Products You Do NOT Buy Twice
I hate sending things in for repair/replacement. You do not
get back what you sent. You get someone else's unit with some
other problem that maybe is still there because the technicians at the
manufacturer's repair shop did not find the problem and just sent the
unit on to the next sucker. And the cost in lost time and
shipping frequently costs more than the product.
Computer Things -- Hardware
Today anything less than 64 bit is obsolete. Mostly they are
dual-core (although my experience indicates that I do not get the
performance I think I paid for)
Celeron -- A really sick joke for the computer novice -- See comments under Hardware.
Hard drives are getting bigger and faster all of the time.
They are also getting cheaper. They are getting less expensive
too. But the quality has decreased seriously. You used to
buy a hard drive and it would last for years. It would last so
long that you would not back it up because you thought it would never
die. No More. If it is on a hard drive, back it up.
Items on this list failed in such a short time that I have to
complain about them. Mostly I count on a hard drive to last two
or more years. I have two internal drives in my desktop and 4
external USB/Firewire drives. The external drives are mounted
vertically (not stacked) and there is a fan on them at all times.
Model: 500 GB USB 2.0
It lasted a week and it died. Thankfully it died
gracefully. I had barely gotten my files copied and verified when
it started powering itself up and down. So, fifteen minutes at a
sitting I copied the files to a different new hard drive.
Model: 500 GB USB 2.0 (Looks like a plastic book)
I bought this to replace the Cavalry. It lasted a month and then
just flat died. At least I had backed it up as it did not die
gracefully like the Cavalry. It just decided to not power up at
all any more. I ignored bad reviews on the WD because I had had
others that worked well in the past. Bad mistake.
I now have two 500 GB USB 2.0 Iomega drives. One replaces the
drives above and the other serves as backup. They have lasted 6
months with no indication of problems under the same conditions and
usage as the WD and Cavalry.
Computer Things -- Software
Dragon -- Naturally Speaking -- See comments under Software.
Microsoft Streets and Trips -- See comments under Software
Ultimate Registry Cleaner -- See Comments under Software.
This has been expanded to mach its rivals. They did not do a
good job. Under XP IE7 can make your life miserable. Under
Vista you are already miserable. Under XP I still used IE6 and
then only to FTP my files to my web site and install Microsoft
updates. Under Vista the FTP has been moved to Windows explorer
so the only use I have for it is Microsoft updates.
I suggest Firefox. Safer, easier, faster. I get spoiled by
the Firefox plug-ins that remove the advertisements and the
automatically starting videos that I do not want to see.
I find it clumsy to use and it has reversed option lists from IE and
Firefox so it is easy to do something you do not want if you move from
one to the other. Google Chrome has a vested interest that you
see advertisements so I get surprised when I move from Firefox to
Chrome and have to search for content among the ads. I guess
Chrome is OK if you have only used IE and not discovered Firefox.
Do not let them kid you: Vista is NOT as bad as you have heard. Vista is far worse than you have heard.
- Vista graphics may be pretty but you need one of those gaming
video cards to get the performance out of your computer that you had
- RAM. Oh my. WIth XP 500 MB was just great. 1 GB if you
were an enthusiast. Vista needs a minimum of 2 GB and performance
does not come close to XP until you have 4 GB. My HP 2.0gH laptop
with Vista Ultimate came with 1 GB of RAM. It took 30 minutes for
it to power up. HP should not be selling such laptops but...
- XP Programs do not work on Vista. I think much of this is
intentional as it did not have to be this bad. Here are a couple
of internal things that will bite you.
- Under XP, passing a directory name between programs or within the
registry did not have a terminal back slash (they should have but that
is history). Under Vista they do have the backslash at the
end. Therefore, an XP program under Vista and not expecting a
terminal backslash will add its own causing Vista operation to see 2
backslashes and return a file not found to the XP program.
- Vista has gone to the full UNIX user level security
complex. Each level of user has permissions. This is great
for corporations but is really nasty for individuals who did not grow
up under UNIX. For example, using an external hard drive between
two systems, one XP and one Vista will cause an impossible combination
of file permissions.
- Using the XP/Vista file attributes (e.g. read-only) only makes
things worse -- and the Windows Explorer (under either system) lies
when it states that it has changed attributes. I wrote my own
program to deal with System, Hidden, Archive, and read-only. It
works real fine except under Vista it needs to run as
Administrator. And I still need something to coordinate the user
- Programs that use the registry will fail under Vista giving no
message indicating that they failed because they lacked
permissions. You just get a general exception message and
have to guess the reason.
And if you go to change permissions you will get a surprise.
Under the category "everyone" you may find all permissions granted but
when you go to the current user (yourself) you will find yourself
restricted. When is the last time you wanted anyone who might use
your system to have more rights to your personal files than yourself?
- Vista is ungodly slow. Microsoft has worked hard since
Windows 3.1 to bring displays up before programs are actually able to
perform. They had hoped that by the time you had noticed this
functional delay, processors would have caught up. But they tried
to have it both ways: bloated programs with more startup work.
For example, Microsoft now encourages Outlook only for business
customers. Why? On my 2gH processor, the Outlook display is
finished 30 seconds before I can use the program. Until then the
window just turns gray and says "Not Responding". You get "Not
Responding" a lot under Vista. Take Yoga. Learn patience.
- Windows Explorer (disaster on wheels) When you create a new
directory, WE immediately enters that directory making it impossible to
simultaneously create parallel new directories.
- Windows Explorer.
Which display settings you see when you enter a directory appears to be
totally random. You can play with the Tools-> Folder
Options->Apply/Reset all day long and you will only frustrate
yourself the next time you open a directory and find some obscure
combination of items. And Microsoft thinks when I open a
directory and get (asked for or not) a listing of "Ratings" rather than
dates and sizes and types? And of course with a million .jpg
files on my system, I should go through them one by one and count
stars? And I have tried to rid myself of this display with all of
their options and useless help files. Not a chance you can fix
this one - you will see gray (or otherwise) stars whether you want to or not.
- Windows Explorer. You can no longer see a directory sorted on file name
. Maybe the camera makers forcd this one but I would like the
option to go back to seeing my files in alphabetic order and not some
order based upon the computed numeric values found within the file
name. For example, WE knows that 002.doc is a different file than
2.doc but rather than list 002.doc with the '0' files where it belongs,
you will find it after 1.doc. And of course 011.doc shows up
after 2.doc rather than with the '0' files. Are they crazy?
You have to wonder.
- And the list goes on. The list is petty? You get tired of
the petty things biting you. Mosquitos are petty but long before you have 100
little bumps on your arm, you look for the spray.
Questions? Comments? Push the eMail button.
Updated: February 8, 2008
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