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There's an extremely frustrated diary on the rec list today about computers acting like broken pieces of junk. I understand that; I'm a professional software developer and IT admin, and I have to deal with these disasters on a near constant basis.

However, that also means I've gotten awfully good at dealing with it and I thought that maybe some information about prevention and cures would be more useful than a blanket complaint that computers suck. No advice about switching OS, computer, manufacturer, or brand below the fold.

I'd like to make this an interactive diary -- if you're encountering computer problems, post a comment. Perhaps I or any of the other technical adepts here can help out.

Let's recap a little bit, just for starters. Computers are deep, multi-layered contraptions put together by a million different people from a thousand different companies. Think you hate teamwork? Imagine working with a hundred people to create a single product -- and you're not allowed to talk to them. That is the kind of disaster that has created the modern computer. In the course of my work I've seen the source code to drivers, software, and Windows itself. Some days I think it's a miracle anything works to begin with. Still, there's a lot you can do to address and fix the problems. Let's get started.

Broadly speaking, you can look at a computer as several major layers: hardware, operating system, drivers, applications. These four things collaborate to make everything run, and a problem with any one layer can make for a really bad day. Poor decisions abound at every level, but the first step to fixing a malfunctioning computer is to determine which layer is the problem. Personally I find it's easiest and cheapest to work top down.

(Quick comment: not everything in this diary is technically accurate. This is about fixing computers, not being precise about every little detail.)


You know a big reason iPads are so stable? They only really run one application at a time. When you're browsing the web, nothing can jump in and interrupt you. PCs and Macs are not like that. There are, on your typical machine, 50-100+ programs actively running or actively waiting to run something. Some are built into the system and do important things. Others are garbage.

Manufacturer Garbage

Did you buy a Windows PC from a major manufacturer like Dell, HP, Toshiba, etc? They've shipped you a defective product. These companies take a stock Windows installation and add a whole range of trashy applications. In recent years, they've even stopped giving you the requisite discs to start from an undamaged version. A few of their programs can be useful, enable extra features, and so on, but a lot of it is trialware or crapware. If you open up the Programs and Features control panel, you'll probably find a very large list of manufacturer applications. Feel free to delete all of them. You'll probably lose some features; that's okay. Once you've hosed everything out, go to the website for your exact computer model, and find the driver downloads section. Start with the ones that seem important and work your way through the list until your computer is doing all the things you expect it to again.


Ah, the bane of Windows users, and probably Mac users in the very near future. I'll let you in on a secret: antivirus software is some of the worst trash out there. Including the big names, you wonder? ESPECIALLY the big names. Norton/Symantec sells a product that is pure PC wrecking worthlessness. Whatever antivirus you have, go ahead and uninstall it. There are only a very select few products worth using, and there are very few reasons to use anything other than the Microsoft one:
If you really don't want to do that, take a look at AVG, Avast, BitDefender, ClamWin, or ESET NOD32. Or don't. And remember: "Live protection" is sales speak for "slows your computer down".


The neat thing about modern viruses is that they're largely about earning money. There are really only two categories to be worried about for most: adware and trojans. Adware simply exists to get you to click on ads and earn money for the people showing those ads. Trojans put your machine under someone else's control, usually for the purpose of attacking a third party (Anonymous are well known for conducting this type of attack). Adware is easy to detect: if you're seeing suspicious ads on sites that don't deliver ads like that, you have adware. Trojans are much, much more difficult to find but usually cause a machine to slow down dramatically. If you think you have either, I've found the best scan tools are SpyBot and Ad-aware. They're much, much better than the aforementioned antivirus tools for removing an infection that has already taken root. You might also try an online scan tool.


Use whatever -- IE, Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, it doesn't matter. You can thank Mozilla for reigniting the browser wars and forcing everybody to put their A-game on. Just one thing: use the absolute latest version of whatever browser you pick, and configure ad-blocking appropriately. All of them can block ads, even IE. Your browsing experience will miraculously accelerate when you do. And don't forget to leave ads enabled for DKos :)

Generic crapware

How much software do you use on your computer? The list is probably around a dozen programs for most people. But a lot of unscrupulous companies out there are convinced that you need THEIR software. If you've got toolbars, taskbar icons, desktop icons, and you don't know what they're for, odds are good that you can get rid of them with no ill effects whatsoever. Removal varies depending on what exactly you're looking at, so check out what's on your computer and run a Google search. Learn about the things installed and find out why they might be there. If it doesn't sound useful, find removal instructions and proceed. Don't be afraid to delete.


Drivers are quiet, invisible pieces of software that make all the bits of hardware in your computer function correctly. Some are built into Windows by Microsoft. Some are shipped with the computer. Others have to be downloaded. Either way, these things live very, very close to the heart of your computer and they're not immune to problems. Manufacturers do ship updates, and you should periodically check your manufacturer website for a recent revision. If you're seeing a Blue Screen of Death or other major failures like surprise shutdowns, this is your first angle of attack.

Know your computer's exact model number. It will be written on it somewhere for nearly all. This is your gateway to know exactly what drivers you need and where to get them. All of the digits, letters, and dashes are important so don't be sloppy!

Operating System

All major operating systems integrate automatic update systems. USE THEM. Mac, Windows, Linux, doesn't matter. Developers don't ship updates for amusement's sake, and reboot prompts aren't a joke. We don't put them in to amuse ourselves and large amounts of research have gone into smoothing the process as much as possible. (We use the stupid things too and don't appreciate reboots any more than anyone else!) The single biggest reason for computer failures is simply not being up to date with the fixes that manufacturers and software companies are shipping out. Remember, we're talking about hundreds of interacting companies and discovering a problem somewhere along the line is not unusual.

One more word of advice: ignore anyone who tells you that the solution to a computer problem is to switch operating systems. These people are not your friends (from a technical standpoint). They are evangelizing their choices, probably irrationally so. Switching (from anything to anything) might be a good idea for any number of reasons, but fixing an existing technical problem isn't one. "Mac doesn't have that problem" means "MY mac doesn't have that problem right now".

Hard drive space

How much of your main/only hard drive is currently in use? Is it more than 85%? If so, you're in for a lot of pain. Tech companies have always avoided talking about this, but a computer needs a certain minimum amount of scratch space to work with files. Once your hard drive fills up, everything goes down the tubes. Files take forever to save, and  everything you do involves saving quite a lot of files. (Especially web browsing.) If any of your drives are nearing capacity, the speed of the machine as a whole will flat out collapse as you pass 90% and 95%.


Similarly, a computer needs a certain amount of active high speed scratch memory (RAM) to operate. If it runs out, it falls back to hard drive and that's when your computer sits there clicking without actually accomplishing much of anything. Here's another secret nobody talks about: It makes ZERO difference what processor you have now, unless you're a serious power user. Memory is absolutely the single biggest key to speed, and you need more of it. Web browsing consumes incredible amounts. Playing video and movies takes large amounts -- 1 GB holds about 4 seconds of HD video. Don't worry about what Intel chip's in there, worry about whether you've got 2, 4, 8, 12, 16 GB of RAM. That's the most important number for ANY computer.

Hardware Glitches

This is the category that will really ruin your day. Hardware isn't immune to bugs, and most hardware can't just download an update. Then you've got manufacturing defects to deal with, and lots of things just fail with age. Even so, it seems like the biggest enemy of computer hardware is old fashioned dust. It clogs up components and fans, causes them to heat up, and heat leads straight to hardware failure. Keep your area clean, keep your computer and especially its air ports clean. Use duster cans generously and frequently. I actually have to periodically vacuum puppy fur from my machines. A dusty computer is a dying computer.

Weird noises

Are you going to keep driving a car that's going RAH-RAH-RAH-RAH-RAH and assume everything's normal? Of course not. So when your computer is going click-click-click-click, there is a problem. It could be a dying fan. Much worse, it could be a dying hard drive. Figure out what's making the noise and have it replaced before it causes a lot more damage.

Physical stresses

I bring this up mainly for the laptop crowd. Computers are made of very small components connected by very, very small wires. They do NOT like physical stress. Bending is bad. The single biggest reason the MacBook Pro is such a long lasting notebook is that it is made of stiff metal. Dell is infamous for shipping computers with such weak plastic bracing that the computers simply cannot sustain more than very light use beyond 2-3 years. When you're buying computers, ask yourself why similarly specced machines are actually priced so differently. If you've got a cheap plastic notebook, you're going to have to baby it or the internal components will snap -- sometimes internally at near microscopic levels. Be gentle putting them in bags. And think hard about build quality for your next purchase.

Computers are broken

I don't want to give the impression that I disagree with the referenced diary. I agree wholeheartedly, doubly so because I've SEEN the source code to most of what runs your machine from day to day and it's unbelievable in so many ways. It has to be, with so many people, teams, companies, and countries involved. Half the time, software developers aren't even sure who's responsible. (Though Microsoft has learned that they are ALWAYS responsible, much to their dismay.) Even the supposed usability king, Mac OSX, has a tendency to ask questions which I have to stop and think about.

Unfortunately, the best advice I can give with regards to computers is: learn. The world wants engineers to produce easy to use, simple machines that don't confuse and infuriate. Truth is, it's a huge struggle to get them to work in the first place, let alone cover up and present the wonderful facade you're looking for. They're not like cars. They're not like appliances. They are truly, literally millions of times more complicated and we've only had thirty years to figure out how to make them for the general public. On top of that, there's a whole boatload of engineers building viruses, ads, and other ridiculous things that are in direct opposition to the goals of a computer. That's why iPads don't have Flash, for example. (Try disabling that on your PC/Mac one day, by the way. It's not too hard and you'll be pleasantly shocked.)

Truthfully, we need another half century plus of work to deliver what the average users are asking for without compromising the capabilities of most machines. The iPad is probably the first serious attempt, but it gets there by severely crippling what you're allowed to do and how you're allowed to do it. In most cases, the drum beat of bigger, faster, better has long since drowned out the plea for easier, safer, cleaner. (Though the work by Jobs et al has put an enormous dent in that.) I'm not referring to choices as pedestrian as Mac vs PC. It affects every layer, every component, and we're a woefully long way from fixing that.

In the meantime, we can at least work as a community to get your personal computer back to tip top condition.

Originally posted to Element 61 on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 02:09 PM PDT.

Also republished by Cranky Users, Community Spotlight, and Toolbox.

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  •  The doctor is in (313+ / 0-)
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    What's ailing you? Remember, include exact model numbers and symptoms.

      •  Sheeeeesh. Ow. nt (6+ / 0-)

        "In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder, a secret order." Carl Jung

        by Unduna on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 03:38:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  There IS a use for Safari on a PC after all!! n/t (11+ / 0-)

        Conservatism is a function of age - Rousseau
        I've been 19 longer'n you've been alive - me

        by watercarrier4diogenes on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 03:44:27 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I (20+ / 0-)

          think it's just a glitch. Told Hunter about it. It's not that I think PCs are junk, the problems seem to crop up when PCs and the Internet are combined.

          For example, one of my examples was the hung page that won't close, and then you go into task manager and it still won;t close right away. And there are solutions to that. But think about it for a second; if there are solutions to it, why does it ever happen at all? When people click on the X to close a page, it's reasonable to assume they want that page closed. So, if s solution exists to close it, then it would be great of that solution would occur without the user having to fool around and waste time finding it and telling it to engage. It would be even better if the page would simply close when that request is made by the user without a back up solution or back to the back up solution.

          IOW, we click on the X, and the page closes every time.  

          •  Oh, my... (23+ / 0-)
            When people click on the X to close a page, it's reasonable to assume they want that page closed.

            No, it really isn't reasonable for a software program to assume that. I've worked as a technical writer for nearly 20 years, writing end-user documentation, online help, and worked on user-experience and user-interface design teams, have been involved in extensive usability testing and observing people using computers for a long time ... so I felt had to stop here to say that this assumption is just wrong. Users click on the X when they don't really want to shut down the window, all the time.

            The "Do You Really Want to Do This?" confirmation message is absolutely necessary to prevent some users from making very bad mistakes and getting very upset. Say someone spends a lot of time on a document, then gets distracted or has several windows open at once and accidentally hits the X on the wrong window... they do NOT want the program to just assume they meant it and close the program and delete all their work.

            It the program does just close it down and loses all that work without giving the user a chance to change their mind, they will be pissed. In fact, some people will impatiently click the confirmation button without reading the warning -- "you have not saved this file, are you sure you want to close it?" and then still get angry that the program did not somehow prevent them from making the mistake when they lose their work.

            Now as for the Windows task manager, I agree it's extra dumb, but nonetheless it does serve a purpose. It checks to see if there is data that will be lost if the program is shut down, giving the user a chance to go back and try another solution before throwing out work.

            Often there is no other way, and one of my personal pet peeves is confirmation messages that have only one button saying "Ok" -- no, it's not OK, damn it, but obviously you have no choice but to acknowledge that whatever you were doing won't work. But is some situations like the task manager, there could be reasons why a user would think again before pulling the plug if an important file is going to be lost.

            I do share a lot of your grips, don't get me wrong, computers and software and how people interact with them is a subject I have spent a lot of time on, and you are very right that user interfaces in general are still very poor. I believe, from my experience in the field, that this stems in large part from the fact that developers are techies and they don't consider the POV of a user who doesn't understand their technobabble error messages and so forth. They simply don't even think about it.

            When I talk to developers about a feature and they talk about subroutines and whatnot, I ask them to explain to me how some feature is going to work or is supposed to work from the point of view of the end user, they often seem confused about this entire concept. That's why big successful companies have "user experience teams" now... because techies cannot design an effective interface or even what a program should do, for the nontechnical user.

            Far too much software is designed without the benefit of a user-oriented technical writer on the interface design team to write meaningful error messages and so forth. That is absolutely part of the problem. Software engineers think a certain way... not always in the most helpful or empathetic way, I have learned. I love 'em, don't get me wrong. Very creative and smart people... but they need help making software friendly to the rest of us. Most of them don't get that help even if they want it.  

          •  No. terrible idea. Wrong Wrong Wrong. (11+ / 0-)

            When you try to close a program and it won't respond there is a very good reason why it is a VERY BAD IDEA to write software that just presumes you want it killed outright in that scenario.

            First off - many programs are meant to run without user intervention.   The programs you actually know you are running are just the tip of an iceberg of buried software that you don't run directly but has to be there for things to work right.  If you think you are running, say, 3 programs, open up your task manager and look at how many you are really running.  It's way more than you think.  And not every user is using their system as a desktop machine - for a server it's even more true to state that many of the programs are not user-operated.  Why does this matter?  Because what you're talking about is a change at a very low level that affects all software, not just the user-controlled stuff.  For many of the other sorts of programs, killing them when they fail to close down nicely would have to mean killing them without asking a human being about it.  The assumption "this person wants it closed" is not necessarily true.

            But, lets say you get around that by only making this feature you're talking about work on those programs that were explicitly closed by a human being clicking the button.  Okay - that gets rid of the complaint above but then still leaves the following problems:

            Second - It is mathematically proven that one computer program cannot detect when another computer program is stuck without itself getting stuck in the act of trying to come to that conclusion.  This is a very hard and fast rule - along the lines of "the total entropy in the universe cannot decrease" in physics.  It's THAT impossible to break.    It's not even a matter of how one OS works versus another.  It's proven based on the very minimum definition of what a computer even is.  As long as a computer is a machine that reads symbols in memory and writes symbols back into the memory, based on a set of instructions, that is all it takes to prove this theorem.  And it can be proven on paper mathematically - it's not even a matter of having to test it on machines.

            What it comes down to, basically, is that to check on what another program is doing to ask, "is the loop this program is stuck in going to ever reach its end condition or will it avoid triggering it forever?" requires that the checking program will, essentially, walk through the steps the checkee program is doing to decide what would happen.  So the checker program gets stuck too, because it ends up having to become an emulator running the stuck program in its own memory, and never reaches its conclusion about the stuck program because it gets stuck in the same place trying to emulate the stuck program in its head.

