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Everything posted by NoelC

  1. General instability of the ATI software isn't something I'm willing to ignore, and anyway I had an opportunity to change to a much more powerful GPU, which has turned out to be perfectly stable. Ultimately, the version of Aero Glass I am running has been very solid, so I have not tried the new build. -Noel
  2. With a brand new workstation with Win 10 v1809 I had some initial instability, but when I changed from ATI to a nVidia graphics card on the 24th it's been very solid with the released version of Aero Glass. If I'm not experiencing any problems, would it be useful/helpful to test the latest debug version? -Noel
  3. Aero Glass working very solidly for me here with a reasonably well-tweaked Win 10 v1809 (with no Apps). I've noticed the performance seems better than with past debug versions. Big Muscle, did you add some optimization? Whatever you did, thanks; it's quite pleasant to work with. Thank you,. https://Noel.ProDigitalSoftware.com/ForumPosts/Win10/17763/Win10DesktopWithAG.png -Noel
  4. A Haswell-based system running Win 7 and serving as a small server is working perfectly. And when I say perfectly, I mean it doesn't even log anything more than an informational message in the System Event Log for months at a time. It runs forever without fault, does its job with aplomb, has plenty of free storage, and will not likely be asked to do any more in the next few years than it already does. It's layered with much more (and smarter) than typical security and its usage is such that it's not at risk from typical things like web pages loaded into a browser and downloads by a user. Likely it won't need updating until the hardware actually fails. Since it's high quality server hardware, that won't be for years. So... To update it or not? I'm seriously leaning toward not. Ever again. My father tried to teach me, "If it works, don't fix it". I'm knowledgeable enough about networking and OS operations that I'm not affected by FUD and hype such as "OMG, if you don't update you'll be infected for sure". I know how it could be attacked, and it's just very, very well protected. I always try to keep in mind that Microsoft hasn't fixed anything since Win 7 went off mainstream support, and the only thing they've done lately is to slow the OS down... Even if the heaviest patches are disabled (GRC InSpectre, anyone?) it's still slower than it was in 2017. I can't believe I'm even considering whether to run another Windows Update on it. The social engineering that has brought us to this point and made us feel dependent on Mother Microsoft to keep trickling out fixes for vulnerabilities they originally built in is mind boggling. What price, (a false sense of) security? -Noel
  5. I'm not talking short term! I think I began to sense the change when Bill Gates stepped down from active management. That was a while ago, for sure. They spent a lot of years throwing things together then tidying it up later, but if you followed the "wait until Service Pack 1" (at least) philosophy, Windows has been a pretty good workhorse. I still remember when it went from something that had "reboot fairly often" built into its design to "runs virtually as long as you want" - which for me happened around SP2 (I think it was) of Vista. I got work out of Windows 3.1 for Workgroups and all the versions since, and to this day I still get a LOT of work out of Windows 8.1 - of course after taming its desire to be something it's not. That taming just doesn't work as well with each subsequent new version. Inertia took Microsoft a long way and is still carrying it along, but they're losing sight of the fact that the world needs Windows to be the serious, no nonsense business system that actually facilitates people's work on inexpensive hardware. Even though they made a lot of money being that, now it just seems like they want to facilitate their own updates and bloat, and have all but forgotten people don't run Windows just to run Windows, but to actually DO things. There is a helluva lot more a lot of folks need to do besides check Facebook and Twitter! You have to admit, the no-nonsense Windows 7 update philosophy - putting YOU in charge - was way more "good, serious computing experience" than this modern "Windows as a Service" BS where they take over whenever they choose to. And who said it was okay to change our settings, or delete our files? That was the realm of MALWARE before they started trying to social engineer people to change the way they look at computing. Even now - in the very latest versions of Windows 10 - we see them adding things like "WaaS Medic" and being ever more aggressive in taking over, while of course they say they're not. Just try to disable certain services and see how long that lasts. So yeah, they're not the company they used to be, not even last year. -Noel
