Monday Technical Holiday Mutterings

I said I was going to take a break. Then the network broke. Got flakey.

Do not set up a Kiwi Orbi system as Routers

Considered it might be the router. Kea went and talked to a techie (Last day at work for me and it was hectic) and said that the man thought we could simply put our Mesh network onto the fibre modem.

A quick perusal found that you could not. But we had both the mesh network and the router in router mode. I found this video…

Then the fun started. The issue was getting into the Orbi software. I had not touched this for a year. In the end I had to…

Use a laptop to restore password which meant I had to enter the serial number. This was written in five point. I had my contact lenses on and was wearing magnifying glasses, but that was not good enough. So took a photo with the phone on zoom and entered that.

Answered security questions.

Reset up password.

Went in to advanced, changed to access point. Fast internet. Checked that all the cameras around the property work. They do. Fastly.

Which means that Kea will not spend money on routers before Christmas, but will probably get another camera.

If you have a standard fibre modem in NZ it IS A ROUTER and your mesh system won’t work. We need a mesh system because of the geometry of the house. So do likewise.

Windows 365 is horrid

The main reasons I have a mac is (a) work won’t provide a linux laptop and (b) I need to have word to export things to others. Word 365 is far worse than Abiword or Libreoffice or using emacs and LyX. For those who don’t know, I routinely write for work using Word + Zotero or Word + Endnote, and that depends on what the other people use. I’m fairly good with excel. I do a fair amount of work in Rstudio. So I can confirm with Didact that the Microsoft products are worse than in the 1990s, when word folded, mutilated, spindled and then shredded my first thesis and all its backups.

This is how badly engineered that PoS operating system is. The engineers literally made it possible for the OS to shut down devices BUILT INTO THE SYSTEM without your knowledge or consent, simply in order to save power, even when you are plugged into a steady power source.

Now, I can SORT OF understand this. It makes an odd kind of sense – after all, if a device isn’t being used, why keep it powered on? And while I was playing HALO, of course, there were probably some issues with the network and my PC wasn’t downloading anything, so it made sense to switch the WiFi adapter off.

Unfortunately – and this is where Microsoft’s engineers REALLY show what dumbasses they are – THEY DON’T SWITCH THE DAMNED THING BACK ON after you switch operating systems. And that effectively means that another OS cannot recognise the device itself, because it is then stuck in a “powered-off” state.

I do not think that it is coincidental that Microsoft’s operating system and products have gotten progressively worse, and more crufty, and more annoying, over the last 10 years or thereabouts. During that same time-span, Microsoft has become essentially an Indian company – with a fairly large number of Chinese involved as well.

Now, Satya Nadella has done a good job of moving Microsoft onto the cloud. That saved the company. Google, Amazon, and to some extent Oracle were simply crushing Microsoft’s core businesses and its WInDOZE OS cash-cow was becoming less relevant with every passing month.

Yet, at the same time, the quality of their software, and the usability of the same, has declined precipitously. And this is before we get to the major problems with Microsoft’s Azure platform. I’ve tried it out and I think that, although it has some great ideas, the execution is terrible, particularly with Azure Data Factory and Business Intelligence. Overall, I found Azure to be clunky, slow, and difficult to use – and the UI was based around the AWFUL tile-based system that Windows 8 and 10 use.

As for the rest of Microsoft’s major products – I used to be very skilled with MS Office, as stated above. Indeed, most people would consider me a power user, given how well I knew the Excel keyboard shortcuts and how good I was (and still am) at manipulating and visualising data in the program. But these days, I find Excel 365 to be completely unusable – all of the power user features that I actually need, are not available. Word 365 is even worse – the fonts are GARBAGE and the ribbon thing is completely incomprehensible.

Meanwhile, if I want to do the same things in LibreOffice on Linux Mint, I can do those same exact things much more easily, quickly, and transparently. LibreOffice isn’t perfect – Writer keeps resetting my customised outline preferences to its own default setting every time I restart a numbered or outlined list, and Calc macros are nowhere near as easy to code as VBA ones are. Plus their IDE for Openbasic macros is nowhere near as nice as the VBE.

But if I want to perform statistical analyses, or run scenario analyses in a table, or run a Pivot Table, or create graphs and interface with a database program, or run an R command internally within Calc…

I can do ALL of that cool stuff using software that is completely and totally FREE.

Kea loves her windows because it runs photoshop. Me? No. I do like their hardware (their mice a small, fast cheap and simply work), once you have removed that stupid OS.

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9 months ago

We upgraded at work to Lenovo Thinkpads with the latest version of Office. I can confirm that it is absolute garbage. I too would consider my self a power user, mostly thanks to a really good memory for keyboard shortcuts and ASCII key codes. I can power through documents involving a lot of mathematical equations very quickly. The new version, however, has made the toolbar so large that you have to keep it hidden, meaning a pulldown every single time you want to use a command that doesn’t have a keyboard shortcut, then a pushup to get rid of the pulldown before you can start working on your document again with the visual space you need. Saving is garbage as it wants to save to Onedrive by default and won’t, no matter how I try, allow you to switch the default to the traditional “Save in” window. So again, several extra clicks to save anything and regular “saved in the wrong folder”, requiring me to run searches to find the document I just created.

Thankfully I have Word 2013 on my laptop at home and no intention of every getting rid of it unless I have to. Crazy that the program that came out seven years ago is far more workable than the latest version.

A quick observation on the “hadn’t touched it in a year” issue. That is one of the things that drives me insane. I have stuff I don’t do often (updating phpbb software for example). Because it is done infrequently, it isn’t in the forefront of your mind. Then you have to do it. Six hours later, with multiple losses of data (thankfully you remember that this requires a backup prior to starting every single time) you finally have something that seems to work. Only it doesn’t look or feel any different than what you had, so why did you have to upgrade it. 😃

To make it worse, this last time someone else (taking over a part of the web maintenance) was doing it instead of me. He used a backup manager to make the backup instead of just downloading the whole folder via ftp. When the upgrade didn’t work, it turned out that the backup program he used didn’t actually do a full backup. Sigh. Ask first and then do what the person who knows how to do it suggests!