A Message from the Common Table
July 3, 2016
We had a great Picnic in the Park. Great food and drink and good conversation was there. I know that a lot of you missed it. Please make plans to be in town next June for the picnic.
Last month I told you about a trip I was going on to the Charlotte Amateur Astronomers Club observatory. It was postponed two times due to storms or heavy cloud cover. Well, we got to go last night! Everyone decided to drive to the observatory on their own, instead of taking our church bus. Everyone arrived at Jo Jo’s BBQ in Lancaster, SC at 5:00PM. We had great BBQ and conversation until we went to the observatory at 6:30. Now keep in mind that it doesn’t get dark until after 9:00. The weather of the evening did not look like it was going to co-operate for star gazing. Several astronomers club members were there as well as many other guests. We walked around the grounds to see some of the telescopes that were being setup. Well not really setup, but moving the buildings that house them. They have many permanent telescopes inside buildings. We even had a quick rain shower that sent us scurrying back to the main building as the club folk closed the buildings.
Back in the main building we had a presentation given by the director of the observatory. He had just written and prepared a computer presentation on the life cycle of stars. This is fascinating stuff.
I even had a surprise for them. Back in May of 1984, I videotaped an annular solar eclipse that occurred near Charlotte. That video has been trapped on old VHS video tape for over 32 years. I finally transferred the tape to my computer and did some magic to it and made a 4-minute movie of the event. Even though the eclipse takes several hours, the real event is only a few minutes long. I will show it to you at the next meeting. Other heart melting moments were on the tape also, many trips and just our around the house stuff was on the tape when my daughter was 3 years old.
As the director gave his presentation, another club member would, every 15 minutes or so, tell him if the clouds were going to burn off. No luck for that, he kept the presentation going. After more than an hour he was done. We went outside and the clouds had just broken enough for us to see Jupiter. The 16” Cassegrain and the 24” Newtonian reflector were setup to see Jupiter. Absolutely breathtaking, the striations of the clouds and the 4 main moons were clearly visible. The 8” Alvin Clark refractor was also set up. This telescope is about 100 years old.
Before the evening was over, the clouds cleared even more and we got to see Mars and Saturn. One of Saturn’s moons was clearly visible. My five-year-old granddaughter was so excited to see Saturn and the rings. Saturn is her favorite planet. What a great and majestic evening to see just a small part of our universe with our own eyes.
Windows 10 was released just about a year ago. Microsoft has been very aggressive lately to get us to upgrade from Win7 and Win8. They say it’s free or is it really?
The “free” upgrade ends this July 29th. Microsoft just announced the first major update for Win10 will be released on August 2nd. Looks like we will be discussing Win 10 for the August meeting also.
I hope all of you had a safe Fourth of July. I hope to see all of you on July 14th.
We hope to see all of you this Thursday. Once again we’ll be at the BBB in Ballantyne. Bring your supper and join us at 5:30. The program starts promptly at 6:30.
If you use any Norton or Symantec product, you need to update it immediately. A Google researcher discovered a vulnerability in their core technology that can be exploited without any intervention from the user. Because antivirus’ process is to look at every bit as soon as it hits the computer, malware has a chance to exploit any failure at that time and infect the computer.
Symantec has released updates to fix this issue. They should have been distributed to you on June 28 via LiveUpdate. This applies to both consumer and enterprise products.
I dropped all the big security suites on stand-alone systems years ago because they imposed too much of a performance hit on less powerful systems. In lieu of that, I use a basic antivirus along with good judgement to avoid internet and social engineering exploits. Windows has enabled an active firewall since XP-SP2. Although it rates in the middle of the pack, Microsoft Security Essentials / Windows Defender provide basic AV protection for free (Defender is integrated into Windows 10 so no additional AV should be necessary).
