Windows Hurts

by James R. Stoup Jun 03, 2005

The There And Then

I got married this past April to the love of my life.  She is a wonderful girl, my high school sweet heart, and to celebrate our happy day we decided to take our honeymoon in Florida. Now, there is one important bit of information that you need to know before I begin my screaming rant, I drive a Toyota Avalon. With me so far? Married, honeymoon, Avalon. Ok, lets continue.

Now, its not the sportiest car in the world but it gets me where I need to go. I use to drive a ‘02 Civic hatchback and let me tell you that car would scream. But I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, the car thing.  Right.  Fast forward to Florida. In Florida we rented a car. It’s a Pontiac Sunfire. It is also closely related to equestrian excrement. And that really isn’t being fair to the excrement. What was wrong with it you say? Did it break down? Blow up? Anything like that?

Well, no, nothing like that. 

Why then such harsh words one might ask?

Here is why, the devil is in the details. 

The car as a whole ran fine, and if you just need basic transportation then I guess it will do. But if you actually want to enjoy your ride, aw hell, who am I kidding? If you don’t want to actively hate your car and the jerk behind the counter who let you rent the damn thing, the perhaps a Pontiac is not for you.

Here is a brief lists of things that really annoyed me about that car:

- When you try and use the cup holder you can’t adjust the air conditioning.
- When you use the sun visor, it dislocates the rear view mirror.
- When you close the door, you can’t reach the seat adjust lever.
- When you finally get comfortable you can’t see out of the back glass.
- When you roll down the window and lean out to pay the damn tolls they have every 20 feet on interstate you hit your head on the car frame.

And the list goes on.

Now, none of these things actively prevented me from driving the car, but it did serve to make the experience as painful as possible. To that end I will never drive a Pontiac again. You see, I have been spoiled by Toyota and Honda. I had come to believe that driving a car should be a fun and easy experience. It is for these reasons that I am baffled that people would even buy a Sunfire. Anyway, now let the real rant begin.

The Here And Now

Last night I am over at my wife’s parents house. Her old computer is there and on it are all of her old pictures, documents and other assorted junk. I had planned on plugging in my external harddrive, copying the files and being on my way. There was just one problem, the computer was running XP (ominous phantom of the opera music plays in the background).

Foolishly I thought it would be just like using my iBook. I plug in the drive, I turn it on, I see it on the desktop, I drag stuff onto, it copies, I eject it and life is good. You see, I have been spoiled by Apple. So, for your viewing pleasure let me describe to you what actually happened:

I turn on the computer and wait. And wait. And wait. It locks up. No wait, that’s just windows booting up, whew! It boots up and I try to click on “My Computer” but it won’t let me because now that the OS has finally boot up it now needs to load all 42 invisible processes in the background. And of course all of that spyware has to load and that takes even more time. Finally everything stops loading and I try and open “My Computer” again. The OS jerks, lurches and then desperately tries to execute my command. I felt like I was watching a drunk try desperately to carry a stack of china through a mine field. Finally the window opens and . . . that’s right! NO external harddrive detected!

Feeling very annoyed I checked all of my connections, made sure the drive had power to it and once I was satisfied that everything was working at my end I turned back to the computer. I don’t even remember what I was trying to do next because my attention was soon to be drawn elsewhere. 

You see as soon as I moved the mouse I got that jerky, sluggish, system is trying to do too much at once stagger from the pointer. This was rather perplexing since I wasn’t running any applications. Ok, I will just kill some of the dozen or so tasks in the tray. I right click on one icon and nothing happens, then I move the mouse up and then the menu comes up, the system locks up again. Wait it’s back. No it’s not. Yes it is. Ok, quick, must move before it stalls again.

I manage to quit several tasks before a new icon pops up in the tray. As I scroll my cursor over it I get a fleeting glimpse of something about an external USB something before it quits. What happened? My command for the previous task somehow affected that task and not the desired one. Ahhhhhh!

