The Trouble with Windows…

by Stephen Hobley on May 22, 2008

The trouble with Windows…

For many years I’ve been a happy (albeit slightly frustrated) Windows user. I felt safe in the knowledge that whatever problems came my way I had the skills necessary to pop the hood on XP and tweak a few settings to get through the day.

Not any more.

I recently bought a new laptop. In retrospect I should have researched a bit harder before I bought it, but I thought that using the same model at a client site for 3 months would have been research enough. True it didn’t have Bluetooth (despite being told otherwise by the salesman) and it had one of those new fangled Express Card 54 slots, so my lovely Cardbus Indigo sound card wouldn’t work, but that wasn’t enough to put me off.

This one however, had Windows Vista.

I really really want Vista to work out, I really do, my future as a Windows developer really depends on Microsoft pulling off this new release of their OS. The trouble was it just didn’t work with what I wanted to do.

None of my laser show software would run “sounds like a problem with the software” one helpful Vista supporter wisely told me on the forum. Yes thanks for that, but it doesn’t help me that the vendor’s customer base is majority XP and they’re (quite rightly) not going to waste resources on supporting just little ‘ole me.

Network file transfers seemed doggedly slow as well, it took Vista 20 minutes to work out that it was going to take 4 minutes to copy the files I wanted. Nice.

I’m 38 years old, and the more years I clock up, the more I begin to realize that my time on this planet is limited. In the heady days of my youth I would have thought nothing of pulling an all-nighter just to get the OS to recognize some new and esoteric piece of hardware.

Not any more.

I need stuff done, and I need it done now.

So sorry Vista, you gotta go…

This is where the fun really begins. My laptop is a “Vista laptop”which means that the manufacturer and Microsoft do not provide or support drivers for XP. All the hardware IDs have been sneakily changed so that the audio driver (for example) on the XP version of the laptop will not install on the Vista laptop.

So I spent 3 joyous days rewriting driver installers just to get the hardware to run under XP.
I chose XP service pack 3 (something else that I regret). I’ve installed this version of XP on 3 machines, and they all exhibit freezing issues. One just loses network connectivity every hour for about 5 minutes and I can’t for the life of my work out why.

Reverting to SP 2 seems to address this issue, but leaves me open to security holes.

Hmm… Damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.

And the reason for this post?

I got home last night and Outlook 2003 (the fast Outlook, unlike Outlook 2007) suddenly lost the connection to Exchange. Nothing I could do would restore the connection. The Exchange server was running, and visible on the network, all firewalls were configured to let the traffic through, but Outlook refused to connect.

Sheesh.

Thank goodness for Norton Ghost (even though that has become suspicious bloatware in the last 3-releases). I dug out my restore DVD and booted up the recovery manager. After 4 minutes restoring my OS I finally got Outlook to work again.

I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a Mac, but when I think of all the additional expense of (re) buying my software I soon forget about it.

One thing is for certain, we live in troubled times.

Someone said to me recently “computers shouldn’t get less efficient as technology improves and I’ve got to think that they’re right.

Footnote: Why I love embedded microcontrollers.

My laser harp uses an Arduino to drive the laser, scanner and sensor. It’s pretty efficient code (even if I do say so myself) and uses timer and hardware interrupts so that the MPU only works as hard as it needs to. I dread to think how well this kind of system would function under Windows.

It gives me a warm fuzzy glow every time I switch it on, and it just *works*…

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Just a thought March 6, 2012 at 10:32 am

Time to try Linux? Stephen, you sound like the kind of guy who would really like it.

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