marahmarie: my initials (MM) (Default)
[personal profile] marahmarie

Other Person has gotten the Dell laptop working again. The "i" and "z" keys sometimes stick or die and yesterday, of all things, the apostrophe quit so I had to copy one out of a Google search for "apostrophe", because I'm really nothing without contractions. Today the apostrophe's fine and after I sat my index finger on the "i" for a few minutes it sprang to life, as well. The rest of the keyboard seems up to speed and the laptop no longer freezes.

I didn't pay attention to what he did to fix it because I was on his tablet, because my tablet keeps freezing up now, too, but from glancing at him now and then I gather it involved taking the laptop apart, blowing some things out, re-seating other things, re-assembling it, and perhaps the chanting of incantations. The Dell cost me nothing, I've already fixed it once, and I would've tossed it rather than gone through what he did, but I'm kind of glad now that he bothered. My blog looks pretty good on it (better than it does on our tablets - those turn the page gutters an ugly dark tan color that I wouldn't have picked myself).

My replacement laptop keyboard's due here by the end of the week, but I'm worried about it being a crapshoot, so I'm keeping the packaging and will re-seal it like new to turn around and re-sell ASAP if it doesn't work out. The thing is, since the storm, my existing keyboard's bent toward the top middle, so I'm thinking it's because something under the bent part corresponding to the motherboard overheated and warped, in which case no keyboard (except an external) might ever work again.

If it does turn out to be useless, I'll need a new external keyboard because the one I'm using now has multiple dead keys, just like the laptop. The dead keys on the external aren't dead on the laptop so I've just been using both of them at once. I wish y'all could see this - I'm like a DJ working keyboards instead of turntables, which is sort of amusing.

We've lost power four times since the storm, for anywhere from a few minutes to a few hours. Last night was for a few minutes, a few days before it was for a few hours, there was a quickie the night before that, and it was out a few hours the weekend before last. Every time we've lost power since the storm Comcast's cable modem has totally wigged out. It's always been slow - it takes a good five minutes to reboot, find its own ass, feel everything out and start pumping signal again, but since the storm you can add "find its own signal" to the list of things it takes too long to do. It has to reboot multiple times to finally stop claiming our signal's broadcasting when, in fact, it's not.

What sucks is that to our phones and computers the signal looks like it's broadcasting, and when you connect it doesn't show a yellow triangle to denote limited connection issues. But when you try to get online you can't, and when you check the network list it shows a full signal but then says next to that, "No internet", in classic, "Oh, NOW you tell me" fashion. So we waste a) five minutes waiting for the modem to reboot and decide it can do this, b) another five minutes for it to realize it can't do this and is totally lying, and c) another 5-15 minutes for multiple reboots to take place to finally push the signal back to life again.

I'm pretty sure it's a surge victim, though it was on surge protector - but there's nothing the storm didn't seem to touch - so we're planning a trip to our local Comcast office soon to get another modem so big I'll need both arms to carry it out. I'm going to hate having to swap these things out every time there's a storm.

To finish what I started the night the storm hit, I installed the latest build of Windows 10 on my now-collector's-item Nokia about five days ago. My phone restarted to install updates required to get Win10 (one tree had hit the house by then; the second tree was about to) just as the lights went out. My phone only installs updates over wifi, which didn't exist for another 14 days, so once wifi came back the phone automatically picked up where it left off.

I had to use the WinInsider app as a workaround against Microsoft's official app, which blocks my phone from getting Win10 because it's not recommended on phones with only a half gig of RAM. It's running great on my half gig, though. It's opening and resuming windows, menus, browsers and the app list faster than Win8.1 did and looks jazzier, too. The worst problems are with Edge windows - they tend to crash as much as Internet Explorer windows do on 8.1 - and with the native email app, which opens with the keyboard displayed every single time. I can't figure out why the email app thinks it's the messenger, but one press of the back button makes it go away, so it's more "annoyance" than fatal flaw.

Battery life, once the primary dealbreaker on Win10, is actually better now than it is on 8.1, so if you're an 8.1 user with just a half gig of RAM it might pay to go the WinInsider route and switch to Win10 to preserve battery life, but no, I never said that, EULAs be damned. It's helped my battery - a lot. On 8.1 I had to keep screen brightness on "low" to get the battery to last more than a few hours, which made the screen really, really hard to see because my eyes, as we know, are not the greatest. On Win10 I can get 12+ hours on a single charge with brightness set to "high", which means it would last even longer on a lower setting (there's a "medium", too).

I mostly upgraded to Win10 to use my bank's official app, which isn't available on Win8/8.1, but the one thing I wanted it for - to deposit checks, which I get a fair amount of each month - isn't working. It tells me it took pictures of the checks successfully, then says it can't read them, and gives me tips on how to take the pictures so they come out better. Reading through the tips, I can see I've done exactly what they suggest, yet the app still fails to read my checks.

The worst thing about Win10 Mobile is the News app. I don't know if I've discussed it before, but I've been addicted to it on Win8/8.1 for years. It shows lists of headlines with a tiny thumbnail next to each one. You click an item and it opens full page with larger pictures, which, if you click on those, can be pinched and swiped from full-size (like the actual size they were published at, which can sometimes be huge) back down to article size. If you swipe left you get thumbnails of all the pictures in the article, and you can swipe through those without the accompanying text, or cycle through them with accompanying text, one picture at a time.

It's the greatest app for looking at pictures, but it's MIA in Win10. You can't change picture sizes anymore - the medium-ish thumbnails found in the articles are completely WYSIWYG, which results in a loss of context because pictures are so often essential to understanding what's going on.

The other thing missing in Win10 News is the entire list of headlines. Now there's huuuuuuuge thumbnails and huuuuuge titles with loooong blurbs, so you have to scroll and scroll and scroll to see even a tiny bit of what's going on. I liked the cleaner, simpler, and for lack of a better example, Drudge Report-style lists (they're much nicer/calmer-looking than TDR, but otherwise it's the same idea) and the fact that the lists were truncated at 3-5 items per topic with no blurbs (you click on a topic name to see the full list of headlines on one page).

There's no truncation in Win10 now, just endless scrolling. It's highly inefficient, and totally breaks my reading flow.

It's gone from:

WORLD

This item
This item
This item

To:

World

This item

*huge thumbnail here*

Blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah
Blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah...

This item

*huge thumbnail here*

Blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah
Blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah...

This item

*huge thumbnail here*

Blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah
Blah blah blah blah blah
blah blah blah blah...

And you can just rinse and repeat forever. It's awful.