Several years ago Microsoft provided Windows 7 operating system ISO file downloads easily through a site called Digital River. Legitimate, clean copies of all versions of Windows 7.

Then they stopped.

Why is this a problem?

I refurbish a lot of older desktops and laptops; often to give them away. Those systems usually have a legal OEM (original equipment manufacturer) license. OEM licenses are unique in that they are lower cost licenses provided to system vendors (Dell, HP, etc.) that are tied to the hardware (i.e. they can only be used on the box that they came pre-installed on).

OEM Licenses then are a real blessing, low cost Windows OS for the masses… However if you lose your system disk (or if the OS on your manufacturers media is pre-service pack 1 making it a pain in the rear once installed) and need to get a copy to reinstall on your computer things are no longer as easy as they used to be. Microsoft shut down Digital River and if you want to get install media you now have to enter a license key and have it checked before you can download. Fine… but not fine… if you enter an OEM key you get a really helpful message to contact the manufacturer… Great, if you call Dell, HP, Gateway, etc. they will often tell you that you are out of luck or, at best, charge you some ridiculous fee to ship you an install disk.

Let me reiterate that if you have an OEM key and are using it on the original system with which the key came then you have a legal right to use the operating system. You just need to find install media which is now a royal pain.

Thankfully a kind soul grabbed all of the original Digital River and Technet (another now deprecated option for getting install media) Windows 7 ISO files and provides them via Bittorrent. (more…)

I have decided to give Ubuntu 17.04 LTS Desktop a go. On a whim I installed it on a laptop I had lying about (being an IT person they tend to proliferate over a given period of time in my office… older units becoming doorstops, newer units lovely “Jenga” blocks and maybe the occasional Proxmox cluster…) Since this seems to be the final days of Unity (which I actually don’t mind as a Desktop all that much), I figured now was a good time to take another poke at it as a daily personal driver. I was happy to come across an option for full disk encryption during the install process and wanted to pass my few thoughts on it along. (more…)

Every now and then I venture into writing an article about consumer technology. One of my favorite areas of consumer tech is low-cost media center type devices… e.g. Roku, Amazon Fire TV, nVidia Shield TV, and a host of off-brand media players and sticks you can pick-up on Amazon.

I consider myself a bit of a geek and I like to tinker, however when it comes to my TV, I have come to the point where I like solutions that just “work” out of the box for watching content. Our family cut the cord around 7 or so years ago starting with a “Western Digital TV Media Player” and moving on from there… (more…)

Having grown up watching Apple grow up, I got a little nostalgic and decided to put together a slideshow of the Apple website from 1997 through 2014. Sit back, relax, and reminisce… I will provide some useless remarks along the way as it’s Friday and a good day to have some fun.

I also put this together as a kind of a visual study in how website design has changed over almost two decades. Navigation links are at the bottom of each page. There are 42 screen captures in all, spanning up through the end of 2014 with a particularly long stretch through 2001 as that was an interesting year. (more…)

I made the switch a few weeks ago to “ART” (Android RunTime) from Dalvik on my AT&T LG G3. All I have to say is HOLY COW… I think I have nearly doubled my battery life. I normally unplug my phone around 7:30 AM and by the time I plug it back in at night around 11:30 PM I would be down to 15% battery life. Right now it is about 1:45 AM and I am still sitting pretty at 54% battery! I am thrilled to say the least.
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