Rod for our own backs?

  csqwared 20:22 05 Jan 2005

I’m referring to the letter in PCA Issue115 regarding “Blue screen madness” and Simon’s reply …’You just can’t take them out of the box, plug them in and expect them to function perfectly for five to ten years’.. Why ?? I think the writer, Alan Swannack, is right when he says we shouldn’t have to do registry tweaks (among other things) to keep these machines functioning. The current issues with the XP SP2 upgrade seems to underline this argument. This upgrade, produced by the Windows team for Windows systems has left lots of machines in a shambles and the majority of users at a loss as to how to get the system into a usable condition. Surely there should be an onus on the programme writers to ensure this kind of thing doesn’t happen? Simon points out computers aren’t like other appliances but I don’t think the complexity issue is valid in view of some of the sophisticated bits of non-PC stuff on the market, most chip driven, that do function, in the main trouble free, over many years, and if they did go wrong I doubt we would tinker. As is pointed out in an earlier issue of PCA “the PC is generally the third biggest investment, after house and car, a household makes”, so we should expect better. Or is it that we insist/enjoy delving into the innards of these machines and upsetting the status quo?

  spikeychris 21:19 05 Jan 2005

Good points but one point: "I don’t think the complexity issue is valid in view of some of the sophisticated bits of non-PC stuff on the market, most chip driven, that do function, in the main trouble free, over many years" doesn't stand up. Yeah a chip driven washing machine, tumble dryer will keep going but they are not having third party programs added whenever one becomes free on the net. They don't have TP [unsigned] firewalls - AV's - spyware - games etc. They are not being hit by advertisements and overclocked and upgraded and ...........

The list is endless and the so is the progs/apps installed on a virgin system.

  Forum Editor 01:29 06 Jan 2005

that SP2 has left "......the majority of users at a loss as to how to get the system into a usable condition." Statistics show that the large majority of SP2 installations went without a hitch, and our experience here in the forum certainly bears that out.

As far as Simon's reply to the magazine correspondent goes - he's right isn't he? Take a computer out of its box and run it without installing any software, surfing the web, adding hardware, or upgrading, and it probably would run for ten years without a hitch for five, or even ten years. Run it as most computers are run however, and you'll be lucky to escape without the occasional blue screen or error message. Computers are tinkered with more than almost anything else I can think of - I see hundreds of 'sick' machines a year, and almost without fail the problem turns out to have been caused by the user fiddling inside the case, or tweaking the configuration settings, or downloading a shed-load of trouble from the Internet. The computer itself isn't the problem,and although some software is badly-written and inadequately tested the overal standard is high.

Computer users are going to experiment - it's human nature - and computers are complex bits of kit. Combine a complex electronic device with many millions of lines of software code, add a naturally curious human being to the mix and you have a recipe for trouble - we've all been there at some point. Spend a few days looking through the threads in our Helproom and you'll see a pattern emerging.

  Maverick81 09:07 07 Jan 2005

I think its fair to say that the forum editor is right most SP2 installations did go without a hitch, i have had various copies of SP2 installed on my two systems ranging from the first release candidate right through to the final release version and I have only had one problem with anti virus software not working with the release candidate thats it, I realise not everyone was that lucky.

Its a testiment to Microsoft really given that there are literally hundreds of thousands of applications out there that we can install, dont get me wrong they are far from perfect but they are working awfully hard to keep our machines safe
they are a damn sight more secure than they were.

If it wasnt for everyone tweaking and messing with PC's we wouldn't have the product we have today thats for sure !!

Mav :-)

  flecc 12:21 07 Jan 2005

Yes, I made a hobby of exploiting this very issue, creating Windows 98SE based stripped systems which run as fixed unchanging entities in the way a TV is made and used. The result is improved performance and totally unconditional reliability due to them having full compatibility in the first place and no inappropriate additions or modification. These were built mainly from Microsoft's software, proving that this company do indeed produce fundamentally completely reliable systems and have done for years. As said above, it's what people do later that's the problem, people in that context being everyone from individual users to virus writers.

It's also worth bearing in mind that some of the household items held up as examples of reliability against Microsoft operating systems actually have Microsoft Windows 98 and XP embedded operating systems running them.

  jack 14:53 07 Jan 2005

I guess FE and flecc have it all to rights.
Consider any work situation where a given machine is a work station dedicated to a single task.
Mary's 'Word Processor'
Freds ' Accounts package'
Charlies 'Stock Control'

How often do these go down and give trouble?
Very seldom I would guess considering the hours of use.
This also brings in the recent flurry of misuse
issues with downloading non work related internet files.
Why would such machines be on the internet in the first place.
Has the world work of work changed that much in the last 10 years?

  james55 18:59 07 Jan 2005

I find Windows XP the most stable System ever & after a few minor clichés SP2 is no problem either. One way to make the System the way some would like it would be to take control away from the user (us).

That option doesn’t bear thinking of, like any way of life the longer you do something the more experience you get and the easier it gets.

I used to be called format C & XP has almost made me redundant, in the old days when things went wrong it took about 80 floppy discs and over four hours to put it right again.


  csqwared 20:22 07 Jan 2005

I'll consider myself shot down although flecc seems to have the point exactly - left alone and without outside interference (us) these things run quite happily for a long time, hence the title of the post. Incidentally, I'm not advocating we stop tinkering, there'ld be no forum!! :))

  Diemmess 18:41 09 Jan 2005

Flecc emphasises that left to themselves, operating systems will do exactly as required for years, without " inappropriate additions or modification."

Surely this is the old story of a Jack-of-All-Trades being Master of none. The huge possibilities of use for that nice new computer seem to grow with experience of it, until the system collapses from "inappropriate additions or modification".

It is expected of me to help several friends and branches of my family with their difficulties. The paragon is an octagenerian whose computer has no internet connection because his only interest is photography, using a top whack negative scanner and Photoshop to improve a lifetime's collection of prints. (I would like to say he has never needed serious help, but his s/hand mobo burned out and I had to replace it for him!).

At the other end, "trust a teenager to push the envelope to rupture point." An elder grandson with a lust for "Music" managed so to clutter the system with spyware that it ground to a halt. Once was not enough to learn the lesson. He has the youngster's tendency to click on anything that pops up... just to see.

I am pig in the middle. Can't help trying this and that, but take great care, have backups available, and (touch wood) am leading a tranquil life with something that does what I want, though of course it wasn't always like that.

Important things in life have opposites. Light v Darkness, Rights must have Responsibilities, Opportunities have Risks and a versatile machine like todays new computers are trashable, but to make them truly untrashable would destroy the versatility and magic. Most of us are broad-shouldered "to the stick" or we wouldn't explore.

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