minor catastrophes along the way
Monday, April 8 2013
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York
The weather took a turn for the genuinely springlike today, with sunny skies and highs well into the upper 70s. Unfortunately, I ended up spending most of it indoors. A wooden frame had been delivered for our new houseguest's bed (the one in the Gunther Room), and I had to put it together. While I was in the basement, I also turned off the boiler for the season. Doing this on April 7th is uncommonly late; some years I've turned it off as early as March 10th.
Next I returned to a chore I'd begun yesterday, the restoration of Flyingfish (my MSI Wind U123 netbook) to working order. It had suffered some sort of file corruption in Williamstown and been a doorstop since. Unfortunately for me, there was no easy fix and I had to reinstall Windows XP and all the applications from scratch, a job that typically takes hours (and usually overlooks important things). Though people are always complaining about the reliability of Windows system, this marked the first time in many years that a computer problem had forced me to reinstall everything on a Windows machine. If it happened much more often, I might bother backing up the operating system (as opposed to just the files, which I back up in an ad hoc manner, usually relying on the fact that most of my creative output ends up FTPed to a web server).
My essential applications include Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Mozilla Thunderbird, Putty, Cygwin, WAMPServer, Filezilla, WinSCP, Adobe Photoshop 7.0, Homesite (an old HTML editor that just works), XMPlay (an MP3 player), Media Player Classic (a light-weight video player with a recognizable UI), Microsoft Office XP (with FileFormat Converter — I cannot stand the UI of recent versions of Office), and Vuze (the Bittorrent client). In the course of installing these, I had a number of minor catastrophes along the way, most of them the result of inattention. For example, somehow I made the mistake of Googling "Firefox" instead of going to the Mozilla website directly, and this led to accidentally click on a third-party source for Firefox, and that led me to run some shady "installer." That installer looked pretty slick and at first I thought maybe Firefox had changed their installation mechanism. But when it asked me if some obvious form of crapware could be installed (to offer me savings or something like that), I immediately stopped the process in the task manager. That wasn't fast enough; the installer had already managed to install some malevolent things which required Regedit to remove.
And then of course there's Vuze, which, though it claims to be an open source project and free as in both speech and beer, becomes more riddled with parasites with every release. Vuze still includes options during the install process to not install certain things, but there doesn't appear to be any way to keep it from changing your homepage to some affiliate-branded Yahoo page and from changing your search provider to Yahoo.com in all your browsers. That Yahoo (my employer for a few months) resorts to such sleazy partners tells you a lot about the sorry state of their moribund search engine. Of course, I shouldn't be surprised that Vuze itself has gradually become so malignant; the people who use it are almost entirely scofflaws (at least from the perspective of media companies), and so no reputable companies will do business with them. There are alternatives to Vuze, but I don't want to have to learn something new.
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