I have never seen a program as inconsistent as Microsoft’s Cortana.
We were always taught that computers were very logical, that they all followed a certain set of code each time.
Not so Cortana, which has had more different behaviours than anything I have ever seen.
When I run into technical issues, itâs the fault of certain parties for failing to anticipate the behaviour of ordinary people or for adopting a head-in-the-sand position to bugs that are very real or crooked company policies. These have been covered many times on this blog, such as Six Apartâs old Vox site refusing to accept a log-in, or Facebook ceasing to allow likes and comments; and then thereâs the human dishonesty that drove Googleâs failures on Blogger and Ads Preferences Manager.
This still fits into those categories, as Microsoftâs engineers on its forums are peddling standard responses, none of which actually work. One even damaged my start menu and forced a system restore.
The bugs are so varied, and that to me is strange. Normally bugs will take one form and one form only. Address that, and your problem is solved.
However, Cortana has done the following.
Day 1. Refused to work, with Windows saying US English was not supported (curious, given itâs an American program). I downloaded the UK English language pack. Worked perfectly for the rest of the day. How novel.
Day 2. Refused to work, but prompted me to set up again, and then it worked.
Day 3. Cortana becomes deaf. No prompts to set up again, but I do it anyway. It works again.
Day 4. I play with the microphone settings (by âplayâ I mean clicking on a setting but not actually changing it) and Cortana would work intermittently.
Day 5. Cortana would not work except at night, and I play the movie quiz.
Day 6. Cortana claims my Notebook is inaccessible because I am offline. Clearly I wasnât offline because I was doing stuff online.
Day 7, daytime. Cortana refuses to answer and sends all queries to Bing. The Notebook screen just displays animated ellipses.
Day 7, evening. Cortana works after I plug in my headphones (which has a microphone). After I unplug it, my regular webcam microphone starts picking up my voice again. Cortana works again.
Day 8. Cortana hears me say âHey, Cortana,â but then just goes to âThinkingâ for minutes on end. It might display, âSomethingâs not right. Try again in a little bit,â after all that. Apparently Cortana still cannot retrieve my interests because I am âoffline,â which is amazing that Iâm posting to this blog right now.
The microphones work with other programs. And browsing the Windows forums, this has been going on since July. The November service pack was supposed to have fixed a lot of issues, but clearly not.
Iâll be fascinated to see what it does tomorrow. But I am tired of the BS that their techs are dishing out as âsolutionsâ. I’m being reminded why I don’t use Word or Outlook: because I have a short fuse when it comes to crap.
PS.: Day 9, same as day 8. Day 10, asked a few set-up questions (again) and it works, though âThinkingâ still came up for a few seconds on the first go. Day 11, worked without intervention (amazing!). Day 12, see day 7 (evening).âJY
Cortana gives completely the wrong address for me. I wonder if the resident of 39A Aparima Avenue is getting identified as the home of a lot of Windows 10 users.
Thereâs not an awful lot that Cortana can tell you. Most enquiries wind up on Bing, and sheâs only really good for the weather and exchange rates (as I have discovered so far). There are a few fun questions you can throw at her, asking if sheâs better than Siri, or whether if sheâs met Bill Gates, but generally, but weâre far from Knight Rider or replicant technology here. A New Zealand accent presents no problems. One thing she gets very wrong is my location, which is allegedly 39A Aparima Avenue in Miramar. Iâm not sure how she arrived at that address, as I donât live there and I donât believe I know the person who does.
Itâs not too unpleasant to look at although the mobile-specific features can get a bit annoying. The menus feel too large overall, because itâs all designed from a mobile-first standpoint, while the biggest gripe from me comes with the typography.
Microsoft has ruined ClearType here in its attempt to make something for mobile first, and most type looks very poor on screen. Fortunately, a Japanese website still hosts the MacType plug-in, which brings the font display closer to what we experience on Mac OS X. It even goes beyond what we were used to in Windows 7, which had been Microsoftâs best use of its ClearType technology to date.
After installing MacType, ITC Legacy Serif looks far more like it does in print.
You can alter the fonts through the Registry Editor, and I set about getting rid of Arial as always. Windows 10 doesnât like you removing a system font, so the trick is to replace it with something else called Arial, then remove the original from HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Fonts.
Windows 10 removes your ability to change the icon and menu fonts, and they now have to be changed in the registry, too, at HKCU\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics, and very carefully.
After tinkering with those, the display began looking like what I was familiar with, otherwise there was a bit too much Segoe on screen.
There have so far been no program incompatibilities. As upgrades go, it hasnât been too bad, and I havenât been stuck here forever downloading updates. Apple still gets higher marks for its OS upgrade processes (when they work) but given how much data I have on my main Windows machine, and how different each PC is, Microsoft has done a good job. Iâm glad the system waited till now, and delivered me a relatively bug-free transition. Software upgrading is one area where I don’t mind not being first.
I can be staunch on IP protection in a lot of casesâbut in the case of Martin Shkreli of Turing Pharmaceuticals AG hiking the price of an Aids drug from $13Â·50 to $750 per pill, not so much (for obvious reasons). If youâre in pharmaceuticals, then there has to be some element of wanting to benefit enough of humankind so that they can be, well, alive to better societyâor, if you want to be monetarist about it, so they can consume more products and services. Whichever side of politics youâre on, productive people are a good thing for everyone except the armsâ industry. Yet the pharmaceutical industry is the one thatâs trying to patent natural ingredients and phenomenaâand thatâs a step too far. It was something we were taught at law school that could not happenâhow can a corporation own nature?âso for the industry to challenge both that jurisprudence smacks of greed. If you didnât originate it, you shouldnât be able to own it. Even if it could be protected, nature has been around long enough for that protection to have lapsed. Patenting genes? Please.
Sure, everyone has the right to make a buck from intellectual endeavours, but their track record needs to be a lot cleaner. Why was there so much opposition to TPPA et al? Because there had been far too many cases of corporations taking the piss when it came to basic rights and established laws, and governments havenât upped their game sufficiently. I love the idea of global trade, the notion âweâre all in this togetherâ, but not at the expense of the welfare of fellow human beings. Simply, I give a shit. Hiking the price of something that costs $13Â·50 to $750 is laziness at the very leastâletâs profit without lifting a fingerâand being a douchebag at the worst. And I donât believe we should reward either of these things.
I have a friend who is against vaccinationsânot a position I agree withâbut his rationale boils down to his mistrust of Big Pharma. And why should he trust them, with these among their worst cases? (As far as I know, he doesnât oppose other forms of IP protection.) Somewhere, thereâs something that kicks off various positions, and corporate misbehaviour must fuel plenty.
Meanwhile, hereâs Martin Shkreliâs point of view, where he doesnât see his actions as wrongful, as told on Tinder, and as told by Yahoo. His view is that Turing isnât making a profit and he needs to find ways where it does. He has a duty to his shareholders. It seems incredibly short-termâone would hope that innovation is what turns around a pharmaceuticalsâ businessâand we come back to the notion that it all feels a bit lazy.