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?

Applications Ubuntu

First Installs for Ubuntu

With the release of Ubuntu 9.10 aka Karmic Koala last week it was time for me to do a fresh install of Ubuntu on my main machine which dual boots Vista and Ubuntu. For the most part I upgrade my Ubuntu install around beta 1 then roll along with the updates until final release, a few days after final release I wipe the partition and install with a fresh copy just in case any bugs are hanging around.

The default Ubuntu install has some great software out of the box but we need some multimedia stuff like the ability to play MP3s (which may or may not be legal in your country, IANAL) and flash player. From there I install a bunch of other programs I enjoy playing with. Here’s the first command I run for installs:

sudo wget$(lsb_release -cs).list \
–output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list &&
sudo apt-get -q update &&
sudo apt-get –yes -q –allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring &&
sudo apt-get -q update &&
sudo aptitude install ubuntu-restricted-extras skype googleearth kompozer keepassx pidgin pidgin-plugin-pack inkscape xaralx epiphany midori audacity djplay hydrogen hydrogen-drumkits terminator filezilla gftp abiword cowsay thunderbird banshee virtualbox-ose gnome-do gnome-do-plugins nautilus-image-converter cheese

This adds the Medibuntu repository, which distributes among other things multimedia codecs and Google Earth then updates the software sources and adds it’s keyring (for authentication of packages) then yet again updates the software sources and finally starts installing my programs with confirmation.

Let me run through the packages and what they do:

Ubuntu-restricted-extras: Installs flash, MP3, WMA, and MS Font support among other things.

Skype: The world famous video messaging client works on Linux.

Google-earth: Who doesn’t love Google Earth?

Kompozer: Fork of NVU a WYSIWYG HTML editor, good for simple webpages.

Keepassx: A great cross platform password database app to save all your passwords. I use this on Windows, Linux, and OS X.

Pidgin & pidgin-plugin-pack: Multi-protocol IM client.  In Karmic Empathy is the default IM client however I’m still happy with Pidgin. I use Pidgin on Windows & Linux

Inkscape & Xaralx: Cool graphics programs, which I haven’t dived into as much as I’d like to as they appear to have a steep learning curve.

Ephphany & Midori: Internet browsers as a webmaster you can never have to many browsers.

Audacity, Hydrogen, and DJ Play: These are all programs. Audacity is a track editor, Hydrogen is a beat maker, and DJ play lets you play DJ between two tracks. I haven’t played around with the latter two a whole lot but like to have them installed for when the mood strikes.

Terminator: Embeds multiple terminals in one window. Mainly useful for when I’m ssh’ed into more than 1 server

Filezilla & GFTP: Filezilla is my preferred cross platform FTP client. GFTP is my backup FTP client in addition to Nautilus’s capabilities.

Abiword: Lightweight cross platform word processor I use this on all 3 platforms for hammering out blog posts and replies to longer private messages on forums. I must admit I lauch Abiword before Open Office in most cases.

Cowsay: Neat little app that puts whatever your place after the command in a comic strip bulb over an ASCII cow. It’s not useful for anything just good a for a quick laugh. 😀 Check out Cowsay:

Cowsay screenshot

Thunderbird: Firefox’s sister a cross platform email client. I mostly use it just to monitor a couple of IMAP accounts

Banshee: A music manager.

Virtualbox-ose: A free virtual machine app, I use this to run Windows XP in a virtual machine both on Ubuntu & Vista

Gnome-do & Gnome-do-plugins: Gnome do is a great launcher app much like Vista’s start menu or spotlight on OS X. It can do a lot more but I don’t use for much more than the basic functionality

Nautilus-image-converter: Resize images by right clicking.

Cheese: Webcam application much like Photo Booth on OS X.

From there I head  on over to to grab Songbird and Ubuntu Tweak the go off and download Opera & Dropbox from their respective sites. Assuming Firefox is saving your downloads to ~/Downloads, I install them all with two commands.

cd Downloads/

sudo dpkg -i *.deb (this tells the Ubuntu to unpack all .deb files)


sudo apt-get install -f (to fix dependency issues with Ubuntu Tweak)

Lets run through the apps again: 😉

Songbird: Is a cross platform music manager based on Mozilla. I use it mostly for streaming Shoutcast but it has some great library features built in and is expandable with extensions just like Firefox

Ubuntu Tweak: Basically helps you install packages and if enabled set up some of Compiz’s features in additon to setting default user paths and desktop icons. It’s a nice little app, sort of the modern day Automatic

Opera: Just another web browser

Dropbox: This an awesome cross platform sync tool. I’ve got a premium account and use it to sync and files across all my computers that aren’t confidential. I really cannot say enough good about Dropbox, give it a try.

There you have it with my internet connection I normally get all this installed and have a system ready to go within less than an hour. What do you install first with Ubuntu? Leave any questions in the comments please.


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.


How To Show Hidden Files in Windows Explorer

In order to get at certain folders and files within Windows you will need to show hidden files and folders.

In Windows XP:

Open My Computer and click on Tools > Folder Options > Click on the View tab > and select Show Hidden Files and Folders

Show Hidden Files and Folders XP

On Windows Vista/ 7:

Same process just a different naming convention.

Computer > Organize > Folder and Search Options > View Tab > Check ‘Show Hidden Files and Folders

Show Hidden Files Vista