Frustrating Experiences with Windows 10

I upgraded my laptop recently. My last laptop was a souped up Lenovo, and it was a great computer, but after 3 years of daily use it was starting to get slow. I ended up buying a refurbished laptop from Lenovo’s Outlet. Originally I was going to spend somewhere in the neighborhood of $2,200 for a brand new Lenovo P50 Thinkpad. Since I use it for business I felt justified in upgrading it, but $2,200 is a lot of coin for a laptop. I ended up picking up this refurbished model for closer to $1,200. It was a great deal and I’m happy with the laptop itself.

Unfortunately, one of the compromises in this purchase was that the computer shipped with Windows 10. My previous computer came with Windows 7, which was a pretty no-nonsense operating system. It wasn’t perfect, but it was reasonably stable and stayed out of the way. I skipped Windows 8 entirely, which looked to be a total disaster, and I disabled my old computer from “upgrading” from Windows 7 to Windows 10. I actually had to install a program to prevent my computer from upgrading, as Microsoft pushed Windows 10 so hard that it would automatically update your computer if you weren’t careful. This eventually resulted in a lawsuit that didn’t cost the company nearly enough money.

However, when I learned that Windows was phasing out Windows 7 and would stop supporting it in a couple years, I decided to try out Windows 10.

The problem with Windows 10 is that it appears to be catering to the tablet / smart phone crowd. Programs are now “apps”, and a bunch of bloatware garbage comes pre-installed on the computer. Some of this is Lenovo’s fault, but I think most of the stuff is Windows 10. They pepper you with notifications, add animated graphics in the start menu, encourage you to import contacts and share things, pre-install shit like “One Drive” and “Xbox” on to your computer, want you to sync up various accounts, etc. And then there is Cortana, a bullshit Siri like program that gets in your way and apparently tracks all your data. No thanks.

So I spent several hours figuring out how to get rid of most of this crap, some of which involved editing the registry of the computer and using the command prompt to uninstall otherwise uninstallable programs. After I did this I found that Windows 10 behaved similarly to Windows 7, and it let me use the basic programs I need to run my business (Microsoft office, email, photo editing software, etc.). Life goes on.

The problem is that Microsoft keeps “updating” Windows 10. I’m sure some of these fixes are improving the software. Making it faster, more stable, and fixing security issues. The problem is that with each passing update they re-install all the apps I uninstalled and re-activate Cortana. So I have to figure out how to remove all this stuff again, and it gets increasingly more difficult to do this as Microsoft tries harder to hide the ball.

As I type this article Microsoft is installing it’s “Creator’s Update”. I have no idea what that even means, but I am sure once the install is over I’ll have to go back and clean house again.

I just need a computer that runs basic programs for my business. I suppose if I really wanted to be a rebel I could buy a Mac (expensive), or install Linux (probably more hassle then it is worth to get it to work with my assistant’s computer and the rest of the world, especially given that I am not particularly savvy with computers). So I’ll stick with my Windows machine and use it to write passive aggressive blog posts about my angst with Windows 10.

An operating system should stay out of the way. It should allow you to run programs, store files, and search for things. It should not be the main event. I don’t want to be cajoled by Cortana or bombarded with a bunch of stupid notifications about things I don’t care about.

Also, computers should be getting faster and faster. In some ways they are, but it seems that the software gets more complicated in lockstep with the rise in technology, so the net effect is that computers are still comparatively slow. An extra 25% horsepower is great, but if it comes with an extra 25% in dead weight it doesn’t really do anything for you. The net result is that my Windows 10 machine is slower to boot up then my Windows 7 machine was. How’s that for progress?

I guess Microsoft is trying to turn your computer into a cell phone. A never ending circus of updates and notifications, designed to appeal to our dopamine addicted brains and keep us distracted. That way they can shill more software on you, preferably in the form of monthly recurring software as a service (SAAS). It makes sense, as I am sure it creates job security for the developers at Microsoft and profits for the shareholders, but it irks me to no end.

All I can say is that I don’t regret uninstalling email and social media applications from my phone. And I don’t regret uninstalling Cortana and all the other distracting garbage that comes with Windows 10. Keep on fighting the good fight.

First Quarter 2017 Update

Time flies, and here we are, already a couple weeks into the second quarter of 2017. This blog has seen little action this year, but that’s OK as it only means my attentions have been elsewhere.

I figured I would use this as an opportunity to write a little update.

