Windows gives me stress23 Nov 2005 It's been some time since I blogged something. Mostly because I'm lazy...
Some things have happened: I ordered new glasses (which have arrived and I can go and pick them up) and I got myself a VISA card. In December, I'm going to 22c3 just like last year's 21c3. The plane tickets are booked, but the hotel isn't. They only take VISA... that's why I need it.
So anyway, I get stress from Windows.
I'm watching Enterprise episodes on my laptop (doing a marathon like usual), when I come across an episode that won't open. It's not like the file format isn't recognized, nono, the codec crashes and spews a "Access Violation" at me.
Being the debugger that I am, I type it into google and find that several other people have had the same error. Some people solved it by removing some file (which in my case doesn't exist), other people claim that they solved the problem by installing some obscure codec pack.
[OK, so here's my first problem with this kind of situation: where the hell are the logs ? In any kind of decent system, you have tons of logs and debugging equipment to track down problems. Where can I find this in Windows ? The Event Viewer ? Oh please, don't get me started! It's like noone uses the Event Viewer, and when it gets used, its used to log obscure meaningless data.
How do people debug stuff in Windows ? Pure luck ? Is there some kind of logical track I can follow ? Some kind of feedback I can get ?]
On some french forum, I find a link to a codec for mpeg stuff (exactly what I seem to be in need of). I download it, unpack it and try to install it.
[Shameless intermezzo continued! Isn't there some kind of central authority concerning video codecs ?? Why do I have to rely on data from webforums (In French!) (From strangers!) (Without any form of reputation!) to find out what software I need and where I can find it ? Why is there no software repository or some handy guide on how to 1) find out what codec I need to start with 2) find out if I already have it 3) in case I have it, is it causing the problem ? 4) I case I don't have it, where can I find it ?
Blah! Part of the problem would already be solved if there was some decent version tracking thing for codecs. For every codec, there are at least a dozen versions lying around, and you can't be sure that using a later version will provide everything an older version does. (Speaking of versions, have you noticed how software is getting more bloated and bloated with every new version, providing less useful functionality and more crap you don't need ? I don't need no DVD-burning functionality in my text-editor or a medialibrary in my music-player or a built-in browser in my instant messenger software! Thank you very much, but it's not because Microsoft allows you to easily integrate their crap into your crap, that you should do it! In fact, your software should do what I expect it to do and nothing else! But we're drifting...)]
So I install it... And good god! I should have guessed it! The installer crashes! As it happens, the installer doesn't have a log either, or any decent information for that matter. It spews some crappy error message at me, and that's all she wrote.
Because this is Windows, and you never know what happens behind the scenes anyway, I cross my fingers and hope that that was the fix (It's a longshot, but then again, so is using Windows)
Yay! The error is gone! But wait! What is this ? Another error ? Yesyes
At first I thought: Oh well, 1 problem down, 1 problem more so in the end back where I started. But nono, the problem got worse!
Now I can't play ANY videofile. It always spews this same error message about a file I have never heard about.
I do what I always do when things screw up in Windows: I reboot.
(I hope they never take away this basic Windows-fixing functionality! My, and most likely 99% of the other Windows users' debugging expertise involves rebooting Windows and see if the problem went away)
So there I am, haven broken one of the most important rules in solving a problem: Never make it worse.
Having had terrible bad luck following advice from webforums, I do the next best thing one can do in Windows: uninstall and install several applications and see if it makes a difference. I removed all software that had anything to do with video codecs and reinstalled it. Nothing good happens, I still can't play my favorite episodes.
I found a codec pack that calls itself "All in one". Sounds promising no ?
I thought so too, so I tried to install it. The installer crashed (Who'd have guessed)
[What is it with people writing installers that crash ? Don't they test their software ?]
Images of me reinstalling Windows are flashing before my eyes. I even considered moving to Linux permanently on my laptop, like everywhere else where I want a work-environment I can trust, but then I remember that I'm lazy and I'd need to figure out some stuff like how to map the volume keys in linux to change the volume...
This is realtime. I have just downloaded an ACE codec pack, which is 49MB big.
You'd think that for a file this big, it probably contains about every codec ever conceived. Knowing my luck in these situations, I probably wasted 50MB of my download volume and am going to make the problem worse.
Whadda ya know. The download says: error
So I really did waste 50MB.
[Every other download site I try these days guides me through approx. 20 screens before I can actually download something. If you don't have to register, you have to endure mindnumbing ad-spam, look over a site with a lookingglass just to find a download button and then find yourself in a maze of "click here to continue" screens that make you end up in a place with "download mirrors". What is up with that ? I have to choose where I download this file ? Give me the data already! If you're lucky, you only need to go to about 3 mirrors to find a working one that goes fast enough so you don't have to wait 10 days before you can run the fine program. In my case, I had 2 mirrors, of which only 1 worked. And you can guess what happens, midway in the download, the download stops and I can't download any more. Then I have to type in the filename in google and download it in some other way. Great idea those download mirrors, if only someone would maintain it]
5 minutes to go
I need a drink now
See what you make me do Windows ? Userfriendly, bah! You make me want to destroy something beautiful, but I won't.
The installation detected that I have All-In-One installed and asks to remove it. I click yes and select "Yes to all" so that Windows doesn't keep bothering me all the time with stupid questions.
[There's Yes, No, Yes to all, ... but where is No to all ? Design flaw ?]
Now it detected I have DivX installed and wants to remove it. Naive as I am, I allow it to do so (otherwise I'll probably end up with a screwed Windows system with half the files missing)
It detected that I have Nimo Codec Pack installed. Now I'm pretty sure I uninstalled that, but let the beast do its best and attempt to remove it anyway
Ah now we're getting somewhere. I User Agreement of only 6(six) lines. This must be a first. Most agreement things are half a book long containing LOTS OF TEXT IN CAPS TO ANNOY THE USER (they can't annoy you be writing in fine print, so they have to find some other way)
Does anyone ever read these things ? I tried it once, its full of crap.
OF COURSE I ACCEPT
After asking me alot (alot) of questions (probably to waste my time), it starts a DOS window (yes, it still exists) and runs an antivirus(?!)
[How difficult is it to make a "Select all" option ? I mean, you've covered all other options like "lite", "minimalist", "player only" etc.]
"The ACE Mega CoDeCs Pack is configuring your system" Thank you for that!
How about showing me what you're doing ?And drop the stupid CaMeLbAcK while you're at it.
Just in case Windows decides to reboot now, I'll save this text and then press "Next"
It didn't reboot!
And what's even better, I can play my episodes !
Yay for ACE CoDeCs Pack!
Windows used to be OK when it was around it's Windows 98SE edition. Then they started adding stuff to give you "a better experience" and started adding layers of cruft to hide the "dirty" details of what happens behind the scenes from you and thats where they lost me.
I'm a computer nerd. I know computers inside out, not just programs, but programming, protocols, concepts, hardware designs and software designs from the highest to the lowest levels.
But I can't grasp where all these things are hidden in the "better experience" of Windows these days. People have invented all kinds of words and nifty abbreviations to make computing sound difficult to the average user. Microsoft decided to annihilate that obvious superior advantage over the common man by inventing its own lexicon and abbreviations. This makes me feel stupid while I know I'm not. A note for Windows-lovers: Words are empty without meaning. Don't speak about things you don't know and don't claim that you understand things when you don't even know what it's about.
All that being said, I believe Windows is not ready for the desktop anymore. My Windows installation is saved for another day. But I swear to god, one of these days I won't take the time to search google anymore...