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Comment: Broke for me... (Score 5, Informative) 575

by Retron (#46753815) Attached to: Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

I installed the update at work - it worked. I installed the update on my old PC - it worked. Tried to install it on my current PC - failed, after taking something like 20 minutes. It then took another half-hour to revert the changes. (On those machines where it worked, it took only 5 minutes or so to install).

Digging around online showed that fiddling around on the command line with dism might help. The online image is corrupted but it's repairable... that is, until you try and use /restorehealth, at which point it moans that there are no sources. Of course there aren't, it was upgraded to 8.1 from 8.0 via the online store.

So, after faffing around and grabbing an install.wim from an old 8.1 iso I had saved at work (not the 8.1 update 1 iso currently on the MS website) I find that dism won't use the image, even after mounting it.

I couldn't then even attempt to reinstall the update, as it failed immediately. Dism was called upon again to remove the update package, then at least it would let me try again... only to fail. Another 45 minutes wasted.

It looks as though the only way to "fix" it is to nuke Windows entirely, then go through the painful 8.0 > 8.1 > 8.1 with Media Center route. Except, of course, to get Media Center reinstalled you have to buy it again - there's no option I can see to re-enter your Meda Center key again because, guess what, when you upgrade to Media Center your Windows product key is changed. And a Windows 8.1 with Media Center key isn't accepted by the 8.1 iso (or at least wasn't when I tried earlier)...

Looks like a long and boring Easter weekend coming up.

On the other hand, I might just reinstall Windows 7 instead.

Comment: Re:Why are they posting old source code? (Score 1) 224

by Retron (#46581543) Attached to: Microsoft Posts Source Code For MS-DOS and Word For Windows

x86 versions of Windows 8.1 have the MS-DOS 5 based NTDVM in them. Run command /c ver from a command prompt and you'll see it's MS-DOS 5.0.500. Run command /c dir c:\ and you'll see the MS-DOS 5 directory listing (normally the dir command is handled differently, even if you're running command rather than cmd).

As a bonus, every copy of Windows 8.1 - x86, x64, ARM - comes with MS-DOS8. It's embedded in diskcopy.dll and is used when you format a floppy disk as an MS-DOS startup disk. Why it's on the ARM version I have no idea!

Comment: Whereas a few thousand miles away... (Score 3, Interesting) 112

by Retron (#46309299) Attached to: VA Tech Experiment: Polar Vortex May Decimate D.C. Stinkbugs In 2014

And on the other side of the Atlantic, the strong jetstream (caused by the abnormal cold in the eastern States) has led to one of the mildest and wettest winters on record in England. I was surprised when last weekend I saw swarms of newly-hatched flies buzzing around the fields of Berkshire; you don't normally see those until late March or early April. To see them in mid-February is quite remarkable. We'll be in a for a miserable spring and summer over here as there will be far more insects buzzing around than normal due to the almost complete lack of frost this "winter" (and I use the term loosely, as for millions of us in the south of the UK it's just been an extended autumn this year!)

Comment: Re:Sort of (Score 2) 249

by Retron (#46138525) Attached to: Windows 8.1 Passes Windows Vista In Market Share

8.1 also has a load of inconsistent mush. Click the volume control - get a Windows 7-style popup. Click the network icon - get a Metro thing pop up. Open Media Player - see Windows 7 shiny style controls. Icons in Explorer are still from Vista (3D, nicely drawn) whereas the window controls were changed to an 80s-style flat look just before release. Except, that is, in MDI programs which still use the Aero Basic theme from Vista. Oh yes, insert a memory stick and you'll be invited to "tap to choose" what to do with it. Very useful on a traditional desktop PC! Adding some code to say "click" instead of "tap" if no touch input is available must have been too hard to do.

Windows 8 was an utter mess. Windows 8.1 has done little to improve things, it's still a confused bundle of touch, Metro and Vista.

Hopefully Windows 9 next year will get things back to some sort of consistent, polished feel. Until then, if you're on Windows 7 with a traditional PC/laptop I'd say you're better off just sticking with it. Doubtless there'll be some cheap upgrade offers again when 9 comes out.

Comment: Re:!HP (Score 1) 474

Not really - "died" is traditionally the upper-class way of saying "passed on". As Wiki says, although the original list of U vs non-U English terms is obsolete in some ways, in others it's still a good indication of class (at least in the UK, I'm not sure how much that applies to the US!) has more info for those who are interested.

Comment: Re:Greetings from EU (Score 1) 767

by Retron (#45961835) Attached to: Incandescent Bulbs Get a Reprieve

I'm in the UK too and the CFLs I have make the house look like it's an underground car-park - they're horrible things. They're better than they were 15 years ago (when we bought our first one), but they still give out a horrible light compared to incandescents.

