PC Rot

I’ve had my present notebook since the spring and it’s already showing signs of progressive software rot, that phenomenon which hits all PCs as they get gunked up with user inflicted garbage. I can’t help myself — I like experimenting with FireFox extensions and tweaking system settings — and the result over time is a weird laptop that exhibits little software zits and blackheads.
Here’s the annoyances which drive me insane:

  1. Suspend. I can press and put the laptop to “sleep”, saving the state the machine is in — apps and data loaded — and keep the airplane stewards off my back. This works sometimes and other times (usually when the stewardess is really breathing down my neck), it doesn’t, forcing me to hit the poor machine with the “Finger of Doom” escape where I just lean on the power button and croak the thing entirely. Sure, I can hit the wireless switch under the front bottom edge, but the stewardess sees screen light and assumes I am going to mess up the plane’s internal guidance system and turn it into a ground auger.
  2. Verizon EVDO Dialer: starting a WAN session with the built-in EVDO is like starting a 1973 Dodge Dart in New England in February. An art, not a science. Three, four attempts, shelling out to the Windows Task Manager to shut down the application, no-I-don’t-want-to-send-a-frigging-error-report to Microsoft, re-start, cross fingers, stare at start-up screen, hope the thing will turn over and catch, almost … blech. This always happens if you have like five minutes between flights to come out of suspend, turn on the wireless, invoke the VPN, fire up Notes, and replicate inboxes so the gazillion emails you just wrote on the first leg of the flight can go off into the ether. The more you need it, the less it cooperates. Still — best connectivity service in the world and my way of sticking it to the 802.1 bandits in airports and coffee shots.
  3. Extended Display Settings: I have three ways to handle the extension of the notebooks screen onto an external LCD. I can right click on the desktop and get into Windows “properties” and attempt to do it there. Not fun. Or I can go into the system tray and find the Intel graphics adapter control (which is sometimes there and sometimes isn’t) or I can use the very good ThinkVantage Technology method via the Blue Button of a command and pull up the “Presentation Director.” I have profiles set for my desk in Raleigh and my desk in Cotuit, but for reason, no matter how many times I tell it the laptop is to the left of the monitor, the profile assumes it’s vicey-versa and grrrr, I have to go deal with it manually.
  4. That’s it for now. I could give all sorts of applications and utilities grief for their conflicts and glitches, but who cares, right?

Let’s face it. These are the most complex devices in our lives, are in front of us more than any other object, and for the most part get the job done. But who has time to tweak and tune them to run perfectly?

And don’t tell me to get a fricking Mac. I hate them and they are every bit as weird as a Wintel box.

» The Great Vista/Mac Showdown: Unboxing the ThinkPad X60 and MacBook Pro | Rational rants | ZDNet.com

» The Great Vista/Mac Showdown: Unboxing the ThinkPad X60 and MacBook Pro | Rational rants | ZDNet.com

Mitch Ratcliffe at ZD-Net unboxes a new Mac and a new ThinkPad. Guess which ones comes in the prettier box?

“Lenovo’s ThinkPad comes in a brown corrugated cardboard box. If you purchase the multimedia base station for the ThinkPad, you get two brown boxes in a larger box that is an armful to carry. The irony here is that the ThinkPad is lighter than the MacBook, but you get several pounds of extraneous packaging with it that makes the ThinkPad appear clunkier when it’s not.”

Okay, I’ll concede that our packaging is not something one oohs and ahhs over. Keep in mind we ship pallets of these into Fortune 500 companies where the IT guys aren’t going to fondle the documentation.

I can’t wait to see how we fare as Mitch gets deeper into the comparison. I went to an Apple store on Sunday to check things out and started typing.  Blech. I’ll take the ThinkPad’s keyboard any day.

But the boxes? No, I throw them out.

Bad buzz is better than no buzz? Discuss

Interference Inc. is a New York guerilla marketing firm. They are very good at what they do. They deliver buzz to their clients.

Given that they basically own the business sections and front pages of today’s newspapers (see the NYT) from the follow-ups to Wednesday’s “terrorist” shutdowns of Boston because a couple of guys put 30 little battery powered light boxes around the city, under bridges, on overpasses, to promote a Turner late night cartoon about fast food products …..

…One can declare that this is one of the most successful guerrilla campaigns in history.

The fact that one of the guys arrested for putting up the light boxes without permission looks like Rob Zombie, and held a mock press conference where he said the issue was “haircuts from the 1970s” makes this all the weirder. I can imagine Boston talk radio now, with the salt of the earth calling for capital punishment or at least hard labor for the pair of twenty-somethings who brought a city to its knees for one expensive afternoon.

Turner is in bunker mode, pointing the press at Interference. Interference’s website is hosed from the traffic. I would image viewership for Aqua Teen Hunger Force is also through the roof. Turner may be making restitution to the city, which actually blew up one of the offending light boxes to neutralize it, but Turner, the performance artists who did the deed for $300, Intereference are, in the end coming out ahead if one subscribes to the “any publicity is good publicity” school.

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