote and a tablet with pen is the best research tool I know, and I would love it if the Surface Pro worked. That was one reason I wanted reliable Wi-Fi in the house. But the Surface Pro won’t just work, and I have more time to waste trying to make it so. Now the Wi-Fi won’t turn on. Maybe it’s because the Internet is working. I don’t know. There is something weird about that Surface Pro. It looked like everything I wanted, but it just doesn’t work right. One day Microsoft will help users, but this doesn’t seem to be the season.

And I need to find a way to write fast, and I sure don’t want to waste time learning on unreliable systems.


2200:  I have been a bit harsh.  I have not worked much to learn the Surface Pro, and it is an experimental operating system’ I was hoping to learn its quirks while running OneNote at the breakfast table, but Wi-Fi was not reliable there, so mostly it sat waiting for me to do something with it; and I got reliable Wi-Fi and now I can’t get it to use that or any other Wi-Fi.  It’s disappointing, and I expect it’s not its fault entirely; but still it takes up time I should be working with it to produce something. I make no doubt that OneNote and a good tablet is the best research tool around; I’m not sure that the Surface is a good tablet for users.  I think perhaps I will get an Apple tablet because my newspapers are in such small type that I can’t read them at the breakfast table.  And see where it goes from there.  Maybe Microsoft will automatically update the Surface Pro and it will work again.  It’s useless now.


Space Access Update #142 6/24/15

  Wednesday, 6/24/15 – We have a new Space Access Update out, #142, with a brief update on Commercial Crew Program funding-fight status, some recent examples of overreach by the program’s opponents, plus a heads-up about a very bad proposed change in ITAR arms-export regulations. You can see this Update at:


It gets worse: Federal OPM hack affected up to 18 million (ZD)

In addition to current and former employees, it appears the records of people who had applied for government jobs were also revealed.

CNN is reporting that the personal data of 18 million current, former, and prospective federal employees was stolen in the cyberattack that targeted the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) hack.

FBI Director James Comey reportedly gave the 18 million estimate in a closed-door Senate briefing not long after the breach. In addition to current and former employees, it appears the records of people who had applied for government jobs were also revealed.

Sources at other government agencies confirmed to ZDNet that more than 10 million personnel records were stolen.

The revelation does not come as much of a surprise.

J. David Cox, president of the American Federal of Government Employees (AFGE), which represents more than 670,000 federal employees, claimed that the hack was significantly worse than what the Obama administration first claimed.

Cox claimed “all personnel data for every federal employee, every federal retiree, and up to one million federal employees” was stolen. At the time, Cox also said Social Security numbers had been stolen in an unencrypted format, which he described as “absolutely indefensible and outrageous.”

Since then, it’s also been shown that the OPM badly mishandled its first efforts to protect employees identity and credit history. The OPM and its contractor, CSID, sent e-mails to staffers that made it possible for hackers to launch phishing attacks on them.

That said, as this story continues to unwind, the news only looks worse and worse both for how the OPM handled its internal security and for the federal employees whose records have been revealed.

Neither the FBI nor the OPM confirmed at the time of this writing that 18 million records were revealed. An FBI representative said, “As this remains an ongoing investigation, we are unable to provide any details on this matter at this time. The CNN report noted that the two agencies did not deny it, either.





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




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