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Techie Familial Obligations

I'll get the Tourette's moment out of the way right now: Fuck you, Windows ME! Fuck you in your stupid ass!!!

Tonight's plan was for femetal and I to run to the Apple store to pick up Gir (display working quite nicely now, thank you), swing by my sister's place to install AdAware and SpyBot, and hang out with zensidhe and redheadlass. I estimated the work on sis' computer to take about 15-20 minutes (install both progs, run full scans with each, and set up a hosts file), plus hopefully spending a little time socializing with her, my brother in law, and especially our two nephews.

Pity my poor, ignorant soul.

My sister is a bright girl, but computers are not her forte. She'd described the problem to me over the phone, and it was a textbook case of spyware/adware bogging down the system. I'd prepared by making sure that I had all of the software I'd need on my keychain drive beforehand. If I'd stopped to think about it I would've realized that I was walking into a worse situation than I'd imagined.

* She's running Windows ME. "Worst operating system ever!" sez I as it's booting. "What's so bad about it?" asks she. Oh, she shall learn. We all shall learn!

* DSL connection with no firewall whatsoever. Before you start questioning my value as a sibling, I did set up ZoneAlarm on their box quite a while ago, only to have the assheads at tech support tell her to uninstall it because it was "causing problems with the DSL modem". (No, dipshit, your equipment was causing the problem, as the linemen later found.)

* She knows not to click on spam attachments, almost always. Almost.

* She also makes sure to click the "unsubscribe" link on spam. Oops.

* Finally, she regularly participates in online surveys ("Click here to tell us how you feel about Gator and get our free popup blocker!" or whatever).

* Did I mention she's running Windows? Did I further mention that it's Windows M-fucking-E???

Booting the box took ages, followed by playing the C-A-D, End Task game with processes that kept coming back up. AdAware detected 1185 instances of adware, but the box crashed before it could delete them all. SpyBot had similar problems, and we spent the next 2.5 hrs going back and forth between them, rebooting, uninstalling crap from Add/Remove Programs, and giving the Vulcan Nerve Pinch like Mr. Spock on a motherfucking rampage. All told I'd guess that there were between 2000 and 3000 instances of various forms of malware.

There are still about 300. They're locked in archive files in a hidden directory called "_Restore", which replaces the copies I blow away whenever the machine reboots. On a Mac (or any UNIX box, for that matter), I'd invoke root and blow the archives away, but on a Windows box the real root user is a geeky middle-aged man in Redmond, and his minion simply sits on my sister's desk and says "no". I didn't think to bring a boot disk (I've got an .ISO of ERD Commander on Gir, but I doubt that'd help much on a 9x box), but sis had an old one laying around from her old machine. Go sis!

I booted off of the floppy, expecting to find final victory on the command line, but it was not to be. The boot disk was made with 95a. The drive is formatted FAT-32 which wasn't supported until 95b. The box is running better (which is to say, somewhat less badly), but by now it was after 11, and I lacked the patience to go to bootdisk.com. We called it a night, and I'll probably go back over on Wednesday.

(After we got home it occurred to me that the auto-restore function can probably be uninstalled like any other Windows component, but whatever.)

I've begged her repeatedly to get a Mac, or to at least allow me to install Windows 2000 on her current machine, but to no avail. It'd been a long time since I'd used a 9x variant of Windows, and I'd forgotten just how crushingly awful they are. Short of lending them Gir or Tak for a week (NO!), how do I convey to her that, compared to her computer, the machines that Kim and I take for granted in our daily use are freakin' science fiction miracles?

I really like seeing them all, and it seems that the only time I get over there is when something goes wrong with their computer. I don't mind being their free tech support at all, except when it's stupid avoidable crap like this that costs us an evening away from M&J. I lack the will to tell them to get a Mac or Win2k or I won't help them any more, because I love them and very much want to be useful to them.

Any advice? Anyone know where I can pick up an old G3 iMac with a decent hard drive for mega-cheap before Christmas?

"Windows is the end result of a failed attempt to construct a computer that's powered entirely by human suffering." -Me


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 14th, 2004 06:27 am (UTC)
Saving America from ME One Computer at a Time
When I am asked to work on anyone's ME machine, I sit down at the machine, click around for a bit, then make the Very Concerned Tech Support face. I look up at the owner of said machine and tell 'em that the problem is the operating system. That because it is no longer supported even by Microsoft, everything they do online has trashed the system. That their only salvation is to upgrade their OS. That I really can't do anything to help them until they do.

They look at me incredulously. "But I only just bought a new operating system five years ago!" they say. I tell them that Microsoft's home operating systems have a half life lower than whole milk. That they would do better to get the "home" version of an OS that parallels Microsoft's longer-supported "business" OS's, like Win2K or XP.

In short, I refuse to do another damned thing until they upgrade. Nine times out of ten they opt to upgrade rather than suffer through without the free tech support to which they've become accustomed. I highly recommend NOT pleading and begging. You'll get so much better response, I promise.
Sep. 14th, 2004 06:48 am (UTC)
"Windows is the end result of a failed attempt to construct a computer that's powered entirely by human suffering." -Me


But they keep trying, don't they?
Sep. 14th, 2004 07:31 am (UTC)
Indeed they do. I'm surprised that new PCs don't ship with a little funnel to harvest tears and drip them directly into the power supply.

I imagine that blood would probably work well too.
Sep. 14th, 2004 08:46 am (UTC)
Windows is not, if you get right down to it, actually powered by human suffering. It's a system carefully designed and engineered to cause human suffering, but that's not really what drives it. Windows is powered by hate. Raw, all-consuming hate of a depth and magnitude to defy human understanding.

It's the only parsimonious explanation for why it works the way it does. Bill Gates hates you, he hates me, and he hates all of humanity.
Sep. 16th, 2004 02:46 am (UTC)
as far as a cheap iMac...
The newer G4's have dropped in price to $1000 or less (unless you get the really super high end ones with Superdrive and the 20" screen and lots of cool software discs included), I was looking at the G4 iMac "Power PC" with the 15" screen and I saw one sell for about $900. The "retail" of my Grapey now is about $400, you probably could get a really good deal on ebay...better yet find someone in FL selling theirs and drive to avoid the $40+ shipping charge....

So, yeah...depending on your definition of cheap, the G3 400 DV or DV SE on ebay would be my best suggestion.

I'm so drooling over the dropping prices of the iMac G4 20" screen w/ superdrive...with all that software at my fingertips....*sigh*...just wait another year or so, I'll get one!!

Don't know if you've ever looked at http://www.everymac.com, but I use it whenever I need to find out a spec or a price for a past model. You probably already knew that place. :)
Sep. 16th, 2004 07:45 am (UTC)
Re: as far as a cheap iMac...
You probably already knew that place. :)

Actually, I didn't. Thanks!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )