Windows 8 Ain’t That Great :(

This article started as another Today I Fixed It piece, but then morphed into a rant about why Windows 8 sucks, and how Google helped to make it not so bad.

When my Toshiba Satellite took a dump on me, it was a total bummer, but some good has since come from it.  This PC was the first time I had ever used a laptop as my primary computer. I have always made my desktop number one. Working on the go changed that.

My primary laptop recently became useless for a while. I used to give Toshiba high marks, but this recent experience has left a sour taste in my mouth that was already spoiled by having to stomach Windows 8. It failed when something went wrong with Windows, so I went to do a factory reset, but for some reason, Toshiba’s built-in software just wiped the HD clean.

I thought that this fault could be a good opportunity to put Windows 7 on my Toshiba because I did not enjoy Windows 8 and sadly, 8.1 wasn’t good enough for me either.

To my surprise, Windows 7 drivers for my network interface controllers simply do not exist. I probably could have used some tech trickery voodoo to make it work, but I’m not a kid anymore, hack job PCs are unreliable at best. It is the same reason I don’t root my mobile cloud device or jailbreak phones.

I was forced back to Windows 8.1! I could not even find my existing license key (it shoulda been a sticker on the computer), so I am using a 3-month trial of 8.1 Enterprise.

I tried to like the new Windows. The context menu from right-clicking the start button is nice, but meh. Some of the hidden menus and control panel items have nice new quick access features and have been redesigned with a more visual friendly interface. Some new features are nice, but I want a start menu to access applications and shortcuts–that’s how I like my PC to work. This new tiles interface is GARBAGE! I started using Windows at version 3.11 and that is the User Experience Microsoft has gone back to. Typing this makes me hit the keys hard because I’m angry about it. MS went back over 20 years! Take a look:

windows 311 ss01VS

Windows-81-new-Start-Screen-Customize-feature

Microsoft got rid of the way that I wanted to access their software, so Google stepped in and fixed that for me. Thanks Google! The new Google App Launcher sits right on my taskbar and displays web apps that I can launch right from the desktop. It would be nice if I could put shortcuts for my local applications in the launcher, but I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. By taking away my start menu, MS opened the door for Google to step-in and allow me to more easily launch Google Documents than it is for me to run MS Office.

How Tech Fails Impact Health

Happy Freelance Friday folks! Today, I have been thinking about how an office technology failure has impacted my health this week. Since my office is also my home, some other freelance tech workers might be able to relate.

My home office setup is pretty good. I have two separate workstations. In my bedroom, there is a desktop using the Standing Desk I built. I use this computer primarily for writing and gaming. Sometimes for reading when I feel like standing. I feel more creative on my feet, and I can dance while I work.

In my front room, I have a 32-inch screen on a stand with a sitting desk in front where I put my laptop. In this setup I use dual screens–TV above the laptop. I use this workstation for control panel management, reading news and blogs, doing research, website maintenance, social media, Web 2.0 platforms etc. I have to sit while multi-tasking.

This is how I work to stay healthy. I usually spend 30-40% of my time at my standing desk and log about a half mile a day walking back-and-fourth between my workstations. Sometimes I setup obstacles in my apartment so I have to step-over or duck-under things. I also have a 6ft piece of bamboo that I use to stretch with throughout the day.

Last week, the computer at my standing desk had a mechanical failure. The timing of the fail was a double bummer because I had just purchased a Humble Bundle of games for Steam. Most people, especially techies, know the stress & anxiety of technology failure. The adverse health impacts of stress are well documented and so are detrimental health problems associated with sitting in front of a computer all day and not really exercising.

Because the computer at my standing desk was down, I had to sit all week. I was hardly getting-up and moving around going between workstations, I did not make any obstacle courses, and I only stretched with my bamboo about twice a day. Not being able to game this weekend is also going to bum me out, but at least I’ll have time to get my desktop PC working again.

I made a makeshift raiser stand for my wireless keyboard so I can write this article  on my TV whilst standing–my laptop below. Being eye-level with the TV isn’t bad, but having to stand on the cold, hard tile is brutal and my laptop screen is now useless. I hope this is the last article I have to write with my keyboard on top of an old printer box.