Win­dows Backup

There was much good ad­vice in your “Re­in­stalling Win­dows” fea­ture, but I dif­fer on the idea of do­ing a disk im­age. When I up­grade or re­in­stall, I take the oc­ca­sion to re­place the hard drive/ SSD with a newer or big­ger model. The old drive be­comes my safety net. If the re­in­stall or up­grade goes awry, I sim­ply put the old drive back and can get work done. It’s also there in case I missed trans­fer­ring a file I need later. Al­ter­na­tively, I can re­for­mat the old drive and use it for data backup once I'm sure the new in­stall works. –Rick Thomp­son

EX­EC­U­TIVE ED­I­TOR ALAN DEXTER RE­SPONDS: I do the same, which ex­plains why I’ve got piles of old hard drives sit­ting around (I rarely make it to the fi­nal stage). Such a rou­tine doesn’t pro­tect you if your new drive crashes—any work on there is gone for good—but it does mean you can have a tran­si­tion pe­riod.

Minecraft on Pi

I just read the ar­ti­cle on run­ning Minecraft on the Rasp­berry Pi, and I have a ques­tion: I run the Java ver­sion on Win­dows 10—the most cur­rent ver­sion and rec­om­mended ver­sion is 1.12.2, with most peo­ple in my opin­ion scat­tered be­tween 1.7.10, or 1.10- plus. Why would you rec­om­mend in­stalling a less pop­u­lar ver­sion that is no longer sup­ported or up­dated? Is there some­thing I’m miss­ing, or was that a copy/ paste from an older ar­ti­cle? Thank you for many years of great ar­ti­cles and hard­ware re­views. – Kyle Kroeker

EX­EC­U­TIVE ED­I­TOR ALAN DEXTER RE­SPONDS: I’ve just looked through the ar­ti­cle, and can’t spot a ref­er­ence to in­stalling an out­dated ver­sion of Java. The clos­est thing was where we talked about in­stalling Spig­otMC, where we sug­gested in­stalling ver­sion 1.11.2, be­cause that was the most re­cent ver­sion at the time of writ­ing, al­though we did state that you should in­stall the lat­est ver­sion (which is in­deed 1.12.2). Re­gard­less, we al­ways rec­om­mend that you run the lat­est ver­sion of all soft­ware, un­less we specif­i­cally state a ver­sion for a par­tic­u­lar fea­ture.

Squeez­ing Pix­els

I’ve been read­ing your July is­sue, Vol. 22 No. 8, page 95: “Bot­tle­neck High­light.” For a long time, I won­dered the ex­act same thing. How would you pair a CPU and GPU with­out phys­i­cally hav­ing the parts on hand? The so­lu­tion is http:// the­bot­tle­necker. com. I re­cently wanted to up­grade my old Core i7- 870 and GeForce GTX 650 Ti, but did not know what would be the best GPU for it. Be­ing as old as it is, I didn’t want to overdo it, par­tic­u­larly in price. Then I found this site, and paired my CPU with a GeForce GTX 1060 3GB. Now, even this old dog of an 870 can run Doom on medium set­tings, and my GF is happy we can play more games to­gether, hav­ing some­thing a lot bet­ter than her ev­er­ag­ing non- gam­ing lap­top.

–Matthew Sum­rada

EX­EC­U­TIVE ED­I­TOR ALAN DEXTER RE­SPONDS: That’s a nice find, be­cause it isn’t a web­site we’ve vis­ited be­fore. The ad­vice you get when en­ter­ing your sys­tem de­tails is fairly broad, and the prob­lem still re­mains that some ap­pli­ca­tion­spe­cific bot­tle­necks won’t be picked up, but it’s a good enough guide to help you spot whether your graphics card or your pro­ces­sor is hold­ing you back. Some of the rec­om­men­da­tions seem a bit off, though: If you en­ter the de­tails of your up­graded sys­tem, it rightly high­lights that your CPU is now hold­ing you back, but then goes on to rec­om­mend up­grad­ing to a Xeon E3-1270 V2—a work­sta­tion chip is a lit­tle overkill for a spot of light gam­ing in our books. Still, it’s a good place to start.

Res­o­lu­tion So­lu­tion

Years ago, when I was in vo­ca­tional school, I played around with CorelDRAW and Adobe Pho­to­shop. I

al­ways re­ally liked work­ing with the vec­tor art in Corel, and it’s got­ten me think­ing: Why doesn’t Mi­crosoft mi­grate the Win­dows desk­top to a vec­tor- based lay­out? Ob­vi­ously, years ago, the com­pu­ta­tional power re­quired for such a thing would have been im­prac­ti­cal. To­day, we have more than enough horse­power in even the most mod­est new sys­tems to sup­port a full vec­tor desk­top. It would elim­i­nate most of the scal­ing prob­lems that plague Win­dows, and raster im­ages could be lay­ered over the top to main­tain back­ward com­pat­i­bil­ity. Plus, you would no longer need mul­ti­ple copies of icons and fonts at dif­fer­ent res­o­lu­tions. I can’t see a down­side, other than the work in­volved in rewrit­ing so much of Win­dows code. I was won­der­ing if you had any opin­ions, and whether you could maybe even see what Mi­crosoft had to say.

