The Blur of Days

Don’t you hate how sometimes the days just go by without noticing?

It’s like walking in a blizzard, with thoughts flying by so fast you have no hope of holding them in your hand.

But carry on you must.

Intel NUC NUC5CPYH: Windows 10 installation issues

I recently got one of these and ran into issues when attempting to load the Windows 10 installer. Plugged power, VGA, keyboard and then turned the thing on. BIOS prompt popped up and nothing fancy, just your usual UEFI BIOS that makes everything pretty and a pain in the ass to get to.

All the people writing these things clearly hate using their keyboards. But anyway; made some changes in the BIOS and everything seemed to be okay.

Cue the Windows 10 installation. Got out the USB stick with the Windows installer, plugged it in, booted. I could tell everything was much, much slower than usual. Just getting to the “Install” button took about six minutes.

  • Thinking it was the USB stick, I switched to a USB 3.0 stick. Same issue.
  • Switched ports around (not that this could be a problem, the thing only has USB 3.0 ports). Nope.
  • Could it be a bad CPU? But then it wouldn’t turn on. Ditto for RAM.
  • Maybe the SSD drive I put on it is not working properly? But this is before the drive even comes into play and the UEFI system detects it properly.

Start poking around the UEFI again:

  • There was a setting for “Customer IR” I enabled. Disabled it.
  • Boot options: Disabled UEFI boot. Good old BIOS will do.
  • Set VGA as the main video port, HDMI secondary.
  • Disabled Intel Secure Boot and all its toys. They’re not needed and can only cause trouble.
  • There is a setting where you can configure the UEFI for different operating systems:
    • Windows 8 / Windows 8.1
    • Windows 7
    • Linux

Intel NUC UEFI

Since I was installing Windows 10, I picked the first option. I think this is was made the Win10 installation go awry. Set it to Windows 10, rebooted, and OS installation went off without a hitch.

The only problem after that was the SSD having disk errors, argh.

Yes ma’am

I know you knew as soon as we first saw each other, and you veered away from my lips.

Yes ma’am. How could I not tell?

You’re smart. That’s why I feel the way I do for you.

There are times when a simple argument turns into something much bigger, and then out of nowhere something happens that makes it all good again.

Things change over the time of a relationship. Some things, however, should stay the same as they form the bedrock upon which everything is built.

I can smile again, specially now that I don’t have a damn head cold that made everything worse.

AMD Radeon Settings, Gaming Evolved, and Raptr: The danger of default settings.

Okay, so I just got a Radeon R9 380 in the form of a Gigabyte G1 Gaming video card. It’s the first real GPU I’ve had in years and years — the last real video card I had was back when AGP2 was all the rage.

It all started the usual way:
* Uninstall anything related to the old video card. In my case I’m using integrated video (Radeon HD 7660D) but why risk it?
* Install new video card.
* Install new video card drivers.

Again, nothing out of the ordinary. Just the usual things that you should always do when installing new hardware on a Windows system. After reinstalling the AMD Catalyst drivers from the card manufacturer’s website, Catalyst reported there was a new driver for the system and it was going to update. Updates are more or less necessary, right? So I downloaded and updated.

This is where you can start to tell something at AMD went wrong and the marketing people are now running the company:

AMD Installer

AMD Settings Branding“? What is this? And why cant it be disabled? It’s quite enough that Microsoft keeps pushing unwanted software when you’re using Windows 10. There’s “AMD Quick Stream”, which doesn’t really tell you what it does. Then there’s the “AMD Gaming Evolved” app which is a barrel full of worms.

Okay, so I decided to install everything and see what was up. Reboot. All the AMD applications are configured by default to start on system boot.

Annoying.

Set about to disable that. I’m including screenshots because the UI for the applications is not exactly the simplest, and it is very different from what the old Catalyst drivers looked like, and cos I’ll probably forget about this in a few months.

AMD Radeon Settings:

AMD Radeon Settings

The entire middle section of the window is a link to this page.

Click on Preferences and heeeey, what the hell?

AMD Radeon Settings Prefences

There’s an option for “Banner Advertisements”. Come on now. I’m running adblockers on all my browsers and yet here we have a hardware manufacturer trying to simply bypass all that. Seeing this made me wonder what else was in store on the other apps, which leads me to…

AMD Gaming Evolved

AMD Gaming Evolved

This doesn’t look that bad. It looked for games that I have installed on my system and then suggested optimized video settings for them. Okay, that’s nice, now I don’t have to go about configuring each game one by one. But I certainly do not want the application to start at system boot. To find the preferences click on the little wrench icon next to Minimize up on the window title bar.

AMD Gaming Evolved preferences
The yellow arrow points to the wrench. Yeah, fuck usability.

General section

Landing here after clicking preferences and disable start on boot for… Raptr. I thought I was in the AMD Gaming Evolved app? Where did this “Raptr” thing come from? AMD needs to get their branding in order, really. So disable start on boot. Scroll down and another surprise:
AMD Gaming Evolved Promotions

“Promotions”? I don’t want any of that. Why would I do that to myself? Disabled that.

