Windows Laptop : Update

Some of the photos of me a nlOUG showed me with my MacBook Pro, which caused some amusement for a few people as I wasn’t using my new Windows laptop, so I thought I would give an update…

The new laptop got delivered while I was in Riga, so I had 4 days between picking it up and leaving for nlOUG. I picked it up from work at 21:00 on the Friday, but didn’t start playing with it until the next day. By the end of the morning it was my main computer.

As far as I can remember I only had one hiccup, which was down to a thunderbolt driver that meant my dock wasn’t working properly. I installed the latest driver from the Dell website and everything was fine.

All my test environments are built using VirtualBox, Vagrant and Docker, so rebuilding all my testing stuff was a matter of issuing a command and waiting. 🙂

So why didn’t I take the new laptop to nlOUG? Two reasons.

  • Like most new laptops, it has thunderbolt and USB-C ports and not much else, so I was waiting for a travel adaptor to arrive. The dock I’ve got is quite big, so I wasn’t going to take that with me.
  • At that point I hadn’t practised using the new laptop with a projector. I had used it with a second screen, but I wanted to try it out in a more realistic situation. I’ve since done that with a projector at work.

I don’t believe I’ve even turned on the MacBook Pro since I got back from the Netherlands, so as it stands, I’m planning on taking the new laptop to Oracle Code : Paris.

Now for some general thoughts…

Something that did surprise me a little was how weird it felt using Windows at home for a while. I use Windows 10 at work and I would often log into my work machine from the MBP when I was at home or away at conferences, so I expected there to be zero mind-shift from this move. I was really surprised how much my mind would just switch when I was working on my own stuff at home, compared to when I was doing my real job. So funny.

It’s nice to be able to use mapped drives reliably again. The MBP was terrible at dealing with my NAS. Didn’t matter what I tried, it would drop connections, and judging by Google I was not alone with this. The Windows machine is 100% so far.

As I’ve said before, most of my life is spent using a browser and a shell prompt connected to local or cloud VMs. As a result I am not tied to any desktop OS, but I’ve definitely been less frustrated with Windows 10 than I was macOS and Linux before it. I’m not sure why I stuck it out for so long.



PS. For context, you might want to read my post here before you tell me how great your preferred desktop OS is… 🙂

A week with my Windows 10 desktop…

I mentioned in a previous post I was done with the MacBook Pro, but the combination of it no longer being a brick and my inherent laziness has meant I’ve lost momentum on the switch and I’ve not ordered a new laptop (pause for dramatic effect) yet… Even so I’ve been using a Windows 7 PC at work for nearly six years and last week it got swapped out for a new PC with Windows 10 on it. The new machine is a pretty standard desktop machine (i7, 16G RAM and 500G SSD), so a similar spec to my MBP.

These are the go-to things I must have on my work computer. There are a bunch of other things as well, but these are the mainstays.

  • DropBox : I use this to hold my personal KeePass file on Windows at work, and Mac and Linux boxes at home.
  • KeePass : Each system I log into has a strong unique password. I don’t know any of them. Without KeePass I would be screwed. I use KeePassXC on Mac and KeePass2Android on my phone. I used to run KeePass with Wine on my Linux desktop, but KeePassXC is a better alternative now.
  • Chrome : Other browsers are available. I don’t dislike Edge, but Chrome syncs on all my machines, so I don’t have to mess about maintaining bookmarks.
  • MobaXTerm : My go-to shell. IMHO it’s much better than anything else on Windows, Mac or Linux.
  • UltraEdit : I have a multi-platform unlimited upgrades license, so I use this on all operating systems. If I hadn’t already bought the license I would probably use NotePad++ on Windows, or maybe one of those editors the cool kids use…
  • VirtualBox : I run this on my Windows PC at work, on my MBP at home and on my Linux servers at home. I don’t mind Hyper-V or KVM, but having one product on all three operating systems I use is nice.
  • SQLcl : I recently wrote about my switch from SQL*Plus to SQLcl.
  • SQL Developer : I don’t use this a lot because I am a command line kid, but it’s good to have just in case.
  • SQL Server Management Studio : I don’t write about it a lot, but I do look after a bunch of SQL Server databases, so this is really handy.
  • PortableApps : This is a neat way to run a load of different apps and utils on a Windows box without having to install them. It works great on a memory stick, but if there is a PortableApps version of an application, I will often pick it over a regular install and just have it sitting on my PC.
  • Git Extensions : On my Mac and Linux boxes I use the command line for Git, but on Windows I use Git Extensions. I don’t know why I use a GUI on Windows when I could just use the command line. 🙂 Of all the clients I’ve tried, this is the one that suits me the best. Some of the more popular clients, like GitHub Desktop and SourceTree, drive me nuts.
  • SnagIt : Great for screen/window/region captures, delayed and auto captures,  and annotations when producing docs. I use it on my Windows PC at work and MBP at home. Could use the free “Snipping Tool” on Windows, or the built in stuff on MBP, but I like SnagIt. On Linux I used to use Shutter, but it’s not great.
  • Spotify : Don’t judge me! 🙂

By looking at this list you can probably see why I don’t have too many problems doing my job on any OS. Most of the tools I use are available on the big two desktop operating systems, and Linux in some form. There are just a lot more options for Windows in the non-work arena, which is why I’m interested in switching back to it at home too…

A week in and I’m really happy with Windows 10. I support family members who’ve used it for a long time, so it wasn’t a big shock to me. If anything, this experience has strengthened my resolve to ditch the Mac when I eventually replace my home desktop/laptop. Windows 10 is quick, responsive and it looks nice.



Update: Someone pointed out I didn’t mention AV. I just assume all Windows PCs, Macs and Linux Desktops are running AV and probably malware stuff. I know I do on all devices. In this case we are talking about a corporate PC, so it’s definitely there.

Windows 10 Again

DiagnosticsI wrote a few months ago about having a play with Windows 10 (here).

I’m visiting family today, catching up on all the Windows desktop (and mobile phone) support that I missed while I was away.

I purposely postponed the Windows 10 update on the desktops before I went away, but now I’m back I did the first of them.

The update itself was fine, but it did take a long time. Nothing really to write home about.

I’ve installed the latest version of Classic Shell on the machine, so the experience is similar to what they had before, Windows 8.1 and Classic Shell, which felt like Windows 7. 🙂

I’ve also switched out their shortcuts from Edge (Spartan) to Internet Explorer 11. They already use a combination of IE, Firefox and Chrome, so I didn’t want to add another thing into the mix. Also, the nephews use the Java plugin for some web-based games, so it is easier to leave them with IE for the time being. Maybe I will introduce Edge later…

So all in all, the user experience is pretty much unchanged compared to what they had before. I guess I will see how many calls Captain Support gets over the coming weeks! 🙂