  6. We are supposed to all want Microsoft's patches without thinking. They work hard to create this mentality, in order to herd users ever more effectively. Fortunately (they would say unfortunately) I actually DO think, as do you (or you wouldn't be here reading). I think about these so-called "vulnerabilities" - some of which have never been seen in the wild - and what I can do about them. Knowing how things work is better than not knowing. I am most certainly NOT helpless in the digital world. I don't run software "from the wild" without vetting it. I have surrounded myself with a network environment that practically and substantially reduces the risk I'll visit a web site that will try to infect me or take data from me, while at the same time shunning the "run-of-the-mill" approaches that provide only marginal security. I resist "cloud" software that wants to update itself all the time. I don't want the "latest", I want the "most stable" that does what I need. My systems run for months 24/7 without faults, however hard I use them. Unlike most folks, I actually measure performance objectively, and can tell when the OS or application efficiency changes. I always realize there are tradeoffs - security is never a purely "more security is better" thing. I haven't had malware turn up on a MalwareBytes scan - ever, so I guess what I'm doing is effective. That said, I always look for ways to improve. Possibly most importantly: I never allow myself to get a false sense of security. If I do something stupid, and one of the things I've set up protects me, I still beat myself up over doing something stupid and strive not to do it again. If you look at the pricing of high-end systems - say, workstation prices at Dell - depending on how close to the top end the hardware is, you can see that computer systems delivering even just 10% more compute performance can cost literally thousands of dollars more. Why would I want to intentionally turn my system now, to mitigate vulnerabilities for which there are no known exploits yet, into a system that performs as poorly as the ones I passed up when I chose to pay top dollar? I simply don't subscribe to the sentiment "you WILL become infected if you don't patch to the very latest OS code", because Microsoft is not the company they used to be. It is no longer as high on their priority list to deliver a good, serious computing experience. There is no guarantee that a patch from Microsoft delivers better code than what it's replacing. Time has shown that they can (and do) deliver instability and even new vulnerabilities. I always try to gauge the tradeoffs. And let's not forget that they've let much of their testing organization go. It's clear Microsoft wants to bring everyone under their control (which invariably involves updating to their latest software) and they're using every trick in the book to get you off your old system where they do not yet have that control. They do not care whether your existing system/hardware works worse for what you need it for; you're not paying them to keep it. You WOULD, however, be paying them if you replace it. Microsoft software, even the very mature versions, is nowhere near optimized as well as it could be. There's no reason we have to expect it to get less efficient as newer versions are released. It should steadily be going the other way. For example, I've seen with my own eyes that their latest compilers are delivering faster and faster instruction sequences for the very same source code. Why aren't their OS patches/releases speeding up the system? It appears for every 10% improvement they make, they layer on 20% more junk. How many processes does Windows 10 have to run just to host an empty desktop for you nowadays (hint: well over 100)? Hosts? Brokers? Medics? Bleh. I have some systems from which I don't demand the utmost in performance, and for which security is a greater concern, and I've got them completely up to date. Others I have stopped at the December 2017 patch level, because there are significant disadvantages, while at the same time Microsoft just hasn't delivered any improvements that matter. Your mileage may vary. Just make sure to know what it is. -Noel
  7. ...and... Now with the end of August update Windows 10 is up to 17134.254 and I saw my donation-enabled copy download symbols again. SYMSRV: dwmcore.pdb from http://msdl.microsoft.com/download/symbols: 3279872 bytes copied SYMSRV: PATH: C:\AeroGlass\symbols\dwmcore.pdb\7E2FFBA889DA4A0EEEC178DF672CE1B81\dwmcore.pdb SYMSRV: RESULT: 0x00000000 DBGHELP: dwmcore - public symbols C:\AeroGlass\symbols\dwmcore.pdb\7E2FFBA889DA4A0EEEC178DF672CE1B81\dwmcore.pdb -Noel
  8. And make sure you know that using a non-Microsoft-signed theme can get you into trouble when you upgrade the OS... You'll either have to be careful to remember to disable re-theming before running through an upgrade or be sure to be able to restore your system if you get a black screen of death. -Noel
  9. For what it's worth, I always benchmark my systems with Passmark PerformanceTest after I've made any changes such as updates, driver installs, etc. I have years of stored results, so I can say whether and when various slowdowns occurred. This system (now 5 years old) has never run quite as efficiently as when I was running Windows 7. But that difference is small and I do enjoy the few things Win 8.1 has brought to the party. With Aero Glass it's a very good system. Plus it runs various other Windows versions in virtual machines quite well, so I have a "have cake and eat it too" situation. -Noel
