Upgrade HP Stream to Windows 10


Last December I grabbed a deal on a cheap HP Stream laptop for my family.  It’s been a nice little convenience screen, but with gotchas:
1) Tiny hard drive – 30GB total, with 10 gone to Windows (as expected).  Then HP took another 10 for their partition.
→ So just 10GB for you!  A few apps later and even OneDrive cannot save you.
2) Tiny RAM – 2GB, but only 0.7GB available idling.  HP complicated the 2GB also by bizarrely installing 64-bit Windows (against Microsoft’s recommendation) and wasting its limited RAM.
→ Multiple users?  “Please log out instead of switch user, honey”.
3)…and none of it is upgrade-able.
→ Well, you can do like I did and add a big fast SD card for more storage, but that’s about it.

TWindows 10 on a Streamhen Windows 10 came out, and it’s generally great.  It extended Win8’s unified Microsoft logins, and rolled in what was formerly Live’s Family Safety features, making it great for families.  And with the Start Menu back, I now have no worries about moving cheese for business users.  So to me, the Windows 10 upgrade is an automatic yes for any Windows 8 systems or new PCs.

Add 10 to the above challenges, and of course I wanted to kill seven in one blow!   Specifically, 1) move to Windows 10, 2) reclaim drive space from HP’s extra partition, and 3) reclaim RAM from HP’s dumb 64-bit choice.  (Alright, 3 in one blow, whatever).

That brings us to a month ago, when I started this blog post….
TL;DR: 2/3 ain’t bad.  Success on #1 for drive space.  No-go on RAM.  

Problem: HP provides NO 32-bit drivers for the Stream.  Result: non-working touchpad.
Many hours of reinstalling various editions of Windows, and every other trick I’ve learned over 20+ years, and I got Device Manager looking happy, but with no valid chipset drivers (I believe Intel’s Trusted Execution Engine Interface is the main culprit) to expose the touchpad device to Windows.  Actually, I saw a dramatic difference on RAM usage (about 25% more available), but no working touchpad (which is critical for a convenience device like the Stream).  I’ll leave that sad story there — if you want more, lemme know.

But there’s still the upgrade and the drive!

Problem #2: Not enough free-space to do the upgrade.
I ran into several snafus with this, but we can get around that!  Here’s how:

  1. Get an empty 16GB flash drive.
  2. Backup all your data to OneDrive.  Just do it now.  It’s built-in!  And now your stuff is backed up and can just self-load into any future Windows installs.
  3. Use Windows built-in “Reset this PC” feature to return your Stream to factory defaults.  This will wipe everything and free up a ton of space.
  4. Download and run MediaCreationTool64.exe, and let it download and check away.  (FYI, the 32-bit MediaCreationTool.exe will NOT work, and will just pop up an empty or useless error message…)
    When the tool still(!)  complains about not having enough space…
  5. Plug in an empty 16GB USB flash drive and point it at that for temporary storage.  This should let it run.  Be patient, it’s downloading an entire DVD and replacing your OS.  Maybe let it run overnight, but it should work.
  6. You now have Windows 10!
    Login with your Microsoft account and turn on OneDrive.  Your stuff will appear.
  7. …And HP’s partition disappeared!  This is a nice surprise, as I otherwise would have given about 20 more steps to capture product key, capture drivers, repartition the drive, and scratch-install Windows.
    I suspect it means “undoing” the upgrade probably won’t really put it back the way it was, but that way stunk, and this saves you tons of trouble.

Unfortunately, it’s still high RAM usage (I’m currently at 72% with a single Chrome tab open and nothing else running), but it’s significantly more free drive space and Windows 10.   Heck of an ordeal, but a worthwhile improvement.

“I Remember Now” – Windows 10 finally got Num Lock right

My wife, handier with money, loves leaving the num lock on.smash_capslock
I, handier with prose and software coding, want it off. (In fact, I always set the BIOS default to off on any computer).
Our kids could go either way, and have complained about it not being “right” when they switch user.

But since I moved our family PC to Windows 10 a couple months ago, I noticed it remembers each users’ last num lock setting.  Hey cool!  …But Google admits no knowledge of this feature. Am I just the lucky first guy to notice?

Regardless, this is another fine UI touch that Windows has invented in the last 5-10 years.
(Now if OS X would just get off their laurels and notice/copy them — oh hey Aero Snap anyone?)

Decrapify NCH VideoPad

NCH VideoPad is an excellent “free” video editor.

I would recommend VideoPad heartily if NCH didn’t crap on their own work.