            So, the conclusion of all this is this:  No piece of software can tell with certainty whether another piece of software that is stuck is stuck because it is genuinely never going to end, or whether it is stuck because it's very very slowly reaching its conclusion but it's taking a while.  This means that no Operating System can reliably know when it's safe to terminate a program without losing work.

            So what if you put a time limit on it, as in "Wait X seconds and if it's still not quit yet then kill it outright."?  The problem there is that its impossible to determine how many seconds is reliable before it's safe to make that assumption.  Sometimes operations are slow but still happening.  One example of this is if the program is writing files to a network drive and the network is glitchy and slow.

            Or to put it another way: let's say you set the threshold at 5 seconds.  "If I try to close the window and the program won't finish on its own nicely and is still running 5 seconds later, then the OS should kill it externally."  Now, if that happened when the program was otherwise going to hang forever, you'd probably like that.  Or if it happened when the program was otherwise going to finish but it was going to take several minutes, you'd probably like that.  However, what about the scenario where the program was going to finish in 6 seconds but you killed it at 5 seconds when it only had 1 second yet to go?  You'd probably hate that, as the resulting lost work would be disastrous for no reason.

            Because of the above mathematical property, the OS, being software itself, cannot tell the difference between "this program was going to finish nicely in 1 second from now on its own anyway so if I kill it I screw things up for no good reason" versus "this program was stuck forever and this was the only way to stop it".

            THAT is why what you are proposing is a horrible idea.

            One compromise, and several OS GUis do this now, is to have the OS pop up a window to ask the user if a program seems to be taking a long time to close, whether it should kill it outright or keep on waiting for it.  This is basically making it the user's fault if impatience ends up killing the program 5 seconds into its 6 second shutdown and therefore leaving things messed up.  The user, it is presumed, has intuition - something the computer does not.  This intuition can help determine the difference between "this is really abnormal and something is wrong and this program won't die on its own" versus "I expected this to be slow under the circumstances - it's premature to assume it's broken - give it a few more seconds."

            That distinction cannot be, and I mean very literally CANNOT be made by a computer.  Technically it can't be made by a human either with certainty, but humans are better at guessing in uncertain situations than computers are, and this is a scenario that calls for exactly that sort of guessing.

            •  asdf (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Because of the above mathematical property, the OS, being software itself, cannot tell the difference between "this program was going to finish nicely in 1 second from now on its own anyway so if I kill it I screw things up for no good reason" versus "this program was stuck forever and this was the only way to stop it".

              But the user doesn't know that either, unless they deliberately wrote software with an infinite loop.  

              •  Correct, but did you read where I said (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                avsp, MKinTN

                that the difference is in who's fault it is that the program was stopped?  It's acceptable to have the user make that guess and live with the consequences if it was the wrong guess to make.  It is NOT acceptable to have the OS itself do so and therefore remove the choice from the hands of the user.

                As bad as it is for the user to be allowed to shoot themselves in the foot that's still an improvement over having the OS do it to them without asking.

                •  Yes! (0+ / 0-)

                  Idiot Windows programmers defending the indefensible. If I click  X I WANT THE GODDAMNED application to shut down - now. If I lose data, I don't care. My problem.

                  Waiting usually does no good and Task Manager is one possible solution that itself does not always work. I know or think I know when an ap  is hung. Give it up. Remove it from the scheduled to execute list and free up it's memory and all other resources.

                  If you as the OS get confused and are in a deep dark hole, admit it and reboot after informing the user what you are doing.

                  Stop! Do not pass go. Do not collect $100.

                  "Always remember this: They fight with money and we resist with time, and they’re going to run out of money before we run out of time." -Utah Philips

                  by TerryDarc on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:33:11 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Since when did I say i program in Windows? (0+ / 0-)

                    I don't.  I stay away from that piece of garbage.  I write UNIX software.

                    Now, with that out of the way, please try harder to actually pay attention to what is being said.  I explained a solution in which the user (YOU) does make the decision whether or not to kill the program, and you still rant meaninglessly about wanting to have the very control I just fucking talked about.

                    Now, if it's so broken that when the OS tried to kill the program, it can't. (which is what it means in Windows when the task manager can't kill it) then the problem isn't who tries to kill it - you of the OS.  If the OS rebooted without asking you every time the Task Manager was unable to kill a program, I guarantee you you'd be complaining about that behavior because it would mean ONE stuck program will fuck up all the other non-stuck programs.

                    Now, if you will be honest, you'll admit that "I want programs to be killed whether they're responding or not when I hit the "X button" is NOT the same complaint as "how come even after resorting to killing the program with the task manager it sometimes still won't do i?"  Those are two entirely different problems, and you never mentioned the second one, and I was not originally responding to the second one.  If you're getting that happening then something is seriously broken with your system, not just the one application in question.  Even for something as crappy as Windows that's not supposed to be happening.

                    But what you're asking for would be an OS that would be even more infuriating to you.  

                •  Exactly right (0+ / 0-)
                  When you try to close a program and it won't respond there is a very good reason why it is a VERY BAD IDEA to write software that just presumes you want it killed outright in that scenario.

                  Paternalistic, BS attitude that ruins much of Windows s/w.

                  I'm not opposed to ASKING the user if they know WTF they are doing first but simply to hang the machine forever waiting for what is not going to happen leads to a lot of frustration and needless waiting.

                  I think we're talking mostly about browsers and internet aps here and, ferchristsakes, it's a godddamned ap we're talking about killing here.

                  Free the ap's resources and get on with life.

                  "Always remember this: They fight with money and we resist with time, and they’re going to run out of money before we run out of time." -Utah Philips

                  by TerryDarc on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:40:33 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  If your machine is hanging forever (0+ / 0-)

                    (and not just one application), then your description did not originally mention that.  I thought you were complaining about a properly operating Windows system's normal interface experience.  If what you're saying is happening regularly, then something is really really wrong.  

                    One program hanging and having to be killed by more drastic measures than just asking it "please quit if you like" - unfortunate but normal, as the OS doesn't get to dictate every line of code ever written in every program that runs on it.

                    One program hanging and being unkillable even when resorting to drastic measures - not normal.  It indicates something screwed up in the OS.  To hang your complaint on a user interface issue here is incorrect.  This isn't a user interface issue - when the os itself can't even kill the program then something is really wrong - and usually not with the application program but with something in the OS itself.  (A driver, usually, as they are the least well tested piece of the OS.)

                    One program handing and being unkillable AND this makes the entire OS stop so the whole machine is stuck and not just hat one program - something is really really broken here.  Don't attribute it to deliberate programming decisions about the interface.  This is not how it was supposed to work and something is wrong.  Asking "why did they design it to work like this" is like asking "why did GM design my car to make metal clanging noises and spew black smoke?  Who wants that?" as if it was part of the deliberate design when what you're actually looking at is evidence of something broken in your specific vehicle - not part of the normal design.

      •  that can happen if you turn off.... (9+ / 0-)

        .... certain things like maybe Java and script.  

        Though there is also a DKos bug whereby the Rec button fails to work.  

        •  When my rec/hide buttons disappear, it's because (8+ / 0-)

          I'm not signed in. I think it has something to do with cookies because I'm normally signed in automatically when I open DKos. Sometimes, however, usually right after I've done something to delete cookies, I have to sign in again.

          How's that for tech talk? LOL

          Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from a religious conviction. -- Blaise Pascal

          by RJDixon74135 on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:15:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I can't use FF with Dkos on my laptop (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Creosote, Wee Mama

            (Vista) because no buttons are visible.  I finally gave up and now use Google Chrome for Dkos and it works fine.  So there are "work-arounds" for us lowly users, I can't complain.  

            I know, I know, Google tracks your usage or whatever, I don't care.  I won't use IE, I feel it's the one browser under attack the most from hackers and spammers.  Maybe I'm wrong, but hey, I'm a lowly user and I can just go by what info I read on the internet, right?  :)

            -6.50/-5.23 Palin / Trump 2012 - "I quit!" / "You're Fired"

            by Merry Light on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 08:59:29 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  suggestions (0+ / 0-)

              update firefox. clear your add-ons and update your video driver for good measure.

              •  I tried that, thanks though, for the suggestion. (0+ / 0-)

                It didn't work, but I finally decided it wasn't worth getting too crazy about it, just use chrome and it works fine.

                -6.50/-5.23 Palin / Trump 2012 - "I quit!" / "You're Fired"

                by Merry Light on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 08:42:56 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Suddenly it occurs to me, though, why (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Wee Mama

                  don't I just uninstall FF and re-install it?  It was not working right on my PC so I finally did that, now it works.  I'll keep looking at your diary, to make this laptop faster.  Maybe one of the things I should do is take a lot of the large picture files off and back them up on two external hard drives?

                  -6.50/-5.23 Palin / Trump 2012 - "I quit!" / "You're Fired"

                  by Merry Light on Fri Jun 10, 2011 at 07:18:20 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

      •  i dunno about rec'ing anti AV . . .* (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Lujane, caul

        post like this.  Though most of it is good.  The USUAL reason an anti-virus gets a little muddled is 1 reason only:  USERS not DISABLING the AV s/w before installing an application.  

        Since day one of Viruses and then anti-virus s/w, ALWAYS disable before installing applications.  A-N-Y applications.  

        A/V software is heavy overhead only when installed and used correctly AND incorrectly.  BUTT, it's the ONLY ARMOR you got, if you're plugged into the web.  

        So, you wanna go Photoshop crazy?  Then disable the NIC and disable your a/v s/w too, then have it.


        •  He's not advising using NO anti-virus (21+ / 0-)

          He's right in that the vast majority of it is harmful crap. Microsoft Security Essentials will cover 98% of the problems with 1% of the heartburn, and it's free with every copy of Windows for individuals and small businesses.
          One thing he forgot that I think should be strongly advised (and which will cover a lot of the issues normally used by anti-virus software). If you suspect something did slip by, you're probably going to need to either to drop to a command prompt scanner or something off of a live CD as the virus/malware will cause too much interference otherwise.

          When I've done support work the number of issues I get from end users that are ultimately caused by someone's anti-virus programs are just staggering. Having them uninstall it and switch to one of the few good programs almost always solved the problem.

          One thing that should have been brought up is firewalls: they're important. Thankfully, basic ones ship with every OS (and not so basic if you're running a Linux variant :V ) now and they should be on your router as well -- it's much better to keep as much bad traffic off of the PC as possible for performance and security reasons. Might be beyond the scope of this diary, though.

          •  Yes, on a recent thread (8+ / 0-)

            three different IT managers recommended MSE as their preferred AV for personal use. I don't use anything else but the built in Defender and MSE. Never had a problem on XP or W7.

            Also, if you like clicking on things, stop that. Mouse over and look at the url first. And then google the url to see if it has problems. WOT plug in for firefox and Safari can also tell you which sites have bad reps. And don't set your mail to open automatically. Look at who it's from first and trash anything suspicious.

            On OS X get ClamXAV (open source) and run it once in a while to make sure you are not acting as a carrier.

            Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. Groucho Marx

            by marketgeek on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:07:26 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  AV vendors admit themselves (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MKinTN, Wee Mama

          They are only catching about 30% of viruses.

          When I was recently-divorced and living on my own, I had my own PC in my apartment, and I NEVER installed AV on it.  I just ran as a non-admin and didn't surf toilet sites (usually, pr0n and pirate sites are the worst) and I never had a problem.  As long as I knew I was the only user of my computer and I never let something get installed that I didn't really know about, I was fine.

          I installed an AV package when I got remarried and there was the possibility kids would be getting on my PC again.

          And in case you are wondering, my job title is Consulting Systems Programmer.  I used to work in, then manage, the team responsible for 18,000 desktops at a Fortune 500 corp.  Now I am working on creating a Virtual Desktop environment for that same company.  I indisputably know whereof I speak.

          Just in case you forgot today: REPUBLICANS VOTED TO END MEDICARE. AND THEY'LL DO IT AGAIN.

          by slippytoad on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 06:57:14 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I blame DK4 - and modern websites generally (10+ / 0-)

        for things like this...

        Open up dailykos - and what happens...

        The site is hitting up what I'm betting are literally half a dozen servers waiting for components of the site... ad servers... facebook... all the other stupid little do-dads...

        Your own connection goes wiggy or one of the contacted sites is just experiencing a momentary traffic jam and what happens?  

        The page hangs while it waits on a response before it can fully assemble a page.

        I understand sites rely on ad revenue (and of course - I can always just subscribe to DK).   I understand that social media is now the OMFG YOU MUST!!! have the damned silly buttons...

        But it drives me nuts - when you need to touch half a dozen different servers, what do you expect to happen?

        Your experience on a site is going to be choppy and you're going to constantly get hung pages.

        Full Disclosure: I am an unpaid shill for every paranoid delusion that lurks under your bed - but more than willing to cash any checks sent my way

        by zonk on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 06:32:03 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  This Happened to Me Day Before Yesterday (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        AntKat, Dave925, caul, MKinTN

        It was my fault.  I used a PC Tools program to "optimize" my computer and it optimized the DK rec, rate, stars, queue notes, and search functions into a non-appearing and non-functioning state.  Took me the entire day to find and undo the "optimization."

        Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

        by Limelite on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 06:35:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Don't EVER use Norton/Symantec (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MKinTN, Wee Mama

          products on your PC.  They are complete hacks (and I do not mean 'hackers' I mean INCOMPETENT HACKS).  Every time I've encountered Symantec software, I have wished I didn't have to deal with it.  It is total crap.

          Early on in the Windows 95 era I installed Symantec's tools on my PC and had it defrag my drive.  The defragger worked in the worst, stupidest-possible way and defragged my FAT first before defragging the files themselves.  

          When the defragger crashed in the middle of its operation, my filesystem was fucked raw, and I could tell for myself what a total piece of shit engineering Norton Tools was.  So DO NOT EVER USE IT.

          Just in case you forgot today: REPUBLICANS VOTED TO END MEDICARE. AND THEY'LL DO IT AGAIN.

          by slippytoad on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 07:00:30 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Sure you're logged in? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Be a man. Pay your taxes.

        by Blank Frank on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 11:00:16 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It seems to have happened in other diaries too (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        and to various people, so I suspect it's a DK thing.

        "I almost died for the international monetary system; what the hell is that?" ~ The In-laws

        by Andhakari on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 11:21:49 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Bill Gates doesn't want this diary seen :-) (0+ / 0-)

        In theory, there is no difference between theory and practice; but in practice, there always is a difference. - Yogi Berra

        by blue aardvark on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 06:43:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  This needs to be said up top (21+ / 0-)

      "If you want a reliable computer then 'beta' really is a four letter word".

      I've heard the joke that beta is really B.E.T.A. (Barely Even Tested Application). It's what shops push out the door to give the illusion they're making progress.

      In short, if you see two versions of a driver, say on the nVidia sight, and one is label 'beta' then DO NOT DOWNLOAD IT. Unless you're willing to live a life of pain and agony or are a power user used to jumping thru hoops you'll always be better off with the non-beta version.

      As soon as you have people telling other people how to live/think/behave because "god gave them authority" you effectively get dictators in funny looking hats.

      by ontheleftcoast on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 03:48:45 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Tipped, recc'd AND (7+ / 0-)


      Shirley Chisholm was right. Our Republic is in deep trouble.

      by Big River Bandido on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:01:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  THANK [whomever] you thank for these things . . . (18+ / 0-)

      otherwise I wouldn't have a job.

      HOORAY for HUMANS!  

      signed a CSH* and CHH* certified tech.

       Certified Software Hosineer and Certified Hardware Hosineer  Both my own certifications.  If you'd like to be a CSH all you have to do is kill an application in 10 clicks or less.  The Hardware certification only requires that you made something smoke.  

    •  I own three computers (4+ / 0-)

      Well, make that two computers and a doorstop.

      IBM Aptiva bought in 1997 - yes you read that right.

      IBM NetVista bought in 2001.

      Gateway Bryant... AKA - the doorstop bought in 2000.

      My IBMs are both in original condition, no crashes, no reshoots of Winders, no problems in all the years I've had them. No kidding!

