The observations and opinions of a person who has no discernible insights or ideas.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Vindication and further Vilification 

I traveled last week, back to the same place I was at a month ago. I was not excited about being put in the same hotel that I was in last time, but I had a new wireless card, so I was willing to give them a shot and see if their network really does suck, or if it was just a failing wireless card that was giving me problems.

They were determined to be tested, because they put me in one of the farthest rooms from the AP. Upon powering up, I could pick up the wireless network, and better in fact than I had when I was half as far last month. I would have considered forgiving them had it not been for two things.

First, they put me in a smoking room and refused to move me to less repugnant accomodations.

Second, the network still turned out to be flaky. I had to have the computer in one of a few positions in order to pick up signal. Otherwise, I got nothing, and even if it was angled right, it would sometimes drop out for a while for no apparent reason. Also, the network was still very slow, bordering on dial up.

So, I will make a diligent effort to not stay at that pathetic dump again. Adieu.

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Golden Age of Dinosaurs 

Something happened yesterday that made me quite upset. For reasons that are unexplained, but range from irrational paranoia to Orwellian brotherhood, I am no longer allowed to use Mozilla at work. In all fairness, I was never allowed to use it at work, but I did so for nearly a year with little comment, including from network technicians who saw my computer and noted that Mozilla was installed on it.

That's not the point though. The point is that I suddently realize how much I despise IE. Except for time I spent at work during a few months last year, IE has never been my primary browser. I have used Netscape since I first browsed the web back in 1996, and didn't give up on the Netscape 4 series until late 2003, when I was shamed into trying out Mozilla again and realized that my earlier hatred of it (which was actually directed more at Netscape 6, which is sort of the same thing, and yet not) was not as rational as I would have liked. Sometime in March, I finished my conversion by transitioning to Firefox (the transition isn't yet complete, since I'm writing this from Mozilla).

My point is that I love the Mozilla family browsers. Easy to use plugins, tabbed browsing, and overall simple design make it a wonder to work with. I like the way that it doesn't become like a different program when I try to open a different kind of page. I like the way that it is not easily exploited by viruses, and how it takes extra effort to make it more difficult for attackers to access my computer or my profile remotely. I love the way that I can uninstall it without crashing my operating system, and I like how, as I learned this week, it can be uninstalled under Windows XP (actually, blocking users from uninstalling IE is a good move in the sense that uninstallation completely crashes Windows, but it does make it harder to repair a corrupted installation). I love the way that casual browsing with it doesn't inundate my machines with spyware.

I finish with a quick letter to Internet Explorer:

Dear IE,

Please stop sucking. You no longer have monolithic control over our lives, except when mandated by bureaucratic paranoia, so swallow your pride and learn some lessons from your fellow browsers.

First of all, you should divorce the local file browser. Together, you've done it well, and you should let it continue to do that well, but it is for you to go a different direction.

Second, give up some control over our computers. Sure, there's a lot of cool things that your fancy ActiveX controls can do, but you really shouldn't be doing any of them. Where there's a legitimate need, find a stand-alone program to do it. Where there isn't such a need, we will all be better off without your ability to meddle. Also, your settings don't have to be the same as the settings for the rest of the computer. I'm just saying.

Third, they're called tabs. They're wonderful. Get some.


Wednesday, July 06, 2005

"And I can't believe it, all the Cheetos are gone" 

Ever had a day when nothing seemed to go right? Monday was such a day for me.

After talking to Jake on Saturday (Happy Birthday!) about problems I’ve been having with a computer, I set out with a range of vague goals for the day. My ultimate goal was to test the computer’s wireless adapter in an environment independent of the currently installed version of WinXP, which I do not fully trust. To do this, I wanted to try out BartPE, which is a sort of stand-alone bootable Windows, and for that I wanted to create a bootable XP disc with SP2 slipstreamed (my XP disc already had SP1 included). On top of this, I wanted to free up some space wherever I could, and generally clean things up a bit.

It didn’t take long to slipstream SP2 into a copy of the Windows install files, but creating a bootable disc of that was a problem. The copy of Nero I have fails every time I try to create a bootable disc from an image. An attempt to create a boot disc using Bart’s Boot CD creator failed because the installer wouldn’t run under DOS. I eventually just created a BartPE disc using the SP2 files from the hard drive, but when I booted with it, the wireless card wouldn’t work, and I couldn’t get an appropriate patch to work with the BartPE creator.

I did eventually get the wireless to work in Knoppix, which I have done before with some success. It dropped out after a few minutes, so I did successfully eliminate the software as the cause of my recent wireless difficulties. (My apologies to Days Inn for denouncing their wireless network, which is probably almost adequate instead of useless.) After talking to Jake again, I was led to a program that would have streamlined everything I had worked on all day slipstreaming into one easy step, and I had a fully functional install CD with SP2. I was in the middle of what would be 3 unsuccessful defrag operations (on three different machines) when I was pulled away to clean the apartment.

For the evening, I went to a baseball game where, thanks to a sold out crowd, some innocent miscommunication, and inadequately staffed concessions stands, I waited in three lines through two innings or more for a hot dog that wasn’t what I was trying to get. Fortunately, I only missed one hit (from the visiting team) of what turned out to be a decent game. Then, we spent an extra half hour trying to get home due to a failed attempt to get ahead of the game on the light rail system.

Note to UTA: You suck! We ended up spending $3.40 for a pass that should have cost $2.75 and was a severely restricted form of two separate passes worth $2.80, and all because your machine wouldn’t give change. Your information signs spend way too much time telling us the current date and time, and not enough telling us when the next train is coming. Neither of these problems would be hard to fix. The infrastructure is already there, and you already have access to the right information. In the mean time, I’m driving everywhere I go.

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