Author Archives: DevilBoy

About DevilBoy

Hi! I'm DevilBoy. But you can call me DevilBoy. I've got a lot going on in my life. So I decided to start a personal blog so I have even less time in my life. I like hockey and the New Jersey Devils. I also enjoy programming, computers, anything technological, and model railroading. I have a house, a wife and a cat. And that's about it. P.S. My wife just called me a Nerd.

A Mid-Year Roundup and Windows 10

Hello July of 2016!  I said in December I wanted to post more than once in 2016.  Today I make that mark a reality because today I posted my second post in 2016.

I know, lame.

Anyway, I have some time to myself (sort of) and I just thought I should give my tumbleweeds a shake here at the Sidewalk.

Item 1 – some free time.  So back in December I posted about a large project that’s been consuming most of my time.  It still is.  But thankfully it’s at a point where I’m adding features instead of squashing bugs.  This gets me back in to a groove, a happier state, where I can develop and see my vision play out instead of sifting through thousands of lines of code trying to find the variable where an end user has discovered if you enter the exact string “10001110101” the programs causes the server to crash.  (I kid, of course – but you get the point).  Give me feature requests every day.  But I don’t want to hear that the report didn’t print correctly – especially when the problem is you forgot you don’t have a printer at your desk.  So that makes me happy.

Next up on the docket, Windows 10.  I jumped in.  I knew it was getting close to being time a few months back – I had been running it on my laptop for about a year and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to hold off on my desktop PC.  My desktop, which is a new(er) Dell 9020, I had shipped with Windows 7.  And while I like to explore new technologies, changing the OS on the machine I derive half my livelihood on didn’t sound like a smart move.  Update horror stories aside, Windows 10 just doesn’t feel as polished like Windows 7 did.  Windows 7 I felt had the stability and possible longevity that Windows XP had.  But Microsoft has other ambitions – to unify everyone on a single OS for phone, tablet and desktops, while building an App Marketplace like Android and iOS that works on everything.  That’s ambitious.

Don’t get me wrong – Windows 8 was a mess.  So much so that Microsoft wanted to jump two versions in front of it.  That, but also they wanted the last version of Windows to be a nice round number.  Oh stop gasping.  Look at Apple – they did it too – and in fact they’ve cemented it now by changing the name of their OS from Mac OS X to simply macOS.  But getting back on topic, Windows 10 is light-years ahead of Windows 8.  But I have three main gripes:

  1. Notifications.  I get it, this is how we interact with all our mobile devices, so why not our desktop?  And to be honest, I am starting to like notifications a lot more compared to the pop-up bubbles in Windows of yesteryear.  But Microsoft doesn’t know how to use notifications themselves.  Case in point: about once a month I get this:
    So I click on the notification and I’m brought to my profile screen in system settings.  Nothing there says anything about my credentials need to be updated.  Furthermore, why would they?  They haven’t changed.  My security settings are all the same.  Why do I need to update them?  I then click on the Manage button on My Account and Edge opens up a web page at Microsoft where all my profile details are posted.  No login.  No password verification.  No alert of any kind that something needs to be updated.  What the heck Microsoft.
  2. Settings.  I had this complaint with Windows 8 and – while its better – I still find it awkward.  You want to adjust some network settings.  You click on the Network icon in the system tray and whala – a link to your network settings – great.  Except… it’s a page with about 5 links on it.  Each link I click on brings be to the old school Control Panel counterpart.  If all we’re doing is linking to the Control Panel pages…. why don’t I just go through the old Control Panel???
    I get it – there are so many dialogs and options and settings that redoing all of that takes time.  But guess what – Microsoft is a big company, and they have the manpower to make this right.  There’s no excuse for a year after it’s release to still have this type of half baked OS.  I’m sorry Microsoft – I expect more from you.  You can do better.
  3.  Edge.  Oh Edge.  See, I’m a purist when it comes to my browser.  I don’t want to add browsers to my computer when my computer comes with one.  When I open up an Android phone, Chrome is there.  I use that to get online.  I’m not going to download a different browser when the OS provides a perfectly good option.  And, as much to your dismay, Internet Explorer was an absolutely fine option (the later versions, like > 9 – before that you had Windows XP and Internet standards be damned!).  Seriously, most people who switched away from IE 11 did so because “that’s what everyone does” and “no one uses IE except to download a different browser.”  But for daily use (and coming from someone who designs websites for a living) it worked just fine.  IE 11 in fact worked so well with the typical standards that after designing a site and previewing it solely in IE, and then looking at it in Firefox and Chrome when done it came out perfectly.  Seriously.  It wasn’t a bad browser.  It’s biggest fault – it was Internet Explorer.  And IE has had such a bad rap that Microsoft’s only hope to stay in the browser game was to “make a new browser.”  Unfortunately for me, and much like the rest of Windows 10, it’s half baked.  I get it, its stripped down so it can be fast.  But fact of the matter remains that it’s most notable feature is the Web Note feature which lets you draw on a web page so send to people.  Do you know how useless that feature is?  Seriously, I clicked on it once – just now – and still don’t know why I would use it.  Oh, and while I’m complaining, seriously Microsoft why is it that you added and promoted this great feature with Windows 7 about pinning web sites to the task bar from IE, a feature that I use religiously, and have since taken this away with Edge.  That doesn’t sound like it would be that difficult to copy over that functionality.  But I doubt that’ll come anytime soon.  I was probably the only one still using IE to notice that feature.