      The Gateway? POS right out of the box. Actually, this one is a replacement for the original one that burned up five hard drives... yes you read that right... five hard drives in nine months. Since it was still under warranty BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA, they replaced it with the doorstop. If that damned thing moved any slower it would be going backwards. I'd toss it out the nearest airlock - if I had an airlock - but it does have some stuff on it I want to pull off there some day when touching it doesn't bring back the bad voices,

      My IBMs OTOH, you'll have to pry from my cold dead hands. Big Blue knows how to build a comp!

      Meddle not in the affairs of dragons... for thou art crunchy and good with ketchup.

      by Pariah Dog on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:31:02 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Thinkpads are indestructible (0+ / 0-)

        I had one for 4 years and passed up 2 offers for a better laptop before finally obsolesence came calling.

        Just in case you forgot today: REPUBLICANS VOTED TO END MEDICARE. AND THEY'LL DO IT AGAIN.

        by slippytoad on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 07:01:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  great diary... (5+ / 0-)

      I am a network admin... your points are all spot on.

      "The world is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion." ~ Thomas Paine

      by third Party please on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 07:01:28 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  well (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      'm a professional software developer and IT admin,
       so am I , so I find it strange that you blame the hardware, when in fact we all know its the USERS that are to blame 99.999% of the time.

      Its people doing stupid things, or being stupid that causes all these problems I have found.

      Me and my team using the same hardware and ISP etc very very rarely have a problem.  Low tech idiots out there however, my god their machines are like a garbage pail.  I fell dirty often just working on them and touching them.

      We often just do clean reinstalls and dont even mess with them since they get them so junked up and infected.

      Its users error, dont be hating the hardware and OS.  For sure windows inst perfect, but in the right hands, it runs just fine.

      Bad is never good until worse happens

      by dark daze on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 08:35:41 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Seriously? (15+ / 0-)

        People like you are an unfortunate reality in our industry. "Your computer is broken because you're stupid!" This doesn't help anybody. Go ahead and write that diary, see what happens.

        What you've done is simultaneously punted on any responsibility as a developer, and directed intense spite towards the people whose professions are not knowing computers.

        I prefer to study what we can do to reduce the problems, and educate people in the meantime. You're holding us back.

        •  But you can't deny... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          ....people often do really stupid things through ignorance or lazyness.  I usually excuse people who are not technical but I have even had to deal with problems of technical people when the solution is in the handy user manual or realese notes I used to give them with most everything I wrote.

          We Glory in war, in the shedding of human blood. What fools we are.

          by delver rootnose on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 11:17:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  people like me (0+ / 0-)

          LOL,  you are just being disingenuous.  

          I prefer to study what we can do to reduce the problems, and educate people in the meantime. You're holding us back.
           LOL, people like you are holding us back,  please you cant even be honest in a reality forum.

          I do develop software and ease of use is of course number one along with reliability, but lets be fucking honest for a second, ( wouldnt that be a nice change of pace).

          Problem number 1 with workplace computers, people dont own them, they arent theirs, so they treat them like shit.

          If you are indeed in the industry and you dont recognize that, you need a new field.

          Bad is never good until worse happens

          by dark daze on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 08:46:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  If you were in the auto (0+ / 0-)

        industry in 1920, people would still be getting broken wrists from steering kickback when hitting a pothole in the road. On the other hand, people like element 61 developed better steering gear, and, eventually, power steering. I figure we are maybe up to model "A" s in the computer/auto analogy. I can't wait for the industry to get us to the equivalent of the '65 Mustang. Just think about gettting online, and it opens your home page, with a bunch of free coupons for great stuff you use every day. Dreaming is cheap, so dream BIG. Love your diary, Element, many good things here.

      •  Man come ON (0+ / 0-)

        You're the epitome of the IT guy everyone hates.

        "Users are stupid it's always their fault!"

        The SNL skit about "Your Company's Computer Guy" is you, man, seriously.

        Users who don't know any better can do dumb things like download yahoo bar and whatnot, they don't know any better. But it isn't ALWAYS their fault when a computer goes to shit. Any corporate IT department worth their salt can prevent users from downloading crapware.

        Once your eliminate that particular problem, the rest of the problems come from shoddy and chaotic programming, and hardware.

        You can't always blame the damn user, and even if it is their fault, telling them that they are stupid and making them feel stupid isn't the answer. You're superiority complex is telling.

        •  chaotic (0+ / 0-)

          choatic programming?  wtf are you talking about.  Windows is pretty solid unless viruses and so forth and allowed in.

          Secondly, why on earth would you pay and use any other piece of software if you think it is chaotic?   Thats pretty stupid right there.

          Why do you think SNL even do skits like that? because they are funny because they are based in truth.

          Again, just like car accidents, of the hundreds of thousand of accidents a year, how many are the cars fault?

          Bad is never good until worse happens

          by dark daze on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 11:02:58 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  I'm a software developer, too. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul, Matt Z

      And I can attest to the accuracy of almost everything in your diary.

      Didn't know about Norton, though. I use it because I get it for free through my ISP.

      If there is no accountability for those who authorized torture, we can no longer say that we are a nation of laws, not men.

      by MikePhoenix on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 10:37:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Cloud Computing (0+ / 0-)

      Computing is becoming a service.  Google's Chromebook is about to hit the market (in a week, no less).  8 second boot.  All applications, data stored elsewhere.  Everything is accessed via a browser.   As Sun was touting back in 1997 "the network is the computer."  That is happening at last, and with it, our long tech nightmare is ending.

      Apple also just announced cloud services.  Even Microsoft -- by necessity - is going in this direction.

      IT managers everywhere rejoice.   If there's a problem, just get a new computer.  Done.  They will be cheap enough.  All the data and applications stay secure.

      Of course, cloud computing is also a power play to lock you into their platform.   You use the suite of applications they offer, the hardware they build.   You need an internet connection.   Cheap and painless?  Yes.  The cost though is autonomy and choice.  Me?  After 30 years of having to reboot for some reason almost every day I am ordering that Chromebook and going to the cloud.

      All of Us are Smarter Than Any of Us

      by organize on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 03:37:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  COD's Law (0+ / 0-)

      (developed for Macs but easily generalized)

      All computers, when current software is added, run apps at the same speed as the 128K Macintosh ran MacWrite.

      Thump! Bang. Whack-boing. It's dub!

      by dadadata on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 04:28:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Excellent diary (0+ / 0-)

      And everything here is so true. As an IT/tech, when my clients insist on buying Dells or HPs, I get them to let me wipe and reload them as soon as they come in. That is, I totally format their hard drives and then do a fresh clean install of Windows, along with AVG or even just Microsoft Security Essentials, and any other essential software they need (like Office).

      There is SO much shit that comes on those pre-made machines, people don't realize. Norton and McAfee are the worst pieces of shit software out there. Please do not use them. If you have them installed on your computers, uninstall them right now and go get AVG Free, Microsoft Security Essentials, or Avast (there's a free version of this as well).

      And PLEASE for the love of GODDESS... uninstall crapware like yahoo bars. This is the worst sort of junk, all it does is slow your computer down and it provides ZERO utility.

  •  Thank you, Promethius. n/t (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, blueyedace2, pateTX
  •  Freaking Norton AV (27+ / 0-)

    Worthless. Every time I have a problem it tells me I have to manually remove it using some arcane process written up in a manner that is almost impossible to decipher.

    My free version of Malwarebytes handles the same issues automaticaly. I will not renew Norton again.

    Then they came for the trade unionists,
    and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist.

    by Ex Con on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 02:29:59 PM PDT

    •  I had to uninstall AVG 2011 from an older (11+ / 0-)

      business class HP. (Pent IV)
      Looking at the task manager AVG had 9 separate processes running at once.
      35,000k of memory.

      Avast rocks on this machine, a quick defrag and now it's good to go!

      "People who see a contradiction between science and the bible don't really understand either." PvtJarHead

      by Tinfoil Hat on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 03:19:12 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The (11+ / 0-)

        one advantage of a standalone av that's not embedded in the OS is that it can be found and disabled.  One of the biggest problems I deal with every day is called patch looping. User already has the program, is using the program successfully. But a patch has been developed that auto down loads when the program is opened and the patch loads to 100%, then stops, then loads again, then stops, etc, ad infinitum. There's no way out of this for the user, they can't use the program until the cycle is broken and they're usually pissed by the time they get escalated to me.

        The trouble shooting goes like this: try run as admin, then try disabling av and firewalls, run in selective start up, run in safe mode w/networking. if it's still happening after that, there's not much else to do over the phone. In some cases, with computer literate users, they go on to track it down. Apparently there are some avs that come preinstalled and are very, very difficult to get rid of. Windows 7 professional preinstalled on a gaming laptop seems to be the biggest culprit in my experience. A couple of times some users found av software -- two that come to mind are F-secure and Titanium -- that resist removal and run full bore in msconfig, but once uninstalled, the patch will load.

    •  McAfee...constantly telling me to restart. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Brown Thrasher, Tinfoil Hat, Ex Con, caul

      "Pretty soon we're not going to be able to find reasonable decent people who are willing to subject themselves to serving public office." Sheriff Dupnik, AZ

      by voracious on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:25:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I have Norton Internet Security 2011 and (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dewley notid, Ex Con, caul

      it is running quite well, thanks.

      Some years were worse than others, but they've gotten it right this time around, IMHO.

      I compared it to my old Trend Micro (which is horribly behind the times in terms of protection strength, lately), Kapersky, AVG, etc. and am happy with my license for our Windows XP and 7 64-bit systems.

      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

      by wader on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:32:00 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Idle time scan... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wader, blueoasis, caul, MKinTN

        That was causing me problems, but I am a power user and my computer is set up to transcode video for playing on my Tivo.  Norton thinks this is idle time when it can scan, which kills transcode performance because two disk intensive programs are hitting the disk.  It took me a while to figure out that the idle time scan was why I could not transcode HD video in real time.  I have it set to scan early in the morning when I know I don't need the computer.

        •  Did you realize this by checking its (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          performance graphs?  That's been a great feature for my fine-tuning desires - which have gone unfulfilled, because the scans have not hit me at needed times such as for your system.

          "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

          by wader on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:49:14 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  It was a guess... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            The suspicion came to me when I started watching something right after being on the computer, so it had not gone idle.  The Tivo bar was actually increasing faster than I was watching.  Then, about 40 minutes later the video paused.  The Tivo had caught up to the data being transferred.  So, it starts out fast then slows down later, and whenever I get back on after a while Norton says Idle Time Scan was running.  I finally put two and two together, and started poking around the settings in Norton.

    •  Malwarebytes is awesome (8+ / 0-)

      I've helped people clean up a lot of machines with its help.  Very, very useful software.

    •  Over the Years I've Tried Norton (5+ / 0-)

      and McAfee.  Both caused problems.

      Then I ponied up and bought Kaspersky, which updates itself daily, sometimes twice daily.  Never had any problem.  Easy to disable during installs, easy to enable, allows selective enabling of its many features, and has all kinds of displays to monitor your PC.

      For it, I thank the Russians.

      Readers & Book Lovers Pull up a chair! You're never too old to be a Meta Groupie

      by Limelite on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 06:46:22 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I agree (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoasis, caul, DruidQueen

      Nortons and Macafee are craptastic.

      Bad is never good until worse happens

      by dark daze on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 08:37:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Yep, I'm a fan of MAB, too (0+ / 0-)

      Works and works well afaict.

      "Always remember this: They fight with money and we resist with time, and they’re going to run out of money before we run out of time." -Utah Philips

      by TerryDarc on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 11:48:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The Crapware (11+ / 1-)

    Incidentally those of you still "swearing by your PC":

    You should know that the crapware diarist speaks of is why your computer is cheaper than the more efficient, better, less problem laden Mac.

    It makes you look silly when you brag about how much cheaper than a Mac your PC was.  It's cheap because it's "sponsored."

    You have probably 200 megabytes of commercials running constantly, and most computer users are too un-savvy to know, or care to know how to simply disable them.

    Real Player, for example.  A completely worthless, inferior piece of shit that no one uses unless it's porn and Real Player is the dedicated player.  You can't just stop the application from task manager.  You have to go into the program, and into its options and disable all the automatic starts and stuff manually.  Or, of course...uninstall.  If you can.

    Windows Media player.  Every time to start that pile of rickety blurry garbage up it begins to search the internet for shit you don't care about.

    You say, "OK Window Media Player, play me this video."

    And it says "OK in a minute.  Hey did you see the new Bionce CD?  It's really hot.  Hey Droids are on sale.  Want one?  Need new shoes?  There's a sale on at Dog Funk.  I see you have a Beatles White Album, let me see if I can find the album cover art for you..."

    You have to disable that shit ... manually.

    Or ...

    you know ...

    Get a mac.

      •  he's not a troll. though he appears to be an.... (22+ / 0-)

        ... OS partisan.

        I haven't had that problem with Windows Media Player.  

        And it's an interesting point about "sponsorship" of desktops & laptops by advertisers who want to put their tentacles in peoples' machines.   That sort of thing ought to be subject to mandatory disclosure laws, like an "ingredients" list on food packages.  

        •  Not all who troll are trolls (9+ / 0-)

          This is a diary about PC problems and how to make them go away. His post which contains not only inaccurate but "neener-neener" aspects is trollish. I like DM. He stands up for his home town. But if he had a diary up about Chrysler or GM doing something and people showed up and posted "Toyota RULZ!!!!" comments it would be trollish of them to do so.

          As soon as you have people telling other people how to live/think/behave because "god gave them authority" you effectively get dictators in funny looking hats.

          by ontheleftcoast on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 03:40:39 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  A false equivalent (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            chicago minx, poorbuster, Brainwrap

            (And by the way, I'd be the one writing the Toyota diary - so anywho...)

            More accurately would it be if I entered a diary about GM wherein the diary was explaining why everyone was having so many problems with a GM vehicle.

            And I came in and said "not only is the vehicle problematic, but the radio sucks too."

            That's not neener neener.

            It's not "trolling"  (god that word is so facebook farmville.)

            And I'm not incorrect about either Real Player OR Windows Media Player.

            The both access the internet without asking your permission.  They both slow your machine down.

            The only neener neener I might offer are people are too dense to get that all they have to do is disable it, which requires educating themselves a little bit.  But instead of lighting a candle, they'll just call folks who don't have the problems they have "trolls."


            •  eh (11+ / 0-)

              A friend of mine just bought a new machine and I had to talk her through crapware removal on the phone.  It took all of 15 minutes.  If she hadn't done it, what you say is true...but the overhead was quite low, especially if it is the first thing you do.

              If a company does not include repair disks, they can customarily be ordered for 20 bucks or burned.  Another thing everyone should do when they open the box.

              That said most people have no idea and don't bother.

              WMP is actually fairly well behaved in its current incarnation.  My current machine is about 4 months old and I got one hello from it and it went away except when I need to play a video or something.  I'm not seeing anything from it on my router logs (run a linux router and check them, and also put ethereal in the loop from time to time to make sure there is no evil).  This is not my media machine so perhaps this is not representative.

              RealPlayer has 200 million installs, which they have leveraged their company on, and no good revenue stream.  They are probably going to get worse.  Perhaps much so...

              ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

              by jessical on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:19:08 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  You are the exception (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                jessical, blueyedace2, Subterranean

                You are someone I would point to and say, "if you have to use one of those things ... be like (her?)."

                You have to admit there are a hundred million PCs out there ... right at this moment ... with all that garbage still running and the user is complete ignorant of it.

                It's how Microsoft meets their nut.

                •  I rec'd (5+ / 0-)

                  though I am not an MS basher :}  I've been writing software for nigh 30 years and too much effort and care goes into the work on the engineering side for me to use that broad a brush.  On MS, or Apple, or Linux.  

                  I agree about the ignorance.  On the other freakin' hard is it?  If folks can change the oil and get a tune up for their car, they can figure out that complex machinery requires some awareness -- not a lot, hardly any if you do the work -- but if you don't do it, the overall experience will either be a tiny subset of what the tool can do, because the complexity was baked out, or the experience will be broken.