– James Lloyd

EX­EC­U­TIVE ED­I­TOR ALAN DEXTER RE­SPONDS: This isn’t an aw­ful idea by any means, and it could make for some very dif­fer­ent- look­ing OSes. The truth is, though, that mod­ern op­er­at­ing sys­tems al­ready have a lot of scal­able el­e­ments baked in, al­though vec­tor- based icons don’t seem to have taken off. There’s a cou­ple of rea­sons why this last step hasn’t been taken: one is that cre­at­ing icons and in­ter­faces would sud­denly be­come a whole lot trick­ier; an­other is that a lot of what we do deals with raster im­ages (movies, web­sites, doc­u­ments, pho­tog­ra­phy). There’s also the fact that it isn’t re­ally per­ceived as a prob­lem. Raster graphics may not be the most ef­fi­cient way of build­ing a scal­able UI, but they’ve got us where we are to­day (with our some­times clunky in­ter­faces, font is­sues, and mul­ti­ple- res­o­lu­tion icons).

Sub­jec­tive Ob­jec­tiv­ity

I’ve writ­ten this so many times, and al­ways stopped short of send­ing. I don’t want to be ripped apart in your mag­a­zine. Then, in the Oc­to­ber is­sue, I read the “Se­cu­rity Con­cerns” letter (Mark Van Noy), and two things hit home. First, Mark’s comment re­gard­ing opin­ion and news. Then, I read that Linux users tend to be more clued up about vul­ner­a­bil­ity than Win­dows users. That’s ab­so­lutely opin­ion, not fact, and false, in my opin­ion. In one broad stroke, Win­dows users are less ed­u­cated. That re­ally both­ered me. The letter I deleted over and over dealt with a sim­i­lar is­sue, dif­fer­ent com­pa­nies: In­tel and AMD. Edi­to­ri­als and opin­ion pieces aside, even in news and re­views, the bias is stag­ger­ing. I love the mag­a­zine, but en­joy the es­cape from our ev­ery­day cli­mate of “bet­ter” when I read about new tech. Just my opin­ion. – Anony­mous

EX­EC­U­TIVE ED­I­TOR ALAN DEXTER RE­SPONDS: We don’t rip our read­ers apart, that would be fool­ish, and far too messy. Be­sides, you’re ab­so­lutely right: When I re­sponded to Mark’s letter, I was, in­deed, voic­ing my opin­ion. I’m sure you could find some­one who’s run­ning a ver­sion of Linux who has no idea what they are do­ing (or, in fact, any op­er­at­ing sys­tem), but I still think it would be much eas­ier to find a Win­dows user who is truly clue­less. We share a room with the com­pany’s IT depart­ment, and the team as­sures me such a task would take sec­onds.

Es­sen­tially, not ev­ery­one is as knowl­edge­able about their PCs as we are. And it’s noth­ing to do with be­ing less- ed­u­cated, more the fact that lots of Win­dows users are not in­ter­ested in the sys­tems they use. Ac­cord­ing to NetMar­ket­share, the var­i­ous ver­sions of Win­dows ac­count for over 90 per­cent of the mar­ket, with Ap­ple’s OSes at just un­der 6 per­cent, and Linux just over 3 per­cent. Sta­tis­ti­cally, there are sim­ply more clue­less peo­ple us­ing Win­dows.

As for bias, we can and do add opin­ion where we think it’s needed, but we’re not bi­ased. When it comes to re­views and rec­om­men­da­tions, we pride our­selves on be­ing ob­jec­tive (well, as much as any­one truly can be, al­though that’s a dif­fer­ent con­ver­sa­tion). Opin­ions are im­por­tant; they give the world color. We could have a mag­a­zine that has no com­men­tary at all, but it would be so bland that no one would want to read it, or write for it.

Money for Noth­ing

As a long-time sub­scriber, I wanted to ex­press my grat­i­tude for the on­go­ing cov­er­age of cryp­tocur­rency. I am not sure if many other read­ers keep older parts around, as I do, and it seems like no time has been bet­ter than now to put some of that unused equip­ment to use min­ing some ( vir­tual) coins.

–Hans Huang

EX­EC­U­TIVE ED­I­TOR ALAN DEXTER RE­SPONDS: We have cov­ered cryp­tocur­ren­cies in the past, and some of us have mined (and lost) coins over the years, too. Given that there’s some­thing of a re­newed in­ter­est in the sub­ject at the mo­ment, we will keep an eye on it, but we find it hard to rec­om­mend se­ri­ously in­vest­ing in it, be­cause it’s so volatile. Us­ing your old hard­ware for the job isn’t a bad idea, al­though such parts are lack­ing in terms of mod­ern hash rates.

Run­ning Minecraft on a tiny com­puter is as easy as Pi.

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