So that’s all I have for this evening.  I’m off for now.  But I sure hope to be back here soon to bring you more insight to my mind!

Positive Motivation

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and by the time you left that conversation you felt… energized?

At work I have a job.  I “head” the technology office.  I’ll spare the exact title, but that’s what I do.  I have a job description, with various responsibilities and tasks.  But what I am at the core is a resource.  And I feel like I’ve been doing a poor job at making myself available.

Part of the problem is, with me and my two coworkers, there’s three of us and about 350 staff members to support.  Most of my “direct” resources go to Administration.  That is, after all, the building that I’m assigned to.  But I feel like I’m not “out there” enough to really feel what the needs are.  I have my work order portal that tells me where the big problems are, and what to prioritize, but I don’t interact with people much.

Should I? Can I? How do I make the time for that?

This is going to be a tricky balancing act.  But again, after the conversation I had (that concluded just a few minutes ago), I feel like I can make a difference.  I should be working harder.  I have more that I can give.  I don’t know when I can do it… but I really feel like I can help more people then I currently do.

It’s 2 AM… And I’m Up

T’was the morning before Christmas, and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except me. Boring me. You see, I tend to suffer from self-inflicted insomnia.  It’s not persistent, and not chronic (thank goodness).  But about once or twice a week I get stuck “on” and can’t seem to shut off my brain.

Here’s the funny thing – I’m stuck thinking about something fun.  This isn’t typical.

Since we last spoke (more then a year ago…. wow….) I’ve taken on a very large, very time consuming and very difficult project.  It’s enjoyable and rewarding when everything works as intended, but it has pretty much taken up all known free time.  Personal programming projects, my NJ Devils empire, and things like video games and model trains have all taken a back seat.  Even home improvement projects have been pushed aside.

But not today.

You see on Monday I did a bit of work around the house.  Tuesday I did work at my parents house.  So Wednesday, I devoted time to play with my trains.  And now… my brain is stuck on trains.  Which is silly because in a few days I’m going to go back to my time consuming side project and not touch the trains for another 6 months.  But it’s nice to step away from it and get stuff done on the ol’ layout.

So what’s keeping me up?  Control.  (Train geeking out will begin in 3…. 2…. 1….)