                  And yes, Apple has a very clever solution with OS X, in that they basically hide BSD, exposing only the parts people want to look at or mostly need to look at.  It is interesting to me.  If they had more hardware choices, I'd still be using the MBP as primary, but...they don't.

                  ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

                  by jessical on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:44:36 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  A lot of mac users (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    jessical, caul

                    can find their way into the cache files where they're used to finding temp internet files and so on.

                    Probably the same number of peeps who would bother to disable WMP's "online stores" feature because it doesn't frankly care whether you buy anything or not because as long as its running, it bought YOU.

            •  VLC, mang! (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Hayate Yagami, caul

              I had no idea Real Player still existed, to be honest.

              Windows Media Player was decent for videos around version 9, but the last couple "upgrades" had me scurrying for an alternative and VLC does the job quite well...and it's free.

        •  Since these software companies (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Chi, blueoasis, caul

          pay to have their barely runable crippled apps loaded on a million systems it helps profit for the hardware companies.

          Bush crimes, Cheney torture, health care, gay rights, poor economy, wars, rule of law, civil rights - so much to do so little time - the clock is ticking

          by Da Rock on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:49:30 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Agree with your disagreement (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW, caul, nswalls, DruidQueen

        I run Windows 7 on a macbook pro, and the home version works well and has no crap on it. If the pc computers come with crap and no original windows disk, he might have a point. If I were to buy a new windows laptop, job one would be to wipe the disk and make a fresh install of the system only before loading my necessary software. That way, no bloat ware, no crap and faster computer for the user.

        Any new system should be trimmed for your needs before you start. On the mac I delete all of the language files, garageband files, almost all of the printer files, and only install drivers that I need. You can do the same with windows and save a lot of aggravation.

        BTW been using both platforms since 1985. Prefer the Mac, but have also always used the pc for essential business programs that were pc only. For me, the intel macbook is a godsend as I can do everything I need on one computer now.

        Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. Groucho Marx

        by marketgeek on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:23:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Speaking of Which, Didn't Google Earth Start Doing (9+ / 0-)

      that? All of a sudden when I search for many things I get more listings of commercial offerings than I can count.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 03:14:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Macs (12+ / 0-)

      are what, about ten percent of the market or so? About ten percent of the tech support contacts we get are from Mac users. There's no discernible difference from my tech support perspective between Macs and PCs. They seem to have their advantages and disadvantages like any other device.

      I will say, ASUS is, in my experience, hands down the worst offender.

      •  Well now (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        chicago minx

        I wouldn't just accept your "10% of market" claim out of hand,  I'd certainly have to see the figures.

        If so I'd also like to see the nature of the calls.

        Morons who dropped their laptops into the urinal?

        Or people with MacBooks locked up because of virii?

        And realize just saying "both" isn't compelling.

        •  Mac market share ~10% (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          It was a little under 10% in 2010.

        •  Hysterical. All the "facts" you post... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          caul, DruidQueen

          ...and yet you want him to prove his claims.


          "If you think the other side is EVIL, you're part of the problem." -Chris Matthews

          by malharden on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 08:11:32 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I think it's pretty easy (0+ / 0-)

            to prove whether or not you have real player on your computer, genius.

            Select "Add Remove Programs."

            Look for "Real Player" in the list.

            If you'd like me to prove whether or not you have it running on your computer, and indicate for you how much resources are being used by it ... then an intelligent person can see what a subjective exercise that would be.

            I haven't stated anything beyond that which requires "proof."

            I haven't made any claims about over all market shares.

            •  Hey Mark (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              DruidQueen, malharden

              You're really being an asshole.  I just thought I'd point that out.  It is COMMONLY KNOWN that Apple's market share is around 10%.  Any IT geek knows this.  That number hasn't changed (and certainly has never gone higher) in almost two decades since I've been working in IT.

              Get down off your high horse before you fall off and make yourself look ridiculous.  Yes, we can all tell you fucking love your Apple products.  Yes we can all tell you must have sacks of cash falling out of your ass to afford them.  You don't need to belabor the point any longer.  We get it.

              Just in case you forgot today: REPUBLICANS VOTED TO END MEDICARE. AND THEY'LL DO IT AGAIN.

              by slippytoad on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 07:14:09 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  I wonder if the support numbers (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        BoxNDox, mmacdDE, caul, MKinTN

        reflect user experience rather than platform. I use both, never had a problem on either that I couldn't fix, and consequently never call anyone for support, at least I haven't since 1985. So if the number is about relative experience of users, one might expect the numbers to match platform shares. Not sure that this correlates to frequency of problems by platform. OTOH, since I have no real problems with either, what do I know?

        Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. Groucho Marx

        by marketgeek on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:52:35 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Patently false. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, Brown Thrasher, beemerr, malharden

      You can hack together a Macintosh with the exact same hardware as an iMac or Mac Pro for somewhere between one third and one half of the cost. Not that I would advise anyone who is agreeing with the diary this was a reply to attempt that, but as an academic exercise it works -- do a search online for "Hackintosh". I've done it and spent $750 putting together what would have cost me $2500 to get in a Mac Pro, with zero issues currently running (granted I had a few kinks to work out -- which is why isn't not advised for the average user).

      Crapware (and economies of scale) explains why buying a PC from one of the big manufacturers is cheaper than building it yourself -- but it doesn't nearly cover the gap between said PC and an equivalent Mac.

      You think Microsoft is bad with security? Apple is worse; they just don't get exposed nearly as much because they are only 1/9th of the market (and Darwin, which is the core of OS X is much more solid than the core of Windows which has 10-20 years of single-user cruft inside it).

      •  I disagree.... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ssmt, GDbot, caul

        With 500 bucks...I can build a machine that will kill anything mass produced by the manufacturers and retails for 1500+...just by shopping in the bargain bin of most electronic stores..Laptops being the exception...

      •  That used to be the case... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JeffW, Julia Grey, caul

        That used to be the case.  And, I had not checked in a long time.  Then, I had a friend looking for a new computer, recently.  I saw what was out there for $400, and decided to do the academic exercise of assembling something that I would not be ashamed of for as little as possible, including Windows.  It was quite a bit better at about the same price, with a lot more upgrade-ability.

      •  Not sure about the security (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        my understanding is that Mac OS X is considerably more secure than Windows, but that's just based on what I've read at tech sites, not my own technical expertise.

        "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

        by Subterranean on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 09:01:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Windows Media Player plays what you request (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BYw, Tunk, funmerlin, caul, DruidQueen

      It only shows the Marketplace when you look at its . . . Marketplace interface.

      Similar to iTunes, in that manner.

      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

      by wader on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:34:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  My computer is cheap because... (6+ / 0-)

      ...I built it from recycled components.  I work for a computer recycling company in Seattle so it's pretty easy to find working parts and put it together myself and install the OS from scratch.  

      ...Obviously not a solution for everyone.  But reuse is the best form of recycling!

    •  One problem.... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Skex, Dave925, MKinTN, DruidQueen

      I can build a PC with retail parts that is faster and cheaper including a copy of Windows than anything built by a major manufacturer (Dell, HP, etc,,,).  Which falsifies the parents statement that the crapware is how the PC is cheaper than the Mac.  

      It might be the only way major manufacturers have been able to increase profits.

    •  You were correct to point out ad-supported (5+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Skex, blueoasis, Dave925, MKinTN, DruidQueen

      computers are crap for the very reasons you cite.

      You were incorrect to claim that it was a property inherent to Windows itself.  The correct parties to blame are Dell, HP, etc for that crap.

      And it is possible to go with a smaller mom & pop PC distributor and you don't get that crap on the computer.

      It is NOT a feature of the OS  - it's a feature of the shitty vendor.

    •  As a Mac user (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I still found your post rather snobbish.  

      "When I was an alien, cultures weren't opinions" ~ Kurt Cobain, Territorial Pissings

      by Subterranean on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 08:46:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I would agree with you but most of the... (0+ / 0-)

      ...stuff I really like to do, gaming for instance, does not run on macs.

      We Glory in war, in the shedding of human blood. What fools we are.

      by delver rootnose on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 11:24:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  You are FOS (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul, folgers, MKinTN, DruidQueen

      You MAC fanbois are so full of crap,

      Crapware is not the reason PC's are cheaper than MAC the reason PC's are cheaper than MACs is that there is actual competition and PC consumers understand that PC's are standardized and essentially fungible.

      Pretty much every computer you could buy is going to be running either an AMD or Intel processor on a motherboard running a chipset written by AMD or Intel using a video card from Nvidia, ATI(AMD) or intel(only if your super cheap or stupid) it will have a hard drive from a limited number of manufacturers which are for the most part functionally identical and some memory that once again all sources from a handful of companies.

      So if one vendor is charging too much for a PC a consumer can go to one of their competitors and get essentially the same machine minus some minor cosmetic differences.

      And you know what? Since Apple abandoned RISC architecture for X86 its just another PC that comes with a custom skinned Unix install. The actual hardware inside your MAC is the exact same hardware in a PC save that it's generally a generation or two behind the cutting edge of what's available for a PC.

      The real question isn't why a PC is cheaper than a MAC since any who can read and work a screw driver can build a Windows PC that will easily out spec an Apple for a fraction of the cost. Hell that same user could get even superior stability and security as well as knock 100 bucks off the price of their build  by installing Linux.

      No the real question is why does a MAC cost so much more?

      Build quality? The only part of an apple that is unique to apple is their cases so one part is their case, of course this only really applies to laptops since you can get all sorts of kick ass PC cases.

      Reliability? Pretty much the only reason MAC tends to be more reliable than Windows based PCs is that they support a much smaller range of hardware so one can easily meet those same reliability standards by limiting your hardware to high quality components that have been tested together. Of course you limit your hardware options substantially in doing so but if reliability is your main concern you can easily match Apple.
      Does that justify additional cost? My opinion the answer is no since to achieve that level of stability and reliability you actually use older and there for cheaper established components. It also comes at the cost of limited expansion options after all if the manufacturer of some new peripheral you want doesn't support MAC you won't be able to use it while every peripheral in existence will work on a PC because only an idiot would ignore 90% of the market.

      Operating stability? As I said earlier MAC OS is just a shell running on Unix, you can attain equivalent (and likely higher) stability by running Linux which can be gotten for free so that doesn't really seem to justify a price premium.

      Usability? This one is highly subjective, Personally I abhor the Apple UI it's clunky and dated, but I imagine that someone who's used to it would find it easier than windows but that's really just a matter of experience and taste. So this one I'd say that if you prefer the MAC interface that might be worth something to you.
      Of course there is a downside you mac folks tend to ignore in all this, 90% of the software out there doesn't run on MAC OS so you're either going to have to forgo those titles or install windows on your mac anyway.

      So lets see basically what you are paying a premium for is the UI, or in the case of a laptop a good case. Oh yeah and the little Apple Icon. Seems like a whole lot of money for very little real substance but too each their own.

      As to your other complaints most of the crapware can be removed easily from major brand PC's and can be completely avoided by getting a custom built rig either by building it yourself or buying it from a smaller system integrator (hell you could always just go to someplace like tigerdirect and spec out a custom built PC that will not have any of that nonsense crapware either)

      I can't believe an Apple fanboi could have the nerve to complain about WMP or Realplayer(not a microsoft product btw) when you have that abomination that is Quicktime and don't get me started on I-tunes.

      As far as I'm concerned Apples are for casual computer users with more money than sense there isn't a damned thing that an Apple can do that a PC can't generally do better for less money.  And there is a hell of a lot that a PC can do that a MAC (sans if it has windows installed) can't like play pretty much any video game worth playing.


      •  Because (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        No the real question is why does a MAC cost so much more?

        The apple logo is proof that you are hip.

      •  Is this hateful diatribe HR-able? (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Fortunately I'm not down with the political correctness/censorship favored on this site, so I'm not going to, but it does beg the question.

        Isn't "Mac Fanboi" an epithet hr-able along the same lines as "Obamabot"?

        Plus the anger. Why the anger?

        People have preferences based on personality. So what?

        I personally like things that look good, function intuitively, and last me for a long time. Thus, I'm on my third Mac. My only issues, EVER, have been hard drive related (and none lately, knock on wood...). Never ever a virus.

        I've had major operating system and hardware installation issues on every single Windows machine I've ever worked on, including my neighbor's machine on Monday (HP driver upgrade fail, required freakin' REGISTRY SURGERY, to update a DRIVER for cryin' out loud! HP's fault for the bogus driver install software, Window's fault for still using something called the registry.)

        I've good naturedly debated Windows "fanbois" (yes, they exist), but never with any rancor. I've always kind of liked them. They knew their Windows well, and thus, they taught me useful stuff. And we still had fun busting each other's chops.

        So why the genuine anger?

        Can't we all just have fun giving each other a little grief?

        •  Did you read what I was replying to? (0+ / 0-)

          Funny I wasn't particularly angry when I wrote that reply I was trying to be objective.


          I really dislike Apple as a company I think Jobs is a egomaniacal fascist who stands against everything I value in the industry.

          People think Gates was a monopolist? Give me a break the existence of Microsoft created far far more competition and innovation and variety of companies than it curb stomped through those noncompetitive practices everyone whines about.  

          The fact that there was a standard OS and platform that wasn't tied to any one hardware company (like would have been the case with Apple) opened up the opportunity for hundreds if not thousands of different companies to develop and sell hardware and software for that platform.

          The single most competition creating event of the information age was when Bill Gates licensed his OS to IBM rather than selling it to them.

          That meant he was able to license that OS to pretty much anyone who wanted to sell a computer. Which in turn meant that pretty much any Joe with some start up capital and a little know how could sell a PC (hello Dell), It meant that software developers didn't have to write multiple versions of their product to run on every different proprietary operating system in existence.

          I don't think most people really comprehend just how much that one completely non-technical innovation affected how the information age evolved.  

          Before that you had a mishmash of various Operating systems generally written for a specific computer system by the manufacturer, Various flavors of Unix and CPM which did not support cross-platform compatibility.

          Hell as I like to point out even the Linux users should be thankful for MS since that OS mostly owes it's existence to the visceral hatred many in that community have towards Microsoft.

          If Jobs had had his way and won the platform war vs MS computers would be half as fast cost several times what they do now and we wouldn't have anywhere near the variety of tech companies as we do today. Because he wants to completely control the computing experience and while this can help you deliver a quality experience it also limits options and stifles competition.

          That's the Apple business model lock their consumer into their ecosystem so they are forced to lay out big bucks when you're ready to release the next iteration of their product.

          I also get tired of all the lies and myths people repeat about Microsoft.

          Yeah it behaves like any other massive heartless corporation, but it's products aren't utter shit like the MACophiles would have everyone believe.

          What Microsoft manages to do with Windows is nothing short of incredible hell it's borderline miraculous.

          As the Diarist said the amazing about PC's isn't that they break down periodically it's that they even work in the first place.

          Once you combine that with how Microsoft builds an operating system that will run generally pretty damned well on such a huge variety of hardware configurations, while maintaining backwards compatibility to pretty much the stone age of computing.  

          And when they come out with a new version you can generally install it on your existing PC assuming it's anything close to current (2-3 years).

          Last time I checked Microsoft still put EISA drivers on their boot disks and I don't think anyone's built one of those in the last 15 years.

          Apple regularly obsolesces hardware it's basically their entire business model.

          Like I said I dislike Apple for philosophical reasons the fact that they're basically glorified PC's nowadays just makes it easier to pick on them.

    •  We've got a mac convert in our team (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DrSpalding, DruidQueen, 3rdOption

      He was all windows baby until he had a bad experience ordering a laptop from HP.  He loves his Mac so much he named it "Wing Mac" and created a Facebook page for it.  This was after years of mockingly calling Apple "the fruit company."

      And he runs a Windows 7 VDI on it.  I'm the guy who creates and manages the VDI, so I just kind of chuckle.  The Mac is a great -- platform.  The software is great if you are into it.  Of course, I have always found Apple's hostility to the end-user seeng what actually goes on under the covers is enough to turn me off them.  