“Alerts & Sounds” section

  • Disabled “Enable sound alerts”
  • Picked “Hold messages until game is closed”. I’m sure those very important messages will turn out to be advertisements.
  • Disabled popup notifications. I thought this is what the Windows 10 Notification center is for?

Chat tab

AMD Gaming Evolved preferences

This makes me thing that “Raptr” is the name of the application and the name of an upstart social network for gamers that will be run by AMD or a company it hired for that purpose. It’ll have to compete with Steam, EA Origin, PlayStation Network, Xbox Live and a few others.

I wonder how long that will last. Running these things is expensive and prone to failures of all sorts; that’s before even starting on DoS and DDoS attacks.

Dock tab

Nothing troubling here

Games tab

AMD Gaming Evolved preferences

  • “Game Tracking”? I’ll be having none of that, thank you. This is pure gold for all those entities that live off tracking your every movement on the internet.
  • “Performance”? Sounds like an excellent way to spam your friends.

Plays.tv tab

This is useful for some, I guess

Twitch

Again, useful if you use it.

In-game tab

  • Disabled the in-game overlay. I’m here to play games, not view statistics about me playing games, or receive notifications of any kind. I already get annoyed when I watch a youtube video and a social network notification pops up.

Privacy

AMD Gaming Evolved preferences

This is a clusterfuck, plainly stated.

  • “Torrent”: First off AMD will use your bandwidth to save companies money. People bitched about Microsoft using the same tactic to update Windows over the internet and save themselves some money. Here we have AMD trying to pull off the same thing and no one is making a ruckus.

How long until someone figures out how to turn this into a vector to spread malware? Until something goes wrong and it starts using all the available bandwidth all the time?

I am not okay with this.

  • “Raptr Scanning”: I’ve heard this excuse so often it now qualifies as white noise. I’m disabling it because when Raptr inevitably folds, all of that information will be sold alongside any other assets.

AMD Gaming Evolved preferences

Aha. Here we are. Be lazy and let the thing configure all the settings for each game separately? You have to let AMD mine your computer for whatever information they decide they want.

Thanks but no thanks.

Hotkeys

Eh, whatever. They’re there.

AMD Quick Stream

According to AMD:

AMD Quick Stream Technology is an Internet stream optimization software powered by AppEx Networks’ IPEQ (IP End to end Quality Of Service) technology that prioritizes and shapes the Internet data streams flowing in and out the PC, allowing the high‐priority streams and apps to dynamically enjoy the better network resources when competing the limited bandwidth with other less important ones. At the sametime it boosts the overall Internet performance by shaping both the inbound and outbound traffic to eliminate or reduce the chances of traffic congestions. AMD Quick Stream Technology offers the end users smoother and enhanced Internet experiences.

According to me:
Bufferbloat.

If you search for “AMD Quick Stream” most of the results report that people have issues with the software. I did have the “license not found” problem, which I fixed by uninstalling the application.

So the solution for all Quick Stream issues is to get rid of the application. Simple.

UGH, JUST UGH

That’s my reaction to all this. It’s just a bit much that if I want to have a great gaming experience, I have to give up not only the cost of the hardware but also to give up a lot of privacy in order to have the tiniest bit of convenience, all so AMD can make a bit of money.

I’m uninstalling everything but the driver itself and will look around for a solution to the “AMD Settings Branding” thing. I’m pretty sure there should be a way to repackage the drivers so you get what you need to run your hardware and only that, without any extraneous bells and whistles.

This is a bit disappointing. I expected more of you, AMD.

Unreal Tournament: 2016

Glorious. Absolutely glorious.

Going to have to buy a new video card for it. It was a purchase I had contemplated for a while but now that I’m playing the game it is basically required.

It feels like I’m playing the original Quake at times, what with all the blocky graphics.

Interestellar

Why does Interestellar get me like it does?

It’s the eternal fear of failing your children, and your children’s children.

It’s quite something. A movie that moves you and makes you think.

This is annoying: Swarm

I really dislike it when companies do things like this:

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Foursquare the application itself is on the open web, but it is now a shell of its former self after Foursquare the company spun out the check-in abilities into Swarm the app.

An app, not an application. An app that you have to install on your device through its respective app market. Someone sent me an invite to friend them on it but since I don’t have the app I can’t do anything with it. Trying to friend the person on foursquare is a no-go. The functionality doesn’t exist anymore.

It’s a bit sad, really, that they’ve resorted to these tactics to get you to download their app.

So my kid got his own phone

Don’t ask if it’s proper or right or whatever — it’s a done deal and now we (his parents) have to deal with the fact he is not an active participant of the Internet.

Since I’m using Google Apps, we got him a managed account in one of my domains. This will allow us to recover the account quickly if he ever gets his devices or his credentials compromised. This account qualifies as a full google account, which is both a plus and a minus. But mostly a plus.

A more immediate problem is how to get his device loaded with content. Since I’m in the US I get access to a lot of content for what is a very low price. He’s in Mexico and access to legal content is still very costly. I would very much like for him not to have to look for stuff on the torrents or cyberlockers.

I’ll figure something out. In the meantime, I’ve already hit a snag trying to get him access to music. I’ll just have to ignore the age requirement for a while…