Issue 208 - October 09, 2002

ISSN 1488-3163; PC Improvements © 2002
==== 2193 Subscribers in 57 Countries ====

Welcome to the 208th issue of the PC Improvement News. PCIN consists mainly of news and tips. There is something for everyone, and if this is your first issue, I'm sure there will be something for you. If you give me two or three issues, I know that you will come back for more!

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A few weeks ago I asked you to send in your computer pet peeves. I asked what bothered you about computers. Surprisingly, I didn't get as many responses as I thought I would. I figured that the flood gates would open and I'd have so many submissions I wouldn't be able to include half of them. As it turns out, I received 24 responses and you will find them below.

For those of you who are new to PCIN, or who just aren't interested, regular issues will resume next Wednesday.

Graham and Chris

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Bob Spaulding
I am sick of having AOL poke its nose in every time I turn around; TV, CD in the mail, Riders on other programs, etc.

Mike Rewa
I wanted to note this one since it is so outrageous and I can't figure out how these people picked up my addy. It's the VIAGRA sales pitches that I get almost every day for the longest time. And I have never "unsubscribed" ( read subscribed) to any of them so it's kind of funny sometimes that I keep getting them. I thought eventually they would stop coming. Seriously, VIAGRA is absolutely the very last thing I would ever need. So obviously someone is way off the mark there.
My two cents.

Tom Slaughter
Buggy software that's distributed without being thoroughly tested - have these people no pride in their work?
Internet pop-ups
E-mailed spam
I have software to help cope with pop-ups & spam but I know that most people don't. What a waste of bandwidth & time.

Marcus Lesniak
1. Distributed processing is one of the biggest cons out. It just means that businesses end up paying for multiple copies of software and having to install multiple copies on many pcs instead of having concurrent licensing on a real computer.
2. Office type software is not as integrated as the vendors would have you believe. You still have to use the archaic and labour intensive cut and paste to do what should be done automatically, eg inserting an address from an Outlook contacts list into a Word letter. Oh yes you can do a mail merge if you want to send out a large mail shot, but what if you just want to send one or two letters?
3. Manuals. Yes I vaguely recall manuals, and yes, in the old days there were still manuals which were good and manuals which were useless, but a well written manual is worth it's weight in gold. The trouble is that is what you have to pay for one. Hard copy manuals are very useful to have, especially if they are comprehensive, are well written, and a have good contents and indexes (or should that be indeces?). I realise that it is an expensive exercise to produce a good manual but I do think that it is worthwhile to have one. I did think that it might be possible to have two different versions of a software product; one with a manual, and one without but since there are already many different editions of most products (what with learning edition, standard edition, enterprise edition, upgrade, full product etc.) it would make for very complex product lines.
4. Now I like pretty colours and sounds as much as the next person, but when I see the amount of processing power that is wasted on it, at the expense of system speed, I would question whether it is the best use of that power. Maybe I'm just an old mainframe programmer but I really don't see that the PC type platform is the ideal business architecture that it is being sold as, and it certainly isn't as productive as the centrally administered alternative.
5. HELP! Don't you just love it when the help doesn't. The number of times I have seen an error message with just an error number, which an exhaustive search of the online help fails to reveal anything about,i just incredulous. I have noticed the same thing for some quite specific terms; terms which only that piece of software uses. Come on guys; if you're not going to provide any printed manual then at least make the online help ... helpful.
Ahh. I'm glad I've got that off my chest now.

Stan Armstrong
I would love to have LINKS in the Outlook Express Page.

......i do not own my own computer and use various cybecafes, i am uk based .....,i have a hotmail account which i basically love but which produces 70-80 vulgar junkmail items every two days...(i leave the filter on 7 days so that i dont miss any messages from friends with more than one email address) could the following idea work......on the junk mail to put a third box, as well as 1)this is not junk mail and 2) empty folder 3)block sender/ that all the offending email could be deleted in one go....i m sure something could be possible if microsoft really wanted to kill would need to be real code of practice between the various other webmail accounts and isps,,,,,, but the www will choke on its spam if the big boys dont work harder to illiminate or greatly reduce the spam........if multiple emails were not allowed would help also limiting them to 10 or 15 max.......all the anti spam programs that are available dont seem to work on webmail or where the computer is not owned personally......

Jean Walsh
One pet peeve I have is that by default the Temporary Internet Files folder doesn't empty itself. Most novices don't know about this folder. I have had to rebuild a number of systems simply because this folder was allowed to build up with garbage and crash the system.
Whenever I go to a new client, regardless of the problem, I always check the option to delete these files automatically.
The fix is that in the Internet Properties window, Advanced Tab, the "Empty Temporary Internet Files when browser closes" option should be checked by default.

One of my pet peeves is when you install a sound card or a modem even though you have the right drivers Windows will tell you that the driver that you are selecting was not specifically written for your device. I have had this happen many times. I used the driver anyways and had no trouble.
Scares the heck out of you though because you think you are going to have to search the net for the right driver.

