Me and Google Chrome had another falling out this week. This time it wasn’t about bookmarks but speed.
For some reason, over the last couple of days Google Chrome suddenly felt very sluggish. Whenever I opened a new tab it would take a few seconds to open and a few more to load the page—notably longer than usual.
And a similar experience after closing a tab: the cursor would change to the ‘progress’ cursor (arrow with egg-timer) for a few seconds.
Having put up with it for a couple of days I couldn’t stand it any longer.
Things I tried that didn’t fix it
Running system file checker (sfc /scannow) from an elevated command prompt.
One forum suggested installing the latest NVIDIA graphics card drivers. Another pondered whether it was related to the recent Windows update. Plenty of people advised switching off hardware acceleration (I’d tried that, it didn’t help).
What I tried that did
The Chrome software removal tool — still currently in beta — is a clever application that scans and removes any software that may cause problems with Google Chrome.
I ran it. I waited, and hoped, and it worked! I have my whizzy Chrome back. I guess that something was corrupted.
As well as scanning for typical malware that can corrupt your installation of Google Chrome it also kindly offers to perform a ‘factory reset’ and return your browser settings to defaults.
In a way I find it curious that Google are only now offering this as a currently beta standalone application when Microsoft Internet Explorer (for all its criticism) has had this built-in for years.
I ran the software removal tool which quickly returned this dialog:
Nothing suspicious found. I clicked Continue and was invited to reset my browser.
That’s what fixed it.
This is definitely another useful tool in my diagnostics toolkit. Thanks Google.
It’s a relief to have had this fixed. That said, I’ve said it before that if there were the same Trello plugins available I would move to Opera tomorrow.
A few months ago I bought a new laptop: the Acer ES1-111M-C3CP. I wanted something small and quiet. I didn’t need anything particularly powerful—that was the point: just something that would allow me to get on with some writing projects while Reuben. Joshua and Isaac hijack my desktop PC to play LEGO computer games.
Out of the box, set-up didn’t take terribly long (once I’d swapped out the 2 GB RAM for an 8 GB module) and I signed into my Microsoft account
I then uninstalled most of the bundled applications (McAfee, Microsoft Office 2013 Home and Student trial, a few Acer media/office applications, plus a bunch of Windows Modern UI (Metro) apps and set about the seemingly never-ending task of running Windows Update which pulled in more than 130 updates.
But here’s the thing… the laptop only started with 32 GB of hard disk space. On initial startup there is a little more than 9 GB of free space. After the Windows updates only 3.13 GB of hard drive space is left.
Windows updates ate almost 6 GB of hard drive space!?
And that’s after uninstalling the bundled software and running Disk Clean-up to remove remnant update files.
Over the last couple of months I appear to have performed a factory reset more often than actually using the laptop for the purpose for which I bought it.
The factory reset is pretty good, to be fair. The 32 GB drive is divided into three partitions:
100 MB (EPI system partition)
19.40 GB (NTFS—Windows 8.1)
9.5 GB (recovery partition)
Despite what the Acer factory reset application advises, once you’ve created a USB recovery disk you cannot delete the recovery partition. According to some on various discussion forums, this partition is a Windows Image File Boot (WIMBoot) that is required to run Windows.
Which means that if you find that you’ve installed too large a collection of applications you end up with your C: drive reporting 0 bytes free, as I did for the umteenth time last night.
To try to get around this I attached a tiny Sandisk 32 GB USB 3.0 drive as storage (installation files and music) and onto which I could install applications. But, of course, whenever you install any software on Windows, no matter where, the C: drive is always used.
And so I still managed to overflow the C: drive and had to perform yet another factory reset.
Currently my ambitions are a little less ambitious:
I’ll see how I get on. With those five applications installed I have 2.63 GB free on C: drive. Far from the 9.5 GB that I had expected when I bought the machine.
I can’t help feeling rather disappointed with my first couple of months with this machine. The build quality is really pretty decent for something at this price (£179): the screen is large and bright enough for my needs, the keyboard feels comfortable, and so far I’ve had no issues with the touchpad (though I do prefer to use a USB Microsoft Intellimouse Optical mouse.
32 GB is clearly not enough. I would have happily paid more for double that. 64 GB would have made this gem of a machine far more flexible. Instead I have to worry about installing as little as possible. I can’t simply get on and write, I always have to have an eye on whether Windows Update has run and used up the remaining sliver of hard drive.
(UPDATE: Note that the hard drive cannot be upgraded. It’s an eMMC drive — like flash storage — that is soldered to the motherboard.)
