Saturday, August 15, 2009

Windows Anger

Originally posted on October 17th, 2005

After all this time, I haven't once whined about Windows in these pages. Well, that's about to change. Here's something I sent at work today. I've removed material that could identify the workplace, or my colleagues. If this ticks you off, try replacing all the blanks with random obscenities, and odds are you'll feel better about it.

Working on this document has made me exercise Word, Visio and Windows generally far more than I ever have before. This is a particular form of hell for a Unix geek. (Dante didn't know about Unix geeks or else he would have added a whole circle for us. It would be full of NT4 boxes, of course.) I have found many new ways to make Windows lock up for ten minutes, or forever. I've learned how to desperately guess which duration I'm faced with in a given situation, and to balance that guess against the certainty of a 20 minute reboot cycle, All of this under deadline pressure, of course.

Just now, I thought I had discovered a new way to make Windows stop doing my bidding. I had been cutting and pasting multiple large blocks of Word data between various versions of the ____ draft. I was on IM with R____, letting him know I had at last succeeded in uploading this version of the document. I went to paste the title of the document, into the chat window. Windows froze when I did that. I suddenly got the horrible idea that I had just pasted the entire ____ section into the chat session!

It turned out the collaboration software had Windows' undivided attention while uploading the doc to the ____, and my title appeared in the chat window directly. I hadn't pasted megabytes of data into the IM session. But it made me realize that I had never made that particular mistake in my career before, and still hadn't. I think that's due less to my skill, or even luck, than to the enormous range of possible screw-ups available to us at any given moment.

I am convinced however that Windows expands the already limitless range of such errors more than any computing environment I'm aware of.

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