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

Long Day's Journey Into Updates

Ah, the law of unintended computers...

So before the university got me OUEST at work, my main machine last fall was LARA, an HP 1030NR netbook running Windows XP Home Edition Version 2002 Service Pack 3. I brought it home after the Fall semester, since I would be using OUEST at the office. The last day I used LARA was 14 December 2014.

One thing I knew I'd have to do when I brought LARA out was to install Norton Security. It had Symantec Endpoint Protection -- the free university's version of Norton Anti-Virus. But ZoneAlarm, whose basic firewall I have been using since about 1996 when I got my first Pentium class Windows 95/NT machine, was dropping updates to Windows XP. So rather than enable the Windows XP firewall, if I installed Norton Security, it came with a firewall. Of course NS requires XP Service Pack 3 minimum -- but that's covered, so I'm good. LARA is the only XP machine I bought which came with SP3 out of the box.

But... LARA has a 16GB SSD solid-state hard drive. Strange to say that 16GB isn't enough to run a machine, when I had all my work on a 4GB special HP USB drive that fits in a special deep socket port contoured into the case and backed up on an 8GB SanDisk Extreme III SD card. But there you go. I know that I had something like 240MB free. Since NS would need about 200MB to install, I knew this probably wouldn't work. Which is why I hadn't done this earlier.

Actually I tried to update KATNISS, the Asus Windows 7 Basic netbook the other week, and it complained it couldn't find the WiFi and I didn't have time to farble with it and used my Kindle Fire HD to do my PowerPoint at the MIAAPT meeting in April. LARA has a nicer keyboard for typing on than KATNISS anyway.

So... the order of things was important. First I copied GIMP 2.8, the Open Source graphics package, from C: to G:, the SD card. That freed up 500MB of space. Then I uninstalled Symantec Endpoint Protection -- that freed up a total of 2.4GB of space! I guess SEP was saving and not cleaning up all its update downloads. I mean, why should a program clean up after itself when "everyone" has terabyte hard drives now. Right? Grrr. After that, installing NS as the 3 of 5 download I bought in December was a piece of cake. Of course I've let Windows XP keep a fairly tight rein on things, so rather than just let it go I decided to start one of my summer reading projects and got out the first volume in the Maze Runner series, and kept allowing Norton to have permission to reach in and tweak things in the bowels of the computer. (Which reminds me -- runs off to disable Automatic LiveUpdates in NS. For a machine that I tend to use remotely, the last thing I need is it burning up limited bandwidth at whim, especially if I'm using the pay-as-you-go WiFi hotspot. Which I'm not.)

Then uninstall ZoneAlarm. ZA seemed shocked that I was uninstalling -- was it because there was a problem? Did I want to download a fresh new version? No, cause you don't have one for my computer, unless you changed your mind from December -- too late now. And then it begged to give them another chance. Nope. Gone. NS wants to know what to do about the Windows firewall. I told it to fuck it, use its own.

Ran LiveUpdate and everything's green. Well, there's a red NO REPORT notice under Last Scan, so to stall off a NS hissy fit, I told it to do a full system scan, which shouldn't take too long on a 16GB SSD drive, and then Shut Down. Went and had lunch. Watched the end of Gangs of New York on USA. A little music -- right, sound was turned on, since I was using Amazon Music Player at work. LARA was shutting down. Fine. All good.

That was Tuesday during the day. That night I did a filecopy backup of SUMMER onto a 128GB USB drive. Then dumped that backup onto ZEPPELIN. As a holdover of having small drive partitions in the old days -- and the fact it is much easier to have multiple drive letters for keeping work sorted -- I started a straight xcopy . c: /s/D filecopy... but it was going to take time to dump drive C: from SUMMER and I don't need the system and software backups. So I killed it and copied files one drive letter at a time. D: E: F: G: H: I: J: K: (no L:) M: ...

Insufficient Memory.

WTF? Huh? Now, realize that I am using an MS-DOS box on Windows 7 Home Premium on ZEPPELIN, and since they don't care about DOS anymore, I know most MS-DOS error messages are misleading. Was it suspicious that it broke after transferring exactly 8999 files? Maybe it was complaining about actual memory. ZEPPELIN has either 2GB or 4GB. But I was playing Solitaire and had Amazon Music Player running in the background. The latter has a bad habit of downloading updates at random. So I killed those and restarted.

Insufficient Memory.

Reboot. Insufficient Memory. So I cobble up a new batchfile, PIECEMEAL.BAT, so I could do these things directory by directory, starting with where I left off. Insufficient Memory. Next directories? No problem. N:? No problem.