Hey! There’s not even enough free space to keep the trial installation of Microsoft Office 2013 that it ships with—how utterly ill-thought through is that?!
If I’d been using this as a Windows-flavoured ChromeBook-equivalent, relying entirely on web apps and storage, I would probably be delighted with the machine. But as it is, I’m not writing everything in Google Drive and I’ve more or less given up on Microsoft OneDrive due its unreliable file synchronisation for documents. (Something that a friend of mine from St Andrews was also complaining about on Facebook the other day, prompting her move to Dropbox.)
Anyway, I’ll report back here in a couple of months to give an update on how I’m getting on… in the meantime, if you’re looking to buy this laptop yourself be warned that once you’ve done all the updates you’ll have next to no drive space to store anything, let alone run the thing.
The other day when I tried to open a zip file WinZip popped up with the following dialog box.
How many options?!
I shared it with my colleagues, via Slack. Most laughed. Particularly the final option: “Setup proxy server settings”. (And it wasn’t because they had used a noun rather than a verb: see ‘setup’ vs ‘set up’.)
Anyway, I clicked “Don’t check, but ask me again in a week”.
Wait a minute?! Did it… Did it just…?!
Did it just check? I definitely clicked on “Don’t check…”
It’s maybe time to go looking for a new zip application, WinZip is getting unnecessarily bloated and slow. And now it doesn’t even listen to what I want it to do.
Would you like me to check for the availability of an alternative?
Any suggestions, folks? I’m running Windows 8.1 Pro.
This morning my father-in-law kindly drove me to Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy for what turned out to be my last ophthalmology clinic appointment.
I started going there last August after an episode of suspected vital meningitis took a side-swipe at my eyesight. Nine months later and my eyesight has recovered remarkably well, with only a little ‘wobble’ in my right eye to show for it.
I went through the usual eye clinic rigmarole: which letters can you see on the eye chart? what’s the smallest writing you can read in this book? eye pressure test (where they flick a tiny piece of paper onto your eyeball); eye drops to dilate my pupils; then scan and photographs of my eyes, before I returned to the waiting room to… well, wait.
Having found the waiting room a rather tiresome experience the last few visits this time I brought a book. Completely forgetting that by the time I get back to the waiting room everything is about three times brighter than normal and completely blurred. Still, I persevered, removing my glasses and holding my book (The Orthodox Way by Bishop Kalistos Ware) about 10 cm from my face and got through about 10 pages before I was called by the eye doctor.
He was a doctor I’d never met before. He looked middle-eastern, spoke quietly and calmly and examined my eyes using that thing above.
There was nothing obvious from either the earlier scan or his examination, and not much change at all since my previous visit six months ago. So the doctor disappeared to another room for a few minutes to double-check with the consultant that it was okay to discharge me.
Before I left the nice doctor told me that they still had no real idea why this had all happened, but he did assure me that one of two things might happen: my eyesight may simply continue to improve. Or it might not.
I have an HP LaserJet Professional P1606dn, which has been great. It prints double-sided (duplex) — that’s the ‘d’ in P1606dn — and it connects to the network — that’s the ‘n’ allowing Jane to print wirelessly from her laptop.
But today… for some reason my P1606dn stopped printing double-sided. The option was still there in the printer properties—on the Device Settings tab, under Duplex Mode both “Allow Automatic Duplexing” and “Allow Manual Duplexing” were both ticked.
I tried changing various settings but nothing seemed to fix it. I checked if the driver had been updated. I rebooted the PC. Again, no improvement.
How I fixed it
I was actually in the process of trying to downloading the HP Smart Install software when I stumbled upon the answer.
If you have this printer, you’ll know that you can also connect to a configuration screen via the network. All you need is the printer’s IP address. Mine is at 192.168.1.73 on my local area network.
Well, lo and behold, under the Settings tab there is a section called Paper Handling, and the Duplex option was set to Off. Changing it back to On fixed things for me.
At least, it did for the first document. I then discovered that (again for another mysterious reason) the next document’s paper settings were blank. Setting it to A4 restored the option to print double-sided.
So, in summary:
Check settings (Control Panel > Devices and Printers > Right-click the printer and select Printer Properties > Device Settings tab).
Connect to the printer settings via the network.
Make sure the print dialog shows the correct paper size.
At least, that’s what fixed it for me.
Sunday 24 July 2016
I’ve come across the same issue today, but this time I’m not connected to a network, the printer is connected via USB.
To resolve this — I had a couple of Word documents that would only offer the ability to print duplex (double-sided) manually — I changed the page size to anything and then back to A4 and then made sure the margins were set to normal or wide, as I noticed that the document margins were oddly small.