Windows - off topic

#1
I can foresee an unintended, probably massively under-reported, issue arising here.

I don't think I'm alone in having grave reservations about the way that Microsoft have switched their business model. All companies need a revenue stream, but Microsoft (and others) have realised that the one-time licence fee is not viable now that OS updates are rarely significant enough to be needed by the majority of users. They've switched to a business model (not just for Windows 10, they have retrospectively applied it to Windows 7 and 8, via "important updates"), where they taken data from your PC and use it to earn revenue. This is far from new, supermarkets have been doing it for years with "loyalty" cards and other operating systems, like Android, use it as pretty much the whole basis for their app income stream.

For those who are content to comply with this clause that they have to accept in order to run Windows then it probably isn't a concern:
"Interests and favorites. We collect data about your interests and favorites, such as the teams you follow in a sports app, the stocks you track in a finance app, or the favorite cities you add to a weather app. In addition to those you explicitly provide, your interests and favorites may also be inferred or derived from other data we collect.

Contacts and relationships. We collect data about your contacts and relationships if you use a Microsoft service to manage contacts, or to communicate or interact with other people or organizations.

Finally, we will access, disclose and preserve personal data, including your content (such as the content of your emails, other private communications or files in private folders), when we have a good faith belief that doing so is necessary."
(and no, you cannot turn this off permanently, it will turn back on every time Windows updates, and some of it cannot be turned off no matter what you do, short of blocking all their servers in your black list). For interest, Microsoft rolled the same system out to Windows 7 and 8, via an update around a year ago, so unless you've specifically deleted the update and taken other action they are collecting data from you to generate revenue. I've found that Microsoft try to re-install this update around once every month or so (on my old Windows 7 machine), so unless you're vigilant and refuse that particular update your machine will be sending data about anything you do to Microsoft.

Those most likely to be concerned about the technical issues regarding privacy loss are also likely to be hobbyists who may well be interested in using the Picaxe system. Certainly I'm one that falls into that category, and I know of a few dozen like-minded friends who feel the same way. A couple of years ago I decided to switch to Linux, prompted by a school teacher friend who had just switched all his school systems over to Linux and LibreOffice. It's far from straightforward, at least for me, who's never had any dealings with Unix-based systems, but generally Linux tends to be a lot faster, easy to use, far less irritating (like it always updates silently, and NEVER stops you working or needs a reboot!). 99% of popular applications are available in Linux versions, or run under WINE OK. I use a lot of oddball stuff, from terminal emulators, mathematical modelling packages though to office applications, CAD systems and microcontroller programming tools.

There are only two applications that I'd like to use but have to run on Windows; AutoCad (although their cut down 2 D version, AutoSketch runs fine under WINE on Linux) and the Picaxe PE6. PE5 may well be unsupported, but I have it installed on 5 machines running Linux and one running Windows (for compatibility reasons) and it works fine under WINE.

Blockly is an excellent educational tool, and I understand that education is where Rev Ed is focussed, but frankly it's not good as a programming editor for those of us that have tens of years of coding experience.

I can't help but feel that all those of us who are making the switch to Linux (and I'm sure that many hobbyists will over the next few years) will find that we either have to retain an old Windows machine just to programme Picaxe chips, or give up on the Picaxe and move to one of the myriad of other systems that offer a wide range of programming interfaces, that will run on many different operating systems. Recently I've been using a Chromium app to programme chips directly, and that seems like a good option, as it makes the application free from any operating system restrictions. Chromium (or the commercial version Chrome - same caveat above as to how it generates revenue!) runs on practically anything, so a programming editor developed to run on that would work the same way on any device.

These are just the ramblings of one person, who is insignificant in terms of your overall customer base, but they may, perhaps, resonate with quite a large number of current, and future, Picaxe users.
 
#2
I can foresee an unintended, probably massively under-reported, issue arising here.

I don't think I'm alone in having grave reservations about the way that Microsoft have switched their business model. All companies need a revenue stream, but Microsoft (and others) have realised that the one-time licence fee is not viable now that OS updates are rarely significant enough to be needed by the majority of users. They've switched to a business model (not just for Windows 10, they have retrospectively applied it to Windows 7 and 8, via "important updates"), where they taken data from your PC and use it to earn revenue. This is far from new, supermarkets have been doing it for years with "loyalty" cards and other operating systems, like Android, use it as pretty much the whole basis for their app income stream.

