ratcheting down of consumer freedom
Sunday, October 11 2020
Powerful is involved in a number of re-entry programs, one of which provided him a laptop. It's an inexpensive Core i3 model from Hewlett Packard, but it smaller, lighter, and probably somewhat faster than the old 2006-era IBM Thinkpad T60 he's been using since getting out of prison. Yesterday he'd given it to me so I could set it up for him. It came with Windows 10 S, which is a severely hobbled operating system that only accepts software from the Windows Store, making its software distribution paradigm more like smartphone than something with a fullsize keyboard. I thought it would be a simple job to either get out of Windows S mode or install a non-S version of a Windows operating system. But this turned out to be difficult. Using a thumbdrive with a Windows 10 Pro installation on it, I went through an entire installation process (which doesn't take long when the media is a thumbdrive and the target drive is an SSD), but the result was something called "Windows 10 Professional S." There was something in the computer, outside its drives, that was somehow forcing the operating system to be the "S" version of Windows 10. I then tried installing Windows 7, but the computer refused to boot anything from an attached DVD drive (it contained no mechanical drives of its own). Interestingly, though, I had no trouble installing Debian Linux. I thought maybe Debian would reset the laptop back to some state where I could then install whatever version of Windows 10 I wanted to, since it deleted all the various tiny partitions on the SSD. But that didn't prove to be the case.
I thought perhaps the problem was that Windows was connecting to a server over the internet and finding faults with my installation image, triggering S-mode. But there was no way during installation to avoid connecting to the internet. When I tried not to provide a WiFi SSID, the installation refused to proceed. And there was no way to bypass that step. And the laptop itself had no way to disable WiFi, something I'd never seen before. I tried offering a WiFi SSID to a router without an internet connection, but without internet, the installation refused to proceed. All these things are indications of an alarming ratcheting down of consumer freedom.
At around sundown, I went across the Farm Road with my newly-sharpened battery-powered chainsaw (the big Kobalt one) and cut down a smallish dead chestnut oak. But its wood contained too much moisture for immediate use, so I then cut up a piece of fallen skeletonized oak. It was dark by the time I wrestled a load of that home in my backpack.
This evening Powerful had plans to make dinner, but, owing to the elaborate procedures required when doing "lab work" for his online cooking school, it had taken him a half hour just to cut up a sweet potato. So Gretchen made a dinner of spaghetti & meatballs instead. It was even better than usual, perhaps because I diced up a ghost pepper and added it to mine.
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