Upgrading To Windows 10: Is It Worth It?

Windows-10-logoUnless you live under a rock, you know that Windows 10 was released last week. Windows 10 is the successor to Windows 8 and 8.1. For the first time in history Microsoft is giving away free upgrades. Anyone running Windows 7, 8, 8.1, or the Release Preview builds of 10 gets a free upgrade to Windows 10 if you upgrade within the first year. 

Why The Free Upgrade with a time constraint?

There’s many reasons for Microsoft to dangle this carrot — The biggest of which is Microsoft wants everyone on the same platform.

Microsoft wants everyone on the same platform (Windows 10) because it is easier for developers to write applications and test against Windows 10 instead of testing Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8, 8.1, and 10. Currently Windows is fragmented. Despite there being no more security patches there are still a lot of people running Windows XP which debuted in 2001. You also have people who still run Vista, Windows 7, and 8. Neither of which are particularly old or unstable. Windows Vista, 7, and 8/8.1 will see security patches for years to come.

Windows tablets and phones are going to be running some iteration of Windows 10 and applications should be universally compatible down the road. The scenario will be you install a Facebook app on the desktop and the same app would automatically download and install on your phone and tablet and be properly formatted to fit each screen. Which is pretty neat if you buy into the Windows ecosystem.

New Features:

There are a few tweaks to existing features and some new stuff too:

New Start Menu: Basically what Microsoft has done is take the start menu desktop users love from Windows 7 and added an area for metro live tiles beside it while doing away with the awful start screen in 8/8.1. You can remove all the tiles thus disabling Metro stuff or leave a few tiles running. Personally, I like running the Weather, Mail, Calendar, and News tiles. I have yet to find any other universally useful tiles.

Cortana is pretty neat. She’s like Siri for Windows. Basically, you hit the little search button and it starts listening for you to ask it a question. You can ask in regular language “What’s the weather today?”, “When was George Washington born?” and either be shown an answer right in the search pane or dumped to a Bing search page with your query already entered. You can also tell it to remind you to call your mother this evening and stuff like that. Overall, I like Cortana even if she’s a little hard-headed.


For the geekier among us Virtual Desktops are cool. We’ve had this on Linux and OS X for years. Virtual Desktops or “Task View” (as Microsoft calls them) allows you to have multiple desktops open at the same time. This means you can write an article in one task view and have Microsoft Word, One Note, and Chrome open on that desktop. In another desktop you can have all you communications apps (Outlook, Twitter, Skype, etc). In yet another Desktop you will balance your checkbook with your checkbook app and a browser window open to your bank’s website. In theory, you can have as many desktops as you want open. Just remember that every running app eats memory (RAM) so if you plan on using task view a lot be sure you have plenty of memory.

There are other new features not covered here you can see a full list at:

The upgrade process:

There’s a couple of methods to upgrade. The easiest is using the Windows Update method. If you reserved your upgrade during the pre-release you will be receiving a notice that Windows 10 is ready to install sometime in the near future. I used this process on my desktop and it was painless. I hit install, went to the store, and came back to Windows 10 fully installed and working.

A second method of upgrading is to use the media creation tool from Microsoft. You can create a DVD or thumb drive to boot from or just pop the thumb drive in and click setup.exe to run the installer.

One thing that’s worth noting, if you take advantage of the free upgrade offer  you must upgrade first (no fresh installs until later). Upon upgrade your Windows 7 or 8 key is (sort of) converted to a Windows 10 key. If you want to do a fresh later on down the road you can do so by creating a DVD or thumb drive using the media creation tool. I haven’t tested this but supposedly you can skip inputting the license key and W10 will automatically activate once it’s online so long as there are no hardware changes.

Microsoft has worked hard to make this upgrade as painless and possible and it pretty much is. Pre-Vista upgrades were a headache there were *always* driver issues. Going from Vista to 7 and then from 7 to 8 has been a painless process for me whether doing an in place upgrade or fresh install. Going from 8 to 10 was painless too.

Is The Upgrade to Windows 10 worth it?

That really depends on how much you like your current setup.  If you’re running Windows 7 or 8 and really like it then there’s no reason to upgrade. If you just want to check out the latest and greatest go for it. If you’re like me and just like running the latest stable release of a software – go for it.

The only thing that would make me think twice about upgrading is if I had older peripherals that may not have drivers; Though if it worked under Windows 8 it *should* work under 10.