For those who are content to comply with this clause that they have to accept in order to run Windows then it probably isn't a concern:



I can't help but feel that all those of us who are making the switch to Linux (and I'm sure that many hobbyists will over the next few years) will find that we either have to retain an old Windows machine just to programme Picaxe chips, or give up on the Picaxe and move to one of the myriad of other systems that offer a wide range of programming interfaces, that will run on many different operating systems. Recently I've been using a Chromium app to programme chips directly, and that seems like a good option, as it makes the application free from any operating system restrictions. Chromium (or the commercial version Chrome - same caveat above as to how it generates revenue!) runs on practically anything, so a programming editor developed to run on that would work the same way on any device.

These are just the ramblings of one person, who is insignificant in terms of your overall customer base, but they may, perhaps, resonate with quite a large number of current, and future, Picaxe users.
I am on the same sheet of music. I thought that staying with Windows 7 would keep me out of Microsoft's grubby mitts, but they've reached back and grabbed those of us who have tried to avoid the Windows 10 business model.

I have been watching for a Windows replacement version of Linux, recently found and installed Zorin on a laptop so I could get a feel for it. With Chrome installed and gmail and Teamviewer and Libre office it seems to cover most of my bases. Wine comes pre-installed so no need to fuss with that.

If all goes well on the laptop, i'll probably try reverting to PE5 on my main machines and if that works, it's goodbye to Microsoft. Everything else I need runs on Wine including my CAD programs. Have got the family established on chromebook so no need for MS for them, either.
 
#3
I am on the same sheet of music. I thought that staying with Windows 7 would keep me out of Microsoft's grubby mitts, but they've reached back and grabbed those of us who have tried to avoid the Windows 10 business model.

I have been watching for a Windows replacement version of Linux, recently found and installed Zorin on a laptop so I could get a feel for it. With Chrome installed and gmail and Teamviewer and Libre office it seems to cover most of my bases. Wine comes pre-installed so no need to fuss with that.

If all goes well on the laptop, i'll probably try reverting to PE5 on my main machines and if that works, it's goodbye to Microsoft. Everything else I need runs on Wine including my CAD programs. Have got the family established on chromebook so no need for MS for them, either.
I'm so glad I'm not alone. When I discovered (completely by accident) that "telemetry" had been covertly activated on my old Windows 7 PC I was extremely angry. Of course, it was technically my fault; I failed to check to see what the "important update" was actually going to do.

The only issue I had with getting PE5 to run under WINE was the need to install the open-source version of MFC40.dll, but once I had that sorted it works fine.

The other work-around I have is to write and edit Picaxe code in a text editor, then load it into Axepad to programme the Picaxe. It's cumbersome, because Axepad finds it hard to reliably save files, but does at least work.
 

tmfkam

Senior Member
#4
To add to the ranting...

Many years ago Microsoft installed an *important update* to my XP machine. After the install completed, my firewall reported unusual activity when the machine started. Thinking I'd picked up a virus, I spent some time trying to clean my machine. Turned out it was Bill Gates getting my PC to check with him if my XP licence was valid. After I raised a complaint with Microsoft, it turned out that it couldn't be removed as doing so stopped any further *important updates*.

I told the agent then that I was going to go out the next day and buy a Mac. I did, and haven't looked back.

I'm sure that the iMac dials out to Cupertino every day, much like XP, but it was the principal of hiding it as a security update that riled me...
 
#5
It's the principle of keeping data transfer to Microsoft secret (or semi-secret) that annoys me. I have no problem, for example, in using an advert-funded free application, because I know up-front that the adverts are the income stream for the developers, and that seems perfectly fair and reasonable as I can make an informed choice as to whether or not to use that app.

Microsoft have chosen to bury the fact that they have the right to extract every single byte of data from your PC, and do with it as they wish, deep in the terms and conditions of Windows 10 (and in the terms and conditions of the "telemetry" updates rolled out a year or so ago to Windows 7 and 8). I only discovered what was happening with my Windows 7 machine when, for another reason entirely, I used a packet sniffer on my connection and saw a heck of a lot of data going to a large number of microsoft servers, even when the machine was just turned on and doing nothing. A bit of research revealed that Microsoft had covertly rolled out an "update" that installed all this snooping code to older machines, under the guise of making them "easier to upgrade to Windows 10".

