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Issue #285: January 6, 2013

Q: I recently bought a Windows 7 Dell computer. I have the option to upgrade it to Windows 8. Is 8 a new operating system, or is it just windows 7 with tiles? What’s your opinion on upgrading it to Win 8?

John S.
Niceville, Florida

A: Congratulations on the upgrade, John.  I did a column a couple weeks ago in which I discussed some of what’s under the hood in Win8.  If you missed it, you can catch it in the archives of my website at (not .com).  Win8 is a most assuredly not just Win7 with tiles.  It’s by far the most substantial change to the operating system at least since Win XP, and arguably since Win 95.  My opinion is that if you have the opportunity to upgrade for free, you should do it.  If you have your doubts about the OS, I encourage you to pay a visit any local big box store that sells computers and take it for a little test drive.

Q: I read your weekly column and learn from it, especially since I am far from a computer whiz.  Here’s what’s happening lately when I try to open a web page.  (Windows XP)  The computer indicates that it is CONNECTING to the site, but then the mouse goes crazy.   The connection does not occur and a “hand” and “arrow” appear on the screen and they travel around the screen endlessly.  At that point, I have no control over the MOUSE and I get the prompt to end the non-responsive Internet program.  Nothing I do controls what’s happening at this point. What is going on?  Is someone “looking” in to the computer?  Any information you can provide will be beneficial.

Wally E.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida

A: I wouldn’t be so quick to go down the “someone is spying on me” route, Wally.  Such spying would be extremely ineffective if it waved a giant flag in your face while it was occurring, as you are describing.  Your description of your system and of what’s happening are rather vague.  For example, what browser and version are you using?  I also can’t tell whether this happens with every website you visit, only some sites, or only a single site.  Some sites like to do cutsie things with your mouse cursor as you roll it around the page, which might be what’s happening to you.  I’ve seen sites make little butterflies follow your cursor, or change the cursor’s appearance.  What I can tell you is that there is no normal link between your web browser and mouse behavior of any kind, except the cursor changing to a hand pointer to indicate the mouse is over a hyperlink.    Based your descriptions, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that something on your system is very outdated.  Make sure you’re running the latest version of your browser, and also key add-ons like Java, and Adobe Flash.

Shameless Plug: For those of you local to me here in Northwest Florida, today – Sunday January 6th – marks the final day of Season 5 of the Geek Lights on the Corner.  Your last few opportunities to take in a show are tonight, and you can get complete information about the show in its website at  If you haven’t seen the Geek Lights yet, or if you don’t know what it is, unless you just hate Christmas lights you’re really missing out!  It has been an absolutely amazing show season, and for those of you who came out, we hope you enjoyed seeing the show as much as Spouse Peripheral and I enjoyed bringing it to you.  Rest assured that as we say goodbye to the lights for another year, we’re already working on next year’s show.  Thank-you for your support; and thank-you for your generous donations to Destin Harvest!

One Response to “Issue #285: January 6, 2013”

  • jchobin says:

    I will say from a UI perspective, Windows 8 is as much a radical change as Win95 was in its time. However, Vista, despite its UI and agressive UAC issues, was more important to the inner, low-level workings and security of Windows than any release since Windows NT was released. Vista’s Kernel was designed from scratch and implements many of the features found in Unix, Linux and even Apple (BSD Unix). Win2K and XP were both designed on the circa 1994 WinNT Kernel (with minor tweaks) which has prooven to be extreemly suspect to hacker attacks. Windows 7 was better received by the community but it owes its success to the newer kernel and an improved UI.

    Here is a good link to a Windows Vista Kernel whitepaper.

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