Back to M: and let's see what the problem was. The problem directory had transferred 780 of 788 files. Everything else in the backup transferred. But... When I surf the web I do a lot of right-click saves, so I can look at things later. And some of these outfits have outlandish file names like 734547_10154001481240405_8476921583871495048_n.jpg. Sometimes really long. And because of nesting subdirectories being stored deeper on the USB drive than on the original hard drive under Windows XP, I think those 8 really long filenames crapped out Windows 7. I know that there is a different filename length limit in DOS root directories than subdirectories -- go figure. Fine, I'll go in and shorten them someday. They're not critical. The important stuff got all copied.

In the middle of this, I kept on getting DIRE RED WARNINGS from Norton Security about something evil it had found. Turns out it was a piece of the old ZoneAlarm firewall installer and was present because my SUMMER backup is a file-by-file, so it had stuff that had been replaced on SUMMER but not deleted on the backup. The danger was listed as LOW, but it really, really, REALLY wanted to do something to those files. Basically, Norton and ZoneAlarm have never gotten along. Whenever I got a new version of Norton Anti-Virus I always waited for it to be out for a few weeks and then got a new version of ZoneAlarm, so the machine wouldn't crash. I am sure this was a modern example of the old Microsoft "DOS ain't done until Lotus don't run" version upgrade mentality. Alas, poor ZoneAlarm. Norton has ended up winning this round... I cannot WAIT until next fall when I get to find out if Norton Security will continue to support Windows XP SP3... Sigh.

Delete both Checkpoint/ZoneAlarm directory trees and move on...

Next up. I've been editing my photos mainly on SUMMER, so that backup had the JPGs from my digital Nikons. I put the newest files from the NIKON3 directory onto F:, the 16GB microSD card I use for backups on ZEPPELIN. Then I copied the whole card to C:. Pull out the shiny new 32GB SanDisk microSD card (they cost like $14 on Amazon Prime), stick it into ZEPPELIN and...

xcopy . F: /s/D/h fails. Cannot create directory. Now what? I know that Windows 7 is real pissy about letting you create files in the root directory C:\, but F:? Eventually I realized that xcopy *.* F: /s/D/h worked. Sigh. I think the Windows 7 MS-DOS box coding couldn't find a . directory in the root F:\ to copy to. I've done this for years, folks. The kids today keep trying to "fix" stuff that ain't broken, because they don't know how real computers work.

Great, I have more backup room on ZEPPELIN, just like I have a bigger working microSD card drive on OUEST at work. Pack up the old 16GB microSD card with LARA, so Wednesday night I'll have all the latest files and twice the storage space on G:.

And when I get LARA out again in the field... Windows XP can't find G:. Oh, it shows up under My Computer, but the Properties says that G: has 0 length. Great. I can never keep track of the ranges of card sizes that work in various generation units. LARA is just old enough that an 8GB SD card works, but not a 16GB. (Just like my ancient obsolete Nikon DSLRs will only use up to a 2GB CF card.) Fortunately the important work files are all backed up on the Swiss Army Memory, so they got put on that way.

Which once again proves Pournelle's Law -- nothing is truly backed up unless it is on two different media (in two different places). Never assume one backup is going to work or can be read by any one specific device.

Oh, and my spare white extension cord with three outlets I pack in my travel kit? The one I need because most hotel rooms generously give you one whole outlet on a lamp in 2015? Yeah, the charger for LARA has been a pain from the start. Completely overbuilt, needs a three-prong outlet. Had to get a special APC Mobile Surge Protector, PNOTEPROC6, because all my other laptops from Sony, Fujitsu and Toshiba can use the two-prong PNOTEPROC4. Anyway, you guessed it. My cheap little white extension cord is two-prong. No room for cheating with the third prong and I don't have an adapter with me. So the extension cord got plugged in where the coffee maker was plugged in and LARA hogs the lamp outlet all by itself.

I keep sayin' it, and will freely admit that I do some things in an unorthodox manner by today's standards, but I think one of the reasons why people buy new computers is that the error messages aren't helpful and no one knows what they do mean. So people either continue on using crippled equipment or buy something new to get around problems that are completely solvable. It's like you have to scrap your 2008 Toyota, because it can't use 2015 gasoline.

Not trying to be elitist here, but once again the question is... what do normal people do? How can they even use this crap?

Please note that all comments about how a Mac or Linux would smugly solve my problems do not show that I am an idiot, but rather your own ignorance -- so don't even bother.

Dr. Phil
Posted on Dreamwidth
Crossposted on LiveJournal
Tags: computers, rants, technology, upgrades

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