Too Many People Still Use Windows XP

Windows XP, which turned 21 last month and has been unsupported since 2014, still runs on an alarmingly high number of PCs worldwide, including many in government.

via BleepingComputer:

So, why are some systems still using the outdated XP version?

The first category of systems that are still using Windows XP is those belonging to public sectors, known for their crawling upgrade speeds and hesitancy to use new technologies.

For many public entities, the bureaucracy of approving new system license purchases, upgrading hardware, and training the entire public sector is too complicated and costly.

The compatibility of custom-made 32-bit software tools is another crucial reason for still seeing XP in many places like industrial environments, hospitals, etc.

In many cases, there are no newer versions of these critical tools, or companies need to pay a lot of money to have them ported to new systems.

Then there’s the category of people who are using hardware that is too old and weak to run a newer Windows version properly, and they see no good reason to replace something that is still (technically) working.

Many users, including some in government, value ease and tradition over security … often to the detriment of public stakeholders.

Portland, Maine

Portland was rainy and cool when we arrived this afternoon. It seemed appropriate to walk around downtown and take in this great port city under a gray, wet sky. After two hours of window shopping we had dinner at Central Provisions, which is housed in a building that once served the West Indies Trading Company. We had reservations for many weeks and I’m glad that we did. Wet, hungry diners were turned away one after another almost all evening. Dinner was small plates — sturgeon caviar, tinned sardines served with sourdough, toasted pork served over apple brown butter and a small selection of cheese and honey. It was all very impressive. A young couple seated next to us was excited to learn we were from Austin and we had a great time comparing travel notes and recommendations.

After dinner we set off in the rain to the LL Bean flagship store in Freeport (open 24 hours) and then continued on to our hotel in Boothbay Harbor. I visited here many times as a child, and not much has changed. The drive was dark and wet, and I look forward to walking through town tomorrow morning. Even though we were here just last year, I can never spend enough time here.

Nostalgic Instruction

I used to record my flights with a GoPro camera so that I could go back and debrief myself without having to rely on in-flight notes. I always enjoyed watching the videos after each flight, taking in sights and sounds I had missed while aviating and navigating. The videos allowed me to be a passive passenger on my own flights.

The pandemic put a squeeze on my flying. Now that I’m preparing preparing for a Biennial Flight Review, my old flying videos are proving helpful once again as my old self is serving as a teacher to my current self.

Chef

I enjoyed Jon Favreau’s 2014 film about a chef who abandons his job at a prestigious Los Angeles restaurant to rediscover his love of cooking by opening a food truck in Miami. It’s a “get back to basics” story that was well-executed but flew fairly low under the radar. Austinites will appreciate several scenes shot around the city. Brisket makes an appearance courtesy of Aaron Franklin.   

How to Choose a Portable Generator

Like many Texas residents, I spent the middle of February 2021 sitting in the dark considering the purchase of a portable generator. 

The winter storm of 2021 was easy on our household –– we lost power for about 10 hours, most of which was overnight. Most of our local friends and colleagues were not as fortunate, and spent days and days without power and water.

Texas’ power grid has proven ineffective in extreme weather conditions; hurricanes, thunderstorms, and now ice are exposing how fragile the state’s power generation and distribution system is after more than 4 million Texas homes and businesses lost power, and more than 50 Texans lost their lives.  

So last month I set out to find a generator, a purchase that required much more thought and planning than I had ever anticipated. 

For anyone considering a generator purchase, here are my recommendations on how to approach it.

Consider Your needs, Then Calculate Running Wattage 

Portable generators come in a wide range of wattages, or energy output. Identify your electrical needs by listing which of your appliances you’ll want to run during an outage. In our case, I want to be able to operate a refrigerator, a backup chest freezer, several lights, a coffee maker, mobile devices and a television and cable box for up to three days. Crosscheck your list of desired appliances against this chart to tabulate your total wattage needs. 

If you underestimate, you’ll spend a power outage unplugging and plugging appliances to properly balance your electricity. Overestimate your wattage, and you’ll unnecessarily burn fuel to generate watts you’re not using. 

Inverter vs Conventional Generators

In short, inverter generators are safer for electronic devices by producing “cleaner” electricity. They also tend to be more fuel-efficient and quieter. Those benefits come at a premium. Conventional generators are larger and less expensive. 

Generator Fuel Types 

Generators run on different types of fuel. You’ll have the choice to run a generator on gasoline, propane or your home’s natural gas supply. Careful consideration should be given to what fuel you’ll want to have on hand during a storm, as well as what fuel is most available in your area during an emergency. Propane is very stable and has a long shelf life, whereas gasoline requires a stabilizer and can be dangerous and ineffective if not properly stored. Propane tends to burn “clean” and is less harsh on your generator’s engine. Many generators are dual-fuel or even tri-fuel, giving you an option of fuel types. 

Sound Levels

Consider your tolerance for noise. Generators are loud. Imagine having a gas lawnmower running in your backyard for several hours or even several days. Generator product descriptions typically include sound output as measured in decibels. 

Power and Run Time

How many hours will a generator run under a particular electrical load? Manufacturers typically publish run times in their product descriptions. Consideration should be given to how long you think you’ll need to run a generator and how much fuel you’ll have on hand. 

Portability 

Portable is a relative term. There are many uses for a portable generator other than emergency home backup. Tailgating, camping and backyard projects come to mind. 

Other Considerations

Buy proper, outdoor-rated extension cables that allow you to run a generator at least 20 feet from your home. Under no circumstances should a generator be operated in or even near a home or garage. 

Generator engines, much like airplanes and cars, need to be operated regularly to stay healthy. Plan on running your generator at least once every two months. 

Pay special attention to your generator’s break-in period, a fixed time the manufacturer recommends you run a generator under light load to flush out metal contamination, circulate oil and lubricate cylinder walls. 

A generator is an engine that generators electricity. Electricity and water do not mix. Generators should not be operated in rain or snow. Consider purchasing a high-quality generator enclosure or tent that will allow you to run it in wet, snowy and rainy conditions. 

My Shortlist of Best Portable Generators by Price Point

Champion DH 4000-Watt Recoil Start Gas and Propane Dual Fuel Powered Open frame Inverter Generator with 224 cc Engine

Honda EU2200i, 2200-Watt Remote Stop/Recoil Start Bluetooth Super Quiet Gasoline Powered Inverter Generator with Advanced CO Shutdown

Firman 1600W Running / 2000W Peak Gasoline Powered Inverter Generator

Champion Power Equipment 200915 1500/1200-Watt Portable Generator, CARB