Being curious, I looked where all the traffic was going, and 90% of it was going to advert services, which led me to believe that the data being taken from my hard drive was being used by advertisers. There's a way to disable it, but it's slow. Most routers allow you to blacklist IP addresses or URLs by redirecting them to the local machine. I spent around an hour manually entering every single Microsoft related snooping URL into my router black list, and then spent another hour or so removing all the many updates that had installed "telemetry" without my explicit consent.

A side effect of this is that my old Windows PC runs a fair bit faster now!

As far as Apple go, then I feel less concerned about their business model. They are very controlling in the way they operate, but looking at the data going to and from my wife's iPad there's nothing going back to Apple that gives me any cause for concern. AFAICS, they are not following the Microsoft business model yet; they seem to be have a business model where the high initial price of the device, together with the frequent issue of new replacement devices, generates their revenue stream.
 

PhilHornby

Senior Member
#6
Ad blocking

Being curious, I looked where all the traffic was going, and 90% of it was going to advert services, which led me to believe that the data being taken from my hard drive was being used by advertisers. There's a way to disable it, but it's slow. Most routers allow you to blacklist IP addresses or URLs by redirecting them to the local machine. I spent around an hour manually entering every single Microsoft related snooping URL into my router black list, and then spent another hour or so removing all the many updates that had installed "telemetry" without my explicit consent.
For general ad. blocking, I thoroughly recommend: https://github.com/StevenBlack/hosts

You can either download a pre-built HOSTS file, or a Python script that's used to add your own customisations to it. A specific list of Microsoft telemetry URLs seems hard to come by though ... you could add to the project and send him your list!
 
#7
For general ad. blocking, I thoroughly recommend: https://github.com/StevenBlack/hosts

You can either download a pre-built HOSTS file, or a Python script that's used to add your own customisations to it. A specific list of Microsoft telemetry URLs seems hard to come by though ... you could add to the project and send him your list!
Most are in this thread: https://forums.untangle.com/web-filter/35894-blocking-windows-10-spying-telemetry.html

Worth reading this, too, as it seems that Microsoft have hit back at those who now try to remove the "telemetry" updates to Win7 and 8 (I did mine log enough ago to have got away with it): http://superuser.com/questions/9725...ring-telemetry-data-from-windows-7-8-and-8-1/

If anything, Microsoft trying to block the removal of "telemetry" updates is a pretty good indicator that they are a revenue stream, not an aid to the end user when it coes to updating to Win 10, which is how they are described.

Best to block at your incoming line, on the router, if possible, as I believe "telemetry" can bypass the usual hosts file block method. See here: http://www.dslreports.com/forum/r30...m-Spying-On-You-36-DNS-Addresses-to-host-file
 
#8
A question for the experts please.
I too am fed up with the W word.

I'm thinking about an Imac, for emails, web surfing and so on.
However, I have never touched a Mac.

Would a £400 Mac mini be a good way to start?
Then, I could transfer later to bigger version ~£2k.

e
 
#9
My wife switched to an iPad, and now a Mac. My views are based on having used lots of systems, but not Apple stuff before.

The massive strength of any Apple product is that it just works, extremely well, with no user intervention. The user interface is very nice and the ease of use is absolutely fantastic for anyone without any computer experience.

The downsides are that generally Apple only easily talks to Apple, so the concept of sharing files on a home server, backing up to USB etc, is alien to Apple. Printing to non-Apple printers, especially those on a home network, can cause a bit of head-scratching, too. In general, Apple lock stuff down to make it very hard to work with non-Apple stuff. Good for them, as all Apple stuff works extremely well together, so their tech support has a very light load. Not so good for those who have a mix of devices, though.

As an example, I run 5 Linux/hacked Android based machines and one Windows 7 machine. One of the Linux machines is a low power home server, that stores and backs up all my files, photos etc. All these machines will happily talk to each other on the network and allow file sharing, streaming etc. Apple stuff won't even talk to the network, as it's not an Apple network. To back up stuff from my wife's iPad means using an app to individually send files to a browser on a machine with a screen (so not the home server), one by one, then back them up from there. Printing from her iPad to our Samsung network colour laser is hit an miss. There is a Samsung app that allows some things to print, but for some reason it won't ever print emails, they have to be forwarded to one of the other machines and then printed if need be.

