A few weeks ago I finally cracked and bought a new PC. Out of the box, this one was great. The HDD is massive and silent. The huge amount of RAM makes Photoshop usable once more and the widescreen monitor is a pleasure to look at.
What really lets the whole deal down is Microsoft Vista. It is, without a doubt, the worst operating system I have ever used. Yes, it may seem like it does more than MS-DOS but, in reality, it constrains you more (and uses a trillion times more system resources). Vista is pretty. It has nice icons and the transparency looks cool for the first hour or so you use it, but the reality is I had a more stable system with Windows 3.11 (even my ME box crashed less).
All the doom and gloom aside, my Vista box only has a few problems but they are monumental annoyances. I would rather have the limited use Windows 95 gave without the massive inconveniences Vista forces on me. Let me explain:
First off: I have (at the moment) 136 problem reports waiting for solutions. The very existence of these annoys me. Windows claims to be able to search for a solution then comes back with nothing. I also have 4 which claim they have solutions but I cant find out what the solution is. This is leading to no small degree of madness.
Next in line: Vista makes it harder for me to make changes than Ubuntu. Every time I try to do something I have to give administrator authority. It gets to the point where I almost authorise without looking. This is not making the system safer by any stretch of the imagination.
Thirdly: The resources it uses is astronomical. If I have no applications open, nearly 1GB of RAM is being used. What do I get for this? Transparent icons. Wow.
Last but not least: It hates my software. The Rise of The Machines is obviously a genuine event because my Devil Infested Vista machine has software it just doesn’t like. Not in the normal software failure way, but almost random dislikes for certain applications (they run fine on the other Vista machine…).
The two applications The DevilVista hates at the moment are Opera and eMule (before you ask, I only use this share legitimate files, I would never use it get warez or the like). It hates them to the extent that neither are usable any more.
When I open Opera, it seems to open fine. All my previous windows and tabs load and the system works as normal. The evidence this is a recent dislike is evinced by the fact sites I visited last week as still available on load. However, over the last four days every time I click on ANY link in Opera or type an address in the URL bar and press go, the USB WiFi connection drops out. The network goes from full strength (the router is about 8 feet away), to unable to find any networks. Normally, there are about six or seven networks within range, but this instantly goes to none. No matter of refreshing will cure it. (remember this state).
eMule is different. I can open it. Connect to Kad or a Server and start sharing files (all legitimate remember). This works well for about 60 – 90 minutes whereupon the WiFi network vanishes and I am at the same state as above. eMule worked fine until about four weeks ago so this is not time coincident with the Opera curse.
Anyway, I try to troubleshoot the WiFi connection. Windows is no help, coming up with spurious error messages and terrible advice (and complaining it cant get online to find help… the irony.. it burns…). I try unplugging the device and re-attaching – this just kills it as now the device no longer exists on the system. My WiFi connector is attached to an external, powered, USB hub so I take the plug out of one port and put it in a different one.
This makes things go very weird. Initially it is great, the WiFi light comes on, and networks are found. I try to connect to the router and it asks for the WEP key. So far so good. It then connects to the router but refuses to “identify” (whatever the **** that means) and I am restricted to “local” access only. I try to log into the router (surely that is part of the “Local” network) and it just fails – unable to connect to server. (In the meantime, the laptop on the table next to me connects fine). In the end, admitting defeat, I reboot only to discover the BUGCODE_USB_DRIVER Blue Screen of Death message and it reboots again. This time everything works fine, I log in and it connects first time, every time.
It is coming close to driving me mad. For the most part, I can get away with out using Opera and eMule but the apparently arbitrary nature of this software vendetta is confusing. The machine used to run both without any problems. I am a touch concerned it may start to hate MS Office or FireFox and then there will be a real problem.
For completeness’ sake: I have run AVG and SpyBot S&D with upto date definitions. I have tried an online virus scanner and a rootkit checker – all seems to be clean. I am not yet willing to reinstall everything (there is a lot on the pc) and, before it is suggested I dont want a Mac (too expensive) and while I may install Linux (Not Ubuntu after my previous efforts, but PcLinuxOs is tempting) it isnt a solution.