Having so very many donated machines pass through my hands over the past decade, I have had a chance to install various Windows releases on a wide array of hardware. I’ve noticed something odd, though. Regardless of the condition of the hardware, regardless of its age and how well it matches the version of Windows I tested, it seems Windows releases die when MS says they should.
Not in the sense it won’t run at all, but suddenly runs very poorly. Yes, I know that’s the nature of Windows in one sense, but this seems consistent. For example, let’s say today I get a nice Dell Optiplex with a 400Mhz CPU and matching hardware from that market period. It will run many different types of Linux and BSD just fine. It may even run Haiku really well. I can surely run Win2K on it, but XP would be dreadfully slow. If I were to try installing ME, it would run until I get it all updated, then it would break. Win98 probably would fight hard not to install (again, nothing new), but probably not work well even with all the drivers.
I’m sure there are several factors involved. Perhaps the hardware manufacturer doesn’t update the drivers to match the latest update to Windows-whatever. Maybe my CD is scratched? No, I have fresh ISOs from an archive of OEM stuff. Maybe it chokes on calendar dates, or some other little thing we can never determine. At any rate, I’m just wondering if something in the updates is designed to kill the older versions. That has been alleged before, and it would not surprise me. I note not a single ancient version of Linux does that, all the way back to my RedHat 5.2 disk, and FreeBSD 4.3.
One more reason to prefer Open Source when you get a chance.
After two weeks of silence from my Craigslist post, I had forgotten it. While people who want Macs tend to be diligent about searching for available machines, I figured it was too old for anyone to care much. On the other hand, I knew laptops would be in high demand, even the old ones, as long as they still work. So it came as a surprise when two different people contacted me this week requesting more information. Both were sincerely ready to trade a laptop for the eMac, but one had a new laptop, and wanted cash for the difference in value. The deal was good, but I couldn’t come up with the cash, so I took the older machine.
Indeed, I was surprised the man offered to simply send me his laptop to try it out, and pass on the eMac if I liked what he had to offer. It would also mean paying the shipping for the 50 pound eMac, but I was sure I could afford that. The laptop isn’t here yet, but if it comes, it will be a Dell Inspiron 4100. What I actually hope to do is run Linux on it. I already have decided to leave Windows on the desktop machine, simply because I need the superior printing ability.
I make no secret the two things I hate most about Linux are the X server and CUPS. While both have solved a lot of problems for many folks, I find them generally unsatisfactory for my use. However, there is no good alternative, particularly for the X server. From what I read, it seems there really aren’t enough developers for X.org, while at the same time, there is a militant refusal to even discuss something better suited to the desktop. So it’s the only game in town, and I’ll have to use it. Much as I like text-mode web surfing, there are too many places where it simply will not work. At this time on the Net, whole sites I use, like this one, aren’t designed to cooperate with Lynx or Elinks when you want to operate a blog. However, I still find it comfortable to operate from the CLI for most things, so I expect to avoid running X on the laptop by default.
Frankly, the laptop is likely to be my primary, daily use machine. Not only is this a matter of habitual uses, but as the economy sours further, I have to consider likely scenarios. Having long ago committed myself to a missionary vision, it may well be I have to leave all sorts of things behind and travel some distance in serving the Kingdom of Heaven. While it’s possible I can do my best work without a computer, it would at this point severely cripple my thinking and writing. That is what I do most. Being ready to continue that work by having a usable laptop gives me a measure of peace. All the more so when I consider the increasing instability of the times.
The current track of our national government will yield devastating inflation of the US currency. Now is the time to trade our few dollars for assets we best believe will serve our needs in an uncertain future. No one can predict the actual outcome. Yes, it’s just barely possible things will work as our leaders claim it will. However, it is so unlikely as to be ludicrous. Prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.
Today I had the chance to work on the trail some more. After re-entering the largest wooded section, I moved almost straight east for a hundred yards or so to avoid a depression on my left (north side). I managed to get past it and turned north immediately. For another hundred yards or so, it wound around through the woods and dead fall, pretty much following an old game trail. At the end, it broke out of the woods into an open grassy area.
This part looks almost as if it had been plowed with a bulldozer in one small section, but there is no visible route in or out for something that big. At any rate, there are a few trees with mostly tall grass and a stand of thorn vines. I’ll be able to skirt the bulk of the vines, but I’ll have to do a lot of swing-blade work to mow down a path through head-high grass. This will take at least another 50 yards before we turn east again for the return loop.
