Winning my Windows 10 War on the HP Stream

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For the past few months I’ve been struggling to get the HP Stream updated.  The single biggest barrier was the hard drive issue since its capped at 32GB.  This is the one thing that I can’t upgrade either since its part of the motherboard rather than being a component.  I knew what I had to do, I had to find a way to reinstall Windows on this laptop.  When I originally bought the computer, it came with Windows and I upgraded it to Windows 10.  Now whats neat about the licensing now is that I don’t need a license key if I reinstall Windows on the same machine.  That took a little bit of research since its not apparent when just rummaging through settings screens.

There is a neat tool that Microsoft provides now where you can make a bootable USB drive with Windows 10 on it so that you can reinstall it nice and clean on a computer.  I attempted to do this with a 4GB flash drive since that was the minimum requirement on the website but I kept on getting into trouble with an error message.  After a little more research, the minimum requirements stated by MS is incorrect.  I actually needed something closer to an 8GB flash drive and thats not something that I have handy.  I started looking to get another flash drive just to make this tool work.  The last thing that I wanted to do was to spend more money since I only needed it to reimage the computer this one time.  After doing some rummaging in my desk drawers, I found a USB micro SD card adapter.  I also remembered I had an empty 32GB micro SD card in the HP Stream.  I thought that maybe I can fake out the MS tool and install it on the micro SD card.  I gave it a go and surprisingly it worked out!  I think it was the the increased size that helped me create the installer since it had more room.

Next challenge was actually installing it.  As part of the original image for the computer, about 1/4 of the space is dedicated to a recovery partition.  I’ve never used it before and the last time that I tried to delete it I bricked the computer.  Being a little gun shy, I decided to run the installer AND delete all the partitions on the drive so there was only one partition left.  Surprisingly there were about 4 partitions on the drive and I had to delete them all.  Since I had something to do today, I left the installer to run the entire day and when I came back it looked like Windows installed just fine.  It just needed to do some updates and since I deleted the partitions to recover a ton of space and didn’t bother with a recovery partition I had almost 10 gigs of space, just what I needed to do the updates!  The rest of the setup was smooth but time consuming.  I downloaded Chrome again and had to uninstall a ton of apps that come pre-loaded with Windows 10 which took me another few hours but overall things are working again and for the better.

The amount of time it takes to re-install everything from scratch on a laptop is definitely something I don’t like spending time on.  It used to be a lot worse with floppy disks or even CD’s so relatively this was less painful.  The fact that there wasn’t any data to transfer definitely sped things along, my daughter doesn’t “create” things on her computer, its just to do her homework on the web.  When she starts “creating”, I’m going to teach her how to use the cloud so I can just blow away the computer when it starts to slow down or is infected by a virus (hopefully none of these things happen).  Whats great is that I’m doing this blog post from the HP Stream and it doesn’t suck!  I tried doing this when I was having memory problems and it was so slow I gave up and did it on the Mac.  I hope my daughters programs run better now, I’ve been using her iPad more for her streaming videos since the HP Stream couldn’t pre-load the video on the hard drive.  I’ll test it later this week to see if reinstalling Windows solved the problem.  Now I have no reason for a new computer until the desktop is truly dead, its getting there since I can’t open any MS Office files and Photoshop still hangs and does nothing.  An SSD would fix it but its time to go mobile!  Well also if there is some nasty security thing that Apple won’t update on my Mac, then that would be another reason to get a new computer 🙂

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Playing with Google Cardboard VR


My wife’s company is pretty cool, they gave her Google Cardboard VR.  There is a single Google Cardboard app on the iOS store thats from Google, all the others I was looking at were pretty neat but since they weren’t from Google I decided not to try them out.  The stock app to do VR with my iPhone was still pretty cool.  I was able to look at a museum, go on a boat and see a virtual whale jump out of the water, and look at objects and get additional info when I clicked the button on top of the cardboard viewer.  I’d take a picture of what it looks like when you look inside the viewer but I was lazy and didn’t feel like taking my phone out of its case and then powering it on, then using my iPad to try and take a picture.  There are plenty of people on YouTube that have probably done this already so there’s no need for me to do it. 😉