So then I try and open up “My Computer” again thinking that maybe at this point it has finally recognized my device. It hangs again. Ahhhhhh! Finally it opens the window and guess what? No device! I look everywhere for this thing with no luck. I turn my drive on and off, I unplug and re-plug I do my Native American USB connectivity dance to the hard-drive gods, no luck.

At this point I just wanted nothing more than to drop kick this damn machine out the window. Instead I decided that I would just attempt this later. You see, much like my beloved Toyota I have been spoiled by Apple.  I have gotten use to using a well designed system that works every time. For all of you Windows loving Pontiac drivers out there, I gotta say, I don’t know how (or why) you do it.

The Result

Time wasted: 30 min.
Files copied: 0
Curses uttered: 43,298

Having an IQ of 142 but ultimately being unable to plug in a device and use it: Priceless.

For all the pain you never knew you wanted there is Microsoft, for everyone else there is Apple.


  • Good analogy, James

    Just wait though til cars start using Windows as their OS in their computers.

    Then your car will run slow no matter how hard you press the accelerator (or wiggle the steering wheel), stop for no apparent reason, chew thru resources (i.e. gas/petrol) like there’s no tomorrow,  and when it all gets too much, simply crash.


    Chris Howard had this to say on Jun 03, 2005 Posts: 1209
  • STANDARDS! That is the real issue. Why didn’t the drive show up?

    Plug and play relies on having interoperability between different vendors. In the Apple world everything works good. In the Windows world everything works, kinda good.

    But when you want to combine things, it gets a little hairy. Compare all the third party vendors that Microsoft has to its operating system to the number of third party vendors that Apple has and there is no comparison. Microsoft plays better with more people.

    Apple is part of the problem, too. The DRM and iTunes is just the tip of the iceberg. What you are really saying, perhaps, is that Apple isn’t compatible with the Microsoft OS.

    Both companies are trying to differentiate themselves from each other. They are market-driven. But the market also demands that there be standards of compatibility, too. These are opposite goals, and part of why Apple created its own browser.

    ...So you end up with a Pontiac experience. Which is a double shame because a Native American leader Pontiac shouldn’t be associated with the stupidity of white men and their faulty engineering, of cars or computers.

    White men are always complaining and looking for a fight thinking they had no part in the conflict. The Microsoft vs Apple mentality is part of the same cowboy vs indian drama that has been going on for years.

    Why be so loyal to Apple unquestioningly? Is Steve Jobs a King? A computer is just a tool. Both sides are to blame for failing to create the standards and implementing them.

    Steve Consilvio had this to say on Jun 03, 2005 Posts: 47
  • There’s nothing quite as exhilarating as stretching a metaphor until it breaks, but let’s have a go.

    The remark by Steve Consilvio about how Windows manages to interoperate with a huge number of vendors and partners is all true.  But to the end user, it’s not really quite relevant, I think.

    I can be amazed that the fine folks at Pontiac are able to get vendors from three continents to supply parts, able to mold complex polymers into dashboards, and follow the regulatory maze it probably takes to keep both your company and the cars you make between the yellow lines.

    But as an end user, “just works” still is the mantra.  No matter how complex the business model, manufacturing challenges, or anything else becomes in producing a product, I still really just want it to work.

    I tend to use Mac OS X about 80% of the time, and Windows about 20% of the time.  Note that for me, I don’t really use an Intel or PowerPC, or even a Dell and a PowerMac.  I use Windows and Mac OS X, and the environment they provide.  I use them as tools to get my job done, to enjoy the minutiae of life, and occasionally to post comments.

    In the final analysis, I prefer the Mac experience because it just works.  I can’t remember the last time I was had trouble plugging ANY USB drive into a Mac OS X system - it just works.  Like the author, I haven’t had the same experience with a Windows system.  The list goes on beyond USB drives, of course.

    But my point is that it doesn’t matter about the drama of conflict, or the cult of personality, or how complex the company is that serves our needs.  All we care about is if the product works the way we want and need.

    For me, more often than not, it’s the Mac OS X product that works best.  That’s not loyalty, that’s consumer preference expressed via the wallet.