Planning for 2020
Are you like me? I’m very happy with Windows 7 which I’ve been using for 6-8 years and my computer is tweaked just like I like it. This custom-built computer has adequate power for now and is easily upgradable. But … Microsoft is definitely going to kill Win 7 in four years while I hope this computer will still be going strong. At that time, I’ll have to upgrade to the newest version of Windows for which Microsoft may want to charge me $249 by then.
By July 29 – I should have started sooner – I will upgrade “this” computer to Windows 10 for free. Then I’ll revert and go back to using Win7 until it can’t walk any more. Then I’ll have a free Win10 license ready to run.
There are two ways I could do this “upgrade on new installation” or “upgrade, archive, and revert.” I’ll use the first method, “upgrade.” If you have an OEM Windows without install or restore media, you may have to use the second, more complex method.
METHOD 1 – A clean install
My plan is to reinstall Win7 on a new hard drive in this box and allow it to get upgraded. Since I’m no fan of dual boot – and am not sure I could dual boot the same DVD key – I’ll disconnect my current C: drive and repeat the basic process I performed 2 years ago. Once Win 10 is installed, I’ll take the new drive out and return to my running machine. Occasionally I’ll swap back to get updates and verify the installation.
Since this is a generic computer and I have a retail copy of Win7 on DVD, it shouldn’t be significantly different from what would happen if I had a drive failure. At this writing, I have installed Win7 on a new drive, but am missing a few drivers. I’m looking into a utility to extract the running drivers from the running installation which happens to be on the same hardware. There’s also the issue that a reinstallation of Win7 will require over 200 updates and can take a week to complete. There is a means to shortcut that problem by manually installing just a few updates. More information at the meeting on Bastille Day.
METHOD 2 – Upgrade and revert
If you don’t have your original distribution media or find it difficult to temporarily replace your primary boot drive, you will need to upgrade the way Microsoft expects most people to. This will require multiple backups, one or more large capacity external drives, and a lot of interactive patience.
Start with a complete data backup to reliable media. Don’t forget any settings and customizations you’ve made to your applications and your password database. Also backup your email and account details and passwords if not included in your data folders. This protects your data in case something goes terribly wrong.
Then do a full system image of your Win7 boot drive. There are multiple programs that can do this; most of the ones with comprehensible interfaces you will need to pay for. This allows you to get back to where you started if the upgrade and revert processes fail.
Now allow the Win10 upgrade to install and use it for a while so it has a chance to stabilize. After you’re comfortable that everything is working and no data or applications have been lost or corrupted, create an image of Windows 10.
Within 30 days of the upgrade you can revert back to your previous operating system. Theoretically you have a perpetual license to reinstall Win10 on this computer at any time in the future – even if you’ve made minor changes like adding memory or replacing a hard drive. I don’t know how either process works or will work. If anything fails, you’ve still got your image backups to get back to where you started.
July 2016 Meeting Location
We will be back at the BBB for the July 14, 2016 general meeting. We will meet at the Better Business Bureau, 13860 Ballantyne Corporate Place #225, 28277. This location off I-485 between Pineville and Matthews at Johnston Rd. Please see the directions and maps below.
PCCC General Meeting July 14, 2016
Please join us for Eatin’ Before the Meetin’ at 5:30 this Thursday at the Better Business Bureau. Bring your dinner and find the location in Ballantyne Corporate Park. If you can’t join us for supper, please come for the general meeting at 6:30. Please be prompt as the door is locked at 6:30. If you are late, please call 704-607-6461 and someone will meet you.
DATE AND TIME:
BYO supper at 5:30.
General meeting at 6:30.
The BBB is at 13860 Ballantyne Corporate Place #225, 28277. From I-485, take Johnston Rd (exit 61B) toward Ballantyne or Lancaster. If you are not familiar with the location, we encourage you to study both the maps and the aerial view to ensure you know which building and the street layouts. Some GPS guides may not be clear for the last few blocks.
If you get lost or are late and find the door locked, please call Bill at 704-607-6461.
Our thanks to Maryanne Dailey and the BBB for sponsoring this free room tonight.