My son and I did an initial survey a few days ago, and the first section heading south will be mostly red-skinned saplings and tons of dead-fall. This could easily become one of the hardest sections so far. That designation currently belongs still to the first hundred yards heading north from the fence. It was all thick honeysuckle vines, climbing thorn vines, grapevines, and other thick undergrowth.
I picked up a new limb lopper. This one is an anvil type, as opposed to the normal scissor type. So far, it’s cutting much thicker branches will less trouble than the scissored one, but it’s heavier, too. I also plan to take the first actual bike ride on the trail Saturday.
Among the articles discussing the current round of attempts to place over the world a single governing entity I ran across a timely reminder of cultural degradation. This shows up as a tactic in various plans, including the communists, the Fabians, and several other, murkier groups. Porn is always a major feature in the effort to enslave the people. In a world against God, any false god will do. It bears relinking the study by my friend, Eduardo On Porn. He examined all the various popular condemnations, but nails the issued down spiritually as idolatry.
Not so long ago was a revelation by a former Playboy Bunny, describing Hugh Hefner’s descent into a parody of himself. So obsessed he is, he has to watch gay porn and overdose on Viagra just to pretend he’s still got it. The salient point made by many before me is this is the far end of the path, though few take so long to get there. My own work in marriage counseling bears this out. Keep pushing the envelope of visual stimulation and pretty soon you run out of room. You have to absorb increasingly degrading garbage to get that same fix.
In my text archive of saved stuff from the web, I bring you this article on Dr. Reisman’s site. She excerpts from the testimony before Congress describing just how it works, how the mind reacts to pornographic images.
Thanks to the latest advances in neuroscience, we now know that emotionally arousing images imprint and alter the brain, triggering an instant, involuntary, but lasting, biochemical memory trail.
This applies to so-called “soft-core” and “hard-core” pornography, which may, arguably, subvert the First Amendment by overriding the cognitive speech process.
Once our neurochemical pathways are established they are difficult or impossible to delete. Erotic images also commonly trigger the viewer’s “fight or flight” sex hormones producing intense arousal states that appear to fuse the conscious state of libidinous arousal with unconscious emotions of fear, shame, anger and hostility.
These media erotic fantasies become deeply imbedded, commonly coarsening, confusing, motivating and addicting many of those exposed.
How does this “brain sabotage” occur? Brain scientists tell us that “in 3/10 of a second a visual image passes from the eye through the brain, and whether or not one wants to, the brain is structurally changed and memories are created we literally ‘grow new brain’ with each visual experience.”
What she describes as calling up the “fight or flight” reflex is common in just about every substance abuse case I’ve seen, every sexual difficulty I’ve counseled, gambling, overeating, and just about every other deviant or criminal habit humans get themselves into in this world. It’s also highly visible in people who love ruling others. Some of the idiotic stuff proposed each week comes from people pushing the envelope to get the next fix, that next rush of power. When you examine it from the angle of neurotic human behavior patterns, it’s pretty much all the same.
I already have the habit, when reading online, I immediately put my hand over any image which reveals too much flesh. I then take advantage of Firefox’s built-in image-blocking feature and prevent the server from offering any more images. I really don’t care what the rest of the world thinks is okay, I will do all I can to avoid seeing something which awakens that demonic desire. I realize many sites are funded by ad revenue, and they don’t get to choose what appears. Fine. I reserve the right to protect my eyeballs from sleazy pitchmen. My computer, my browser, my power to block. Some sites are so bad, I always visit in Lynx. There may be other reasons for cutting out all but the text, but that’s a big one.
You are responsible for your own brain. Take care of it. Porn is not harmless.
It’s the same conversation I keep having every other day, it seems. Someone asks what I believe to be the way to fix our ailing economy. They just aren’t ready to hear the facts: It can’t be fixed.
We passed the breaking point back when the Federal Reserve Bank (The Fed) came online. Throughout history, fiat currency has always failed. It follows a well-known cycle, with few variations. Like the madman, leaders keep trying the same thing, expecting it to come out different this one time. It won’t. The inherent nature of fiat currency is fraud.
Every dollar in existence is a debt owed to The Fed, a private corporation owned by foreigners. More, each of those dollars is a debt plus interest. We will always owe more than we have, until the whole thing collapses. We are there; it’s collapsing.