For email, surfing etc I think that any Apple device wins hands-down over anything else, really because it's near foolproof and is a delight to use. If you want to start moving files around, outside the device or the iCloud then Apple devices start to get to be challenging to use.
 

hippy

Technical Support
Staff member
#11
It is always worth taking a look at what privacy statements and license agreements actually say; to see how they compare with what others may say they contain, and to check if an issue relates only to specific pre-release, beta or technical preview programmes, or has a wider scope.
 
#12
Thanks Technical, allows me to post this somewhat different perspective from a well respected tech website.
Thanks, that's a useful, and different, perspective.

The problem is really a PR one. It's common knowledge that Microsoft have switched to an advert and personal data sales revenue scheme for Windows 10. Even that article suggests as much, towards the end:

Windows 10's a different story. As I've explained repeatedly, Win10 is starting to collect data for the purpose of targeting ads -- not unlike Windows Live Messenger, years ago, and Google and Facebook and many others, for as long as they've been around. You should understand the privacy implications before you decide to upgrade (or not) to Windows 10. The fact that Windows 10 continues to leak information even after all the CEIP/Cortana/Bing settings have been shut off does not instill confidence.

But the Windows 10 data-scraping approach is not moving down to Windows 7 or 8.1, no matter what those headlines and experts may say
.
The problem is one of trust. Do I trust Microsoft to handle all my personal data that they have free access to (if I accept the terms of their Customer Experience Improvement Programme) or not? As I found out about the Win 7 and 8 updates AFTER I'd found out about the Ts&Cs of Windows 10, quite reasonably I have no trust at all that Microsoft (or some other big companies) will behave reasonably when it comes to accessing my personal data.
 

Pongo

Senior Member
#13
I agree, from the privacy point of view, Win 10 is an absolute disaster. Prior to the recent upgrade it was possible to civilize it but most all of those tricks have now been blocked :( I have reverted my win 10 test to win 7, I don't know what I will do in the future. Unfortunately most people have already passively accepted that level of "spying" by using smart phones, facebook, and websites like yahoo that mine your browser history and other activity to choose what they think you should see...
 
#14
I made the transition at home to Linux in 2008, although I continued to work with Microsoft & Apple stuff right up to my retirement 6 months ago.

I've never recommended Linux to regular, non-technical PC users, because their expectations can best be described as "Windows for free". But for technical people (both hobbyists and pros) with an interest in how computers work, Linux is a great technical playground. So for teckies there are good reasons to use Linux for some, or possibly all, of your computing activities.

Although I played with Wine a few years back, I never really took to it. So for 2 of the examples mentioned above, I use LibreCAD for 2D drawing, and a RaspberryPi for Picaxe programming: code written in gEdit (although LinAxePad seems to also work for me on x64) and download code via the Pi serial link with a couple of drivers from a ULN2003 chip.

Rev Ed are not really interested in a handful of Linux weirdos. But just how big a handful are we talking about? And am I really that weird?

The answer to the first question may be better estimated via a poll on this website. Please don't answer the second question.

I think I've said this before, but I'll say it again: Rev Ed's business is about selling chips, not software. So the idea of providing FOSS Linux software does not seem that crazy to me. And once we have the source code, the Linux community could probably make any changes needed as Linux evolves, and to support the main operating systems: x86, x64 and now ARM.

If there are secrets in the code that need protecting, how about basic non-free Linux software with a comprehensive API?
 
#15
I agree Steve, with a bit of cooperation the OS community could almost certainly come up with an decent solution as a Picaxe programming editor. The code already exists for compiling the text source file to Picaxe object code, so it's really a matter of looking at how to structure a Linux programming editor that will run natively and include the additional functionality that makes PE so very useful.

There's probably nothing to stop a group doing that now, in a semi-open source way, as the compiler is, I believe, already available.
 