      Finding out that the lauded iPhone is so non-configurable that the FUCKING BATTERY IS SOLDERED TO THE MOBO was enough for me to decide to just never bother.  I do not appreciate buying products that are deliberately engineered to cost me 5-10x as much as is necessary to do simple maintenance that other vendors figured out decades ago.  I mean, a million toymakers have learned how to make the battery compartment both unobtrusive and easy to find.  How come Apple can't figure it the fuck out?

      Just in case you forgot today: REPUBLICANS VOTED TO END MEDICARE. AND THEY'LL DO IT AGAIN.

      by slippytoad on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 07:09:28 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  It's not this (0+ / 0-)
        How come Apple can't figure it the fuck out?

        They can engineer shit perfectly well just like anyone else. They figured it out long ago. What they also figured out long ago is that if you market your product to show that owning it makes you hip and awesome, you can engineer your shit to cost the consumer more and said consumer will pay for it.

        There's nothing stupid about Apple. They know capitalism better than just about any other corporation out there. They've refined capitalism and they know how to play the field so well. The worst part is, as someone who can see through their bullshit marketing, I cringe at all the consumers who buy into it.

      •  The closed system. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I'm a long time Mac user, and I'm getting disgusted with the policies now coming from Apple.

        The idea that I cannot buy software directly from the actual vendor of that software without paying Apple a cut? Yikes.

        Apple censors what software it allows on its devices? Yikes.

        Apple tracks your location, doesn't tell you about it, and doesn't tell you what it uses that information for? Holy cow.

        This is not the philosophy that made Mac people Mac people, this is something purely corporate, and sinister.

        Is it really that hard to not be Evil?

        (I'm looking sideways at you, Google...)

    •  Fuck no (0+ / 0-)
      You should know that the crapware diarist speaks of is why your computer is cheaper than the more efficient, better, less problem laden Mac.

      It makes you look silly when you brag about how much cheaper than a Mac your PC was.  It's cheap because it's "sponsored."

      Yes this is why it's cheaper, but there is nothing that stops you from uninstalling the crapware or doing a clean install of Windows once you get the machine from the factory. That solves all problems. I do this for clients all the time.

      Mac trolls, lol. Pay more, get the same or less, but hey at least it comes in pretty colors and the apple logo proves you're hip.

  •  Good diary. (9+ / 0-)

    Is there a resource where I can find out what all the processes running on my computer are? And whether they're useful or not?

  •  I thought you were going to say (5+ / 0-)

    buy a MAC.

    Very informative diary. Fortunately "my mac doesn't have that problem right now."

    You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

    by sewaneepat on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 02:50:06 PM PDT

  •  As far as removing Trojans and Rootkits (13+ / 0-)

    MalwareBytes has one of the best tools out there

    It is a part of my toolkit whenever I go to "fix" someones PC.

    -6.25 -7.08 The glass is neither half-full nor half-empty. The glass is just twice as large as it needs to be.

    by Unit Zero on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 02:55:26 PM PDT

    •  If at all possible, (5+ / 0-)

      remove the boot drive you are trying to check and connect it to another computer as a secondary drive.  Files that are running (e.g., system files) cannot be checked.

      I have a little device that connects to IDE, laptop (2.5") and SATA drives then plugs into a USB port.  I check all my drives (and my friends') as stand-alone devices.  Foolproof!

      I used to be Snow White...but I drifted.

      by john07801 on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 03:55:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Right--much better way to go (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        john07801, Julia Grey

        I'm sometimes only able to fix infected drives by attaching them as a secondary drive to another computer, then running an AV scan, MalwareBytes, etc.

        •  Careful! (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Some viruses are designed to spread via USB based exploits, latching on to external drives and the like. It's a relatively effective way to penetrate corporate and school networks. Make sure the system you're attaching to is properly protected -- or ideally running a different OS entirely.

          Linux LiveCDs are worth considering, if you have the technical know-how and don't mind the hassle.

          •  Yes (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            That's why I have mine set to never run software on removable media when it comes online.  I'm astute enough to know I inserted the disk/usb/esata drive and don't need the hand-holding.

            My core tenets:
            • I am intolerant of only intolerance
            • I am prejudiced only against prejudice
            • I hate only hate
            But Republicans continue to strive to be the subject of these three tenets.

            by DrSpalding on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 08:10:11 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  before running malware bytes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      caul, MKinTN

      download and run 'rkill'

      it kills all known malware processes -- some malwares block malware bytes and other scans they detect running - use rkill first and you usually wont have this problem

      The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

      by jgkojak on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 06:35:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I knew it, I really did! (7+ / 0-)
    Did you buy a Windows PC from a major manufacturer like Dell, HP, Toshiba, etc? They've shipped you a defective product.

    Freakin' bastards . . ..

    •  The first thing I do with a new computer? (18+ / 0-)

      Wipe it. Nuke it from orbit, it's the only way to be sure. Then I install an OS on it clean. 99.99% of the drivers will auto install off the web and I'm good to go. Install a few programs I need, plug in my USB terabyte drive with all my photos, etc. and I'm done. Clean, fast, and reliable.

      As soon as you have people telling other people how to live/think/behave because "god gave them authority" you effectively get dictators in funny looking hats.

      by ontheleftcoast on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 03:13:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  good idea. (9+ / 0-)

        It means we have to spring an extra hundred bucks or so for a clean copy of e.g. Win7 Pro.  

        However, well worth it to get rid of tentacle-ware.  

        BTW, WordPad is your friend.

        It's built in to Windows at least as far back as XP Home.  

        It's a simple, FAST, non-cluttery "text editor" (word processor).

        Mac has one called TextEdit that's basically the same thing.

        WordPad and TextEdit are my first-choice for doing any writing that doesn't require using a special format for the sake of sending it to someone else.

        Both will produce .TXT (no formatting, just plain text) and .RTF (which allows bold, underline, italics, and different fonts).  Documents are intercompatible across platforms.  The .TXT and .RTF formats don't use any embedded active code in the documents you produce, so they're "safe" as far as viruses etc. are concerned.  

        And both are much much faster than MS Office, OpenOffice, and other standard WP packages.  

      •  Directions, please (4+ / 0-)

        I must confess, I am terrified of uninstalling and reinstalling the OS. But I have a new laptop that I've barely begun using and I would like to get rid of the damn bs that's on there that I won't ever use. So, how do you actually uninstall and reinstall the OS?

        And, I would think that the directions would be slightly different for uninstalling and reinstalling the OS on a computer that has been in used for a while and is loaded with apps, files, pics, etc. To show you how ignorant I am (though I bet a lot of other people have been wondering this) how can you uninstall and reinstall the OS without blasting into oblivion all your apps, files, pics, etc.? And what about all those settings?

        A conservative is a scab for the oligarchy.

        by NBBooks on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:26:55 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't recommend it for everyone (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JeffW, NBBooks, GeorgeXVIII, MKinTN

          If you have a techonoid friend they could probably help you. But the basics are this:

          Write down every thing about your computer. Manufacturer, model number, and if you can get the driver information for the video card and network adapters (those are the two scariest, the rest should just work). Be precise. For example, is that an M550 or M550S laptop? You'd be surprised at how wildly things can vary with a one letter difference.

          Download the recommended video and network drivers and put them onto a USB thumb drive (the networking one is critical, if the installer can't find it you'll have no way to go to the net to get it.)

          Also make sure you have discs (or network locations) from which you'll install your applications

          At this point you can choose your OS. I usually stick with the "Pro" version though "Home" or "Ultimate" might suit you better. As G2Geek mentions you might need to buy this separately. Some manufactures put a clean copy of Windows in the box but place the "easy to repair your system" version already installed (usually on a separate partion like Q:). I can't really give you a simple way to tell the difference.

          Insert the system DVD and use the Customer Installer to wipe (or reconfigure) the current partions.

          Let the OS install complete. It may have versions of all your drivers already on hand though the video driver it probably won't. Install it from the thumb drive.

          Put a good anti-virus program on your computer. The diary lists several. I'm partial to the Microsoft one for reasons that may be obvious to some.

          Then you'll want to run Windows Update just to be sure to get all the patches, latest drivers, etc. Depending on your setup that could take a bit of time.

          Install your applications and you're done.

          Again, that's the "basic" steps. If something goes wrong then you'll need either experience or that technoid friend to help you out. I don't recommend doing this without at least one of those backup options available.

          The other, and much safer, approach is to visit a site that tells you how to uninstall the bloatware. Try searching for "uninstall bloatware" or similar things. I've seen a couple of comments mentioning sites like these in the diary.

          And lastly, doing either of those things will likely eliminate the ability for you to call your laptop manufacturer for help. They'll expect the original bloatware to be installed and will likely refer you to Microsoft, the application provider, or the driver manufacturer if you don't. And depending on the situation you may have to pay to get that help.

          As soon as you have people telling other people how to live/think/behave because "god gave them authority" you effectively get dictators in funny looking hats.

          by ontheleftcoast on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:48:59 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  I don't go quite... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        that far, but I do nuke enough stuff to not bother with warranties.

        "Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world." — Howard Zinn

        by blueyedace2 on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:08:57 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  I do that once/year on all three of our macs. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        They come relatively clean, though I do like to pop in the install disk and get rid of extra languages and printers that tend to take up a few GB.

        Despite their "you don't need to defrag!" bullshit, macs clearly slow down after a year, even if you're somewhat diligent about cleaning out caches, etc.

  •  I love my iPad (9+ / 0-)

    We have a thing going on.

    Turn your face to the sun and the shadows fall behind you.

    by chicago minx on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 03:05:26 PM PDT

  •  Turning off Flash on Safari 5.0.4 (MacOSX) (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Remillard, blueyedace2, Julia Grey

    In Preferences --> Security, the only option I see is a checkbox for "enable plug-ins", rather than something specific for Flash.

    How do I selectively turn off Flash, and is there a convenient way to toggle it on/off depending on momentary needs?

    Also will turning off Flash disable the ability of the machine to accumulate the %$#@$!!! Flash Cookies that are the latest major threat to privacy?  

    I found the folders #SharedObjects and Support where these f---ing things accumulate, and I clean them out periodically, but I just want to pre-emptively route the f---ers to dev null before they have a chance to get saved.  

  •  Home LAN With Win 7 and Win XP Machines (5+ / 0-)

    I've gone into advanced networking on the Win 7 machine and done everything I could find to enable file sharing and sharing specific folders on that machine for reading.

    The XP machine can see the computer and the folders but it's claiming it doesn't have permission to go inside.

    Any suggestions?

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 03:12:02 PM PDT

    •  non-expert advice: (4+ / 0-)

      You may need to create a user account on the Win7 machine, with the name of the user account on the XP machine.  

      And you may need to tweak some security permissions on both of them to let them talk.  

      Might be best to have both user accounts have Admin privs first, just to see if that works.  And then try creating an account on the XP machine that does not have admin privs, and tell the Win7 machine to recognize that account, and see if that works also.  

      In general best to not use Admin accounts for stuff that involves "sharing" that might expose them to various risks.

      Particularly where wireless networking is involved.  

      IMHO it's always worthwhile to use hardwired Ethernet and turn off wireless everything.  You don't want pedophiles & identity thieves parking on the street and using your wireless network to do kiddie porn & hacking from, unless you want to have police & FBI agents as surprise house guests.  

      •  We Only Wireless for a Laptop About 2-3 Times (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Brown Thrasher

        a quarter, maybe for an hour. The wireless node is off virtually all the time for all the reasons you name. The SSID is secret, we used the highest encryption, as much as my non expert paranoid mind knows to do. Printers and desktops are indeed hardwired.

        Thanks for the tips, I'll try to apply them in a while.

        We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

        by Gooserock on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:48:51 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  You created accounts on the XP box for login there (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueyedace2, MKinTN

      Create the same accounts on the Windows 7 system, using the same passwords.

      Give specific permission in the Windows 7 system for those local (XP-related) accounts to at least Read the shares you made.

      I don't recommend use of the Windows 7-specific Homegroup sharing mechanism when mixing with XP clients - just do a right mouse button click on a directory or device you'd like to share from Windows 7 and try:

      Properties -> Sharing

      to configure which ID can access a shared resource, with its own level of access rights.  This is called password-enabled sharing, essentially.  But, the accounts can use a blank password.

      Offered in graphical form here.

      A full list of things to check:

      All systems on same Subnet
      All members of same workgroup
      Identical users on all machines
      Passwords on all users on all machines
      Network discovery on on all machines
      File and Printer sharing on on all machines
      Password protected sharing on all machines
      Items shared using Advanced sharing
      all users included in sharing permissions
      All users included in file access permissions*

      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

      by wader on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:49:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Trojan and Rootkit help (7+ / 0-)

    If you're getting that annoying redirect where every internet search takes you to a fake search page or getting phony system alerts that someone wants you to pay to fix:

    1) Download rkill

    Rkill KILLS all known mal processes running at the current time.  I'll tell you what to do with it later.

    2) Download Malware Bytes
    The best virus scanner

    3) Download Combofix
    Scans for malware AND fixes/removes automatically

    All of the above are FREE(!)

    To get rid of Trojan/Rootkit

    1) download updates to Malware Bytes

    2) Restart computer in SAFE MODE WITH NETWORKING by holding down F8 key during startup

    3) run RKill

    4) Run Combofix

    5) Run Malware Bytes, and do a full system scan - it will probably doa  boot-time scan when you restart computer if you have something nasty

    This should get rid of 98% of the nasty viruses- and the other 2% eventually will be vulnerable once the Malware Bytes and Combofix databases are updated

    The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

    by jgkojak on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 03:12:06 PM PDT

  •  recommendations PC laptop w/ modem? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, blueyedace2, NoMoreLies

    (Cross-platform user here, both PC and Mac items below)

    YES, I need a MODEM, and I want it built-in rather than having to deal with a friggin' USB external modem.  (My old HP is starting to show signs of dying, so it's up for replacement this year.)

    PBX engineer here, using dialup modem for remote programming of clients' PBXs.  Better than using the IP connection most of the time, and less admin overhead involved.

    What I'm looking for is a new machine running Win7 Pro, maximum price point is $1200.  Doesn't need to do a bunch of fancy stuff, no games or whatever, just strictly business.  

    PC brand recs in general?  Are there any Dells that are any good or are they all built down to a price rather than up to a spec?  

    Now on the Mac side, any cure for the "MacBook rot" syndrome where the top edges of the white bezel that surrounds the keyboard and forms the top surface of the machine, has its edges crumble and break off?  

    I treat my equipment with care, don't rough it around, and I even use extension keyboards & mice so I can put the laptop up higher for better visibility.   So I don't even use the built-in keyboards unless I'm in the field.  This "MacBook rot" syndrome appears to be a series defect in the machines.  Any good sources for the plastic part I need to replace to fix that?  (No, I will not send the machine in, I don't even trust Apple with what's on my HD, after that whole "location spying" thing in the iPhones.)

    •  Modem could be a problem (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      G2geek, wader, blueyedace2

      Not sure if anybody is still shipping internal modems anymore, way too niche...

      As far as general recommendations go though, when you want a reliable Windows notebook I hear consistently good things about Lenovo Thinkpads from professional IT/software people who do lots of on-site work. They're built solidly and seem to be very reliable in the field.

      I'm not familiar with your Macbook problem but as with all Mac issues it's Apple or bust. My MacBook Pro seems to have held up just fine physically, but we're not even at the two year mark yet.

      •  excellent; thanks! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I just looked up Lenovo and found their stuff:  pricing seems to be excellent (starting at $500, sheesh!), and some of their machines are mil spec rugged (probably at higher cost but none the less), and they seem to be into the whole no-nonsense thing.

        Plus they have the little red bellybutton in the keyboard, which is a viable alternative to trackpads without having to carry mice everywhere I go.

        Now I wish they would all do away with the built-in surveillance (cameras and microphones), I already get all the surveillance I want for my tax dollars.  

