Mac updates disaster (again) and a return to Windows desktop?

A couple of nights ago I tweeted about my MacBook Pro being a brick after the latest updates were applied. It was totally unresponsive. The only thing that would work is the “Option” key at boot to alter the boot order.

This is not the first time this has happened to me, and not just on this machine. I think in total I’ve had to restore the entire OS from TimeMachine three times. Once on a previous MBP and twice on the latest one. Twice it was after updates and once because it just stopped working and I never found out why.

Being a DBA, backups are my thing, so I have a TimeMachine partition on my NAS, as well as manual backups for some of the important things, which in turn get pushed up to an AWS bucket. For good measure I also have an external drive with some backups on, because it always pays to be prepared. 🙂

Due to past issues I always keep a Mac Recovery USB Drive waiting to go. This is how I recovered from the latest issue. The recovery took 6+ hours, then it took about 30+ minutes to apply the update that started all this fiasco. So I now have a patched and working MBP again, for now…

I also mentioned on Twitter I might be moving back to Windows for my main desktop, possibly even installing it on the MBP. That prompted a few comments, so I figured I would mention my current opinions on the top-3 Operating Systems, from a *desktop perspective*.

macOS

I bought my first MacBook Pro in 2009 and have used one as my travel machine since then. About 2.5 years ago I bought a 15″ retina, which became my home desktop machine, and travel laptop combined. The 2009 13″ MBP is next to my bed, used every day as my Netflix machine. 🙂

I was convinced to give Macs a go because loads of people at conferences kept telling me how good macOS was. It’s over 8 years, but I’m still waiting to fall in love with it. This seems to have happened for other people instantly, but I just don’t see the major appeal.

I still find it annoying how little support there is for Macs from software companies. Most of what I want to do it fine, but every now and then I want to try something and it’s not supported on Mac, or I’ve got to wait a few months for the Mac version to be released. It’s still a Windows world, so I’m still using Windows VMs occasionally.

The only really positive thing I can say is I like the build quality of the case, but after my Staingate issue and a problem with the fan I had in the first few weeks of the latest machine, I’m not sure the build quality is quite what it was when I bought my first MBP.

Linux

I first used Linux in the RedHat 5.1 days (not RHEL), which Wikipedia tells me was 1998. At some point I ditched Windows at home and Red Hat Linux became my main desktop. I can’t remember which exact version I switched to, but I’m thinking Red Hat Linux 8. When Red Hat Linux became Fedora I made that move also. When I started to do presentations I bought a laptop which used Windows Vista, which wasn’t as bad as people made out. Later on I switched to a MacBook Pro, but Fedora was my main desktop OS until about 2.5 years ago. Once again, I can’t remember the exact version, but it was one of the 20’s. Somewhere between Fedora 21 and 23 at a guess. Since moving away from a Linux desktop I have kept up with Fedora for every release, but it’s not been a 100% desktop for me.

I learned a lot by using Linux as my desktop, but I spent a lot of time trying to get round device compatibility issues, or get what felt like part-finished software to work. I was forever having to use Wine or Mono to run additional software because the Linux support didn’t exist, or didn’t really work properly. I was also having to use a Windows VM to run some software I needed for my business. Like I said, great learning experience, but hardly what I would call an efficient use of time for a regular user.

Someone on Twitter asked me what I wanted from a Linux desktop and I said,

“Support for all apps I want to use and devices, without having to do weekend projects to fix problems…”

Jared Still commented,

“Twice I have made serious attempts to use Linux on a laptop. It is just too fiddly; every time something New needs to be done it is a new project. All my Databases run on Linux, I do dev on Linux, but it was just too much trouble for many common tasks.”

I agree. I am a total devotee of Linux on the server, but using Linux on the desktop is not a viable option for me. Been there. Done it for a lot of years. Moved on!

Windows

I wrote my PhD thesis on Microsoft Word using Windows 3.11. At every job I’ve ever had, Windows has been my main desktop OS, so I’ve lived through all the versions since Windows 3.11. Even when I switched to Linux at home, I was using Windows at work, and supporting family members using Windows. My work desktop still uses Windows 7, but as of next week it will be Windows 10. My family used Windows 8.0, then 8.1 and now Windows 10. Like most IT people, I have to support family PCs, so it was me who did the upgrades and I’ve used these versions a lot. I’m doing the last minute checks to this post on my brother’s Windows 10 laptop.

Windows is far from perfect, but if you’ve not been using it regularly for the last few years, I think you might be surprised. I like Windows 10.

Conclusion

I think my next move will be Windows.

I have a long history of all three operating systems, so it’s not like I’m going into this blind. I think I probably have a better grounding in all three than most of the people who are trying to push their preference on me. 🙂

Most of the time I am in a shell or a browser, so I can work OK on all three operating systems without much trouble, but it’s when I want to go off piste the differences start to become evident.

You don’t have to agree with me. My choice does not mean your choice is wrong. Likewise, your choice doesn’t mean my choice is wrong.

