Home | Money | Brainteasers | Books | Science News | Blog | JAMCC |
Blog: What's in a number?
How our lives are dominated by numbers yet we somehow get it wrong

11. Two sentences which strike fear and loathing in my mind

The scene of a potential horror story.


My laptop computer is my filing cabinet, my photographic collection, my work station and my source of entertainment. But occasionally, it releases two sentences which create fear and loathing in approximately equal measure.

The two sentences are:

Preparing to configure Windows
Don't turn off your computer

These sentences, carefully honed by Microsoft over decades firstly create fear. When did I agree to configure windows, and what does it actually mean? I've even cut out the regular updates to make this act unlikely. How long will my computer be out of action, and should I just grin and bear it, or go off, and make a cup of tea or go away and read the newspaper? What will happen to the urgent task that I have to complete? I've even tried switching off my computer, even though it says not to, in the hope that windows will forget what it's doing and give me my computer back. No such luck! It comes up with the same message as soon as it's switched back on again.

My loathing for MS arises from a sensation of being electronically violated. What gives Microsoft the right to take over my computer anyway? It's my computer!

Have you ever noticed any difference to your operating system after the Windows update? When I was more conciliatory and faithfully did the updates, I didn't notice the difference. Presumably you have a firewall and virus checker such as McAfee to protect your machine anyway. Of course that's not guaranteed, but despite my heavy computer usage, I've only had a few times when I've had to reload a prior system version. That was because I over-rode the recommendations of the virus checker by mistake. It is difficult to believe that Windows would have protected me from my own stupidity.

When you first buy your computer it boots up quite quickly, but if you subscribe to the MS updates its performance gradually declines because of the excessive number of updates. Then your computer is unuseable so you have to buy a new one. Perhaps MS is in league with hardware companies .... I remember one episode of "The big Bang Theory" in which Sheldon switched on his computer for the first time in a while and he mentioned that it would be some time before he could use his computer as he had 1000 updates to perform first! This is a little dig at MS, but that would probably be the expected number if the computer were unused for a few years!

Of course these modern operating systems are grossly inefficient on memory. So uploading the latest operating system on an older machine is a dangerous strategy, and you may find that your computer is extremely good at running the operating system, but it can't do anything else. I remember 40 years ago when computers were trivial little things. Every byte counted, not just in the operating system, but in the writing of code as well. Do we really need a pretty little icon for every thing on our machine? Do we really need a touch screen to operate commands? What happens when they get covered in grease from the fingers? Do they always work? How can I avoid pressing a character twice? I know when I buy my ticket at the local train station it usually take a few pokes for the screen to register my finger. Is that the future for our computers now, because MS have decided?

My strategy is to update my operating system when I update the hardware, which happens often enough. My computers rarely last more than 3 years before something packs in. By then it will be a completely new operating system anyway, anounced by MS as the greatest thing since sliced bread. However, I am getting weary of new operating systems, none of which ever work fully before MS moves on to the next one.

So that's where the loathing for MS comes in. I suppose they're only trying to make money and they are using the standard US commercial overkill method of doing so. Certainly their adverts on UK television at the moment are pretty nauseating. They show little kids having fun, with the idea that they will grow up into bona fide contributing members of society, and of course they will be using Windows 10! How wonderful! Except that by the time these kids learn about computers for real, MS will have released Windows 100. So what's the big deal about Windows 10?

Personally, I prefer to use a Linux operating system anyway. The commands are clearer and there a lot of software available for the technical things that I like to do. I'm inclined to think that most things that are possible in Windows is possible in Linux. Unfortunately, there isn't the commercial support for Linux. It is almost impossible to get equipment already loaded with Linux. Instead you have to remove the Windows operating system and load Linux yourself. If you make a mistake and, like me, you are not a computer wizz, you can get yourself in a real mess. I see no choice but to endure Windows 10 in my next machine as well as all the other rubbish that MS throw at me, without it being properly debugged it seems.

I know, I know. I'm a boring old fart!

Please add your comments here.

These will be posted (if appropriate) after review. The user name is any name of your choice and will be used to publish comments. Other information supplied will not be made public.

Website revised by John Austin, 15/9/2015. © Enigma Scientific Publishing, 2015.