  10. I've been avoiding every update except the cumulative Internet Explorer security updates past December myself. My system is super stable at this point, running continuously all the time between software installs that require reboots. The way I figure it, it can only go downhill from here. I have never thought that mixing and matching system updates seemed like a good idea, and even putting the IE updates in (without all the others) always worries me a little bit, since it is more a part of the system than it sounds like it should be. So far I haven't had any problems with this strategy, though. And, without the performance robbing degradations my system still performs right up there with brand new high-end workstations, based on my comparing notes with some folks who have put together Xeon systems recently. -Noel
  11. I really liked being able to re-theme the controls, but I abandoned trying to do so a while ago. There are just too many gotchas, for example a system that just black screens after an in-place upgrade because you forgot to disable the 3rd party theme. Microsoft is going to have their way, and there's really nothing we can do about it. -Noel
  12. "Fluent" design is in itself inconsistent - by design. You never know where the UI elements are going to move to, or how they're going to look, or whether they're even going to be there. So expectations are out the window. The feeling of "I no longer remember how to use this" isn't supposed to recur for every use. There does seem to be a need to display information in various sizes and aspect ratios. Microsoft just wasn't terribly good at picking a way to do that. And some design decisions are just dumb... They may have sounded good on paper but in practice they just don't work. Discoverability has suffered, for example, because of things like mysterious appearing scroll bars. Just try to find all the configuration options in Skype 8. -Noel
  13. Seems OK from here with the late July cumulative catalog update in... Notably dwm.exe popped-open a debug-like window upon first logon after the update, implying dwmcore symbols had to be downloaded... -Noel
  14. Win 8.1, suitably tweaked and carefully managed on hardware that can run it, is arguably a better desktop system than Win 7 anyway - but of course not being current will become less desirable and more costly over time, and as you've seen less and less possible. -Noel
  15. I don't doubt it. Thing is, Dave Cutler's virtual memory OS design is actually superior to Unix IMO, and it'd be a shame to see it die with Windows (after it died once with DEC). -Noel
  16. 1.5.9 is in and not subject to the slowdowns seen in the development version (not surprisingly because the development version isn't optimized). Looks good so far. THANK YOU. Big Muscle, may I suggest you provide a development version that's optimized, though still logs. I have three configs in products I build: Debug - unoptimized, with full instrumentation. Beta - optimized, but with a lot of instrumentation. Release - optimized and without debugging instrumentation. It's just an idea. I wasn't really able to test your pre-release code much, beyond seeing that it actually worked, because the slowdowns made my Win 10 setup too sluggish to use. I'm very happy the optimized version is still snappy as ever. -Noel
  17. (In reply to Jaclaz) Yes, but so far as I can see the ONLY improvement over Windows 8.1 so far in Windows 10 is better ability to manage multiple monitors at different DPI scales. The latest Windows 10 releases don't tend to lose icon locations as often as their predecessors. Other than that, the concept the that OS is to be improved after release is simply not ringing as true as when Microsoft thought developing the next generation operating system was a path to success. Seems to me all they're doing now is just hanging more and more application software all over the kernel. 120 running processes to support an empty desktop? :-O My *LATEST* complaint is that Microsoft is systematically making all the documentation for programming less and less usable. Note, for example, the definitions of the function parameters in this: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/desktop/api/winuser/nf-winuser-drawtext Thing is, they're doing this and it doesn't raise a big stink in the world because most folks are users and don't care about such things. But it WILL affect the new applications being developed. Microsoft is systematically - and not surprisingly - forcing people out of "legacy" development. -Noel
  18. The key to me seems to be that the updates are cumulative, so having installed some kind of post-December Spectre/Meltdown mitigations seems inevitable. On the other hand, just installing specific updates, e.g., IE patches, could avoid the kernel changes. But even then, the IE patches do update quite a few modules... I wish I could be more confident in a way to move forward that's reasonable. -Noel
  19. I can't say, Jody. I would suggest that either holding back at (I believe) the December 2017 level or bringing your system fully up to date are the most viable alternatives. Based on what I've read some of the Meltdown mitigations changed the entire way the operating system is built from sources, so I don't think this is a mix/match type of situation. I have always kept my critical systems up to date, and have been blessed or lucky to have good, stable operation, but a best case slowdown equivalent to the difference between my computer and one I could have bought for $1,000 less was simply something I couldn't accept. I wish I could say there was a margin for error here, but I've been through the trial of the latest updates in Win 8.1 not once but twice, (and also with a Windows 7 system) and I really, really measured carefully. -Noel P.S., in response to dencorso's note, I found this nice post which identifies the DISM command that can be helpful for removing historically layered telemetry updates: https://www.askwoody.com/2016/how-to-permanently-remove-kb2952664-and-maybe-speed-up-your-machine-in-the-proceess/