Cheers

Tim…

UltraEdit 23 for Windows

UltraEdit 23 for Windows has been released. Followers of the blog will know I’m an UltraEdit junkie, so as soon as I got the email telling me UltraEdit 23 had arrived I installed it instantly. Fools rush in where angels fear to tread!

The glaring hideousness you are presented with is a ribbon! For ***** sake! Hasn’t the whole world spent enough time moaning about the Office ribbons already?

uedit23

Never mind. Right-clicking on the ribbon allows you to switch to “Toolbar/Menu Mode”, so that’s good right? Wrong! You switch and everything looks fine, but when you resize the window you lose half of the windows and the only way back is to enable the ribbon again. 🙁 (Fixed by latest build)

So I’m left with this bloody awful ribbon, or a non-functioning editor. I am not happy!

Moving away from the ribbon issue, there seem to be a number of rendering issues about the product in general. Making minor theme or layout changes cause it to hang for a minute, before coming back to life.

This release seems to be mostly about the pretties, but the pretties make the product unusable. I can’t state how disappointed I am with this release. Let’s hope the patches come soon!

My advice, don’t upgrade to 23.00.0.43 as it is bloody useless. Wait until they sort out the rendering and the “Toolbar/Menu Mode”, then you can use something that doesn’t make you want to vomit or slash your wrists!

Cheers

Tim…

Update: It seems my problems with UltraEdit 23 may be caused by my work Windows PC being locked down to Classic Mode, rather than using Aero. If you also use Classic Mode, approach UltraEdit 23 with care. If not, then everything I say below is probably not relevant to you!

Update 2: IDM have sent me a new build (23.00.0.49) that works fine. I guess this will be available for others to download soon.

Windows 10 : It’s like totally amazing and junk…

I decided I wanted to play with the newly released Spartan browser on Windows 10. Spartan comes with Windows 10 (build 10049), which does not have an ISO download available at the moment. So instead, I downloaded the x64 ISO image of Windows 10 (build 10041) and installed it on VirtualBox.

To get build 10049 you have to switch the Windows Update settings from “Slow” to “Fast”, which gives you access to the latests builds as soon as they are available.

Windows10UpdateFast

That done, Windows Update will then download build 10049, which is pretty much a full OS download again. Once rebooted, the OS auto-installs for ages, with a few reboots, but when it is done you are left with the latest Windows 10 build.

It boots to the desktop and feels quite similar to Windows 8.1. If you are interested in the latest start menu, here it is.

Windows10StartMenu

If I’m honest, I’ve never seen the Windows 8.1 start menu live. The Windows 8 menu was so bad I installed Classic Shell on the Windows 8 machines for my family. I’ve never removed it since the 8.1 upgrade. As a result, I don’t really know if this Windows 10 start menu is new or like the 8.1 menu. I would probably stick with this menu myself, knowing that Classic Shell is always available if it pisses me off. 🙂

Most importantly, THIS IS SPARTA(N)!

Windows10Spartan

Not surprisingly, it’s a just a browser and any site that sticks reasonably close to the standards will work fine.

So that was the fun bit. Now I’ve got to look at what this is going to break. I’m guessing Oracle Forms isn’t going to like it. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

PS. Alex – By “and junk” I was not implying it is junk. Este Uimitor!

Update: Installed Oracle Database 12c on Windows 10 without any problems. Happy days!

Windows10Oracle12c

Captain Support and Windows 8…

Captain Support was getting pretty sick of supporting the crappy old laptops his brother and mother were using, so he selfishly bought them 2 shiny new laptops to make his own life easier. The only slight flaw in the plan was they came with Windows 8. Although Captain Support had some previous experience of Windows 8 (Developer Preview, Consumer Preview, Windows Blue beta), he was a little nervous about unleashing it on his unsuspecting family members…

A week down the line and Windows 8, along with Classic Shell, seems to have gone down OK. Captain Support just taught his family the mantra, “If in doubt, press the Windows key!”, which in Classic Shell returns you to the desktop. What with that and the boot to desktop, it is just like using Windows 7, which is similar to Vista, which is what they both used before…

Captain Support also mentioned Classic Shell to one of his yoga buddies, whose dad was struggling with Windows 8. His dad was very happy with the result.

So if anyone at Microsoft is listening, now that Steve Ballmer has been kicked out moved on you might want to consider resurrecting the Windows 7 style start menu, not that crappy Windows Blue start button, to save people having to download 3rd party products to make your desktop work properly…

Cheers

Captain Support…

PS. If you are interested, they were Acer Aspire v3-771 with i5, 6G RAM, 750G HHD, 17″ screen and cost a little under £500 each. They are better than Captain Support’s current MacBook Pro 🙂

Oracle 12cR1 RAC Installation on Windows 2012 Using VirtualBox…

After having a play with Oracle 12c on Windows 8, I decided to give Windows Server 2012 a go. Here is the resulting virtual RAC installation.

As you would expect, much of the process is pretty similar to the 11gR2 RAC installation on Windows 2008.

Windows Server 2012 is a strange beast. The interface is quite similar to Windows 8, which seems strange for a server OS. I’m gradually coming to terms with the Windows 8, so I am not so repulsed any more. That’s not to say I think it is the correct thing for Microsoft to do, but the thought of supporting my family on it is not filling me with quite so much dread now.