If you’re the designated house geek I wouldn’t recommend upgrading Mom and Dad until you have a few hours to sit and help them get their bearings especially if they’re going from 7 to 10. 8 to 10 isn’t much of a UI change.

How many of you upgraded already? What are you thoughts?


How to Show Hidden Files In Ubuntu

Ubuntu Logo
Ubuntu Logo

The default install of Ubuntu includes the Gnome desktop environment and the Nautilus file manager, this is the Linux equivalent to Windows Explorer or Mac OS X’s Finder. In Ubuntu and Linux in general most programs hold their settings and configuration data under a folder prefixed with a . (period) in your home folder. By default most file managers hide these folders to make using the system and finding/accessing your files easier. For this reason it’s best just show hidden files briefly and not all the time.

To show hidden folders in Ubuntu simple open a Nautilus window (your home folder) and press Ctrl H. This will show all hidden folders in and files in this window where ever you navigate to. If you would ike to rehide them simply press Ctrl H again.

Here are screen shots of Ubuntu with hidden files both shown and hidden:

Standard Ubuntu Home Folder
Standard Ubuntu Home Folder
Ubuntu Home Folder with Hidden Files
Ubuntu Home Folder with Hidden Files

How To Find the appdata Folder in Windows

The appdata folder on windows is just what it sounds like. It’s a folder that stores application data for some programs. Most programs store some of their application data in the registry and some of it in appdata folder. Your appdata folder is an important folder to back up in case of a computer crash or if you choose to upgrade or install Windows.

To get to your appdata folder:

Windows XP: You can find the appdata folder by navigating to it in Explorer under XP.  First Show Hidden Files and Folders then go to My Computer > C:\ > Documents and Settings > <User Name*> > Application Data > Roaming

*Replace <User Name> with your actual user name

Windows 7/Vista: It’s as simple as typing %appdata% and pressing enter into your start menu search box.

Applications Opinion

Open Source Software

Here at AG you will often see me recommend open source and/or free software. There are four main reasons for this:

  • Most are cross platform. That means you can use the same programs and files on Windows, Linux, and OS X without running into problems. Additionally, you can transfer the programs preferences and stuff between platforms with a little prodding around. Often times configuration files are in easy to read XML files.
  • Data lock in isn’t an issue because the file formats are open and can easily be opened with another application or a converter can be built.
  • Price is a big factor for me at least. I operate on a shoe string budget and if I can save money on software I will. I don’t believe in pirating software so if I cannot find a free alternative I’ll gladly go without.
  • Do one thing and do it well. With few exceptions the common thread in open source software is that each application does ONE thing and does it well. Often times on the commercial side you see applications that do many things like a Swiss army knife but rarely do they do all the things they claim to do well.

There are a few other reasons why but that covers most of it. Reading around the internet the common arguments against open source software seems to be it’s insecure because you can view the source. Quite the opposite since it’s source visible anyone can audit the code and secure it. It’s free so it must be worthless, I cannot rebut that because I don’t understand the logic there.

My biggest issue with open source programs is many projects fall by the wayside some of the less popular programs I’ve used have not seen updates in a couple of years. I suppose developers loose interest or move on to bigger and better things which quite frankly sucks however commercial software also goes by the wayside too. Developers either discontinue support for older versions or stop making the application all together. I don’t have an statistics but I’ve venture to say the number of abandoned applications on both sides of the fence are similar.

In conclusion unless I win the lottery, you will see a lot of free software  recommendations here. Even if I win the lottery I’ll probably still be using many free programs because that’s what I’m used to using. 🙂  What software do you use and why?

Almost Geek Stuff


If you have followed technology blogs and forums for more than a couple of days you certainly seen the flame wars that erupt over operating systems (Linux/windows/OS X) or gaming platforms (Xbox/Playstation/Wii) some people do make good points but any of the good gets lost in rabid flaming of anyone with differing opinions.

Your editor here at Almost Geek is of the school of thought that computers are just tools to get work done and perhaps some entertainment out of them. It does not matter if you use Windows, Linux, or OS X to get your job done so long as you get your job done with as little heartache as possible with the tools at hand. I have very little patience for “X is better than Y because I say so.” or the ever present folks who cannot see the any negative attributes of their platform while they point out the other platforms negative points.  Please don’t start any of that flame war carp here. 🙂