        My MacBook held up well for a couple of years and then the plastics started going around the edge in the last couple of months.  Sigh.  +3 years from now it'll be up for replacement and I'll probably get a higher spec model.  There are some things OSX does well that are worth springing the extra $$ for Apple hardware.  

    •  Build your own (0+ / 0-)

      cheaper, standard parts, not hard, and no unneeded crap.

      Bush crimes, Cheney torture, health care, gay rights, poor economy, wars, rule of law, civil rights - so much to do so little time - the clock is ticking

      by Da Rock on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:00:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Apple will fix it for free. If you really care... (0+ / 0-)

      about privacy, you could just write zeroes over everything, then restore from your latest backup when ya get it back.

    •  You'll just need to look around (0+ / 0-)

      I know my HP elitebook from work has a modem on it but I'm pretty sure it runs more then the 1200 your wanting to spend. My only real suggestion is what ever you get make sure it has (or at least can have) at least 4gigs of memory and runs a 64bit version of windows 7. That's pretty much the current price sweet spot.

      Normally I'd suggest getting something with a real video card but your budget kind precludes that as well. You might also look into a netbook it doesn't sound like your needing all that much horsepower so they should work for you assuming you can find one with a modem it's a shame they don't put an analogue modem on the Asus Slate, that thing would be great for the kind of use you're talking about.

  •  I have to admit that it makes me very happy not to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    deal with viruses or anti-virus software.

    Hope that day comes for everyone.

    LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

    by dinotrac on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 03:19:01 PM PDT

    •  If you are on a mac (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      you should download ClamX AV and scan your mail folder. Even though you may not be affected, you could be forwarding viruses to other people. Not necessary to keep it in the background all the time, just use it to run a check once in a while. My ex found that her mail was bouncing because she had forwarded a virus from her macbook. If you are sending to corporate environments, it's a pain to get your email unblackisted.

      Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. Groucho Marx

      by marketgeek on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:30:08 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm on linux. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Viruses are pretty easy to detect in my world because Linux doesn't do fancy "Finder"y things to file names.

        Of course, that also means I don't have the Mac's slick interface, but an old-fashioned guy like me has a little trouble with all that magic anyway.

        LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

        by dinotrac on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 01:06:20 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Overall a great read one thing you got completely (6+ / 0-)


    1 GB holds about 4 seconds of HD video.

    That would be 96 frames of 1920x1080 video, I presume. At 4 bytes/pixel that works out to almost 800 megabytes.

    But that's uncompressed. Nobody holds more then 3-4 frames of uncompressed video in memory. The typical compression rate on video is 25:1 to 100:1. So you'd actually only need about 32Mb for the decompressed and maybe 8-16 Mb for the uncompressed. It's why pushing video to the advanced graphics cards is so appealing. Instead of pushing 250 Mb/s across the video bus they only have to push 3-10Mb of the compressed data across.

    But again, other than that minor complaint, damn. Damn you are so right.

    As soon as you have people telling other people how to live/think/behave because "god gave them authority" you effectively get dictators in funny looking hats.

    by ontheleftcoast on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 03:34:34 PM PDT

    •  A deliberate exaggeration (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tapestry, GeorgeXVIII, DruidQueen

      I needed a metric for explaining memory that was relatively easy to understand for non technical users, so I picked a 1080p uncompressed frame. Of course these days there's almost no reason to buffer ahead that far even on CPU, let alone with available GPU accelerated decompression.

      I warned ahead of time I'd be bending technical realities to make the points I needed to make.

      •  Yeah, but you stepped on my turf ;D (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I work with video play back on a daily basis. You know we're crazy about that sort of thing.

        As soon as you have people telling other people how to live/think/behave because "god gave them authority" you effectively get dictators in funny looking hats.

        by ontheleftcoast on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 06:14:04 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Well done! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, wader, NoMoreLies

    I will note that with an SSD and 8 gigs of ram...and some fiddling on the swap settings...Win 7 seems quite snappy even when the HD space shrinks up to 6 or 7 gigs.  I did not expect this, thought it would be as you describe.  Lots of nice suprises in SSD world.

    Seriously true on build quality as well, and much ignored.  I get professional series toshibas or lenovos and have been quite happy with both (more so than my MBP, even).   There are also more options for them, like SSDs and higher res displays for the same size and decently priced corporate accidental damage protection from the manufacturer.  But when my friends note the longetivity and ease on my 'puters and ask for advice, the price is a fast turnoff.  Corporations like that 1500 price point, more or less...regular people seem to freak at about a grand.

    ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

    by jessical on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 03:45:08 PM PDT

  •  there's a similar "evolution" problem with phones. (10+ / 0-)

    Office phone systems.

    Cisco is trying to break into that biz and doing an appallingly piss poor job of it.  

    For example everything on Cisco phones is menu-driven.  Now you're on an important call with an important person, and you can't find the friggin' HOLD button or TRANSFER button: because it's been hidden in the menu structure unless your company is willing to pay Cisco a yearly fee for the "feature package" that "allows" you to have those most-important buttons on the top level of the menu where they belong.

    Menu-driven office phones are basically pieces of poopoo by definition.  All the most important functions should be on dedicated labeled buttons so you don't have to play searchy-searchy while you're trying to make & receive phone calls.  

    The equipment I sell, program, and install, is built by a company that's been making telephone systems since at least 1963 and probably before that, and has been around for about a century.  I'm not going to name it because this isn't an advertisement for me or my phone systems.  

    But I'll just say, Cisco sucks utterly, don't be taken in just because they're the brand on the router in your network rack.   Also all those "hosted PBX services" are doggydoo, as are most of the VOIP applications out there, and anything that has to run G.729 audio compression (sounds like doggydoo).  

    Why this is an evolution problem:  The Bell System got it right and had 125 years to do it.  There's a reason that a handset is supposed to have a certain shape and size, and there's a reason for dial keypads to have buttons of a certain size and spacing, etc. etc.  (No, I'm not with AT&T, and I don't sell Avaya either.)   The goal is to make the technology user-transparent and basically invisible, so nothing gets between you and the person you're speaking with.

  •  Well I'm not a partisan (10+ / 0-)

    I've used all three, coded for all three.  End of the day, they are all crap, but in their own special ways.   Software sucks, software engineering sucks.  (And don't give me any of that complex systems crap - it's no excuse.)

    I seem to remember a a Physics Today article in the early 90's that was speculating about what one could do if we could shrink a Cray into a beer-can volume.   Well, now we can do it and the only really significant thing to come out of it seems to be the ability to run video ads and bitch about politics, all at the same time.

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    •  well... (7+ / 0-)

      ...there's gaming.

      Also mathematica on my tablet.  Every time I enter an integral by hand and see it typeset and solved, or graph sometihing elegant its like...we didn't get flying cars, we didn't get jetpacks, and I'll never get to live on the least we got this, and damn its cool.

      And email.  Which for someone who is both lazy and literary, is a very cool thing.  

      And if that doesn't fly...the complete works of Charles Darwin online.  It would all be worth it for that alone...

      ...j'ai découvert que tout le malheur des hommes vient d'une seule chose, qui est de ne savoir pas demeurer en repos dans une chambre.

      by jessical on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:06:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I read about the computing power in a smart phone (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      xgy2, Julia Grey, MKinTN

      The comment went something like this:

      You have more computing power in your smart phone than all of NASA in 1969 put together. They used their computing power to put a man on the moon. You use yours to fling birds at pigs.

      •  I believe the statement about (0+ / 0-)

        power was even true about the first generation of graphics calculators.

      •  Distortion meant to impress smart phone engineers (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        I suspect. I am one of maybe a couple hundred who can come up with an estimate of how much aggregate computing power was used in all of NASA in 1969. Well, I don't know about all of the classified stuff, but based on overall coverage and manpower required to support and maintain my company's piece of the action, there was a couple hundred boatloads being used. Some of this old stuff would hold their own with todays consumer grade floating point processors.

        That was pretty powerful stuff 40 years ago. It filled a big room and the lights dimmed when it was cranked up, but it was faster than todays engineers assume.

        My TV remote control has more computing power than the onboard computers used in the NASA lunar missions.

        Even though the electronics used in smart phones might be capable of cycling away at, say, a few million times faster than the old generation electronics, the smart phone processing power is spending much of its time waiting.

        Relative to processor speed, the visual display, communications, voice processing, etc. is like waiting for paint to dry. The extra speed also compensates for the crap that the lowest-cost software developers produce. I bet most of the development time is spent making the device pretty and attractive.

        The World might end if we don't keep flinging birds at those darn pigs. We must not let up.

        "All people are born alike - except Republicans and Democrats" - Groucho Marx

        by GrumpyOldGeek on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 08:00:17 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Several questions, one comment (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Comment: Great diary!


    I just replaced a failed HP OEM motherboard with an unrelated one and installed a new copy of Vista (with all the updates) and all the programs.   All the other hardware components are the same.  Where do I need to look for drivers and do I need to update the BIOS or do anything else to get everything friendly?

    I heard that unless I'm maxing out my memory, more memory won't make a difference.  Is this not true?

    I can use CarbonCopyCloner to make a bootable clone of my Mac hard drive, with all the programs (donationware).  Is there anything analogous for Windows?

    Can you point me in the right direction to learning how to run Mac OS X on a PC?

    Thanks so much!  I'll be grateful for even 1 out 4!

    •  For finding drivers... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, think blue

      I would probably still start with the model of your computer, even though you swapped out the motherboard. The manufacturer may not update it, so you may have to go track down each component and download drivers that way. Not as bad as it sounds, as long as the manufactures are relatively common.

      BIOS updates are not advised unless you there is a specific reason to -- if anything happens, you run the risk of bricking the motherboard.

      Modern operating systems do the opposite of what happens on older systems (especially with less RAM) -- they store frequently accessed data from the hard drive into RAM, and then dump the cache as applications need the space. Windows did not move to this architecture until Windows 7 (and you probably should upgrade to that if you can), but this is how OS X and Linux have operated for years.

      There's a whole mess of software that will do disk images on Windows; I personally use Macrium Reflect which isn't open software but it is free for personal use -- but there is a whole mess of software you can use (have fun figuring out what software works on which OS though -- although some of them will let you boot directly into them).

    •  You should've been able to boot the old system (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      think blue

      without a system reinstall, even when using a new motherboard - Windows will simply need new drivers to fully take advantage of that board and its connections, which can take a reboot or two.

      Drivers and such normally download from Windows Updates on a regular basis, and you can check settings for that in:

      Control Panel -> System and Security -> Windows Update -> Change Settings

      There's lots of ways to make a bootable clone of a Windows drive - depends on if you want to create an image of the drive for later use, active backups, etc.  EASEUS To-Do Backup Free is actually convenient freeware for such a purpose.

      If you know how to check the amount of memory being used vs. swapped out, then that can help determine if you ever need more RAM, yes.

      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

      by wader on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:58:44 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  OEM woes (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        This was one of the main revelations during the whole repair: pre-installed applications like Windows Vista are linked to the hardware in the computer so that they can't be copied and used on other computers.  Unless the replacement motherboard is either exactly the same model or an authorized substitute (if the same model is no longer available), the OEM OS will interpret it as a new computer and won't boot.  This isn't something that consumers generally know when they buy a computer.  Nor do they know that HP uses proprietary motherboards so that your only option is to pay several times more for an obsolete motherboard that has a high failure rate.

        We had made a recovery disk when we first got the computer, but no one told us that it would be useless in the event that either the motherboard or the hard drive failed.

        I called Microsoft, who told me to call HP, who told me to call Microsoft... until I spoke with a customer service supervisor at Microsoft who had the installation disks Fedexed to me overnight, all without charge, and give me a case number that would cover any technical support that I needed.  Lucky too, because it literally took over 10 hours to download the updates.

        •  Ah, I see what you mean (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          think blue

          We had a similar issue with a Lenovo motherboard failure, but in my case the see-sawing between vendors led Microsoft to give in and provide me with a non-OEM license for replacement.

          "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

          by wader on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 10:00:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  What computer should you buy? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ssmt, Chi, JeffW, MKinTN

    I hear that one a lot and most of the the time the reply is nonsense!

    First of all, ignore anyone who doesn't ask you why you need a new computer or what do you want to do on it. This question is probably the most important one and anyone who fails to ask it is only going to give the right recommendations by luck.

    The reason for this is, there are two types of user. Power users and everyone else. At the start of the decade, I looked forward to newer and better processors (CPUs) because each time we got a bit nearer to the machine that worked the way it should. However while CPUs have continued to improve, they have long passed the point where it actually mattered.

    The two things that really tax a CPU are video encoding and the latest games. Video editing too, since you're essentially encoding video. Encoding 2hrs of video could take a whole day at the start of the millenium, a few years later and it was 1-2hrs, today it's probably 10 minutes. The rest of the stuff you do, which lets be honest is surfing the web, is childs play. Even games usually need a graphics card to play rather than a powerful CPU.

    So for the rest of us, CPUs long passed the point where they needed to be more powerful. As the dairist says, lack of RAM can be the biggest drag on a PC. You'd be better off buying a computer with more RAM, a bigger hard drive and a nicer monitor and getting a slower CPU. If you've got a computer made in the last 10 years you'd be better off upgrading those components than buying a new machine. Even if you do encode video, do you do it often enough to make it worth the price? Personally I'll put up with a 2hr encoding time once a month than spend a lot of money to cut that in half.

    Once I realised this, I went from upgrading my PC every few years, to sticking with what I have for the last six years or so. The only changes I've made in 6 years is a nice LCD monitor and some new hard drives. Everything works as well as it did back then (which is to say intermittently!)

    •  I am usually 3-4 years behind the latest thing (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chi, JeffW, MKinTN

      I've been working in computer recycling off and on for the last five years and have put together my last two desktops from recycled components.  My first PC was a Pentium 4 3.2 Ghz with 2.5 GB of RAM that lasted until this spring..actually, it's still going as I donated it to a friend in need.  I simply need to upgrade to a dual core processor to run some CPU intensive music I'm running an AMD dual core 2.5 that feels smoking fast.  I'm pretty sure it was the latest thing in 2007.  

      And the 4 GB of RAM helps things go smoothly.

      I've seen the six-core (or something along those lines) machines that HP recently put out, but I see no reason to spend $900 when my sub $200 recycled desktop is doing precisely what I need.

      •  It's not getting what you want... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        it's wanting what you've got (One of my favourite Sheryl Crow lines).

        Being a few years behind makes sense economically, it's a lot cheaper usually, but I question the sense in ever upgrading my CPU and motherboard. In fact when I did upgrade the last time it was to get a shuttle PC (FYI they're tiny PC's, I was fed up with having such a large machine).

        I can't think of anything I would need right now. I was planning on getting a Blu-ray recorder for backups but I realised that Hard drives are so cheap it's quicker, easier and cheaper to backup onto them rather than hundreds of discs. An SSD drive might be nice to have and I need a UPS (both because I've had problems with power wrecking HDDs

  •  Oh help me dear doctor I'm damaged (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, indybend

    Slow thinkers - keep right

    by Dave the Wave on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:25:03 PM PDT

  •  Decent, but unfortunately misleading, I feel (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, 2020adam

    Most of the PC branded software on Windows PCs these days comes in the form of support-related software: tuning, driver updaters and - yes - recommendations for system upgrades or complementary products.  They tend to complement standard operating system updates that occur naturally, usually for shipped applications and/or unique devices.  Almost all of them allow you to tune down their activity once they make themselves known through popups or similar.

    Having your Windows system unguarded by real-time protection is simply taking a risk which is not warranted for common users, I feel: Trojans can disable your system and mess up with MBR quite fast from the web, rootkits can be instantiated at any time and rogue applications that appear otherwise innocent on their face are far more likely to setup a data sharing connection with the outside world these days than only a few years ago.  Most systems have enough power and RAM to handle the 10% or less hit to a system's bootup times and less cycles needed for most real-time local, web, IM and network protocol protection without being noticed by the majority of users.  Norton has improved tremendously in this area, where once it was a complete dog, for example.

