As if I needed any more reasons
Triggered by the email I wrote about yesterday (One of the main reasons I’m not running Windows) I went to Micro$oft’s update site to see if there were any non-essential updates for my windows system. Given the name of the service—”Microsoft Update”—I assumed what I’d be presented with would be updates of components I already had installed. I didn’t bother reading all the text, I just chose all the available updates. What a giant mistake!
Had I read all the I would have avoided spending 30 minutes trying to recover my Windows box. I performed the update through TS (Terminal Services), as I have done many a time before. I clicked OK when I was told the system needed to reboot to perform the last steps of the update. I waited a few minutes before connecting to the machine again, the login screen came up, I entered my credentials, then nothing. Nothing! Until the TS session died. Another attempt, the same outcome. (Computing is an exception to the rule that repeating the same action and expecting different outcomes is a sign of insanity.) I dived under my desk and started re-connecting monitors and mouse so that I would stand a better chance of fixing the system. Wow, did my Windows look ugly. 640×400 resolution and hardly any colours at all! Try to log in, so far so good. A dialogue pops up telling me that the resolution is VERY low, do I want to auto-configure the display? Yes, please! Blue screen of death! Hmm, somewhat puzzled I booted into failsafe mode. That worked just fine. Reboot! Blue screen again. Reboot. We continued the dancing for a while. No improvement.
The culprit, you ask? The driver for the graphics card (of course). “Microsoft Update” had urged me to upgrade the graphics card. Not reading the text I didn’t realise that this “upgrade” was to an earlier version than what I already had! Rolling back to the later version seemed to work at first. Another Blue screen later I simply uninstalled the driver alltogether. I haven’t had any problems since.
Need I say that what confidence remained now is gone? I have absolutely no trust in Microsoft anymore!
At work I received an email similar to this:
Subject: Client patching time
Apple Quicktime: (link)
Macromedia Flash: (link)
RealNetworks Real Player: (link)
As well as these, the Microsoft Internet Explorer vulnerability has not been fixed, and there is exploit code out there:
Let’s be careful out there, now…
This is a wonderful example of just how broken the Windows platform is when it comes to security updates. Am I, as a regular user, really supposed to monitor the site of every application I’ve installed for security updates? I simply don’t have the time! I’ve decided to say “thanks, but no thanks”, instead I avoid proprietary applications and run
apt-get update; apt-get upgrade to keep up-to-date on security.
Caught a glimpse of an old Sherlock Holmes show on the tele yesterday. The part I saw was very amusing. Homes had just recovered a priceless pearl. When handing it back to the museum he asked that it wouldn’t be put on display because the master thief had promised to steal it back again. The museum manager wouldn’t hear of it, of course, because they had an infallible security system. When the system was demonstrated Holmes commented:
Electricity—the high priest of false security.
(An absolutely brilliant comment!)
Then they went into the manager’s office to discuss the system. The wiring was concealed, and everything in the office was secured by it as well. Holmes birlliantly deduced the wiring was concealed behind the only curtain in the office. Creating a diversion he then disabled the security system. To demonstrate his cleverness he then asked Dr. Watson to take down one of the paintings in the room. He lifts it down and the alarm doesn’t go off of course. Now for the twist, the thief, in disguise, is already in the museum. He watched the demonstration of the alarm system before and realised he couldn’t steal the pearl without finding out more about the security system. Listening through the door he hears about Holmes’ cunning disabling of the system and while it’s still disabled he proceeds to steal the pearl.
Security is tricky business, you shouldn’t be too clever about it!
We went to London today, the destination was the Finnish Christmas market. We parked by the Millenium Dome since the market was held just next to Excel. At first it looked like no one was there, then we went around a corner and saw the hidden queue of more than 75 people. For some strange reason the market was held in a floating hotel and apparently it was full. A “one-out, one-in” policy was in effect. We spent 5 minutes queueing before we realised we wouldn’t survive as we were both starving and the queue didn’t move at all. We went to Tower Gate and found a Subway, then onto Marylebone and the Swedish Church’s Christmas market. Quite a nice little market. A few stalls with Christmas-related trinkets and food, all Swedish of course. Everything was quite over-prized of course—as expected. Â£10 pounds for a box of Paradis, in Sweden we bought the same thing for SEK45—a third of the prize! Well, it was a little more expensive than I expected, really. We picked up some stuff for gifts and a really nice knife for buttering bread. The highlight was the little cafe, great coffe, absolutely divine “kanelbulle” and good sandwiches.
So, in short. Finnish Christmas market: pants! Swedish Christmas market: good coffee!
Well, this whole thing with my laptop really didn’t work out at all! Royal Mail wouldn’t pay up (and unfortunately they seem to have a good reason not to) so now I’m sitting here with laptop that has both a broken screen and milk on the motherboard. It’ll be anything from £300 to £700 to have it repaired. Given that I payed £600 for it I’ve decided to cut my losses and go buy myself a desktop instead. It’s just a much better proposition to spend £20 for a new keyboard the next time my fingers get buttery.
I surfed over to PCSpecialist and put together a PC for myself. I did consider ordering the parts and put it all together myself, but I just couldn’t be bothered this time around. Also, last time I bought a PC building kit I ended up having to force the CDRW into the case. It pushed onto the mother board, and I was quite worried about the fact that I had to bend it. Didn’t want to run into something similar, or even worse, again.
This time around I did a bit of research on the store though and they checked out. I just found out that Technorati is another place to check for peoples’ experience with stores. Now I’m playing the waiting game. 7 working days and counting. It shouldn’t take more than 10 working days, but who knows.
This last weekend I’ve finally been able to put my finger on why I hate M$ Word so much. My Dad’s been helping my sister write a paper, using Word, and this last weekend I was pulled in to help with some formatting. Neither my Dad nor my sister is in any way stupid, but when using Word they are clueless. Neither of them is interested in actually learning Word—they don’t use it often enough to justify the cost, but when it comes to Word it’s really painful to know nothing. An ignorant user will have about as much use of it as she would of WordPad. As a matter of fact using WordPad would probably have saved them some headaches.
Now, Word is a useful application. It has its idiosyncrasies, but it’s still useful. However, it’s usefulness has a limit—a couple of pages. Writing anything beyond a few pages in it forces the user to do things properly, the only problem is that using it properly is difficult. It’s also so unintuitive that a novice user doesn’t do it. The fact that it’s so much easier to modify the text’s style one attribute at a time rather than creating a style and then applying it means that users who aren’t interested never moves past being a novice. I believe Word suffers from “target creep” as well as feature-creep. Word simply tries to address too many problems at once. When writing a 2-page memo it’s fine to single attibutes of the text, but once the size of the document goes beyond that then it just creates problems. In a perfect world there would be a Notepad, a WordPad and a Word with no overlaps in their target groups.
Yes, I’m actually saying that Word should be more difficult to use. It should force the user to use styles exclusively. There should be no way of modifying the font, or the size, or any other single attribute of a piece of text without using a style.
Oh, by the way, OpenOffice.org also suffers from this. I must admit though that they come a little closer by using both paragraph styles and character styles.