Pongo

Senior Member
#16
After my aborted Win 10 test I made a good faith effort to use Linux Mint 18. I've tried Linux many times before but this was definitely the best experience so far, installed easily (dual booted desktop and laptop), found all the hardware inc. wifi, and ran great. Except for a few programs I could find acceptable replacements for my commonly used Win ones, but I couldn't find a good program editor with integrated FTP, or a reasonably featured screen capture/image editor with FTP, and Axepad gave me problems. The real killer though was Thinkpad battery life being reduced by 50% or more :(
 
#17
I'm running Mint 18 on a laptop. Initially the battery life took a hit, but I found that the "on battery" settings were silly, and that making some simple adjustments brought the battery life back to as good as it ever has been. Offhand I can't recall the changes I made, but I seem to remember that one issue was with the screen brightness. By default it was turned up way too high in battery mode (and in mains mode) and the screen was also staying on longer than it needed to when idle. This is on an old Asus UX31E, with a solid state drive.
 
#18
I have never used Mint (I use the light-weight OS Lubuntu) but I would take a look at the Task Manager (and cpu temperature) to see if there are processes running in the background that are creating a heavy cpu load. I seem to remember there is some kind of file indexing tool that could be a problem on some systems.
 
#19
As this thread seems ideal for looking at Picaxe-related issues with those of us not running Windows, how many people have problems with Axepad?

For me (Linux Mint 18 on a few machines, all 64 bit) Axepad works, but very randomly crashes when trying to save a file. Sometimes file saves work perfectly, other times I just lose everything. The work around I tend to use the most is to have notepad or gedit open at the same time as Axepad, and cut and paste the test from Axepad before I programme a Picaxe, so that if I get a file save problem I still have a copy of the code.

On one Linux machine (a 64 bit desktop) I have managed to get PE5 running under WINE. Not an easy thing to do, but when sorted it seems to work as well as it does on a Windows machine. As far as I can tell PE6 just doesn't work at all under WINE, which is a shame.

It would be nice to see if we could pin down the various reported file save problems with Axepad on Linux, just to see if there is a solid way to resolve the problem. I'm far from being knowledgeable to understand the fundamentals of Linux at this level, but am curious to know if there is a common denominator for those that have this long-standing problem.
 
#20
OK, so I have LinAxePad v1.5.1 running on Lubuntu 10.04 x64 kernel 4.4.0.

If I simply open a program file and occasionally add plain text and hit Save, would you expect me to see the problem you have? Or do I need to do more?
 
#21
If you have the problem that others have had, me included, then you'd have seen the problem doing just what you've been doing.

In my case it happens around 50% of the time I try and save a file, with Axepad just crashing and losing the data. AFAICS it seems random, and doesn't depend on whether other programmes are running or not. AT one time I thought I'd pinned it down to only crashing when I started a new bit of code in Axepad and saving it, not when I opened an existing .bas file and edited it, but I was wrong, I was just fooled by the randomness of the issue.

It must have something to do with the way the filing system works, and Axepad not being able to keep track of where a file should be saved, perhaps. That's probably something within a Linux function, rather than Axepad itself, and may point to an inconsistency in the way different versions of Linux handle files.

Lubuntu and Mint and basically the same kernel, so I would have thought that really fundamental stuff, like file system handling, was common to both. However, others have found that this issue isn't just specific to Mint, I believe. There is more on it in this thread: http://www.picaxeforum.co.uk/showthread.php?28167-AxePad-crashing-when-try-to-open-save-a-file with some suggestions as to how to fix it, that you've already contributed a lot to. The suggestion there is that it is specific to Mint, but others have reported the same file save issue with other distros, so I'm far from 100% certain that it is a Mint-only issue.

I moved over to Mint 18 a while ago, and fixed the dll registration problem I mentioned in that other thread that stopped PE5 working under WINE, so I no longer use Axepad very often, preferring to use PE5 under WINE (which works fine).

What would be great would be to get PE6 working under WINE, as that would then make those of use using non-Windows systems a degree of future proofing.
 

Pongo

Senior Member
#22
I never had any issues with Axepad file open/save, and I just booted in 64 bit Mint 18 to test and confirm that. My main problem was that I couldn't persuade the Terminal Window to open. From what I have seen on the internet excessive linux power consumption seems to be common and unresolvable issue with ThinkPads. I don't have the display any brighter, so I would imagine it's CPU power management that's lacking.
 
Top