I’m not interested in DCC (that’s where you can control each engine individually, wirelessly, remotely).  I like the standard throttle at a control panel at the front of the layout.  It brings me back to when my Dad had a layout and I would work on it with him (or, more accurately, I would mess with things and then he’d have to undo it all to make it work again).  So far I have the yard wired up, the main line and one spur wired up, and now I’m wiring up the turntable, spur that leads to the turntable, and 6 tracks off of the turntable.  I even bough a fancy momentary double throw switch to operate the rotation of the turntable.  Of course during the cutting of the hole to fit the switch in, I stripped some paint off of the control panel so I had to dig out the can of paint and touch it up.  But while the paint was drying I ran some new cable out to the second spur, wired it up, and labeled many of the controls with a P-Touch labeler.  OCD? Absolutely.

Okay, so it all sounds good, but now I need to wire in some power.  Currently I have an old MRC Tech II power pack handling the power to the tracks.  And I bought some laptop power supplies that will provide power to the switches, turntables, and accessories.  My problem: because of the space problem I have – which is I have 5′ x 9′ of space and so I made a layout that takes up all 5′ x 9′ – I have a control panel that swings out and can be “put down” so it lays flat against the side of the layout.  This lets me pull the control panel up when I want to play and lower it when the trains are “put away.”  (I also put casters on the legs of the layout I built, which I’m still proud of, as it makes it a cinch to wheel out and work on the layout!)

Now here’s my dilemma – I can’t mount the power pack to the control panel because, well, the control panel swings down and the power pack will just fall off.  I also don’t want it to stick out like that since I need to walk by that area to get to the other side of the garage.  My intention was to abandon the power pack control and just use the laptop power supplies with a custom built knob to control the train’s speed.  The problem?  I’m not an electrical engineer.  And the “simple” controls I found online look like this:

Since I’m using a laptop power supply, I think I can cut off everything to the left of C1, and because I’m using an Atlas controller which contains direction switches, I think I can cut off everything after R5.  It’s all the stuff in the middle that I don’t really know what I’m doing.  Like what’s that icon that repeats at the bottom over and over – it looks like an antenna or something.  Is that ground? Isn’t ground that round third prong of a plug? Or is that neutral? Or are those AC terms but this is a DC diagram?  Oh, and what happens if I short out the track?  I know that’ll happen because, lets be honest, I tend to short things out.  On the good ol’ power packs, there was a little red light that would light up when I shorted it out.  And in a few seconds, if I removed the thing causing the short, the light would turn off and the world would return to normal.  If I do this fancy circuit above, what happens if something starts to short out? Do I create a meltdown?  The laptop power supplies I bought say they have overload, over voltage and short circuit protection, but is that good enough?  Will it protect the circuity above even though that circuitry is after the protection?  And if it does work, what happens after I trip the short circuit protection?  Does it reset after a few seconds like my good ol’ MRC power pack?  Or once it trips, it’s fried?

So that’s why I can’t sleep…. And I am not posting this to really get any answers, but just because I have this stuck in my brain.  I think, though, after penning this post for the last 45 minutes, I’m going to try to go back to bed.  It’s 3 AM and I had ambitions of getting up at 9 so I could do more work on the trains before dinner with my family tonight.  Anyway, if anyone reads this, have a Merry Christmas!  I hope to post more than once in 2016…

Headed Down The Shore

I don’t have time for this! It’s a strange sensation.  I know I need to step away from my work from time to time. But I get an anxious and stressed out feeling immediately before and afterwards. Is it worth it?

Hello, my name is Kyle, and I’m a workaholic.

I am not sure where I went wrong here.  I know in High School I had difficulty saying no. Now I head up the Technology Department at work and it seems as if all I do at work and outside of work is work!  Granted, this time of year and for the next couple of months is really our busy time.  And don’t get me wrong, I love the work I do.  There’s just so much of it.

i had a conversation with someone the other night who told me how he wanted his tech people at his work to share information, processes and knowledge with each other so that not one person kept this information to themselves.  That’s great in a Pollyanna type world, but I can’t seem to a) find the time to accomplish  a task like that, and 2) everyone else in my department has their own nonsense to take care of.

For now, I’ll just keep up the had work I guess!