    "Figure out what is making" a noise is easier said than done - why not suggest a few things, since you seem to be assuming that readership who can benefit from your advice is not fully aware of these general issues?  Blow strongly or use a can of cleaning propellant through all angles of fan vents in your computer casing while the system is running, for example (i.e., try to maximize possibility that anything loose will leave the system if dislodged).

    Memory usage can stand for real numbers to recommend: 2GB for casual users who surf the web, don't install many add-ons to their browsers beyond Flash and might watch an occasional DVD, I feel.  4GB is recommended, as this will virtually assure no swapping for casual users and even those who run Photoshop or similar apps should be quite fine with a parallel web browser instance running.  Anything beyond 4GB only makes sense if your operating system is 64-bit (how to make this determination is another discussion) and if your system's BIOS is set to enable full use of the larger memory address space by your operating system, IMHO.  Generally, people who need that much memory are using far heavier and specific applications (e.g., non-linear video editors), so this choice should be made after trying 4GB or so out first if price is an option.

    All laptops should be treated as you would a non-cheap camera or camcorder, at the very least - regardless of their parts.  Any of them can easily last a long time, but if you treat it like a cheap toy, it's more likely to break as such.

    There's other considerations here, but perhaps I've already overplayed my point.

    "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

    by wader on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:29:57 PM PDT

  •  Can you disable streaming ads? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, Brown Thrasher, Chi

    I find them to be serious bandwidth hogs. I'm talking about those from '', '', etc. Is there a way to disable them?

  •  And remember... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    if all else fails delete System32. ;)

    "Man will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest" - Diderot

    by Reverend Floyd on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:43:58 PM PDT

  •  I was a Hardware Dev manager for a famous (6+ / 0-)

    3 letter corporation when they used to build PC's.

    Basically the laptop / desktop personal computers are toys, albeit powerful toys, compared to a real computer. Many large corp customers were surprised at the failure rates when they replaced their real computers with PC's to "save costs".

    When I was shipping product the best MTTF (Mean Time To Failure) I was able to achieve without drastically increasing cost was approx 24 months - that is 60% of the installed population would fail prior to 24 months (of course, this assumes an "average" number of POH (Power On Hours).

    BTW, ALL manufacturers buy from the same suppliers - not much difference in piece parts. Some lots are better than others but all are "consumer" quality. Why do you think you can buy a DVD drive for $19.

    You like your data? RAID a few drives. Your system will fail eventually, best be prepared.

    Bush crimes, Cheney torture, health care, gay rights, poor economy, wars, rule of law, civil rights - so much to do so little time - the clock is ticking

    by Da Rock on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:44:58 PM PDT

    •  What would constitute failure, though? (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wader, JeffW, Julia Grey

      Any critical component failing, or the entire thing going kaput? There is a difference between a hard drive failing and the entire system going kaput. A hard drive failing is bad, but you can just put in a new one and reimage it and off you go. This is going to increase total cost of ownership of a business as that is more work for the IT staff, but I would consider that a component failure, not a failure of the computer.

      I don't think I've seen a 60% failure rate with that MTTF on consumer electronics outside of videogame consoles (the first runs of the Playstation and Xbox 360, specifically).

      You are completely right about the RAID suggestion, though.

      •  Any hardware failure constitutes (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chi, JeffW, sawgrass727

        a failure.

        I work at a school now which jas a high population of PC's - both Mac and PC - their yearly failure rate is approximately 25%. This is a mixture of vintages.

        Bush crimes, Cheney torture, health care, gay rights, poor economy, wars, rule of law, civil rights - so much to do so little time - the clock is ticking

        by Da Rock on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:10:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Are you comparing this failure rate to (0+ / 0-)

      big iron, midframes, *ix servers . . . ?

      I agree about a hardware backup of your system, whether real-time or frequently periodic.

      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

      by wader on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:04:06 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No I wasn't comparing the rates (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Chi, JeffW, Julia Grey

        to big iron. But the big iron has lots of redundancy built in.

        For example, many XXX computers (once considered a mini) ran the ATM's (almost 99% in fact with OS/2) most banks forgot about them. I've seen them so clogged with dirt you wouldn't believe they would still be running, but they were.

        Target was one of my clients and they swapped out their minis for PC running 24/7 (this was in the 486 days). The failure rate was "unacceptable" but right in line with what the salesman told them they would get by going to the less expensive alternative.

        You pays your money and you takes your chance!!!

        Bush crimes, Cheney torture, health care, gay rights, poor economy, wars, rule of law, civil rights - so much to do so little time - the clock is ticking

        by Da Rock on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:16:11 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I still have the OS/2 Ninja t-shirt (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          Ran Warp at home until a couple years before it was formally removed from support.  I actually wrote some code that made it into OS/2 1.1.

          I am curious about MTB rates related to critical system issues for pre-Pentium and Pentium I era systems vs. now, actually.

          "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

          by wader on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:44:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Well, From my own experience (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      your estimates were very conservative.  We used your product in our data acquisition systems and if my memory is correct they usually ran for 4 years or more.  Hard drives were always the issue.   Never experienced a failure in any other part of the system (well, maybe monitors.   I'd be willing to bet that those motherboards are still bootable.  

      Not quite as true today.  I'm seeing lots of CPU failures and fried motherboards.  Too much heat.

      •  You have to have a large population (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        xgy2, JeffW

        and yes the older systems were much more reliable.

        I remember when we used to burn in every system to weed out early life failures. Then we would shake them on a vibration tables. Power supplies were very robust - I have a few on my workbench from the 80's that I use for hobby stuff. Customers did not want to pay the extra few dollars so we stopped it. We also started with mil spec parts - our first CD drives had a cartridge you put the cd into - the cost of that was over $100.

        Hard files are amazing -- that they work at all.   8-)

        Have you've ever seen a microdrive and pondered how it works??

        Bush crimes, Cheney torture, health care, gay rights, poor economy, wars, rule of law, civil rights - so much to do so little time - the clock is ticking

        by Da Rock on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:21:47 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yup (0+ / 0-)

          Well, there was a reason for our selection of your product. - and nobody got fired for it.    

          The PC's  were used in environments that ranged from factory floors to  research labs.   They would be on all of the time.  Before selecting the PC we were using an in house CP/M system.  The COGS were about 1.5X the cost of the PC, and the MBTF was 1 year if we were lucky.

          Best decision we ever made, and we debated it endlessly.  A lot of money was sunk into the in-house design and no one wanted to admit that it was a POS.  

  •  I swear by Nod32 by Eset. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wader, Ender, JohnB47

    It has a small footprint, it hasn't missed one virus in the wild for ten years, and tech support is phenomenal.  

    For ten years I kept buying Norton antivirus.  The first few years, Norton (Symantec) would email me a floppy disk every quarter with virus updates.

    As time went on, Norton got worse and worse and worse.  They are bloat, pure bloat and pure headaches.

    They claim they've cut their footprint down, but I ain't buying that based on my personal observations with other users.

    I do have a couple friends who use Norton 360 and say they like it -- until they contact me when Norton gives them a problem and they want to know what to do.

    To every millionaire who decries they don't want their grandchildren paying for the deficit, I say: PAY MORE TAXES NOW and your grandkids won't have a deficit burden.

    by gooderservice on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:47:54 PM PDT

  •  Awesome diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    xanthippe2, DruidQueen

    Awesome gift to the people here.  Thanks for your time.

    My question: Is the cake really a lie?

    Minority rights should never be subject to majority vote.

    by lostboyjim on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:53:25 PM PDT

  •  I doubt this part: (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    If any of your drives are nearing capacity, the speed of the machine as a whole will flat out collapse as you pass 90% and 95%.

    The whole point of new file systems like NTFS2 and HFS+ is that they don't suffer near capacity and are immune to fragmentation issues.  As a matter of fact, this is why if your IT support person suggests de-fragmenting your drives, he should be fired!

    And back to that 90-95% number.  A run of the mill (and possibly even small) drive today is 320 GB.  Why, pray tell, would any system start thrashing just because there are "only" 16 - 32 GB remaining free on the drive?  That is utter buttloads of space and ample room for things to purr along nicely.  Of course if 100% full is ever reached on a device, all havoc is free to break loose.

    Having a policy does not mean receiving care. -- Tzimisce

    by Miggles on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:54:44 PM PDT

    •  It's a rule of thumb (0+ / 0-)

      And becomes increasingly vague depending on the circumstances. A bigger drive usually means more files (assuming some kind of constant average for file size) and the index data required to keep track of everything becomes bigger and more unwieldy as the drive and file count grow.

      New file systems using techniques learned in the last 10-15 years help but NTFS, even with late revisions, is not great in this regard at all. I'm not too sure about HFS+ as I'm generally not too familiar with the system. I expect the recent developments for UNIX-alike systems (Ext4, Reiser4, ZFS) do a vastly better job.

      Come to think of it, I don't really know much at all about HFS+ development and I should probably get caught up. But I stand by the advice for NTFS boot/OS drives.

  •  Dumbocracy NOW in WI. Done with this state once (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I graduate medical school. Going to try to learn EU/scandinavian languages so I can J. Robert Oppenheimer my ass on over to NL/FI/SE

  •  My computer got a virus (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    NoMoreLies, ranger995, JeffW

    a few weeks ago (see my sig), and not only did it manage to eat all my writings and steal all my pictures, but I now have no sound. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

    I have tried everything. I even had a friend do that Log Me In thing, he's a tech geek, and he couldn't figure it out either.

    Tried to download the driver (my sys op stuff is in storage), to no avail.

    One thing weird, too: under "Sound Effects" in Control Panel, it'll play little clips. Isn't that strange?

    But YouTube, or anything on the internet, forget it.

    Thanks for any help you can provide, and thanks for this diary! Much obliged.

    My computer got an STD and it hasn't been the same since.

    by Colorado is the Shiznit on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 04:56:12 PM PDT

    •  Ouch (3+ / 0-)

      So document retrieval could be a problem. Files on the hard drive are stored as the actual files, and then an index of files. Deletion, even by viruses, only removes things from the index. Think of it as tearing a page out of the index of a book but leaving the actual topic pages. The pages haven't gone away, you're just not sure where to find them.

      There's software that will scan for those deleted items for relatively cheap, as well as pro houses who will hunt them down in detail for quite a lot of money. Try the software first; usually the free versions show you what they found and ask you to register (20-50 ish dollars) to actually get the files. I don't have a specific recommendation though.

      As for the sound, it could be an issue with the audio service or it could be a driver issue. I'd lean towards the audio service thing; see if this helps:
      It's a shot in the dark but let us know.

    •  I had the same problem with sound (0+ / 0-)

      What I did was uninstall the sound card in the device manager (assuming you have a Windows PC) and rebooted the system so the OS will find the Sound card again and re-install the driver. It worked.

      Some Malware or viruses change the attributes of your user files to hidden. You can make hidden files appear by opening My documents (in XP), selecting the tools drop down, select Folder options, then view,then Under Hidden files and folders select Show hidden files and folders. Similar in Win7, you select Organize,folder and search options, view, show hidden files and folders.

      The Fierce Urgency of Later

      by Faroutman on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 11:22:55 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  problem with chrome browser in google search (0+ / 0-)

    i do a search query of let's say "president obama" and then get a list of results.

    I click onto one result, look at article and then return to list of search results to check out the next article.

    ONLY when i return to search results list, there is now a different query there of like "president obama ireland."

    The search query just changes. ????

    Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:02:54 PM PDT

    •  It's tricky with Chrome (1+ / 0-)

      The trouble with Chrome is that updates are shipped so often that it's difficult to know if there's an actual problem or just a glitch introduced by a recent change that will go away with another pending change.

      A bit extreme, but you might want to try switching to the beta version of Chrome (just to force a big version change) and see if the problem persists.

  •  Speaking of bloat ware (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BoxNDox, meg

    HP supplies "drivers" with their printers. They install an impressive amount of not-very-good crapware that can be done better by other applications. Instead, download the printer driver which is usually small, find a better scanner interface (built into Image Capture on the Mac) and save yourself a buggy tiresome experience.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. Groucho Marx

    by marketgeek on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:10:29 PM PDT

  •  Thanks for this! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    One of the most level-headed non-partisan (and I'm talking the OS-wars/Browser-wars) posts I've seen on DKos... ever.  Tipped & Rec'd.  

    They have created a world where everything is an opinion, and nothing is a fact, everybody is entitled to an opinion, and every opinion is equally valid.

    by SlowNomad on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:11:26 PM PDT

  •  Still reading, but here is a problem(?) (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, DruidQueen

    I have had for 2 days. My hard drive kicks in about every 20 mins.  . Never use to do that, Should I be concerned?

    •  Possibly (5+ / 0-)

      Something is causing the drive to spool up, and it could be anything from completely innocuous to completely malicious. The best case is it's Windows' built in house cleaning doing some defragmentation etc. (Vista and 7 only, if memory serves.) The worst case is you've got a virus or something similar getting busy in there.

      Run a virus scan. It's probably nothing but the peace of mind is helpful at least. Check if your drives are nearing full, since that tends to make the internal housekeeping a lot more busy. Beyond that there's two possibilities:
      1) Start exiting things until the problem goes away.
      2) Boot the system in 'safe mode' and start running things until the problem appears.

      Think if you installed anything recently that could've changed behavior.

  •  I get vertical and horizontal colored blocks and (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    dots on the screen from time to time. This of course disrupts the PC entirely, sometime it will shut down or freeze all or black-out the monitor. It is not happening with anything consistent. I have tried different techniques in getting the PC up and running again including professional help from technicians that look directly into the machine. They or myself generally get things going again, but just clicking on something, shutting down, restarting after updates, putting it to sleep or just working will set this problem in motion. It is not a virus, Trojan or malware. One Tech. advised me to buy a new monitor. I have one of the latest Flat screen NVIDIA monitors. Well at least he didn't charge me for the session. You now have most of the particulars so have you heard of anything like this before?

    •  Dying GPU (4+ / 0-)

      Your graphics chip/video card is about to give up the ghost. This may be an independent, separately replaceable part or it may be integrated into the main system motherboard. The latter cannot be replaced but you can add a dedicated card to take over its duties.

      It's possible that you're encountering heat problems (excessive dust, dying fans) that are causing the problem. The way to test this would be to run a benchmark/burn program like 3dmark in loop mode, which will push your system's heat up and crash it if something is failing.

      Or the graphics chip (or its associated bits like support memory or even the interconnects) could just be dying. In that case you'll need to find a suitable add-on card (under $50 if you're not playing big games) and install it. You'll have to consult a tech or forum for specifics of what is 'suitable', and make sure you have a decent return policy in case I'm completely wrong.

  •  About that clicking sound, BACK UP YOUR DISC (8+ / 0-)

    The worst mistake you can make is NOT BACKING UP. The clicking noise could be the precursor of a dead drive. I have had two drives fail in the last two years. It happens. Complete data loss, everything gone. But I had backups that were only two hours old. After spending $130 for a new 500 GB drive, happiness.

    No backups=misery. Hardware is not reliable, so belt and suspenders and life will be easier.

    Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read. Groucho Marx

    by marketgeek on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:40:59 PM PDT

    •  Back up even if it isn't clicking (7+ / 0-)

      Disks also fail without warning. Anyone who isn't backing up their stuff regularly is being foolish.

    •  As far as backing up... (7+ / 0-)

      It's such a critically important thing that I think I'll devote a whole separate diary to it.

      •  Yes, please do... n/t (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
      •  Please do write this diary (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MKinTN, DruidQueen, marketgeek

        And when you do, please hold our hands as you advise us. It's safe to assume that we've turned our computers on and that we're connected to the internet.

        One or two years ago, 90% of the comments here would have been gibberish to me. I'll guess and say that the percentage is now down to 75% gibberish. Trying to be helpful and trying to impress at the same time .... It just doesn't work for those of us who need advice. We're not helped by someone's mastery of or ability to sling jargon. (There was a comment way up top, among numerous others, that I'm thinking of here.)

