The Surface Saga Continues, and other discussions.

Chaos Manor View Sunday, March 29, 2015

Palm Sunday


Book recommendation: Have been reading Tom Perry’s Butcher’s Boy (note the ‘ in there) series on Kindle. Quite good, actually. The first happens in the 60’s, the next ten years later, the third which I am reading now ten years after that. A hit man tries to retire, a bright lady bureaucrat tries to catch him, and the mob wants to kill him, but drastically lacks the skills needed to do it. Well worked out. Tom Perry has been a neighbor for years, having married the daughter of Bob Hopes’ chief gag writer who lived across the street from me. JoAnne inherited the house she’ grown up in.

Palm Sunday. We didn’t do much today. Physical therapy next week. Recovering, but it takes time.


Sage of the Surface Pro with Win 10 Beta Continues

2230 Saturday Night: Changed all relevant Surface Pro settings to tell it to sleep never when under power. I set a 4-digit passcode as an alternative login, tried it: note that it still takes a mouse or pen operation to use it, because I must tell it that I am going to use an alternate form of login, then which form of alternate login; there is no single button to say passcode, and the tiny command lines and menu items are not usable by my fingers, although probably OK for younger and more agile users. The result is a quicker login but still takes too long if I am in a hurry. Perhaps they will pay more attention to handicaps when they are finishing this.

Also told it never to ask for login when under power – same as my Windows 7 machines; which is “do not go to sleep, have a screen saver, and come on when I move the mouse or press a key.” They don’t demand a password. If someone physically accesses one of them there ain’t nothing stopping him; not the best security, but we have various measures to keep unwanted people out of the house, and that will have to do.

0845 Sunday Morning: was in the office to swap glasses and inadvertently disturbed the external Mouse connected to the serial port of the Surface docking station. The Surface immediately came on with the screen demanding I hold down the Windows key and press – it doesn’t say while pressing, but I have tried press and release – the power button. Alternatively, it says, I can press ctrl-alt-delete. Pressed and held the Windows button, pressed the power key. System trundled, came up with same screen demanding press and hold Windows button and press power key, or alternatively use ctrl-alt-delete. Did nothing else.

1345 Sunday after brunch: moved the external Mouse key; was confronted with the usual screen it shows when awakened from sleep. Pressed return and was asked for user name and login. Used mouse to select alternative login, was shown icons (too small for fingers but OK for mouse) and was shown the usual screen for waking up Surface, pressed return and was shown normal login screen demanding user name and password, but also a tiny line say use alternative login. Line far too small to use with fingers. Could use stylus, only my hand control is not what it was before the stroke, so had to use mouse. Was shown a screen with tiny icons not useable with fingers for me although probably OK for younger and steadier users. Used mouse to select the tiny icon which looks vaguely like a numeric keypad, poked in 4 digit passcode, was told that didn’t work; entered 4-digit passcode again being more careful not to hit two keys at once. And was welcomed to Surface.

I will now try to find out how to keep it from asking for password when it was NOT asleep but in the dock. Windows 7 knows how, so someone at Microsoft must know where the setting is.

1415 Sunday: Had to write the above paragraph again because Word 10 lost it; I must have pressed wrong keys, probably alt-something, which put Word in a mode I could not recover from. With luck that will never happen again. I got out of it by closing down word telling it to save, and it saved all but the last paragraph. I am sure it is operator error, compounded by my trying to use the little undo arrow to get rid of a demand for headers and footers that my clumsiness turned on and I was not clever enough to get out of. First time I have lost text in Word in years. Not likely to happen again. I sincerely hope.

1730 Sunday: Many of the minor problems sorted out. Systematically went through looking for password and sleep settings. Now it just wakes up, at least so far. We’ll see about overnight. There are several places you need to make the same settings, but I expect they will consolidate.

Eric Pobirs says:

    I don’t know about the Surface but on my mother’s laptop we set up the PIN login and it just worked. You could type the 4-digit code or her full password.

    The picture password may be much easier. You can do it with your finger and don’t have to be terribly accurate. I couldn’t draw a good freehand circle with the mouse to save my life but I’m able to do the picture password I set up without a failed attempt yet. Until the facial recognition is in there, it is likely the most usable for you.

I haven’t been asked for a password in a while; next time I will just type the passcode and see what happens. And I do need to set up the picture code thing. Another time.



I never have any of the problems you describe with the Surface Pro, sir.

That’s because I use the iPad Mini, which Just Works.