1) OS configerations that I can't change. I want a computer that I can set up anyway I wnat and all the windows OSes are so limited in that way.
2) Company websites that make it nearly impossible or very very time consuming to update drivers.
3)Bugs in Microsoft software and the fixes that don't work and cause more problems than they solve with no way the get at Microsoft for al the pain they cause.

Mike Kratz
I would say my biggest pet peeve with computers is how they are advertized when sold.
Computer makers use the "Buzz word of the Week" to try to separate their computer from the rest. Advertizing things like "3D Graphics", "High Preformance" or "Plug and Play". Ha ! These word really mean nothing when you are trying to figure out what computer you want to buy.
This sales pitch, "comes with 256meg ram, 3D video and 3D sound, 40 gig value hard drive and 17" monitor, is exactly like saying, "This car comes with doors, 4 tires, a steering wheel, goes really fast and it is a nice shade of red." Anyone who tried to sell a car like this would be laughed at but computers are sold every day with vage information such as this.
A couple more,
- Pop-up flashy ads on the internet. As well as ads that lie to try to get you to click on them.
- Cell phones that say you can read your email and play games on. HA ! Short text messages maybe, but come on, who reads and replies to thier email on the phone.
- Crappy computer games, I need to read two different computer magazines just to figure out the good from the bad. The games that are sold before they are finished and crash right out of the box.
- As well as a few things I hate. AOL. Real player. Crash Guard and all the other protection software that preys on peoples fears about computers and the internet. Bonzi Buddy. Any software that will not uninstall fully. And the idiots at Microsoft who want me to give them my passwords and look in my wallet.
Thanks, I feel better now.

Ken Wolf
I don't have the bandwidth to vent properly about my main peeve which is Microsoft and their buggy, security challenged software that is too expensive, to restrictive and way too buggy. I am beta testing a new Linux version called Lindows and it is so much better in so many ways than Windows that it is really funny; and it isn't even in its final version yet. It takes all of 5-10 minutes to do a complete install and most hardware is detected and works! Networks are found, Internet connections are active, all is well and you get the opportunity to download all sorts of software free with their click and run technology.
I know it sounds like an ad, but it isn't. I don't own stock, I swear:-)
With this OS, Star Office 6, and a good browser/mail combo (Netscape 7) I can be rid of MS very soon.

My system was running slow (WIN 98 Second Edition) so I removed a few programs that I had downloaded and since MS Internet Explorer (IE) was generating a lot of system freezes and was a huge 'hacker magnet' I decided to delete it from my system. Of course, when I used the add/remove feature of WIN98 Second Edition, IE would not allow me to delete it's program.
I finally found a freeware program that would allow me to delete most of IE (they assumed, in my case, wrongly, that people would actually want to use Outlook and Outlook Express so they kept those browser plug-ins available). I was in heaven! I deleted most of IE with the freeware program and downloaded Netscape's browser Version 7 'Preview.' My system was much faster, no freezes, and no danger of attracting hackers simply because they go after the most popular programs. Then the bomb dropped. I found out (the hard way) that my Norton anti-virus would not work without IE installed. :( :( :( Sooo, I had to download IE again so that I would have virus protection. By the way, it probably wasn't a total loss as the freeware program creator mentioned that when downloading newer versions of IE there are leftover files from the older versions. Using the freeware program it deletes those files which frees up space.
Sorry, that this e-mail was so long but the bottom line is that 1) it angers me (sorry, I'm waaay more than irritated) that Microsoft will not let you delete their Internet Explorer browser, and 2) it angers me that they probably made a deal with Norton to use *their* browser, exclusively.

Biggest pet peeve? Obsolescence.
You could be the first person to order from the factory, before the retail release date, and still have yesterday's news by the time you get it out of the box. Manufacturers are gloating about their latest technology, when in actual fact, they know we don't have the foggiest about what's been on their drawing boards for years; and, thanks to publishing houses like Ziff-Davis, and the rest of their ilk, they have the power of the media to push the stuff onto unsuspecting buyers, who can't wait to get their hands on the latest widget, and who jump at every possible chance to upgrade before the software industry catches up. Which, I might add, is my second pet peeve. Bet you've heard this one before, eh?

Betty Pontious
I have an HP DeskJet 895Cse printer which used to print banners on continuous paper before I got my new computer and was using Windows 98. At the time I purchased my new Windows XP computer, I looked up compatibility and found that my printer was supposed to be compatible with XP. (However, my five year old scanner wasn't and realized I'd have to replace it.) Well, I just recently had the need to print a banner -- and guess what??? Even though the printer is supposedly compatible with XP, it does not support banner printing! I find this very disturbing!

Mike Yeomans
My pet peeve is the incompatibility of certain software and hardware I buy.
I have a PDA which works great on my home computer but will not work well on my work computer due to differing OS and application levels. My company supports a competitor product , which unfortunately I did not purchase!!
Searching the internet for patches and upgrades is often fraught with risk and also time consuming. Why can't software / hardware companies get together and agree a common format?
The same situation happened in the UK when the railways started up. Each chose a different width of track and manufactured locomotives and rolling stack to suit. Early passengers, inconveniently, had to change trains when they reached the boundary of one company as their track was a different size and incompatible with a competitor. Eventually common sense prevailed and a common track width was agreed and became the standard. Perhaps the same will eventually happen in the world of computer software and hardware but don't hold your breath waiting as it serves the industries purpose to differentiate products and only support certain OS and packages!!!
Rant over!!

