The Wing-Friends and Other Books

In Blogger's slideshows images are greatly reduced, so lose much of their impact. And captions added to them in Picasa Albums vanish, so the images shown above are: the Milky Way, the Orion Nebula, Earth, Earth with New Zealand circled, New Zealand, Auckland & the Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island, some native NZ forest, a Fantail and chicks, various doves, etc.

(If you want to see the first ten images in their original size, they are in a posting made on the 24th of November 2011.)

My book The Wing-Friends is an imaginative tale of a small brave boy, a magical adventure, a magnificent Pegasus and the wonderful Kingdom of the Pegasi. It has been given very good reviews, and virtually every reader on Goodreads has so far awarded it five stars. It is available here. Some of my other writings are available as e-books, such as The Lower Deck, which is an over-the-top take on Waiheke happenings--sort of.

Saturday, 25 June 2016


For a long time I put off upgrading from my desktop PC from Windows 7 to Windows 10, despite the fact that it was free, partly because I was busy with other things and thought it would take a lot of painful hours, and partly it does not impresss me that the blurb that said it combined the best of 7 and 8. Windows 8 was one to be avoided, and what Microsoft called 'the best' made me apprehensive.

I am also chary of upgrades, because so often they mess up your machine by taking it into their software heads to do things that you neither wanted nor asked for. In short, I never expect a smooth ride.

But when I saw that the free offer of Windows 10 was going to expire on the 29th of July 2016 I decided to bite the bullet, first with a nibble by upgrading my backup machine, and if that went well, carry on.

To my delight it did go well. Very well. And not only did my machine look pretty much the same as it had in Windows 7, but I was able to make some judicious tweaks to make to look and behave even better. That included taking this advice to make the colour-scheme more pleasant. The palette of colours in the standard offer is a bit limited. But using Run and Control Color enables very fine tuning (note the American spelling, because it does not accept English).

Do I like Windows 10? YES. Do I like it better than 7? YES. Would I uninstall and go back to 7? NO. It does seem to run a bit slower in some things, in some a bit quicker, but overall about the same, and it is nicer to use, it has some nice features.

The revamped Start Menu has been done very well. You have to prune out of it the stuff that Microsoft wants you to have there and pin to it what you want, but that is easy to do quickly. And it is very configurable. For example it is easy to resize the icons so that they do not shout at you, and to get rid of that silly, distracting transparency, but it is very nice.

At first I missed the Windows Classic look that I had been using for years, but 10's look and feel very soon became familiar and preferred.

The upgrade went easily. A download of about 2GB then a small number of hours chugging away, and it was all done.

The only thing to watch is that near the end of the process it asks you if you want the Express Installation, which invites you to use a big button down on the right, but in small print down on the left it says Customise. If you select express you get a heap of Microsoft applications hurled at you. It is a sell.  I chose Customise, unticked everything, and carried on using the applications that I had been using, which were mainly not Microsoft offerings.

I think the one to avoid is Photos, because it organises all the photos in your machine in way that is not what anyone sensible would want. But some who like what it does. I ignored it all created a Desktop shortcut to my main photos folder, to make it most accessible, because it opens exactly what opens when I Pictures is clicked on in a system menu.

The only little annoyance in 10 is that although the weather in the Start Menu is brilliant–truly 10 out of 10–and can be set to Celsius for temperatures, it insists on reporting the wind-speed in mph and there is nowhere it can be set to km/h or kph. That is silly enough, but even sillier is the fact the the weather button in the Start Menu can somehow show kph, sometimes, but when you click on it the full display still shows mph. That is fine if you live in one of those backward countries that have yet to go metric, but a pain in most the world.

There is a bugbear if you are using Chrome, in the area where you manage passwords, and which you go to if you have forgotten one and want to change it from hidden to show it. Windows 10 annoys by insisting, every single time, that you enter your Microsoft Account password before it will show it.

But, those points aside, Windows 10 is superb. Well done, Microsoft!