I strongly suggest you get an iPad Mini 3 with 128GB of storage, the 3G/4G option, and one of these two styles of keyboard cases:



You can use OneNote on it just fine, and you can also use a stylus, if you like:


OneNote will sync with your Macs/PCs via Microsoft’s cloud. Word, Excel, and PowerPoint all work very well on the iPad.


The iPad never has any issues waking from sleep, nor does it have problems when plugged into an external monitor via VGA or HDMI:



It Just Works.

Roland Dobbins

Roland has long tried to convert me from Microsoft to Apple. I have resisted in large part because the vast majority of my readers are Windows users, the next largest group use Linux, with Apple being a close third if the Apple Users have not become a larger group than the Linux users; actually I am sure they already have.

The last time I thought of complete conversion Microsoft saved itself with XP followed by Windows 7. Then came the ghastly 8, which is to be abandoned for Windows 10, or at least we hope so. I tried 8 on Swan, a powerful machine but no touchscreen, and it was hard to learn; got the Surface Pro and was trying to learn that, when my stroke upset all plans, just as the brain cancer and radiation treatment in 2008 had an enormous effect on my computer plans.

I have never forgotten the Compaq-HP Tablet/Laptop, which, had it had available a faster CPU, could easily have dominated computing way back when, and I keep hoping for something like it. I took it to Las Vegas COMDEX several times, eventually as my only machine – daring in those days – and I loved it; but it was slow, and began to be memory limited as software bloated up using cheap memory; I’ve looked for something like it with new hardware ever since. Hoped the Surface would be it.

The Compaq with OneNote was the best research machine I had ever had; I keep hoping the Surface, with Dragon Naturally Speaking and a good headset will do better. So far the Surface is a disappointment, but understand that I am using Beta Win 10 on it, and that’s still in development.

I am still hoping for a real tablet/laptop.


Windows 8 to 10

In prior posts I have let you know that I am a professional software developer. Right now, I rely heavily on Windows 7 Professional for my development and administrative machines. I skipped Windows Vista all together as its UI was not suitable for my work. I had high hopes that Microsoft had learned from its mistakes with Windows Vista, but Windows 8 proved that they have not.
Windows 8 believes that all machines are touch based mobile platforms with small form factor displays. I have a Windows 8 laptop hooked up to my family television, a plasma screen that is not itself “smart” so that no one can eavesdrop on my family’s viewing preferences. There is nothing insidious about our viewing, mostly educational and science fiction with a heavy dollop of children’s programming for the grandchildren, but I prefer to be asked and allowed to voluntarily tell, as opposed to implicitly signing an agreement to allow random peeking when I connect an Ethernet cable, but I digress.
As I said, Windows 8 believes that all computers are tablets. I configure my Windows 8 laptop to use my home network, to use the plasma screen as its main screen, to run when the lid is closed so that I can control it with a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard (a rather fun little thing the size of a remote control). And then Microsoft downloads an update to Windows 8 and it totally forgets EVERYTHING I configured — it runs back to thinking it’s operating on a tablet. It can’t even access the network any more as it wants to use the wireless network, which I did not allow in favor of the wired network, which it does not like. I then go through an hour of browbeating the OS into giving me access to all the configuration settings I have to restore to let the machine work the way I wanted it to, as a stationary, wirelessly controlled device with an HD TV for its main screen.
Once it gets access to the network again, it repeats the cycle for the next update.
Putting Windows 8 on my development and administrative machines would put me out of business. I do not have the hours in the day to keep restoring settings, especially given how deeply Microsoft buried most of the ones I need to change.
I am in the process of making an exit from Windows. Microsoft once made my job possible. Now they are working to make it impossible.


I would never take the Surface Pro as the only machine on the road with its present OS; but hope springs eternal. And having said that, it’s time to get some new Mac equipment. Mine is years old.

Alex notes that Kevin is a bit unduly harsh; after all, Microsoft is working hard to bring out Win 10 quickly.



One of my granddaughters had to read Tale of Two Cities in school and hated it. I recall similar emotions when I encountered it, and did not read another Dickens until after I was out of the Army. That’s actually a pity because Dickens is an enjoyable writer. Of course there long descriptions, as there were in all novels in the old days. One reason Dickens stories become good movies. Even Tale of Two Cities, but the movie’s not shown much.

When I was a lad I had to read Silas Marner, and that pretty well turned me against female novelists for years…


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




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