    Tom Cole had this to say on Jun 03, 2005 Posts: 1
  • James, I have to agree with you on the basis that many times our XP machine here at the office is very slow and sluggish when it starts up.  I have been an Apple fan for many years and really do not like working on windows machines, but I have to ask.  Are you a complete retard?

    One of the first things that us apple users learn is that Mac formatted drives (HSF+) do not work on windows, which uses Fat32 or NTFS. 

    Were you not around for the floppy and Zip drive days when they would actually sell preformatted Mac or PC disks? 

    The only way to share your “Plug n’ Play” hard drive between a mac and a PC is to a) install a program like MacDrive on the PC, which enables windows to read HSF and HSF+ drives, or b) format your drive as a FAT32 drive on a PC in the first place, which you can then reead on your mac, depending on which version of the OS you are using.  I have heard a rumor that you can now read NTFS formatted disks on OSX now, but I give them until 10.4.2 to break it.

    I use nothing but Macs at home and at work, and I listen to my mac bashing friends all the time, but nothing gets me going more that listening to idiot zealots make the rest of us Apple fans look like choads with opinions based on ignorance.

    Stephen Silver had this to say on Jun 03, 2005 Posts: 1
  • Apple has had a history of being more compatible with Windows trash than the windows trash is with Apple’s.  This is a fact.  Beyond that OBVIOUS knowledge, realize that XP—the plug’n'play legend that it is—didn’t offer to do [excrement] with the plug’n'play drive.  At least on a Macintosh, it would have offered to format it.  What’s more, if the Wintel thing HAD offered to format it, he would have found that he could plug it into his Mac and read the pictures off of it without any hassle.

    In short, the author has a point.

    What's the Frequency Kenneth? had this to say on Jun 03, 2005 Posts: 11
  • I have a Windows XP system and a Mac OSX system on my desk side by side.  I switch a portable hard drive between them all the time.  There is NO difference in the way they work.  None at all.  I plug the drive into the PC and it pops up automatically.  I plug the drive into the Mac and it pops up automatically.

    If we’re sharing anecdotes, though, I was over a friend’s house so he could demo his FCP system for me.  I was shopping for a Mac at the time and wanted to see how his setup worked.  He had a project that he had been working on and stored it on a new external firewire drive.  So he plugged it in and guess what…nothing happened.  No drive.  He rebooted his computer, still nothing.  He kept plugging it in and unplugging but no hard drive.

    Naturally, I blamed all of this on the OS and said that Macs are simply more trouble than Windows and I didn’t see how he worked on these things every day.

    No, not really.  Because that would be silly.  I bought a Mac anyway because I know that anecdotal user experiences don’t mean a whole lot, especially when I have other reasons for getting a Mac and I know that ALL computers are prone to problems every now and then.

    I’ve noticed a rather weary trend, however, that Mac users tend to blame Windows for absolutely every problem encountered on a PC, but they blame the user for every problem encountered on the Mac.

    Beeblebrox had this to say on Jun 03, 2005 Posts: 2220
  • Thankfully your experience with XP fell just shy of my experience with my Pontiac 6000.  I bought the thing in April 1997, used of course (does anyone buy a new Pontiac?).  During the 3rd week of that May it caught fire on the freeway - electrical mishap in the engine compartment, random chance, could have happened to anyone.  Ok, fine… insurance to the rescue and let’s redo the electrical for double what the car’s value is.  Ok, their money - fine with me.  Two weeks later a motor mount breaks and while shifting to reverse the engine jumps straight up and puts a large, but shallow, dent in the hood.  A week later that gets fixed and I’m on my way.  Another two weeks later I drive away from my local emissions testing station with a big fat FAILED comment.  Looks like another trip to the mechanic, but I have a week or so before my license tabs expire so I continue to drive it.  Three days later, the day before my mechanic appointment, the electrical system catches fire in the engine compartment again…  this time on the freeway.  I walk away, call AAA and have it towed - “anywhere buy my house please”.

    The moral of the story?  A lemon is a lemon.  I now drive a Toyota with over 100k miles on it and have spent a total of $450 in maintenance in 4 years time.

    dickrichards2000 had this to say on Jun 05, 2005 Posts: 112
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