Monday, February 11, 2008

More Vista fun and games

I'm really sorry, but I keep seeing more and more of these Vista disaster stories and each and every one makes me laugh my little pointy tail off! [Emphasis mine.]
AT high noon on a recent Monday, I leaped up from my desk vowing to commit the most sensational attack of revenge in the history of the personal computer industry. Just 72 hours earlier, I had taken delivery on a Dell Inspiron 1720 laptop loaded with Microsoft Windows Vista. It was already on the blink. I couldn’t open a Word document. I couldn’t run a Google search. I couldn’t even send e-mail. I vowed to shave Michael Dell and Bill Gates with a broken beer bottle.

Thankfully, I heard tires crunching on my gravel driveway. I opened the door of my home office in Sag Harbor, N.Y., and I saw John Charde, 47, the trim, balding proprietor of Computer Professionals, a technical support services firm based in nearby Wainscott. He climbed out of his taxicab-yellow S.U.V. and declared, “I’m here to get out the evil spirits.”

John marched into my office and hunkered over my brand-new Dell.

I watched hopefully as John fiddled with the laptop. But after half an hour, he seemed to be almost as frustrated as I was. He asked if I had done anything unusual to the machine since taking it out of the box. I said that another local technician had transferred the files in my five-year-old Toshiba laptop into the Dell. I had subsequently received a message to subscribe to the same Symantec Norton Anti-Virus protection program I’d had on the Toshiba.

John guessed that the problems might have been caused by resubscribing to the antivirus program. He told me he needed to take the computer to his shop to exorcise the evil spirits. I would have to go back to my worn-out old Toshiba, which had a nasty tendency to overheat and shut down without warning.

John and his two-man staff spent an entire week working on my Dell. “You fell prey to a cutting-edge disaster by subscribing to Norton Anti-Virus twice,” he informed me over the phone near week’s end. “That caused the computer to spit up a general error message. We all scratched our heads and glared threateningly at the machine for hours. Then we figured out that instead of two or three potential remedies, there were about 25. We decided it was time to cut our losses, and start from scratch.”

John ultimately had to remove the data on the hard drive, wipe it clean, and then reinstall all the data and Vista. The total cost of these surgical procedures was about $800, over half of what I had originally paid for the Dell. But I was so happy to hear the crunch of S.U.V. tires on my driveway when John returned with my newly repaired machine, I told him I didn’t begrudge paying the tab.

Well, I would have.
I called John C. Dvorak, a prominent columnist for PC Magazine and a podcaster on the Podshow network. “I advise everybody to buy a Macintosh because Apple products are the easiest to use,” he said. “If you own a PC, you have to find a local nerd, a kid, maybe a relative. Every family has one unless they’ve just moved here from a foreign country. That’s the only solution.”

It's the old argument about cost of ownership, you see. PCs are cheaper initially, but quite often the amount of time that you, or someone else, spend attempting to fix the problems actually adds a considerable amount of money "spent" on the machine.

I have owned, since I bought my first computer in 1997, seven Apple Macs. The amount that I have spent on tech support amounts to £0.00p. Sure, I have spent some time tuning and fixing bits and pieces, but much of the time this was for my own pleasure as much as anything else.

Anyway, I don't want this to turn into a Mac/Windows/Linux big dick contest (we have had enough of those) but it does seem to me that Vista has been something of a disaster.

Or, perhaps, it is only that Vista's insane defects have disproportionately affected those who work in the media...?


James Higham said...

Shudder. Think I'll buy a 17" Mac with voice and remote control using Tiger rather than the unproved Leopard.

Devil's Kitchen said...

Unproved by whom? I have been running Leopard for some months now and haven't had any problems.


Anonymous said...

I have always used Macs, so admittedly I am biased. But, here's a story that explains some of my ongoing dislike of some people's love affair with the PC.

A newspaper I visited to do some web design training had a mix of Macs and PCs but the systems manager said he was going to get rid of all Macs in favour of PCs. When I asked why he said it was easier for him as that was all he knew, but more importantly it kept him in a job.

