YteneWeb The Weirder Side Of Life…

May 13, 2017

Never attribute to Malice that which can be explained as Stupidity

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:39 pm

One evening earlier this week, I was enjoying an hour of gaming on my home PC when – without warning – my game screen went a bit bonkers, turned from full-screen to a windowed mode – and then I got presented with a cheerful message from Microsoft to tell me that they were going to update my Windows 10 build… (whether I liked it or not). I immediately selected “disable now and don’t remind me” and thought no more.

The following evening I booted the computer for a different reason but got the same result – my work was interrupted and I got another “get ready” warning. Disabled again.

Until Thursday, when the upgrade “just started”, while I was back playing the game I’d been enjoying previously (Mass Effect Andromeda). Let’s fast-forward through the multiple-reboot update process, which took a significant chunk of time, to get to the bit where things really started to go wrong. In fact, upon the final “We’re finished” reboot, I was left with:-

1. No working audio (from a Creative X-Fi Titanium sound card – hardly a rare item…)
2. A disabled and broken firewall (Checkpoint Zone Alarm)
3. A completely re-configured monitor setup (I have 3 monitors driven by an nVidia 1080GTX graphics card – the upgrade broke the nVidia display-spanning configuration and then changed the Left-Centre-Right orientation of the monitors).
4. A Start / Menu / Task Bar which relocates itself to the top of the screen with each system power on – despite the fact that its own settings have it clearly marked as appearing at the bottom of the screen.

OK, to the fixes:

1. Sound Card… It turns out that the “upgrade” had checked my hardware and decided that – of course – I would want to pipe audio via an HDMI cable to a monitor which has no audio output capability, rather than send it via the perfectly serviceable Toslink optical audio feed to my surround speakers. I once again changed the default audio and once again deleted the 3 Monitors from the option list in the Sound applet of Control Panel. Of course they have since come back, but that’s a problem for another day.

2. Firewall… This proved to be another relatively straightforward [if annoying] fix. In simple terms when I booted under this new edition of Windows 10, I was unable to get ZoneAlarm to work. In the end I manually deleted it and then simply manually re-installed it once more. I now have a working Firewall. Or do I? Take a look at the first of the images below, and you start to see the problem. Windows 10 “Upgrade” thinks that I have no working firewall. ZoneAlarm begs to differ. “Checkpoint One, Microsoft Nil…”

3. Monitor Setup… I honestly don’t know what the blazes happened here, other than a general-purpose Microsoft fsck-up. Although having said that, I’ve noticed that nVidia driver updates have become shambolically awful recently, often doing stupid things. Maybe this was Microsoft, maybe the Windows 10 update included an nVidia driver “update” as part of the process. Either way, the fix required me to break my “virtual desktop” (I had the three monitors configured at the driver level to give the effect – to applications – of a single, 5760×1200 display). Then I simply re-sorted the three monitors so that they appeared Left-Centre-Right in the correct sequence and re-created the virtual desktop.

4. The wandering task bar. No fix identified at this time.

When all this was done, I thought it might be helpful to capture this experience in more detail and send the feedback to Microsoft. So I did. Which brings me to the second screen scrape, below. This is what I saw when I clicked the “send feedback” button.

It isn’t enough for Microsoft to spy on their users. Oh no. Every once in a while they feel the need for a nostalgic trip back to the good old days when running Windows on your computer was nothing short of digital Russian Roulette and “What do you want to do today?” (their logo at the time) was genuinely interpreted to be, “What are we going to fsck up on your computer today? (Can you guess?… Ho ho ho)”

I don’t mind updates.
However, I do object to having those updates forced on me against my wishes.
I strongly object to updates being forced on me when 1) they haven’t been properly tested; and 2) they fsck up my computer in the process.

This computer is a “new build” machine – it didn’t qualify for a “free” upgrade to Windows 10 and the boxed copy I purchased from the Microsoft store cost £200. Two hundred quid for intrusive, nagging, disobedient, buggy spy-ware.


November 8, 2016

That’s Not A Bug, It’s a Feature (But We’ll Charge You To “Fix” It)

Filed under: Technology — admin @ 4:56 pm

So the trials and tribulations [and costs] of being a Microsoft customer continue unabated…

Having now purchased my second copy of Office, [quick recap: purchased a copy of 2013 Professional from Amazon last October, turned out the seller illegally copied the license key and re-used it; license got revoked, yours truly left £235 out of pocket] which cost me the delightful sum of £389 in download-only form from the Microsoft store, plus the £199 cost of the Windows 10 OS to run it on, my recent tech expenditure (with Microsoft alone) now sits at the not unimpressive total of £825, give or take.

