Stupid operating systems or stupid operators?

Did somebody mention dolphins?

Letters Someone needs to update the rules for modern living to include guidelines on preparing one's inbox for an onslaught of letters after publishing anything about the Windows operating system, and its little quirks.

Our (almost) resident grumpy old guru let off a little steam this week after a computer meltdown zapped three hours of work into oblivion.

Much comment from the floor on this one. Broadly , it can be grouped into three camps 1) eternal sympathy; 2) buy a Mac/use firefox; 3)Are you stupid or what, that you &*(%%£@^ don't &*^% know how to %&*@* etc.

A selection follows:

Hear hear, well said sir.

I've had that damned auto-restart on servers, FFS, and it drives me up the damned wall. "Nick, has something happened to the server?" "Nooooo...oh, hang on, we just got screwed by Uncle Bill again.". And that's after clicking more "LEAVE MY DAMNED SERVERS ALONE!" radio buttons and tick boxes than I can shake a stick at.

My favourite at the moment is the "Restart later" button after you've had an auto-update. If I click that, I expect the Automatic Update service to, pardon the expression, STFD & STFU, because I want to restart when I feel like it. I don't want it to pop up again every ten damned minutes when I'm in the middle of trying to, in the face of all experience, actually do something useful with my PC, stealing focus from stuff that I actually care about. Speaking of which...

The download cancelling thing is one symptom of a behaviour which annoys the hell out of me; the crime of window focus theft. I don't give a monkey's what Redmond thinks is really REALLY important at the time; it's MY damned PC and what's important is the document that I'm working on. I LOATHE with an intensity that I wouldn't have thought possible the way that a process that I left happily running in the background (because XP is supposed to be a multitasking OS, right?) suddenly decides to jump to the front resulting in some random effect from the succession of characters that I thought I was typing into a Word document, resulting in both the focus-stealing app AND the Word document being screwed up.

I hate the "magical cached download" as well; if I tell Windows to replace a download, it's because it cocked it up the first time. Using the same version that it cocked up to overwrite itself (effectively) is not a cure. It's barking mad.

We're rapidly reaching the point where due to desperate attempts to fix Windows, and the associated auto-restarts, and other "lets ignore the user" crap that the whole point of having a PC as a labour saving device is negated.

You know, I've had a load of Dell Latitude batteries returned to me for obvious reasons recently...maybe I should send them to random MS employees until they get their heads out of their bums. A shower of exploding lithium might focus their minds a bit...


Here's a footnote to your footnote ("The word for this behaviour is "arrogant". It will come back to haunt you")

Back in the very early nineties (Windows 3.0 was pretty new) I had the opportunity to address a Microsoft meeting - about 150 folk. We came to the end of the formal bit, and I thought I would liven up the proceedings a little by asking the audience a question.

"Put yourself in the position of a Microsoft customer - distributor, dealer, end-user, doesn't matter - and give me the one word they would use to describe Microsoft."

It took all of five seconds for one of them to give the response that was endorsed by his colleagues: "arrogant".

They knew it then, they know it now. They care even less now than they did in 1991.


Please feel free to attach my invoice for Mr. Gates along with yours.

Of course if he actually paid what I feel he owes me, there wouldn't be anything left for you or anyone else and Bill would have to rely on his foundation for charity on which to live. :-)


It's funny, when I find out that one of my unix servers rebooted I immediateley get worried and start parsing logs looking for exploit attempts and the like. I then head of and begin looking for rootkits and backdoors.

When it happens to my windows boxes I just get angry at MS and get on with my life. Says a lot about Redmonds offerings in my opinion. We have accepted that the initial software offering is so poor we need to be forced to update it instantly in a futile attempt to stop whatever new rampaging malware is going about.

Not a good state of affairs, especially in a market place where OS X is going from strength to strength.

I think I'll be switching next upgrade time.


Solution: Buy a Mac, use Firefox. Never weep again. If you are running software that is not available on a Mac, still use Firefox. It's more secure, more efficient, and more versitile. The only reason Microsoft survives in the face of competition is path dependence.

cheers, Chloe

This is probably the thousandth email like this, but it's worth restating:

Get a freaking Mac.


I agree with most of what you say, except:

1) You are clearly using ancient software if closing browser windows causes you lost work. Opera happily brings back my entire browser session after a crash, complete with all open windows and settings as I left them. Ok, I know it's not made by Microsoft, but any consultant worth the money you claim should be intelligent enough to use it ;-)

2) I'm not even going to talk about leaving editor windows open without regular saving. Even a minimum wage McDonalds/local government employee should get sacked for making a mistake that basic.


Hello Guy, you are obviousy a new computer user.

I just wanted to assist and let you know that computers are not 100% reliable. I always advise my clients to save their documents frequently and to close applications applications that contain key data when they are planning to leave their PC for some time.

I hope they helps you have a more enjoyable time with your computer.

Regards Lex

Frankly, Guy, you'll get no sympathy from me. You are aware that Microsoft's producst are all flawed, and terribly engineered from a user standpoint, and yet you persist in using them.

This is doubly silly, since I am quite certain you are aware that there are alternatives to Microsoft's products which are not only superior in engineering, but free of cost.

There is quite literally nothing that a writer should ever need to do with a computer which requires Microsoft products. Open your mind!


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