But unfortunately “free” needs those scare quotes, because its installer just behaves badly.  Here’s how, and my answer to each:

  1. The installer tries to sneak on several irrelevant crapware apps.
    → This is unfortunately common.  Always click “custom” and uncheck the extras.
  2. Without notice or permission, it pollutes your start menu with web links to other products.
    → Less common, but easy to just delete.
  3. It gets worse: The add context menu links which prompt you to download and install their Express Zip tool.
    → Download ShellMenuView to remove the menu entries.
  4. The topper: It associates a raft of file extensions to their “Install On Demand Component”.  So when you click on a .DOC or PDF file, you don’t get Word/Wordpad or Adobe Reader, you get railroaded into downloading and installing their Doxillion app.
    → Nobody else had an answer, so I tracked down the registry entries to remove.  Here’s what it looks like as a .reg file:

    Windows Registry Editor Version 5.00

    (Save as a reg file and run it, or manually delete those paths yourself.)

It’s a shame — VideoPad has a paid premium version with more features, and I would recommend it heartily if NCH didn’t crap on their own work.

Possible alternative: it looks like <a href=”http://portableapps.com/node/19682″>you can make VideoPad Portable.</a>  That certainly keeps it clean.


Behold! The white first fuse…

The white first fuse,
Potential Bound.
Watch the fiery light as it ignites,
Prometheus is released.

Witness white grow green
soon the fuse, the unseen
not shorter but stronger.
More imminent but longer
is the time when finally,
after the lively sparks have pushed (burned?) their way through the hard outer shell the explosion happens showering the landscape with itself,
living shrapnel,
until at last,
it is again
buried in the soil.

-Rob Eberhardt, ~1997

dasBlog → WordPress

“500 (Internal Server) Error
…that Go Daddy is furiously working to correct.”

It’s been a long time coming, but Go Daddy finally forced my hand by upgrading my dasBlog install to death.

(FYI: Go Daddy no longer has web or email support – chat or phone only.   Because people don’t want options.)

The phone rep at least got me to a useful error and told me they finally moved off IIS6 (Windows 2003?!).   When I figured out dasBlog can’t run on IIS7 (why not 8??) without a rebuild, it was obviously time.

SO, here I am rebuilding into WordPress.  Content is in, but no skin and many links are broken.  Sorry for the mess :T But onward!

Other than some rough design edges, I’m done! Thanks to Reeves Little‘s tremendous how-to Migrating from Dasblog to WordPress, and Bob Craven‘s illustrated supplement Hello WordPress, Good Bye dasBlog, it was quite straightforward.

And to be fair, the Wordpress world has great addins for absolutely everything I’d’ve otherwise Macguyvered together: importing, HTTP redirection, link checking, contact forms (and those are just migration-related). I’ve built a lot of WordPress sites for other folks, but now the cobbler’s child finally has shoes too!

Fool me 8 times, shame on me.

  1. Reader
  2. Postini
  3. Calendar sync
  4. iGoogle
  5. Gears
  6. Code Search
  7. Pack
  8. and now Voice XMPP integration

These are a few of my favorite things,
…that Google has yanked out from under my feet.

And let’s not forget Gmail’s Activesync. (That’s why I switched to Outlook.com, and happily).

Why are geeks still trusting Google? We should know better by now.

You can remember dozens of other loved ones in The Google Graveyard

Long Live Reading

With Google Reader now buried, and
my preferred reading app NewsRob with it, I figured I’d share how things shook out in my quest to keep reading…

My targets:

  • content-focused web app, keyboard navigable, and somehow able to theme it dark (y’know, light the content, not the room :)
  • responsive mobile app with good caching, plugin support, and also dark-skinnable

On the web service side, I tried and found:

  • Yoleo – ok, but strange UI, and no mobile app!
  • The Old Reader – UI similar to Reader, but much too basic and slow
  • CommaFeed – almost perfect clone of Reader’s UI, and great features (including custom theming), but somewhat slow
  • NewsBlur – fast UI, but focused on its own slickness, and bad keyboard accessibility
  • Feedly – (originally NO web client, but they made one for Reader fans!) – fast UI, but missing +/- to zoom text.

For mobile apps, I tried:

  • CommaFeed – too little/late. Alpha released 2 days before Reader buried, and didn’t even have caching.
  • Feedly – too dog slow to be at all usable.
  • GReader – very sophisticated (and better performance than my previous try a year ago)

My friend Sean McCabe (who really needs a blog!) enlightened me that GReader supported Feedly, and that Feedly also imported Reader’s Starred Items. I have 6 years of Starred Items that I didn’t want to use, so that sealed the deal: Feedly+GReader it is!

Feedly’s only cons: missing +/- zoom, and themes only cover navbar — I figured I can handle that… But I just remembered the Chrome extension Stylebot, which can inject your own custom CSS into any page. I’ve just used it to create a black AND zoomed theme for Feedly. Perfecto.

Keep on reading!

RIP Reader Google

Google is shutting down Reader.


6 years ago, I made a lengthy search and was happy to find it, and I happily use it daily for 454 feeds on various computers and devices.  So I’m not sure what comes next.  Everyone seems to be sharing lists or gimmicks of Reader alternatives, but they all look like steps back to me.

For now, I’ve left a flower for Reader at the The Google Graveyard.

Beyond that, my strongest next inclination is to stop trusting Google with my stuff.