My Software Notes

Useful things I discover

Archive for the ‘Windows 8’ Category

Environmental Variables Disappearing In Windows

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I started noticing it a couple of days ago: icons on my task bar, such as the File Explorer, stopped working and gave me that annoying “application cannot be found” message. Other programs just stopped working.

I hunted around and found that my PATH variable in a console window was only listing the additional path items from the “User” environment. The “System” (aka “Machine”) PATH environmental variable was not being appended to the front of the “User” PATH.

I tried to open “Computer > Properties > Advanced Properties” and it said it couldn’t find the Advanced Properties dialog and it gave the path to the app using “%windir%”.  So I opened up a console and typed “SET” and the majority of the System environmental variables were missing.

What was going on?

I hunted and hunted and finally found this: Windows 7’s PATH and environment variables are corrupted.

Can you believe that? When your path goes over 2048 characters long the entire environmental variables handling in Windows goes haywire.

I edited my PATH and took out a bunch of duplicate entries (what added those?), got it down to a much smaller size and suddenly my Win7 machine was working perfectly again.

It seems like a serious omission that Windows gives no warning at all that there is a problem and we poor buggers have to figure out what to do.

I hope this post helps someone out there with the same headache.


Written by gsdwriter

October 31, 2013 at 12:05 pm

Windows 8 in 4 or 24 minutes

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Two videos by Scott Hanselman to get someone up and running on Windows 8.  The first video takes 4 minutes and if you blink you’ll miss something important.  I rate it “R” for “Really Geeky”.  The second video takes 24 minutes and I rate it “PG” for “Parents and Grandparents”, because they’ll be able to follow it.

Video 1: Learn Windows 8 in 3 Minutes (Ok it’s really 4)


Video 2: The Missing Windows 8 Instructional Video – Who moved my Windows 8 Cheese?

Hope they help.

Written by gsdwriter

January 14, 2013 at 12:31 pm

Posted in Windows 8

Windows 8 So Far

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I haven’t had a chance to use the new touch features of Windows 8, but even so I like it so far.

My main “likes” are the speed improvements.  It boots up way faster, it seems to run every app I use faster and IE10 is way faster.

So, I’m happy with it.

I’ve gotten used to the Start Screen rather than the Start Menu, although I would like to be able to use the old Start Menu from the Desktop.  When I eventually get a touch screen I’ll probably stop complaining about that.

Another sign that Win 8 will succeed is that a co-worker of mine bought an All-In-One Win 8 computer with touch for his computer-illiterate father and his dad immediately started using it and figured it all out with almost no help.

So for us .NET, MS development types, this all bodes well.

Written by gsdwriter

December 4, 2012 at 11:34 am

Posted in Musings, Windows 8

Why Windows 8 will be a huge success

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I really like Windows 8.  But I’m just a lowly developer who uses a computer all day long so I’m not an average user and my opinion on the success or failure potential for Windows 8 doesn’t really count for much.

But this morning I had confirmation from an unbiased source that Windows 8 will be an enormous success.

This morning, my wife, who has NEVER EVER praised a piece of software, never mind an operating system, said, “I love Windows 8.”

I almost choked on my mouthful of breakfast and it took me several minutes to recover from the shock.  All I ever got from her before this were complaints that “Yahoo mail is slow” or “Facebook is slow” or “I can’t find my file in Microsoft.”  But this morning she told me, “I love Windows 8.  It’s so fast.”

And that’s also the main reason I like it – IT’S SO FAST.  The Windows 8 machine my wife has been using is a machine that previously ran Windows 7, so it’s not new hardware that’s causing the improvement.  I also installed it on a machine at work where I upgraded rather than running a fresh install and IT’S SO FAST on that machine too.  So the speed improvement is not due to hardware or cleaning out the Registry.

So if my computer semi-literate wife “loves Windows 8” then there is no question it’s going to be a success.

What’s even more amazing is that because she actually likes the Windows 8 user experience, she is finally willing to have me show her how to do other things on the computer.  So this weekend I showed her how to use OneNote and she started using it.  Then she wanted me to show her how to customize the lock screen and she wanted a desktop theme installed.  She NEVER EVER asked me for any of that before.  In the past she used it for her email and Facebook and Netflix and that was it.  Now she’s actually interested in learning more and using more.  That is a feat I haven’t been able to achieve after years of trying and now, after only three weeks, Windows 8 has somehow gotten her interested in learning more about all aspects of the computer.

So, there you are.  That is why Windows 8 will be a huge success.

Written by gsdwriter

October 22, 2012 at 11:08 am

Posted in Musings, Windows 8