Category Archives: windows

Windows revisited

I’ve recently had an enquiry about something on Windows Vista.  A day or two later I realised I do have a machine with a Vista partition, so I booted into it to investigate.

First impression: my god, this takes forever to boot, and then to do anything!  I guess that’s why ‘they’ say the Atom processor is underpowered.  Firing up MSIE to go and download the things I was to investigate also took a very long time.

Second impression: wow, this takes me back!  On Ubuntu a year ago I had to download a graphics driver capable of driving the Sun monitor.  This time it was only the smaller monitor that every modern driver should be fine with, but I got a different problem.  Vista’s driver was fine with the 1280×1024 screen size, but the whole screen image was offset from the physical screen, leaving a black band bottom+right of the monitor, and the top left of the display off the screen.  That’s something I haven’t seen on a desktop OS[1] for many years!

Anyway, I was able to answer the enquiry.  Enough Windows for one year, I think.

[1] The nearest I can think of in recent years is when connecting an OHP to the laptop for a conference talk.  I had serious problems with that as recently as 2005, and moderate problems comparable to the above still happen from time to time.

Mind-numbing!

So that’s how MSIE is an essential core component of Windows, and can’t possibly be removed!

As with any other geek, people expect me to know all about computers, and help them out when something doesn’t work. Never mind that I know nothing about windows, and proceed by trial and error. So, I’ve just been to help a friend get her newly-installed broadband working.

It turned out she was already connected to the ‘net just fine. I popped up a command window, typed in “ping http://www.google.com”, and it worked without hesitation. OK, so where’s the problem? She showed me: she brings up MSIE, and it insists that she’s offline and invites her to connect! Evidently it’s too … ummm … smart to notice that the rest of the operating system all around it is connected. She’d already done the “obvious” thing, and tried setting up a new “broadband” connection in MSIE’s menu.

OK, the menu doesn’t have an option for a regular network connection. So I tried just removing the old dialup connections, whereupon it all worked. Evidently they were standing in the way of MSIE using the network!

Well, I take my hat off to the engineers who designed that. It must take a lot of ingenuity to make things quite so gratuitously difficult. Heath Robinson would be proud of you! And that’s the kind of feature that’ll keep you firmly ahead of Linux, Solaris, MacOS, etc, which “just work” when you attach them to a network, and deprive the user of all that mystery and entertainment.