Lets bring back AIM

For those of you who are too young to know… or too old… funny how that works.  Sorry- squirrel!

Anyway, For those of you who aren’t ages 25 through 40, AIM was perhaps the most popular way to communicate in the late 90’s and early 2000’s.  Before (The)Facebook and before MySpace, before texting and Tweeting, people had conversations online.

It’s a strange concept today.  You see, somewhere along the way, people stopped listening.  But since we’re obsessed with just blurting out everything about our lives regardless if someone is actually paying attention, services like Facebook and Twitter have become increasingly popular.

Alright, I know this is a bit of an exaggeration.  In fact, I know for a fact that at least 35% of people[404 citation not found] don’t actually post on Facebook.  Take my wife (please – ha!), for example.  She doesn’t actually post on Facebook, she just reads what everyone else is posting.  And today she’s started Instagram-ing.  Sort of.  She hasn’t posted a photo yet!

I actually don’t have any social media accounts.  I had stated once at a class reunion, “By golly, I wish I conversed more with these here folks.”  (Apparently in my memory my reunion was in the deep south.)  “I should get that there Facebooks so I can talk to them friends again!”  Later, I was informed that that’s not what Facebook is for.  You don’t have conversations, really.  Just post stuff about you, and then if a friend found it worth reading, they’ll “like” it.  And if they were really jazzed by what you said, they may even post a comment.

Oh! And it’s also used a lot for posting “Happy Birthday” to to your “Friends” once a year.  Facebook should come up with a way to auto-schedule that.  It would save a lot of time!

So going back to my original problem, I think we need to talk again.  Not to 1,000 of your closest friends, but to individuals.  And if you’re really feeling ambitious, start a group chat!

Oh screw it, I’ll just sign up for Google+: The Social Network for Anti-Social People.

Really starting my new model train layout

For months now I’ve been working on a new train layout.  When I was little my father had a train layout kept in the finished basement of my parents house.  This layout was moved to my bedroom when we got a cat and the cat, who spent most time in this finished basement, used the train layout to play out her fantasies of being King Kong.

When it was moved up in to my bedroom, my mother wasn’t very happy and requested that it be cut down to a more manageable size – for a bedroom that is.  So my father and I complied and changed a 4′ x 8′ layout in to a 4′ x 6′ layout.

Later on during my childhood, other interests began to take over, like hockey and computers and girls.  Please note that the latter two were two distinct interests.  Alas, the trains began to undergo neglect and eventually the trains were requested by my mother to be removed, in favor of a computer desk and computer that I had purchased.

But ever since then I’ve vowed to revisit the hobby of model trains, and when Wife and I bought a house, I decided now was the time.  Unlike the many suggestions, I put the trains in the garage.  This wasn’t to complete the whole man-cave motif, but instead I took the practical move since at some point down the road, the two “spare bedrooms” in my house will have living occupants.  At some point.  Down the road.  Okay?

Also, there is a third “spare bedroom” which is a glorified closet with a closet, which I have made in to my office.  So I really couldn’t take over two rooms with stuff!

Anywho, so I’ve spent the past six months constructing what will be the base to my layout.  It’s been a long process but I’m trying to do it right.  For example, my father’s layout was a 4′ x 8′ piece of plywood on saw horses.  The layout fits perfectly in a corner of the garage which happened to be 5′ x 9′.  Hey, every inch counts here!  So in order to accommodate the odd size and the need to join cut plywood together, I built an entire frame for the plywood to rest on.  In addition to the couple extra feet and the sturdy frame (which consists of 2×4’s on the long edges, and 1×4’s every foot across the short edges), I also built legs.  Initially I had the layout sitting on saw horses, but I have the need to be able to move the layout since the corner of the garage I have the layout in only allows access from one side!  So at the bottom of the legs I attached casters so the layout can be moved freely.  I even attached a surge protector underneath with a long wire so the layout can be plugged in and powered and still be moved freely in the garage.  Surprising to even myself (since I’ve never really done much woodworking before), it is surprisingly sturdy and moves very well in the garage.  In fact, since finishing the construction, I’ve moved the layout every time I’ve worked on it so I could get to all the sides, and I’m still impressed at how sturdy it is each time I move it!