Real Estate

Well, next to my day job, I’d say our new real estate acquisition has sucked up the most time in 2017. We ended up buying an ambitious rental property. Rather than an inexpensive bread and butter rental, we went high end and secured a piece of waterfront property. We found a deal “I couldn’t refuse” and the rest was history. Truth be told we expect to live in this house permanently at some point, but in the meantime we have to rent it. While I would not me opposed to placing a quality annual tenant, I’d prefer to leave the place fully furnished and do a vacation rental.

So January and February was a whirlwind of construction related activity. All free time was spent at the house fixing it up. March saw a couple vactioners, and we have a week in April rented, but not a whole lot of interest beyond that. I have redoubled our marketing efforts and will get someone in here one way or the other. The good news is that the house is beautiful and we have a wonderful product. It’s only a matter of getting it in front of the right potential tenants.

Suffice it to say that this has been a major project and a good reason why I haven’t blogged much in 2017.

Affiliate Websites

2016 ended strong for my affiliate marketing business and 2017 was off to a great start. I pulled in $4,000 for December, an all time high. January was real solid with close to $3k, in revenue, and it looked like my business was going to stay round $2,500 a month vs. the $2k/month the business averaged last year.

This was awesome, but then Amazon announced a change to their fee structure. The result is my commissions have been cut by about 40%. It sucks, but there is not much you can do. It underscores the problems with an affiliate business. The company you are being an affiliate for can cut your commissions or the program entirely.

The site still made the better part of $2k in March. I won’t complain. Adversity is part of the game. I enjoy the website and will continue to work on it, and continue to pay my writers to create more articles. But I want to try and diversify my sources of revenue.

Law Firm

2016 ended with me grossing a little less money for my law firm than I did in 2015 ($10k), but oddly enough my tax liability was about 10k less this year. So I made about the same amount of money. I won’t complain. 2016 was a tough year for my law firm in part because I had trouble finding good help. My latest paralegal has been with me for over 9 months now, and generally speaking she is doing a good job.

This is important because 2017 has started off with a flood of new cases. I have been raking in legal fees and only in the first couple weeks of April have things quieted down for a minute. That’s actually a good thing because between all the legal work and the new house I have been run ragged.

So I have been trying to catch my breath. And of course there are still plenty of cases to work on, even when the phone is not ringing off the hook.

Plus I have a couple trials coming up this summer. It looks like I will be trying at least 2 cases. I’ve done some small trials, contested hearings, etc. But these cases will be full day (or possibly 2 day) trials, which will be a big step for me.

I used to be nervous about the idea of having a trial, but after playing lawyer for 4 years I’m finally ready to do the dance. I think I am on the right side of both my cases, and have seen enough of this to get an idea as to what needs to be done. The execution will be stressful and difficult, but trial lawyers occasionally need to go to trial, so I am also excited about reaching this point in my career.

Personal

There are a couple comments I want to make on my personal / private life. First of all I have continued with largely abstaining from alcohol. I average about a drink or so a week. This is down from maybe 20 drinks a week. I feel better and think not drinking has helped my mood and mental health greatly.

I am continuing to read for pleasure in my spare time. I just finished Lonesome Dove last night, and I’m going to go ahead and say that this is the best piece of fiction I have read in a long while, and will probably be my favorite book of 2017. What an incredibly well written story. This raises the bar for fiction.

Although I have stopped drinking I have been enjoying a good number of cigars. Anywhere from 1-3 a week. Usually I have one or two over the weekend, but occasionally I’ll get a chance to leave the office early or otherwise enjoy one during the week. I like to read a book while smoking cigars. It’s just a nice way to relax, be outside, and spend some time. And I especially like to do this in Florida when the weather is still cool. I smoke cigars in the summer, and enjoy the heat, but it almost seems like a crime to not do this when the air is cool and the sun is shining. If I’m really lucky I get to do this at the beach.

Investing

I have continued to live frugally and invest most of my money. A big chunk went into this new house, but I have also invested thousands (tens of thousands?) into securities. My little portfolio recently cracked the 100k mark, and I am sitting on excess cash. I know there has been uncertainty in the market for a long time now, but I have to think that the shoe will drop and we will see some sort of correction in the not-so-distant future. For that reason I want to keep some cash on hand, but realize timing the market is a fools errand, and I continue to dollar cost average my way into the market and contribute to my retirement accounts and brokerage account through automated contributions.

Given the relatively high prices of real estate in my market, and the amount of work expended on my new rental house, I don’t think I’ll be buying any real estate for the time being, but I watch the market casually and won’t rule out the possibility of another acquisition. Especially if the price is right. But at this point I want to amass a large (to me) portfolio of securities.

Final Thoughts

OK – that is it for now. I have some ideas for some posts I want to write, and possibly a little free time coming up, so while this blog has been slow I don’t intend to abandon it completely.