  20. It's hard to generalize. Personally, I actually HAVE disabled both on my network facing system. I have enough protection (and discipline) in my environment here that malware never even gets close, and I especially have several layers of security blanket that keep my browsers and applications from visiting known bad sites online. Not to mention I turn that stupid UAC off (making a security Meltdown kind of a moot point). I guard the borders better and don't worry as much about policing microsecond by microsecond operation, which sounds like it may be your philosophy too. But everyone's needs are different. Would I suggest disabling the mitigations for the general public, especially those who are not technically savvy? Probably not. My point here is that even when disabled there's a significant performance penalty. I guess this must be because besides the memory manager reload operations that were added (and which can be disabled) the kernel and system software in Windows have been recompiled with changes to do certain operations a different, less efficient way to avoid meltdown concerns. I'm always looking for more detail on this, and I appreciate the discussion. The surprising part is that hardly anyone's talking about this! I guess it must be a combination of folks in general doing things that are not easily measurable and their systems already being burdened-up with a bunch of performance-sapping software, so what's one more little slowdown? -Noel
  21. My CPUs are Intel Xeon X5690 (Westmere) and Intel Pentium G3220 (Haswell). The X5690 is not new - circa 2011 or 2012 or so - but was the very top of its line and I have two of them in the workstation - meaning it's still a good performer except when compared to systems with high end current workstation processors. The Pentium G3220 is a few years younger - 2014 or 2015 - but certainly not brand new. The slowdowns to a lean, highly tuned system with the actual Spectre and Meltdown mitigations enabled are horrendous. Maximum I/O throughput, normally about 1.7 gigabytes per second for big transfers to/from my SSD array and 120 megabytes per second for 4k byte I/Os, is literally cut in HALF. Desktop response for things like font rendering is also noticeably slower. I can't believe so many folks are willing to take these kinds of performance hits. I am imagining that many folks don't have their systems tuned up for max performance anyway, and the difference is kind of lost in the shuffle. -Noel
  22. There is some good information nowadays about what one can expect out of Windows patches over at askwoody.com. In short, you can apply all available patches offered by Windows Update (known at the aforementioned site as "Group A"), you can apply security patches only from the Catalog ("Group B"), or you can stop applying patches altogether (sometimes referred to as "Group W"). Up to December I had been applying all updates for Windows 8.1 via Windows Update "Group A" style. I have from time to time done "Group B" style updating when I wanted only certain security patches, such as Internet Explorer components only, and that's what I have now with the Win 8.1 setup. I am still keeping another, different system running Windows 7 up to date with all patches "Group A" style. Thing is, there's really no assurance that anything other than keeping an OS fully up to date up to a certain date is viable. Mixing and matching OS components that are not offered by Microsoft as an all-working-together set is a hit or miss proposition. Yes, the code is somewhat modular, but imagine how easy it would be for Microsoft to change something in the kernel, then make assumptions in other, later changes to components that would require those earlier changes to function properly. That being said, it's not like they're doing a huge amount of testing nowadays... It doesn't make Microsoft upset much that people fragment the patches on their older operating systems, because what's the outcome of that? An unworkable, unreliable system that has to be replaced? Who benefits most from that? -Noel P.S., And yes, all my systems are Intel-based.
  23. I've seen almost identical slowdowns in real, compute- and I/O- intensive jobs on Win 7 and 8.1 on Westmere and Haswell systems. -Noel
  24. Yes, and with the Spectre/Meltdown mitigations specifically disabled. There is a (smaller but still significant) performance degradation baked into the kernel. -Noel
  25. Um, aren't the Meltdown/Spectre fixes security? I guess you could be implying that if I avoid that specific security patch the kernel won't be rebuilt with whatever performance robbing changes they've made... I'm not sure I'm willing to mix and match patches like that. Software is rarely so compartmentalized that something won't depend on something else. That being said, I actually AM keeping Internet Explorer up to date. Those IE modules alone don't seem to kill the performance. -Noel
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