Well over the past month, I’ve made significant progress, I think.  I sealed the cracks between the joined plywood using wood spackle.  Sanded and spackled and sanded again just to be safe.  I then painted the whole top of the layout brown (since in my mind , dirt is brown and that’s what is underneath everything anyway).

Just over the past couple of days, with some time off from work, I nailed down all the track in to the configuration I wanted and cut some flex track in to the size I needed it for an odd size straightaway.  I also drew an outline of this entire first part with a white pencil.  I have since removed the track leaving only a faint white outline for me to use as a guide as I lay down the cork roadbed.

Earlier today I even started laying the first couple of pieces of cork roadbed, gluing it down using wood glue (cork on plywood after all), and nailing it in place so it doesn’t move.

So after six months of planning and creating the benchwork, the layout begins to show life!

On a side note, I’ve learned during this process that track is expensive!  Because of this, I’ve decided to break the layout in to three parts or phases:

Phase 1 will be the lower main line.  This line will be level with the plywood, and consist of a single spur.  In addition, the lower main line will have a switch track used for accessing Phase 2 and a double crossover used for accessing Phase 3.

Phase 2 will be the rail yard.  The yard may be slightly elevated by about an inch.  I’m unsure if I like that idea, but it may aide in construction of Phase 3.  The yard will start at a switch track connecting to Phase 1.  Immediately after the switch will be another switch splitting the line with one track leading to a turntable with up to six tracks for locomotives and the other leading to a series of Y switch tracks which will connect four tracks for the yard.

Phase 3 will be the elevated main line.  It will connect to Phase 1 with a double crossover switch and feature a gradual incline and decline.  The top portion of the elevated main will also have a spur.  The goal will be to construct mountains creating a tunnel for the lower main line to pass through as well as travel under a bridge.  The use of a double crossover switch (not pre-fab by the way, just using good ol’ fashioned Atlas switches and track), will allow trains to run independently on each lower and upper line or allow trains to run the full length of the lower line and the full length of the elevated line while crossing over at the double crossover switch and requiring no switching during mid-run.

There was at one point a Phase 4 which would have created a third upper main line which consisted of a completely elevated line that connected to Phase 3 using another double crossover.  I have temporarily scraped that idea and may revisit it as long as I feel this will not make the layout look too crowded and I can still have a “city” in the center of the layout.

Photos will be posted soon of the progress.

DIY Hell: It Begins

I’m cheap.  And poor (read: “house poor”).  And there are things I feel I should be able to do myself and not have to hire someone all the time to do.  Electrical I feel I can handle.  And since buying a house, working with sheetrock and plumbing* isn’t too far out of my realm.

* I have not worked with, nor do I plan on working with, copper pipes.  PVC for drains is fine. Copper, not going to happen.

One side note – when it comes to my car, I let a mechanic handle that.  Anything that I travel in at 65+ mph is not going to be my responsibility to maintain.  I let someone who knows what they are looking at work on it.

So anyway, here goes.  At home, I have a one zone HVAC system.  It is a forced hot air furnace with central A/C.  Not uncommon stuff here, but it gets weird.  I have two separate thermostats.  It’s actually very logical – one upstairs controls the A/C and the one downstairs controls the Heat.  Since heat rises, it makes sense that’s downstairs and since cool air sinks, that thermostat should be upstairs.

Both thermostats were the old dial kind.

Now recently I replaced the downstairs Heat thermostat with a digital programmable model.  Great investment too.  I’ve been very pleased and happy waking up to the heat already coming on, and coming home to a nice warm house while reaping the benefits of turning down the heat when I’m at work.