        I really appreciate your diary. Your style, tone, and language all give me confidence that I, ignorant as I am, could follow your advice and have a good chance of solving a problem. Thanks.

    •  YES!!! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If you even get a "feeling" that something isn't quite right, do a backup!  Don't wait!

    •  Oh, yes (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MKinTN, marketgeek

      I've had two drives die before... in both cases they weren't completely dead, and I was able to pull off the most recent files, but fortunately most things were already in the backup.  And even then, I was crying... I can't imagine what would have happened without a backup.  These days, I've collected several external HDs, and I usually keep two backups, though one is copied less frequently.  Hey, the backup drive can die, too...  

      You can only call it paranoid if you've never had a drive failure... one of our clients at work lost an entire database because the backup drive was bad and they didn't know it.  When the database went down, they couldn't restore the backup because it was corrupt.  "Ouch" doesn't begin to describe it.

      Article 196. Health is the right of all and the obligation of the State, guaranteed through social and economic policies that provide... universal and equitable access to programs and services for its promotion, protection, and recuperation.

      by SLKRR on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 08:48:46 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Storage is relatively cheap these days. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      If you have the technological know-how and a relatively modern motherboard, you should look into RAID mirroring (in ADDITION TO making regular backups).

      For the laymen: this is a motherboard-and-OS dependent feature that takes two (or more) hard drives, and treats them as a single hard drive for all intents and purposes. If one drive fails, your data will still be safe, because it's been redundantly copied to the other drive.

      You're essentially sacrificing storage space (two 10 gig drives will be treated as a single 10 gig drive) for reliability.

      It also gives you a small boost in speed when reading data from your drives, because the disk controller can read from the two drives in parallel.

      Corporate Dog

      We didn't elect Obama to be an expedient president. We elected him to be a great one. -- Eugene Robinson

      by Corporate Dog on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 06:28:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Legacy software... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    nancat357, MKinTN

    ...specifically AutoCAD LT R2.0 for WIndows 3.1!

    I had to keep this running for my section loooong beyond its expiration date before I retired. Why? The powers-what-am didn't want to invest in the latest version, becuase they wanted us to use Microstation for our CAD work. Unfortunately, they didn't want to spend money on training (you can take AutoCAD classes at any Chicago City College, but nobody local teaches anything about Bentley's CAD programs). I had to edit the linetype file to provide reasonable dashed lines for our traffic signal timing schedules, and the font choices sucked, so I found a freeware font called Leroy (which deosn't really look much like Leroy lettering done with a Leroy set manually, BTW), and these had to be handled manually for reinstallations. I also had to draw up blocks and base sheets, too.  But the biggest pain was that drawing up complex timing sheets, and associated things like preemption sheets, would trigger GPF's if one didn't take care. Why? Well, AFAIK the software would only access 32 MB (Yes, MB!) of RAM, and even if you had 4GB (like my Dell GX-270 had at work), you'r still be using the cache file on the hard drive a lot, and boom! Delete the error and lock files and reboot, and then start over. I caught a lot of hell from the other traffic engineers, even though it wasn't my idea to go with this software. I was just tasked with making it work for our needs. And now I'm retired, and they can go any which way they like (but they were still using and cribbing my 2000+ timing schedule files when I left...). Not bad for an old, semi-computer literate civil engineer!

    Float like a manhole cover, sting like a sash weight! Clean Coal Is A Clinker!

    by JeffW on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 05:51:08 PM PDT

  •  I am praying that 'The Steve' gets cured (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Julia Grey

    of his various physical ailments. We need him to simplify computers for the world.

    p.s. great overall summary of the problems personal computers face.

    You could be listening to DBlog Radio. "We are but temporary visitors on this planet. The microbes own this place" <- Me

    by yuriwho on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 06:17:36 PM PDT

  •  Thanks, good read, interesting thoughts (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    JeffW, xanthippe2

    I don't agree 100% with everything here, but really enjoyed reading this diary and the discussion in the comments. Thank you!

  •  NOTE to SELF: Revisit for Info/Analysis (0+ / 0-)

    Hey, Palin … your giving a WRONG answer on Faux News is like getting knocked out by your own punching bag.

    by dmhlt 66 on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 06:48:40 PM PDT

  •  I really think I've been trojaned. (0+ / 0-)

    Slow performance to the point of programs freezing up.  Error messages about low virtual memory when I've got tons of disk space and a recently-emptied cache.  "System Idle Process" using like 97% of my CPU when I'm NOT FUCKING IDLE.  Just spent $100 on a new antivirus and it hasn't helped.  But not having an antivirus didn't help either - I'd uninstalled the last one and just relied on Zonealarm against intrusions, but same shit kept happening.

    The conundrum of stable democracy: Reform requires the consent of the corrupt.

    by Troubadour on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 07:00:26 PM PDT

    •  Just guesses (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      CoolOnion, MKinTN, DruidQueen

      System Idle Process is largely an internal accounting thing. Don't worry about what it says. The error about low virtual memory is probably a big worry, since it points to some deeper systemic problem.

      Try Malware Bytes for a system scan, just as another data point. If it returns empty, then I'm suspecting a driver or service as the culprit, and that's way more of a headache to diagnose.

  •  What does Flash mean? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bsmechanic, Matt Z

    'Scuse my ignorance, but so many things on my 'puter turn up with "flash" somehow terminologically attached that I'm simply not sure of what you're referring to in the 3rd last paragraph parenthetically stating

    (Try disabling that on your PC/Mac one day, by the way. It's not too hard and you'll be pleasantly shocked.)

    (I hope you or someone knowledgeable about this is still fielding Qs and providing As at this point!)

    •  It creates interactive bits of a web page (5+ / 0-)

      When you load a web page, it actually combines a diverse set of components defining everything that composes the page. Flash is a long, long used component that provides interactive functionality and video playback. When you use Youtube, the video and the controls are all Flash.

      Unfortunately, there are two problems. Number one, a lot of web ads are delivered using badly written Flash that can really slow things down. Number two, the Flash software just isn't very good to begin with and causes a lot of mysterious issues with web browsing.

  •  I have an husband uses it (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    mostly and does a lot of site searching.

    It has Vista installed...we were getting "Windows Vista Recovery" installing itself and an icon and it wouldn"t let us into Windows at all. After trying a few things, I turned it off and restarted it in Safe mode. Tried a few more things then went to System Restore and restored it to 5 days ago. All this nonsense took about 3 hours or so. The system restore got rid of the program and the icon...had to do it about 3 times, though, over 2 days.

    I read up and somewhere said it was with a pop-up that said Adobe Update....which makes sense. We had updated Adobe a couple months ago and this new update window didn't have a number(version) on it.

    Anyway, that system restore is a nice idea. I wish I had thought of it earlier.

    Character is what you are in the dark. Emilio Lizardo in Buckaroo Bonzai

    by Temmoku on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 07:50:53 PM PDT

  •  Great diary! Thanks!!! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tapestry, MKinTN

    I'm the "fix it" person in my household, and in my neighborhood. I'm always telling people that all computers are "dinosaurs," even the one you just bought that I'm helping you install today.

    They're all glitchy, and future generations will wonder how we ever accomplished anything on this pieces of crap.

    Your machine, however current with all the latest bells and whistles, will be viewed by future generations an an Underwood Typewriter.

    The Jurassic Age--we're in it.

  •  My computer is haunted (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Every once in a long while it dies with a blue screen of death on startup.  Sometimes it continually reboots itself and dies with a blue screen, even when trying to enter safe mode.  

    The only way to fix it is to take it to a computer shop... because when it is there it works perfectly.  I recently upgraded to a new hard drive and new memory, but the problem still appears every once in a while.  I've run every diagnostic I can find on the drive and memory and it all checks out.  The last 3 weeks it has run perfectly.  My only guess is that the problem is in the motherboard, since I haven't changed that - but it's only a guess.  

    Windows 7 64-bit
    HD 500GB
    RAM 4GB
    Intel Core 2 Duo

    The machine itself is from 2007, but the HD and RAM are brand new.

    Article 196. Health is the right of all and the obligation of the State, guaranteed through social and economic policies that provide... universal and equitable access to programs and services for its promotion, protection, and recuperation.

    by SLKRR on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 08:38:37 PM PDT

    •  Poor ventilation, warm room, high humidity. (0+ / 0-)

      in that order. A noisy power source, perhaps a motor, heater, or appliance on the same circuit can mess things up. 16-gauge wiring is inadequate. 64-bit? Are you sure?

      Overclocking makes chips run hotter. If you don't know what overclocking is, you probably aren't doing it. If your hardware setup allows you to overclock the processor, graphics or memory, don't do that. Don't run any processor speed-up add-ons, either. They sometimes enable overclocking at startup.

      If it works perfectly at the shop and has never failed in that environment, then the problem is almost certain to be environmental. The shops always put the machine on a hard flat surface, no restricted ventilation holes, their power source is always clean, often filtered, and the shop is air conditioned and the humidity is low.
      Just a few thoughts. I've run into these kinds of problems more than once. These fixes cost nothing. I prefer that.

      "All people are born alike - except Republicans and Democrats" - Groucho Marx

      by GrumpyOldGeek on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 10:07:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The complexity of modern computers (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    and their software is simply amazing, as is the amazing number of things that can be done with them. It's the rapid evolution that causes these problems for users. My wife says, "what do normal people do, who don't have decades of experience with this stuff, and who aren't technically minded?" Very good question, because as I've moved us up from machine to machine over the years, the time it's taken out of my day has steadily increased. Oh, I can always fix it, always find the problem, but the time to find keeps getting greater.

    If there's any advice I can offer, it's plug your machine into a network router with Network Address Translation (NAT), even if it's a stand-alone computer. As long as you don't click on a bad thing, one of these puppies will keep the bad guys out of your machine. And they're cheap, really cheap for the time they'll save you.

    When I quit using dial-up, I was getting a Trojan attack about every 20 minutes. So don't use dial-up. To use a router, you need DSL or cable or other high speed internet connection. You need a network card in your machine or a motherboard with built-in networking. Do not plug your machine directly into the cable or DSL "modem." The bad guys won't be able to see your machine through the router.

    Don't click on emailed links or attachments unless you know what it is, even if it's from someone you know. Be careful of links in unknown websites, especially PDF files.

    And as has been said, run Microsoft Security Essentials if you are running Windows, and enable your Windows Firewall.

    Corruption is what keeps us safe and warm. Corruption is why we win. -Syriana

    by CarbonFiberBoy on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 08:43:30 PM PDT

    •  IM and VoIP - a caveat (0+ / 0-)

      Most general users just want their stuff to work. The little box with the blinking lights connects their computer to the Internet.

      The NAT function protects you by keeping track of sites where you made the initial request. For example, when I access, the router knows to expect a response from If an unsolicited response shows up, it's a likely hack attempt. The router just drops the response. Nobody's home, hacker.

      There are a few Internet services that won't work if the router is blocking unsolicited messages. Instant messaging services, Voice over IP (Voip), Skype, and any others that send the initial request to your machine won't work until you change your router setup to accept these specific unsolicited messages.

      The caveat here is that the guy at the call center in Elbonia will be very helpful and will walk you through the steps to reconfigure your router. The exposure is that this guy knows your stuff will work if he shuts off the NAT protection entirely. He gets you to change the router default to accept all unsolicited messages.

      The router NAT protection is defeated. Your computer is vulnerable.

      These specific services are properly enabled by permitting unsolicited messages from a specific port number, not by changing the default router permissions.

      "All people are born alike - except Republicans and Democrats" - Groucho Marx

      by GrumpyOldGeek on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 12:13:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  i got to disagree on one thing (0+ / 0-)

    about OS evangelism. If you are still running windows xp. You've got a problem. It's really time to go to Windows 7. XP is 6X more likely to be infected with a virus or sometype of malware.

    He also says that CPU doesn't matter anymore. and i'll agree to a point. If you have a core 2 duo or better, you are good for a long time. if you are still single core CPU i'd look at upgrading. if you have less than 2Gig of memory, i'd look at upgrading. Modern OS' also take advantage of hardware accelerated desktop environments. It doesn't have to cost you an arm and a leg. a basic video card can go for as low as $40 and provide a huge difference in your computer's overall performance. Video chips built into your computer's motherboard are nearly useless and and monopolize system memory before your OS even boots.

    On one more point. Antivirus. NEVER HAVE MORE THAN ONE INSTALLED AT A TIME. Norton in the last couple years isn't as bad os the OP made it out to be... but McAfee is a blackhole of computer performance.

  •  ESET NOD32 has incredibly small footprint (0+ / 0-)

    I agree with your assessment of McAfee and Symantec. Those programs will ground your computer to a stop, they are so heavy.... Especially if running Vista.

    But ESET NOD32 rocks! Frighteningly small footprint. Highly effective protection. I will only use ESET products now. Wonderful stuff!

  •  This is a great diary. (0+ / 0-)

    And a great service.  Thanks.  

  •  Do you think I should upgrade to this? (0+ / 0-)
    Thanks to improved chip designs and an energy-efficient water-cooling system, Mira will also be one of the most energy-efficient supercomputers in the world, IBM said. It runs on IBM’s Blue Gene/Q platform and its impressive specs include more than 750,000 processors and 750 terabytes of memory.

    Can I run MS Office on it? LMAO

    The Fierce Urgency of Later

    by Faroutman on Wed Jun 08, 2011 at 11:48:00 PM PDT

  •  Well, doesn't this just look wonderful? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I'll read this tomorrow when I'm actually awake. Meanwhile, lots of kudos to the author for putting this up here.

    No peace, no justice. No justice, no peace.

    by Miep on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 01:10:51 AM PDT

  •  I used to program in Fortran. Now I'm an idiot. (0+ / 0-)

    That's what's so sad about the way computers evolved.  I used to be a programming geek, way back in HS and took courses in Fortran.  I remember when you had to run a separate program just to get the gigantic printer to print 100 instead of 1*10^2.

    Even as late as the mid 80s, with 8086 processors you could still mess around with the innards of the computer.

    Now I don't know anything about how my computer works.  

    When you say things like, just go to your Program Features control panel, I don't know what you're talking about.

    I know what my control panel is.  I know what a program is.  I can guess what a feature is.  But I've never seen a specific program features control panel.

    It's that kind of stuff that drives me up a wall.

  •  IT guy myself... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    been in the game for about 18 years now. Excellent diary, just one nitpick...

    Ad-Aware and SpyBot are not as effective as they once were. I prefer Malware Bytes for every day use and Combofix for fixing most major infections.

    Nothing out there is perfect, but I find those two come closest.

    I live in Florida, and no, I don't "get" my state either.

    by weelzup on Thu Jun 09, 2011 at 06:32:24 AM PDT

  •  Of course switching OS wont fix your probs (0+ / 0-)

    Of course switching operating systems won't fix your immediate problems, however, switching may prevent you from dealing with your current problems in the future.  I'm writing purely on experience...  I've used a PC since 2008.  Went through about 3 of them.  In Feb 2008 my latest PC crapped out on me (Got slow immediately, mouse track pad stopped working, screen stopped turning on).  I nervously made the switch to a regular macbook.  I simply don't experience the same problems I did on the PC.  My web browser doesn't just randomly close on me anymore.  Programs dont freeze up on me.  I don't ever experience delayed responses to my inputs.  It runs as I expect it to.  It truly was a major relief to not see my new computer slow up after a month of owning it.  I don't have to perform routine maintenance on it all the time.  When Im done using it I close it, when I'm ready to use it again I open it.  I don't have to wait several minutes for it to load everything; it's ready almost immediately.  Will mac be just as good in the future?  I don't know.  But that certainly doesnt justify using something I know isnt good now.

  •  wapitig8rism #13 (0+ / 0-)

    "For as long as I have worked on computers, I am amazed that they actually work as often as they do." Quote me.

  •  One Word: Ubuntu nt (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Matthew Detroit

    In a world of the blind, the one eyed man is a pariah. Ask Galileo. Ask Darwin.

    by OKParrothead on Sat Jun 11, 2011 at 08:23:36 AM PDT

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