VR is definitely cool and I wish there was a viewer made for my iPhone but the coolest ones out so far are the ones out for the Google Pixel phone.  I haven’t tried any of those out but the reviews are pretty good.  Maybe with the iPhone 8 they’ll come out with something similar.  The only trouble I had with the Google Cardboard viewer is the sound button kept on being pressed when I closed the viewer and I would lose the sound of the app I was looking at.  Doing some readjustment fixed it but it was just a minor annoyance.  I think I would buy something that would go with my iPhone that did VR, it would help pass the time while I’m on the road.  What would be cool is to couple this with FaceTime or something so that you can view what someone else was doing on their phone with the rear camera in VR!  I totally could do that with my family when I’m away and see my daughters school events “live”.  Even a video would be fine with me, it would make it feel like I was actually at the event.  That’s probably far into the future but it still would be pretty cool and I would be able to talk to my family about it when I got home or on the phone.

That will have to wait though, I have other techie purchases to make like maybe a desktop computer replacement if it finally dies.  VR is a toy, not a necessity.  Kind of like my Xbox 360 that I never play.

Recycling my old junk

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It was time to do a little spring cleaning.  Cleaning out the house in CT got me to thinking that some of my other stuff should probably go to Best Buy to that great big junk yard in the sky (or probably some recycling plant in the state).  The devices that I sent to Best Buy were the very first DVD player that I received as a gift from the Mrs. back when we were dating.  I’ve had that DVD player for at least 16 years and it was so awesome since it didn’t have silly protections in it that prevented me from using burned DVD’s.  The Tivo Series 2 was a gift from my friend Luan when I used to live in Tampa.  This thing is 13 years old but hasn’t been working for the past 3 or 4, the hard drive I think is dead (well I know it is because I wasted a lot of time doing research) .  I have a new DVR through Comcast that records in HD and can stream online and to all my TV’s so this thing is going to the recycler as well.

What I didn’t take a picture of was all the different cables and old chargers that I’ve kept around “just in case” but I haven’t touched these things for at least 5 years so I think it was fine to get rid of them.  I had tons of cables for networking, A/V, and 30 pin chargers for my old iPhones that all went to Best Buy.  That has to be one of the most useful services that Best Buy provides me, recycling all my old electronics.  There are a lot more electronics that I think I can recycle but that will wait for another day.  I think what might be next are even more cables (I have 2 drawers of just cables that I’ve collected over the years) and potentially my fathers old Sony VAIO laptop that had copies of my taxes from over a decade ago.  It runs Windows 98 and takes FOREVER to actually run. I’ll take the hard drive out of it of course, I don’t want that data going out into the ether and not under my control but at the same time its going to be hard to find a way to format that drive and all the other ones that I have.  I need to find a good hard drive recycler locally so I can get rid of my drives and data at the same time. I don’t have access to a drill press or anything like that or else I would have done that already.

The desktop isn’t dead yet but I’m still too good at fixing computers to ever let it die.  I’m sure there is hidden technology all over the house that I should really get rid of but I need to find some time and motivation to do it.  I’m definitely a collector of junk, especially electronics (I still have an iPhone 4S, original iPad, and I think my Treo Pro) all still here in the house.  I use the iPhone 4S and iPad occasionally to airplay video but the Treo Pro I keep around because its unlocked and a piece of tech that you just can’t get anymore and it runs Windows Mobile!

I think at some point this Mac that I’m writing this post on will have to go too, Apple is going to update the OS anymore since its on the retirement list (it is 5 years old now) so I will be in the market for a smaller and lighter laptop. The thing I dread is moving a ton of data to a new computer and then trying to do syncing of my devices with that new computer.  I need a better way to sync my iOS  devices, data, and apps (the wifi sync really sucks and is inconsistent).  If I could sync to my NAS I think that would be the best option but iTunes doesn’t support that capability (and probably never will).  Time to get to some anime before bed!