Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Vista rudeness

I'm getting a bit fed up with Vista. I bought it because I figured the most obvious defect with XP was the way it interrupted you so much when you are trying to work. I assumed this was so obvious that Microsoft would have had to sort it out with Vista. I can't believe they have made it so much work. These days when I click on 'Word' I get a prompt saying something like, "A program called Word is trying to run do you want to let it?". Now, I just clicked on it moments before so I wonder if the answer could be inferred from that.

Perhaps the rudest it gets has to do with shutting itself down. Sometimes I'm in the middle of writing an email or doing some work when the application I'm working on just closes. Apparently it is scheduled to do this and it doesn't even warn me that I will lose work. It shuts down and then shuts down Vista, at least, switches it into 'Installing Updates' mode. Once it has decided to shut down, that's it, off it goes. Imagine the scenario. I work until 3am on a presentation to be given the next day. I wake up at 8am and switch on my machine to run through my presentation as I eat my oatmeal. Spotting a few spelling mistakes I make a few changes. Then, after a few minutes PowerPoint shuts down 'pop'. Then everything else shuts down. Then Vista says, "Installing 6 updates". Blind panic coupled with some fury ensues. I have a presentation to give in 30 minutes and Vista has decided that RIGHT NOW it HAS TO install updates WITHOUT ASKING ME. I though the first few times it happened that I must've made a mistake but the last time I just sat there and watched it snatch control back from me and do it's own thing for 20 minutes.

Can you imagine the Starship Enterprise as 3 romulan warbirds decloak off the starboard bow. Piccard says, "red alert, raise shields" and the computer says, "naff off I've got important updates to install. Try me again in 20 minutes". If I was Piccard I'd buy a Mac.

Recently my computer has started to ask me to run 'check disk' because of some corrupt files. This is a bit alarming but I played along. I tried about 4 different ways to run chkdsk. All of them failed. I've spent a couple of days trying. I have a call in to Dell and one in to Microsoft. Nobody seems to know why chkdsk does not work - though it is clear from the web that this is a common problem. I eventually found out that if you hold down 'F8' as Windows is starting you can get into a options mode for starting windows and one of the options is to repair. Oddly, one of the repair functions is chkdsk (though of course it is not actually called that). Running it actually worked - if fixed the corrupt files! Amazing but why did it take 2 days and multiple phone calls to discover how to do it. Dell had already told me to use the 'restore to factory settings' option, which would have deleted all of my existing data. Pretty unhelpful.

My current challenge is to try to install Vista SP1. No luck so far, mind you, I've only spent 2 days on it so I've hardly started trying. Oddly the Mac operating system needed updating yesterday. I pushed a button, waited 10 minutes and it was done. This is normal on the Mac. The Vista experience is normal on the PC - I don't know why I bother with it!


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