The Macs didn't go wrong much but the PCs kept him and his staff fully stretched, so they wouldn't ever be redundant.

Also he could "sell" this idea to the board as a bulk purchase of PCs looked initially value for money. I said I thought PCs ran up large repair and maintenance bills as a hidden cost and he said, so what? It wasn't his money.

I also said some of the people in the company had told me earlier of this plan and were unhappy at not having a choice, but he said that he wasn't the Human Resources manager. Not his problem.

So I went away understanding that PCs can indeed help preserve someone's job and also risk slowing production in a busy environment.

Aaron Murin-Heath said...

I have used Macs for years too. Never, ever, ever had a problem.

I wouldn't worry about Leopard. Even if there are any niggles, Apple are red-hot with updates and they never cause any problems.

A few years ago I bought an cutting-edge XP machine to play Half-Life 2 (I'm huge HL fan), on which I installed Norton - thinking it was the dog's. It isn't, it's bollocks.

Cost me a small fortune to get right once it had got corrupted.

I now run Linux-Ubuntu on it. Windows sucks major cock.

Anonymous said...

However you look at it, the massive problems that people are having with Vista will drive people to adopt Mac's and Linux. This is a good thing for everyone.

Dive into mark has some interesting comments and he's been a PC, Mac and now linux user.

Not a sheep said...

Vista is an abomination. None of the companies I know are migrating to Vista as XP Pro is stable and its issues are well understood whereas Vista is not.

haddock said...

I have Vista, not by choice....I cannot get it to pick up on a local network ( and I used to be in the computer business) I ran Ubuntu from a CD.... there was the other computer on the network, three mouse clicks away, easy peasy)
Use Firefox instead of IE and you remove some problems.
Nortons is a pain in the arse until you tell it how to behave.

John Trenchard said...

upgraded a Vista laptop that i have to XP Pro...

vista is a disaster.

philforpontefract said...

Vista sucks but I find XP reliable, stable and compatible with almost everything. I down/upgraded to it from Vista a while back. I don't take your long-run pricing argument though. I've honestly had no major problems with Windows that I couldn't resolve from a simple format and restore from an earlier copy. If you keep it lean, use only decent programs and defrag on occasion, XP is a good bet in my book. I love Macs but PCs are cheaper for poor souls like me.

Oh, and Linux is a bitch. I've tried loads of distributions and, for all the wishing in the world, I've yet to find one that competes with Windows or Macs. Perhaps if I could use that bloody terminal thing but I don't feel I should need to. That said, I reserve my criticisms to the Linux operating systems as lots of the free software that has been produced is superb, e.g. firefox, gom player, etc.

Anonymous said...

XP is very stable and reliable (though I can't claim as much as a Mac), which is why I am damn mystified over Microsoft deciding to reinvent the wheel.

After suffering through various defective versions of Windows, to finally have gotten a version which has proved pretty worry free was a godsend.

NOW, then they seem to have finally gotten all the pieces of the puzzle to fit, they are kicking over the freakin' table!

I had hesitated getting a Mac because of the higher cost, and because the games I enjoyed did not come out for it. Since I play much fewer games and can't stand an unreliable computer, I think I may go Mac next time out.


Anonymous said...

So he installed some old version of Norton anti virus on his machine and that's Vista's fault. Vista has lots of faults though so does norton anti virus, they both are resource hungry. I suggest this bloke is a prat for installing an old version of norton anti virus in the first place. The IT support was pretty useless as well, they could have just done a system restore on the laptop or a clean install (30 minute job).

Devil's Kitchen said...

Weary G,

If you want to play games on a Mac, I believe that Crossover allows you to do it and works very well. If you want to find out what it's like, go and ask Andrew Ian Dodge: he has been testing it for a review.

Anyway, Crossover sounds quite handy because I really like the look of Bioshock (Bookdrunk recommended it to me very strongly) and I believe that it's Windows-only (and likely to remain so).


Devil's Kitchen said...

Sorry, here's the Crossover link. It costs £39.99 but you can give it a trial for a month, I think.


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