Today is Wednesday, June 26, 2019


Fred's Views

Windows XP ... the continuing saga

I've been using Windows XP for a couple of weeks, so far. However, I have to point out that it is installed on my desktop which, although it is a very fast and capable machine, just isn't used all that much. It's the "server" for our home network and it does the dialing for Internet access. When I'm at my desk, I share my time between my notebook and the desktop, but the rest of the time I use the notebook. If Windows XP wasn't so expensive to buy, I'd try installing it on my notebook, as well. However, that brings up another problem:

According to my unscientific measurements, A typical install of Windows XP will decrease your drive space by about 2 gigabytes. Yes, I said gigabytes! The CD only has about 2/3 of a gigabyte (if that), so did it expand its files to that extent, or did space for something else get reserved within the two gigabytes? I don't know. But I am having a hard time believing that Windows XP could possibly be that resource wasteful. That's another reason why I prbably won't install XP on my notebook - it only has a 6 gigabyte drive to begin with. Of course, since it runs at a little over 400 megahertz, it's barely fast enough anyway.

The good news, however, is that, touch wood, it hasn't bombed yet! Could this finally be the Windows we have all been praying for since the mid eighties? Too soon to start celebrating, but just maybe Microsoft finally got something right. (If only they had left the user interface alone!)

And in other news ... I managed to replace the "new" start menu with the much better "classic" version. (It's amazing what can be done if you just keep right clickin' and select "Properties".) But you have to read all the content to find what you are looking for. I even managed to replace two of the three most irritating new icons. While I can live with the large "My Computer" icon on the desktop, I didn't like the smaller version on the tool bar. I also didn't like the icon for the dial up connection. (I think it is supposed to be a cell phone with a modem, but I don't know!) Again, Right click and "Properties". If you need a step through to change some of these settings, just let me know.

Unfortunately, the most irritating icon of all remains. The "Folder Up" icon in "My Computer" (and elsewhere). It's a stylized green arrow rising like a Phoenix from a folder, I believe. But even though it is in roughly the same spot as the old one, I keep missing it. My productivity has already plummeted just from the time wasted trying to locate the "folder up" icon. And alas, I have also been unable to return "My Computer" to the "classic" (and classy) look. Maybe I will find a way yet.

If you have several people sharing one computer, XP makes it easy to switch from one to another so that each can have his/her own little world on the computer without interfering with anyone else. I just recently found out how to add new Outlook Express users so that each has their own inbox, address and outgoing e-mail address. I may have to do something similar with XP. My wife got Dig Dug Deeper for Christmas. It requires a faster processor than my wife's machine has, so, I may have to let her use my desktop as her (and my son's and his girlfriend's) computer. Unfortunately, when the desktop still had Windows ME on it, Dig Dug Deeper wouldn't run. I hope XP solves the problem. (I did install Dig Dug Deeper on the notebook and it ran. The notebook has minimal graphics capability which may be the reason why Dig Dug Deeper didn't run very impressively. And, of course, the control keys (arrows) were very sluggish. I have since uninstalled it. Dig Dug Deeper appears to be almost an exact replica of the original. There may be some new "dragons" as you go deeper in the levels, but otherwise, so far, it appears to be just a clone of the original. Not that that is necessarily bad. In fact, I wish more games would try harder to catch the playability of the old 8-bit games and worry less about all that lush [but essentially useless] graphics.)

Okay, back to Windows XP. My web pages use a feature called ASP. ASP essentially allows you to change your web pages dynamically. Most of my pages, for example, use minimal web page formatting but are read as a text file and displayed by an ASP script. Unfortunately, ASP only runs on Microsoft's web servers. With Windows 95 and Windows 98 Microsoft shipped a small web server called "Personal Web Server" that could interpret and use ASP files. Thus, it was possible for me to fully develop a web site on my desktop or notebook computer and then upload it to my web server. I had forgotten that "Personal Web Server" was not included with Windows ME. However, ME runs it just fine. Yesterday, I decided to install "Personal Web Server" on my desktop. After wasting a half hour or so examining the folders on the XP CD I decided to visit Microsoft's web site. I eventually found out that not only is "Personal Web Server" not shipped with XP, but, according to Microsoft, it can'y even be installed on XP! The only option is to buy the much more expensive "Professional" version of XP. Looks like my $100 investment is going to be a big loss. Aside from my son's computer, which as I think I've mentioned, he still uses for a lot of DOS games, the only computers powerful enough for XP are my desktop and notebook. Since I want/need an ASP capable web server on both, what do I do now with XP Home edition? I know what I'd like to do!

Why is it Microsoft seems determined to screw its best customers everyway it can!

I also discovered that another pet peeve of mine is still not addressed. With the large storage capacities of today's hard drives, most people should be dividing them into two or more logical drives. To do otherwise is to waste a LOT of space. Since it seems obvious to me that most people will have two or more logical and/or physical drives, it also seems logical to me that one drive would store the operating systems and the program files and the other would store the data. Since Microsoft wants us to store our data in "My Documents", it seems absolutely fundamental that Microsoft would ask the user where he/she wants to store "My Documents" during installation. But of course, it doesn't. Worse, once set up, you can't move the folder (which actually contains more than just "My Documents" to a different drive! Once again, Microsoft makes life unnecessarily difficult for its users!

My next installment will, I hope, be about something other than computers. Thanks for visiting.

Copyright © 2002 by Fred Oldfield. All rights reserved.

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