But I tried to get a little fancy with the installation.  You see the old Heat thermostat just had a dial, no on or off options for anything.  And the new thermostat has the ability to turn the fan on without calling for heat.  The upstairs A/C dial thermostat actually has a switch to also do just this.  So I thought, wouldn’t it be great if both thermostats could be used to call for the fan to turn on by itself?

For those of you who might be HVAC experts, I “accomplished” this by connecting the Green wire from the thermostat to the furnace motherboard (or whatever HVAC people call the main piece of circuitry inside the furnace!).  The A/C thermostat also connects this way.

However when I turned on the fan using the Heat thermostat, the A/C compressor kicked on.  Not what I wanted.  Apparently, because I called for the fan to be on, the upstairs thermostat which was set for “auto” mode thought that since the fan was running the compressor should also be running.  And called for the compressor to kick on.

So I abandoned the idea.  It wasn’t that big of a deal.  Until today.  You see, having forced hot air heat is very dry. So dry that Wife gets nosebleeds, and I’m pretty sure it’s also leading to sinus headaches I seem to get during the winter.  We bought a small one room humidifier to solve this problem, but they are a pain to clean daily – we do it because it’s the right thing to do blah blah blah.  And I don’t think my sinuses are appreciating the changes in humidity on a 15 minute basis when I’m in other rooms of the house.

The solution is to buy a whole house humidifier.  And I found the perfect model because it meets our crazy criteria.  We need something that’s not a pain to maintain, that can fit in a ridiculously tight duct space, and does not require a floor drain, since our furnace is on the first floor of which is on a concrete slab.  The Humidifier we found was an Aprilaire 400, which satisfies all of this, plus comes with some neat features, like an “automatic mode” which will use the outdoor temperature to decide what time of humidity we should have in the house plus be able to humidify the house even when the heat is not called for by running the fan alone without the rest of the furnace.

Alas, we have stumbled on to our problem! So this unit will be able to turn on the fan by itself when needed by wiring in to the furnaces Green wire terminal, which means (if you’ve been paying attention) it will trigger the central air compressor to kick on.

At least that’s what I’m afraid of.  Welcome to day one of DIY Hell.  I haven’t even bought anything, and already I can see this being an issue.

Dear Microsoft: Give me my Start Menu back!

So I recently posted that I was afraid of the latest version of Microsoft’s ubiquitous operating system, Windows 8.  Believe it or not, this post is coming from a laptop now running Windows 8.  You see the best way to overcome fear is to jump right in.  And jump I did.

My initial feelings – as I’ve only been playing with it for a couple of days – it’s not bad.  I get it – it’s a uniform OS design that will be on phones, tablets, laptops, and PCs.  But my testing has a twist than most reviewers of Windows 8 – I’m not using touch.  However, I am running this on a MacBook Air, which has a very generous trackpad which may give me an unfair advantage.

What I like:

Apps.  Who doesn’t like apps? And Windows 8 apps have some nifty features like being able to be docked to the side while you do other things, like work on the Desktop or open other apps.  Not bad.

The Desktop.  I was very concerned about the prospect of losing some productivity, but the Desktop is there in all its glory. If you’ve used Windows 7, moving to 8 isn’t all that bad.

Compatibility. Everything I was using in my Windows 7 life is working on Windows 8. When migrating operating systems, that’s always a crap-shoot, but so far I have yet to run in to a program or driver I had on Windows 7 that isn’t working on Windows 8.

The bad:

The App Store. Or whatever Microsoft calls it, is a little useless. There just ain’t much there.  You get the hits, Netflix, Angry Birds, and the like.  But you just get the feelings that developers aren’t flocking to build Win Apps.  That could really hurt the whole “unified OS” experience a lot.