I really should get round to upgrading my desktop to Fedora 19, but time has been short. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Windows PowerShell…

Followers of the blog know I’m a Linux fan, but over the weekend I needed to fix some stuff on a Windows server at work and I took my first tentative steps into the world of Windows PowerShell. It was very much a case of “scripting by Google”, but I managed to get the job done pretty quickly. That episode prompted this tweet.

powershell-tweet-1

That resulted in two little exchanges. The first from Niall Litchfield, who must have been a little under the weather. 🙂

powershell-tweet-2

powershell-tweet-3

The second from @WindowsServer.

powershell-tweet-4

powershell-tweet-5

powershell-tweet-6

I think that’s my first interaction with Microsoft on any social network. I sense a new website called “Windows-and-SQL-Server-and-PowerShell-base.com” coming on. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

 

UltraEdit v19 for Windows

For all those folks who are forced to use Windows, you might be interested to know UltraEdit v19 has just been released.

You can check out the new features here.

The latest version for Mac/Linux is still 3.3, so maybe we are due a new version there too?

Cheers

Tim…

Oracle WebLogic and Forms Installation on Windows (32-bit)…

At least one of the apps at work will be moving to Forms 11gR2, so I thought I better do a run through of the desktop developer installation before someone asks me how it is done. 🙂

Our standard desktop environment is still Windows XP (32-bit), hence the archaic choice here.

The server environment will be Linux 64-bit, so when I get back from the next trip I will probably do a write up of that installation. The install steps will be pretty similar, but I like to have a no-brain-needed guide to follow when I do these things. 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Windows: The easy option for Oracle…

I mentioned this when I blogged about my 11gR2 Virtual RAC install on Windows 2008. It came up in a conversation with Niall Litchfield at UKOUG 2011 and I’m reminded of it again today, after doing an 11gR2 install on Windows XP to double-check my answer to a question. Oracle database installs on Windows are so incredibly easy!

Now I’m not saying I would want to run Oracle on Windows out of choice. I’m a Linux fanboy, as you probably know, but even the most staunch Linux fan would have to agree that Oracle installs on Linux require quite a few prerequisite steps, even with the oracle-validated package. There is just nothing to do on Windows except put in the CD (iso image) and go…

Anyway, having spent a minute thinking about the “dark side”, I’m going back to Linux… 🙂

Cheers

Tim…

Windows 8.. I just don’t get it…

First the caveats:

  • Remember I said Apple iPad… I just don’t get it… Then promptly went out an bought one. I now use it most days for surfing and checking my emails from bed. 🙂
  • Windows 8 is pre-beta, so hopefully a lot will change between now and then.

I totally understand the concept of the new front screen and the whole Metro thing. Trying to keep a consistent experience between a Windows phone and a Windows touchpad is sensible. Just like the iPhone and iPad. What I don’t like is the fact the tiles are massive and take up loads of space. It just seems a bit silly to me. Why make me sideways scroll when all the initial options could be seen on my 24-inch monitor anyway? From a desktop computing perspective, it is so much worse than the Apple Launchpad (which I also despise) or the GNOME3 Activities screen.

Since I’m running it on a desktop machine, my biggest concern is getting a regular desktop to work with. I can do this by clicking the “Desktop” tile. The resulting desktop is basically Windows 7, which is fine, *except* there is no regular start menu. Clicking the Start button takes you back to the crappy tiled front screen, or hovering in the bottom-left corner presents you with the new menu. What is on this new menu? Bugger all of any use! The search screen is like a really bad GNOME3 “Activities” screen. It requires so many clicks and mouse moves to get where you want to go. It’s wretched. If I were a regular user I think I would probably pin a whole bunch of apps to the taskbar and maybe define a few folders on desktop containing useful shortcuts. Surely the ability to run the old Windows 7 menu would be a welcome addition for the vast majority of users!

Every dialog now has a ribbon instead of a toolbar or menu. This may prove useful for the newbies as it displays functionality that may have been hidden in sub-menus, but for me it is a disaster. The top inch of very window is filled with a bunch of crap that I don’t care about most of the time.

Typically the early releases have lots of tracing code enabled, so I don’t expect the production release will be as slow as this developer release.

So what is the future of the desktop computer? The rumors are that the next iteration of Macs will be essentially running iOS. It looks like the next generation of PCs will be running Windows 8. Although both these OSes seem fine for phones and touchpads, neither of them seem appropriate for a desktop computer. Now I realize that I am by no means a typical PC users, so maybe the vast majority of the PC users of the world will be happy with these changes, but I for one think it is a massive step backwards. It is starting to look like the future of desktop computing is Linux. 🙂 Luckily, I’m already there.

Let’s hope a little sanity returns between now and the production release of Windows 8. If nothing else, just give us a proper menu, or fix that God awful search screen.

Update: Check out these hacks to restore the Windows 7 style menu.

Cheers

Tim…

PS. Let’s see if I end up contradicting everything I just said in a few months time. 🙂