Luckily I have a stock of Osram 100W bulbs for the living room, so that at least continues to have a decent, warm quality of lighting. The Chinese-made "rough service" bulbs (which exploit a loophole to get round the rules) are universally terrible, I've gone through a dozen and none lasted more than 2 or 3 weeks.

Comment: Incandescents (Score 1) 944

by Retron (#45786063) Attached to: 60% of Americans Unaware of Looming Incandescent Bulb Phase Out

Over here in the UK 100W incandescent bulbs were phased out around 4 years ago and 60W bulbs not long after. As a result my house now has a mixture of old incandescents and newer CFLs, as well as a halogen bulb or two. The halogens give a harsh light and the CFLs make the room look like it's lit like a multi-storey carpark - not exactly a "homely" look. The living room still has two 100W incandescent bulbs but due to the ban they're becoming really hard to source; there's a loophole where less-efficient 100W bulbs can be sold (as "rough service") but they only seem to last for a few dozen hours rather than 1000 or so. Whether that's because they're cheap Chinese tat or whether it's because they genuinely aren't made to work indoors I couldn't say.

Thankfully old pre-ban bulbs are still available on eBay etc so I've stocked up with a couple of years' worth... hopefully by the time they run out alternative lighting will finally have caught up with the quality of light you get from an incandescent.

Comment: Bad PR for Zavvi (Score 2) 617

It's interesting to see the wide variety of responses to the story. I guess the only way we'll ever know the exact legal situation is if the case makes it to court, but I'd bet that Zavvi will try anything they can to settle out-of-court in order to save themselves the chance of receiving even more bad PR.

It's one of those situations where Zavvi can't win. If they let the person keep the Vita then those who sent them back will be annoyed. If they set the legal eagles loose then it'll just generate more bad PR for them. Zavvi itself had loads of bad PR a few years ago when the original company went bust; it was one of those situations where gift cards weren't honoured during the administration period and the media was full of people moaning about the company. That didn't bother The Hut, though, who bought the rights to the name and then set up a new online shop.

FWIW, my thoughts are that it'd be pretty obvious upon opening the packaging that a Vita+game had been sent rather than just a game. As such, I'd have felt pretty guilty if I'd tried to keep the Vita and I'd hope that I would do the obvious thing and send it back, although it wouldn't be at my expense (a pre-paid Special Delivery label would be my request, as that way the returned package would be insured - sod's law says that it'd go missing on the way back and then you'd have no Vita, no game and would still have the company hounding you for its return!)

The whole sorry mess could have been alleviated by giving a gift voucher upon the return of the Vita, or some other token to say "sorry for messing you around". Doing it the way they did just leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth!

+ - British retailer mistakenly sends Vitas, threatens legal action to get them back

Submitted by Retron
Retron (577778) writes "The BBC brings news that British retailer Zavvi mistakenly sent out PlayStation Vitas to people who had preordered a game called Tearaway. It's now threatening legal action against those who have kept theirs despite a request to return them. It's unclear whether the Distance Selling Act protects consumers who have mistakenly been sent an expensive item and forums such as Eurogamer seem divided on the issue."

Comment: Stupidly expensive (Score 0) 53

by Retron (#45381567) Attached to: British Operator EE Offers £8 Million Petabyte 4G Data Bundle

Stupidly expensive, which has been the story of EE's 4G in general.

3, for example, offer consumers 7 GB for £25 (=£3.57/GB) on their network - and that's as a PAYG thing. If you're a business and bulk-buying it'd be way cheaper than that. The only snag is that 3 doesn't offer 4G (yet)... when it does, expect EE's pricing to plummet!

Comment: Re:MS knew the Win8.1 DPI scaling was messed, yet (Score 0) 326

by Retron (#45323013) Attached to: Microsoft Admits Windows 8.1 Update May Bork Your Mouse, Promises a Fix

Wow, setting it to 150% actually works with SIMS...

Good on MS for deciding to fix the crummy programs which ignore Windows' DPI settings (such as the aforementioned SIMS). The method for doing it does generate fuzziness, but that's because it's resizing everything (effectively lying about the resolution Windows is running in). That's actually *way* better than the way it was before, which means programs like SIMS would enlarge fonts in some areas and not in others, leading to a right old mess.

A toggle switch for XP-8 or 8.1 behaviour would have been a good idea though for those who find the fuzziness of non-DPI aware applications annoying.

Comment: Re:Mouse works fine, Sandy Bridge HDMI not so much (Score 1) 326

by Retron (#45322989) Attached to: Microsoft Admits Windows 8.1 Update May Bork Your Mouse, Promises a Fix

Hmm, odd - I use a desktop PC with a Sandy Bridge i5 at work and the Intel HD graphics drivers (from here: work just fine under Windows 8.1. Admittedly that's via DVI rather than HDMI, as my monitor doesn't have an HDMI input.

If bankers can count, how come they have eight windows and only four tellers?