Half Baked. I just get this feeling when using this that there are features or options that just haven’t been completely thought out.  For example, I want to turn off my device.  Yeah, I get it that laptops can just be closed or tablets have that nifty sleep button.  But I want to restart or shut down.  How… do I do… that…

The Start Menu. Give it back.  Now.  I’m not kidding Microsoft.  I’m going to take hostages pretty soon.  I get it, you have a new start screen with the tiles and it’s cool and all.  But I’ve already explained that I can’t even figure out how to reboot my laptop (I did eventually – you have to bring your mouse to the top right corner to open up the charms, then click on settings and in there is a power button that you can click to bring up a menu to reboot.  Really Microsoft?  REALLY???).  I also found out that when I install apps, I have to dig around in the Programs folder to find them after they’ve installed so I can then add a shortcut to the Desktop or Taskbar.  I later found out that they are available on the Tiles UI Start screen…. all the way at the end where I didn’t look…. and you have to right click on it in order to have windows pin it to the Taskbar.  One last final thought in my futile attempt to get my native Start menu back. In my job, I use a ton of programs.  I pin the most frequently used things to my Taskbar for easy access, but then there’s the program I use once every other month, like the Snip tool.  I’m not going to pin that, but how do I open it up without an “All Programs” menu?  Oh, here we go with the charms again.  Bring my mouse to the top right, click Search, jump in to the Tiles UI, start typing in Snip, see the program listed, jump back to the Desktop where I can now use the Snip Tool… Not a fan…

Disjointed. I don’t mind the Start Menu Tiles UI, and I get the new interface with the Apps.  I also assume that over time more and more things will be Apps and fewer and fewer things will open in the Desktop window.  Unless it’s really just work related.  But if I’m doing work related stuff, I don’t like the idea of having to jump out in to the Tiles UI to open up a work related program, which just brings me back to the Desktop mode.  This ties in with my desire to bring the Start menu back. But I just feel like there’s a lot of back and forth.  I don’t think it’s healthy.


And there you have it.  My long winded and overly complex and utterly confusing review of Windows 8.  To sum it up in one word: “meh.”

Who is that up there?

Just as an aside, if you are looking at that big photo across the top, that’s Pyper.  I’m one of her slaves; she’s in charge.  If you’ve ever had a cat, you know what it’s like.  And chances are, you’ve grown to be okay with that fact.

Windows 8 Scares Me

It’s an odd feeling – being scared by an operating system.  I come from a world where productivity means using a keyboard and a mouse.  Sure I have a Droid Phone and an iPad and I understand and can appreciate what touch does to an experience.  I mean, Angry Birds isn’t the same when you’re using a mouse.

But those environments were built with touch in mind from the ground up.  Now Microsoft is adding touch on top of Windows 7, and the result is Windows 8.  They did a very nice job, so don’t think I’m knocking them there.  The interface is elegant, informative, and customizable.  The tiles are essentially easy to navigate. And the concept is sound.

But now I think about my desktop that I have.  A computer in my office which started it’s life running Windows XP, then upgraded to Vista, and now 7.  It’s a Pentium D machine with a total of 4 GB of RAM.  And for what I do, it suits my need.  I love being on the cutting edge of what’s out there, even if it means dealing with a few bugs here and there.  But now I have the opportunity to upgrade to Windows 8… and I don’t wanna.

Without touch, Windows 8 seems ineffective.  Here’s a User Interface with controls designed to be touched, and here I am with my little itty bitty mouse clicking on them.  Options? Oh, I need to bring the mouse to the top right or lower right corners to bring up the Charms bar.  The what?? That’s right, the Charms bar.  What the heck is that?

Okay, well, let me just go in to Desktop mode.  And now when I go to open up this program and…. wait, now I’m back in the touch interface?  Okay, back in to Desktop, and lets go to My Computer and… hey!  Where’s my start menu??

Now listen, I’m the kind of guy who will work with a new UI just because I understand this is the future and I must conform or else it’s going to leave me behind.  When IE 9 came by default without any menu bars or command bars by default, I left it and worked with it.  Mostly everyone else I know has added their menu bar back and at the very least a printer icon.  But I want to learn to work the way it was designed to.

And that’s why I’m scared of Windows 8, because I don’t think I can work that way.  To consume content, sure touch works great – a la iThings and Android devices.  But when I’m going to develop a program or create content of some kind, I think touch will get in the way.