location within two-dimensional space
Friday, May 9 2014
Windows 7 is generally a good platform for the work I do. I don't care that it's not cool or hip, or that Bill Gates was a monopolistic asshole when Windows was being developed (in answer to that, I protest that mine is a pirated copy). Still, there are things about Windows (and this applies to all versions) that drive me crazy, just as there are things that drive me crazy in OSX and Linux that have kept me using Windows. (In particular, I require a GUI that gives me the ability to paste a path into an address bar allowing me to navigate there directly, something that, outside of Windows, only appears to be offered by KDE in Linux.) I've been able to fix most of the problems with Windows using various little third-party add-ons, the most essential of which has been Desktop Restore. Location within two-dimensional space is important to me when using a computer. I put icons representing directories or applications in specific groupings on the desktop, and when Windows scrambles that arrangement (as it often does, and for no apparent reason), I can no longer work effectively. Desktop Restore can then restore the arrangement from a saved snapshot. It's not a perfect program; usually the restoration has to be invoked twice, since some icons aren't restored until the second invocation. But it's what I have to work with, so I work with it.
Since getting the ASUS 1920 X 1200 monitor, Windows has been aggravating me in an entirely new (and very frustrating) way. Every so often (usually, but not always, in the middle of the night), it gets the idea that all the open windows on some of my monitors should be moved over to other monitors, while other open windows (particularly those belonging to Homesite — yes, I still use it — and Thunderbird) get moved to a location far below (that is, off-screen) my lowest-right monitor (which happens to be the ASUS 1920 X 1200). This is nearly as aggravating as scrambling the positions of my icons. Because I have five monitors, I tend to put certain windows in certain monitors so I know where to go to, say, check my email, FTP a file, or change the music coming from my MP3 player. With the windows scrambled to inappropriate places, or invisible in the murky off-screen basement (getting them back is a non-intuitive process that I now execute with alarming dexterity), I have to spend a couple minutes moving them around before I can get any work done. Unfortunately, I have yet to find an application that successfully pins windows to the monitors where I want them, so I've just had to deal with this new behavior. Most vexing of all, I appear to be the only one who has this problem; I've been unable to find anyone complaining about a similar situation (and the searches are difficult to construct, since the problem is with "windows" on a platform named "Windows"). The closest matches to my predicament are for those who disconnect a monitor and then can't find their windows. Most of the "help" for this problem consists of telling people how to move off-screen windows into view, but obviously I'm already a master of that technique.
I've tried many solutions to this problem, including updating my video drivers and even taking some half-hearted steps of trying to set up a brand new Windows profile. The problem with setting up a brand new profile, though, is all the information that must be manually replicated into it. I don't have the time to do that, and the result would be a shitty approximation of an environment painstakingly developed over many years.
But the other day, I realized something interesting: there was a brief period when the window reshuffling wasn't happening, and I suspected it was during the time when my computer had two concurrent users logged in (that is, in a way that would allow "fast user switching" between them). So I logged in another user and then switched back to my normal login. By today, it was clear that this was thwarting whatever process in Windows has been scrambling my windows. I still haven't gotten to the bottom of what is going on, but this (unlike anything written in the Bible) provides a basis for a hypothesis. And it also makes my computer less of annoyance to use, at least until the next reboot.
Today was the 11th anniversary of the day Gretchen and I got married, and (because Facebook tricked me into telling them when our wedding day was), at the stroke of midnight last night, Facebook presented me with a nice five-picture gallery of images in which just Gretchen and I had been tagged beneath the somewhat-inaccurate heading "Together with Gretchen Prιmαcκ for 11 Years" (we've been living together for nearly 13 years now).
This evening we celebrated our anniversary at La Florentina, our favorite Italian restaurant. In contrast to, say, New World Home Cooking, everything about La FLorentina is awesome, starting with the food but also extending to the waitstaff and even the atmosphere (which takes some doing when a restaurant is located in a dreary strip mall with a view of a parking lot, a busy street, and an abandoned loading dock). The only thing that could be improved at La Florentina is the wine selection; we keep having mediocre-to-poor wine experiences even when ordering their more expensive bottles. Today we tried the house Merlot, and, while not great, it was the best wine we've had there yet.
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