Since the government of the US is tied to that system, the government will also collapse. It’s possible it will be replaced with naked brutal tyranny, or it may simply go away and states will recombine into regional governments. History, along with Organizational Theory, proves beyond all doubt, any State larger than France cannot survive very long. The only thing which delays the collapse of any state is the speed of communication, and ours is awfully fast. That means the life cycle of empire is now very short. We were way too big when we started, and we threw away the only mechanism for peacefully spinning off the excess.
So it’s over. What we have now is already dead, though it’s still twitching. Obama may very well be the last president of the US.
Over the years, whenever I ran some version of Windows, I was always hunting down new and better text editors. I’ve purchased a couple of the premium versions, but in the long run, it’s hard to beat these two: Cream and Crimson Editor.
My primary use for a computer of any sort is writing, followed closely by reading and research. I’m old-fashioned enough to appreciate having at least a plain-text copy of everything I write. It’s the easiest format to preserve, and it’s the easiest to share. Of course, I’m conscious of the studies which show the human brain and eyes can best process text when it falls between 50 and 75 characters per line. Given the original standard on the Net was 72 characters per line for plain text, that’s what I use for storage and sharing.
Most editors for use in Windows will not do hard returns properly, if at all. A good text editor will allow hard returns where you want them, easy reformatting within that limit, plus a simple way to indent quotations and formatting within that, too. It helps to offer quick and easy case changes, and spell-checking is a must. On-the-fly spell-checking is even better. When I produce a text file for storage, I use Cream. It does far more than I’ll ever use, but it is just about the only text editor for Windows which does all the formatting correctly. It doesn’t hurt Cream also offers extravagant syntax highlighting like nothing else, so when I code my XHTML files, it’s almost a pleasure.
However, Cream is just a bit heavy for ordinary use, and isn’t suitable for those few compositions where I need soft returns initially. That’s where Crimson comes in. It pops open very quickly, and offers a tree-view file browser on the side. It’s perfect as the default text file opener in Windows. Most blog articles are best prepared with soft-wrap until after it’s posted. While not as fancy with syntax highlighting as Cream, it does well enough for the manual coding I always do on when blogging.
Best of all, these two are free.
One of the virtues of Linux is total user control, at least in most situations. If you want to delete a critical file, by all means delete it. Linux will allow it. Just remember it probably won’t restart if you shut down, and it may well crash pretty soon when it needs to access that file. But no matter; you are in control. So it’s a mixed blessing. Windows has always tried to deny users that sort of control. It has ways of locking files which it considers “in use” and you can’t delete them. It’s one of the reasons viruses and other malware can be such a pain.
This evening my wife ran across some hassle with a folder she didn’t want, was not useful, but would not delete. When she tried, she was denied access, with the warning the file was in use, and she needed to close the program. Well, Windows uses naming conventions which make no sense to *nix people. We never could identify what was using that folder.
Then I remembered something I ran across years ago: Sysinternals to the rescue! Granted, those tools require you know enough to recognize what stuff is and why it’s there, and why it maybe should not be there. I probably had just enough experience in this case to do that. I downloaded Process Explorer to her system, and ran it.
You can run a search for the file you want to delete to see what process is keeping it open. So I opened the “Find” box and typed in the name of the offending folder. Sure enough, we identified the process. Not that I knew what it was, and I worried if it was something essential. But when I right clicked on the name of the “handle” which kept the file in use, it offered me the option of closing that handle. I tried it. Handle closed; we got rid of the offending folder.
So the means to gaining that control is not so straightforward in Windows, but it can be done.
While playing with XP on my system, I’ve picked up the usual Open Source stuff most people know about: Firefox, Thunderbird, Open Office, etc. I’ve tried to find a few other things, but it seems some are just not available.
Nano I can get, but I can’t get it to do any spell-checking. I have Aspell installed with a dictionary, of course, but Nano can’t use it. I get this cryptic message about not being able to create a TEMP file because it doesn’t exist or something like that. All my Googling reveals nothing on that for Windows.
I can get an ancient version of Joe, but what’s the point? I need the syntax highlighting. I’ve found discussions of getting the latest to build on XP, but no conclusive information whether it will or won’t. Further, nobody offers for download any binary copies after version 2.9.6. So I guess I’m out of luck.
I’ve also been searching for a serious CLI editor for XP, but most of those are ancient DOS programs which often don’t work at all on XP, giving errors and crashing of the program. I guess nobody considers the Windows CLI worth any trouble any more.