And we’re off…

Err, no. In looking for help with a technical issue, I stumble across the fact that Office 2016 is available in both 32-bit and 64-bit editions. The latter runs faster, handles larger files than the former. A quick check and I establish that I’ve been given the 32-bit version, even though I’m running the 64-bit OS. Duh? I call Microsoft Support and spend 30 minutes discussing the issue with the Help Desk person, pointing out that the on-line store does not give me any choice between which version to download. I’m asked to link into a chat window, at which point the technician shares a link with me [that could have been sent via email] to a 64-bit downloader. I’m instructed to un-installed the previous edition, then re-install using the new downloader. OK, having overcome that…

I try and load in an Access database that was stored on my NAS box. Except I get a new error message, “SECURITY WARNING – Some active content has been disabled. Click for more details.” And, on digging further, I discover that a new feature of Office 2016, the “Trust Centre” basically treats any file not on the actual hard drives of the actual computer on which office is running – to be hostile. So if – like me – you have a small personal NAS box that grants a network share that a Windows computer can map to… well, you’re sh1t out of luck, sunshine. I resort to Google and various web pages. Like this one. Now, if you follow that link, you will see that it takes you to a Microsoft-hosted help page for Office 2016, explaining how to set up “Trust Locations”.

Brilliant, sorted…

Err, no. You see, none of that information actually works. It does absolutely nothing. Nor do any of the other pages Microsoft host, nor the 20 or so pages from various third parties that I explored in search of a fix. Um… So, back on to Microsoft’s support line. I explained that something that used to work perfectly with an earlier version of Office has stopped working. I explained that I had followed all of the on-line Microsoft advice [because this is the 21st century and Microsoft don’t ship manuals any more, not even PDF copies. Oh no, if you want a *book* you can buy that separately]. I got put on to a technician, who had me spend an hour trying various solutions. Nope. So the person offered to get back to me. I subsequently received an email with a link to a page I’d already found, tried and discounted. Microsoft sent me a “Did we fix your problem?” survey form. I gave a polite reply, to “Liz”. Received an email in response, and sent a much more detailed explanation of the issue. Today, I received a call from “Liz”, wanting to put me through to a “Tier 2” support person. So I was handed across to “Catrina”, who was desperate to help fix my issue. For two minutes.

At that point Catrina announced that this was a “complex issue” and “not covered” by the basic help desk. But I should worry not, because she would be only too pleased to walk me through a process of getting Tier 3 help from a product specialist. Wait, what? You mean *you’re not* a product specialist? Apparently not. Her job, it seems, was to listen to my fault description, tell me it was complicated, then direct me to a web page from which I could *buy more Professional Support* from Microsoft. Wait, what?

Let’s get this straight…

1. I want to load an Access Database from a network drive. I’ve been doing this for years, and it has worked for years, without any issues.
2. I upgrade to Office 2016, and now the process of loading a network-hosted file generates a warning/error message.
3. I follow *all* the on-line Microsoft documentation, but the problem is not resolved. [In other words, the documentation is defective].
4. I call in for help, asking why this “upgrade” has broken something that used to work, and if someone can please tell me how to configure the new product to not throw up this error…
5. I am told that Microsoft will be happy to help me, but *at a cost for professional services support*.

Um. Let’s get this right. I had an Office Product that worked. I upgraded to a later edition, which broke normally acceptable practices, (like loading a ####ing file) and now I have to *pay you* to fix this?

How do you spell shake-down? Why does this feel like the digital equivalent of having a “visit” from a couple of extremely large gentlemen who want me to buy their insurance policy so that “something bad” doesn’t happen? With us entering the world of “automatic updates” [that can no longer be disabled or tested], there is nothing stopping an unscrupulous vendor from using this to extort money from clients by randomly “breaking things” and then charging to fix them?

Absolutely ####ing disgusting.

£825 of Microsoft product spend in the last 2 months, and they want me to spend more money to fix a problem they caused, and for which their own published documentation simply doesn’t work? Why, how very convenient.

Does anyone know when “negligence” and “incompetence” stop and “extortion” begins?


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