They Didn't Ask Me (dr_phil_physics) wrote,
They Didn't Ask Me
dr_phil_physics

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Grand Rant Number Two

Since When Did Typing On MY Computer Become A Crime?

You'd think so, given some of the odd behaviors that seem to inhabit all/most versions of Windows.

I don't completely hate Microsoft...

But it surely has all the elements of a love/hate relationship. And I worry that if I have problems and run into ways that Microsoft is trying to tell me it isn't MY computer, and I know what I'm doing, then what are the millions of ordinary users to do?

So it bugs me that I can't figure out what every single program running on MY machine is or where it comes from. (Would it kill you to be able to right-click on an item in Task Manager and have it clearly state the obvious? Because if its in the Windows directory itself, that doesn't tell me much because...)

It still irks me that you can have 800MB free on another partition, specify said partition for installing a new 185MB program, and STILL run out of room, because it is going to try to stuff 75MB of DLL's and other drivers into the overcrowded Windows boot drive and Windows and System32 directories, where you'll never figure out where they come from. (To my way of thinking, DLL's that aren't part of Windows have NO place in the Windows directories.)

But that's not today's Grand Rant...

Could We Respect Typing A Little Bit More, Please

Typing on the keyboard, at least to this organic cerebral processing unit, should tell a computer that The Master is doing Work on the machine, and perhaps the machine should be paying attention to its Master just a wee bit more than it is doing now.

It isn't just that I don't understand how a 3 GHz computer can fail to keep up with typing -- I'm fast, but not that fast -- in the latest Windows and Word versions, when it worked fine back at the 4.77MHz level back in the Days of DOS...

But WHY is it possible to be typing along, perhaps even typing from notes, only to look back at the screen and see that mayhem has ensued.

The Surprise Pop-Up Window

Microsoft is sure that it's got itself covered because it likes to warn you about things. Your disk is about full... okay, so it's not full, it's within five or ten percent of being full, so let's DELETE some stuff RIGHT NOW. Maybe some TRASH which should've been cleaned up back during installation. And they do provide helpful options, like OK and Cancel or YES and NO. The only problem... these buttons also respond to keystrokes from the keyboard -- and without having to hold down the Alt-key as in other underlined menu items.

So you can be typing along and actually seem to authorize something to happen, when in fact you're just minding your own business typing away. Microsoft isn't the only one who does this. Norton Anti-Virus, advising you every day that you haven't updated your NAV on a machine which you haven't connected to the Internet is month, is another.

A Useful Compromise

I'm not sure I want to see another performance hit take place as the OS monitors your use and detects from the keyboard that you're actually typing. So it's really simple:

If it's that important to make a pop-up window warning me of something -- make it inactive. And if you make the running foreground program inactive, too, then you'd start getting beeps from each keystroke and you'd have to look at the screen, so that's okay.


But it is MORONIC to shift control from an active program to an active pop-up window while you're using the previous program. At best it is REALLY LAZY PROGRAMMING and at worst IT IS DISRESPECTFUL TO THE USER.

Save Me From Automatic Updates!

I recently read about a fellow who was in the middle of composing a long LiveJournal entry, only to find out that Windows Update had been running in the background, on its own, and had decided it needed to reboot... and lost his work. Now it doesn't matter to me if there's a technical difference between (a) an OS running amuck and just rebooting because it thought it was time to reboot or (b) an OS which would like to reboot and sends up a dialog box telling you to save all your work and then click OK, because as we discussed above, running over a surprise pop-up window makes (b) operate just like (a). And then you're screwed.

Sluggish Pop-Under Windows

On the other hand, performance can suddenly drop for no reason, because some program like Zone Alarm or Norton Anti-Virus wants you to know there's an update, or Windows is warning you that your drive is full (or really at some percentage of full), and is sitting there polling to see if you've done anything about this dialog box which is hiding under the active window. Okay, so they've been polite and aren't sitting on top. Why don't they wait to poll -- until they're the active window? Stealing so many machine cycles as to degrade performance, without letting me know that something's afoot, isn't playing fair either. Geesh.

How Long Does It Take To Start a Window?

My "favorite" Oh Why Is My Computer So Slow routine, is where I can't find any pop-up or pop-under dialog boxes, but rather some program with an obscure name is either running machine cycles, or desperately polling a modem or network connection which isn't there because the machine is not connected to anything at the time.

It's MY Computer, Dammit!

That means I get to decide when and if I connect to the phone, network or wireless, and I also get to choose when and if certain programs get to call home. Running Windows Update on a T1 line is good, running Windows Update on a 28.8K modem (or no connection at all) is simply not going to happen. So don't tell me EVERY DAY that I need to re-enable automatic Windows Update or make re-enabling automatic NAV LiveUpdate a pre-checked box on the pop-up window that I have to clear EVERY DAY. This gets old, my friends, and is so unnecessary and user hostile.

Protect MY Data At All Costs!

The purpose of an OS is to run my computer. My data is the whole purpose for having the computer, so the OS should bend over backwards to keep it safe. It should never try to preempt me with some stunt which starts deleting files it doesn't like, locks the machine up or reboots it so as to lose my data.

End Of Story

Respect the hand that typeths.

Dr. Phil
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