Jumpin' Jonathan
One of my biggest pet peeves is that you have to reboot your 'OS' after changing a configuration. For example turning On or Off the auto-notification on the CDrom, (to mention just one out of countless variations). Also the fact that retailors won't accept a return of software after purchase, (even if it doesn't work with your OS).

Jack Campbell
I love computers, but...........
Ok here's a few quick thoughts:
1. I really HATE programs that scatter icons all over your desktop without asking.
2. Cannot stand most spam, especially all the triple-x stuff.
3. I get annoyed when the so-called "installation instructions" for so much software states something like "when you click ok, a new box will appear asking you to type in blah-blah", then the installation does nothing similar to what they say it will. Or worse, freezes.
4. I hate spyware, and hate when websites want WAY too much info to "register"
5. Don't like it whenever we have a hard rainstorm that my dsl disconnects. I've even told them where the junction box that is leaking, a mile away from my house. They say they will fix it. Sure they will.
6. Seems that whenever I have a computer problem that I can't fix, it is NEVER covered in any online helpdesk. Then the telephone nightares begin. Half of the phone helpers start the conversation with "Is your computer plugged in?" It seems that all phone support is dumbed down to the lowest common denominator.
7. Almost nothing computer-related works exactly like its supposed to. And typically, to get a close approximation of how its supposed to work is like getting a root canal.
8. Every time you finally get your system humming along, within a few days you will get a new problem you never knew existed. Something that used to work just stops working. Nobody knows why.
9. Passwords. MAN I've got a lot of passwords. That reminds me... you can visit a site for years, then, out of the blue, they need your password, but hell, I forgot it years ago. I type in my email address so they can send me my password and they say "sorry, we have no record of your email address...try again". All I wanted to do was be taken off their mailing list, but I can't log on to do it. Fiendish. (I'm NOT speaking of your great newsletter, of course).
10. Virus attacks. Not funny. I've had a virus eat ALL my image files, about 6500 of them. (That was when I used MacAfee..which, I suppose, is still trying to find that virus). I get 3-4 new ones a week and Norton seems to get 'em. I counted up about 20 different types of virus that I've had emailed to me in the last few years. If I was King, virus writers would get the death penalty.
That's all that I can think of, at least until the next frustration hits. Probably in the next hour, or so.

My pet peeve is the practice of placing a link on a site which points to the same site, in effect reloading it. From the standpoint of the surfer, it offers nothing useful since the browser has this ability. Yes, I know it's easier for a programmer to put the same set of links on every page, however it is just a nuisance to the user.

Bill MacMillan
My favorite gripe is the fact that when you are setting up a portfolio at:
Quicken, Morningstar, etc you are on a secure site at the beginning, but after that, whenever you view your portfolio it changes to a non-secure site. Is there a message here??

Tony Lowell
Why does my VCR keep flashing 12:00? Just kidding :-)

Cindi Taylor
I have a ton of pet peeves when it comes to computers. The problem is that they mostly stem from the user - so I can't really vent about myself. The biggest pet peeve is a "Shut down" I'm not hip to the lingo so I'll just be using my own terms. This is when you have just finished typing a 5 page document when a message appears stating that an error has occurred and the program will be shutting down!!!! Of course it only happens when I haven't bothered to click on the save icon!!!!! Most days I want to through something at the computer or the computer at something.....but again it all comes from the user!!!! LOL

Chris Empey
My pet peeves with technology aren't so much with technology itself, but with the people who use it. Being a support professional, I may have certain biases, however, the users need to realize that computers are really dumb. Your files do not move locations or magically revert to a previous version on their own. Passwords are not out to get you, and there is not an IT conspiracy against users: if it didn't work for you before you called me, why does it work when I get there? I've asked you if you rebooted for a reason. I am charging you for my time, and I really don't feel too bad about invoicing you for something that I asked during the initial support call when I have had to make a site visit to do that for you. As users, you must advance with the technology, just as support professionals like Graham and myself must. You must gain an understanding of how the computer operates, not just what you need to do to operate it to serve your particular function. That little knowledge will save you much time and frustration not to mention keep a couple of bucks in your pocket.

I guess if I was to sum it up in a nutshell I would have to do more than complain about upgrades in software, hardware and computers. Seems like no matter what it is you buy in todays techonology, tomorrow will bring a newer model with better features, bells and whistles. When do the constant computer changes ever end? What can the newest ones do today that a new one couldn't do a month ago? And by the way, when do software products plan on trying to catch up with the computer changes? I for one think its impossible and maybe we should all just say that enough is enough...IMHO

AOLl email not showing the full 'from address' so you can use that to block Any further mail from them without having to open it..............grrrrrr
Any software from all sucks and has nothing but continuous problems

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PCIN is brought to you by Graham Wing. The opinions expressed are those of the Editor, Graham Wing and the Assistant Editor, Chris Empey. Graham Wing and Chris Empey accept no responsibility for the results obtained from trying the tips in this newsletter.

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