The Astonishing Failure of the Windows Operating System

I am frequently asked to explain why I am so virulently opposed to Windows. Full disclosure: I’ve been using Windows personally and professionally for more than 30 years, so I have a few unpleasant experiences upon which to base my opinions.

Windows is without doubt the most incompetent commercial product ever invented by man. One of the key reasons many people take up Linux and/or switch to Mac OS is because they are so fed up with Windows and its comprehensive failure to function properly that they are willing to abandon all their familiar applications, risk losing all their data, forsake all their games and spend weeks, months and possibly years of their lives learning a different operating system. Millions of them are also willing to spend thousands of dollars on new hardware. At no other time in human history has a commercial product ever caused people to act this way, mainly because at no other time in history has a commercial product ever actively worked against its customers the way Windows does.

I have a three-decade career in IT. I’ve worked as a software engineer for companies larger than Microsoft. Nevertheless, whenever I boot Windows I am still beset with incidents like the one I experienced this morning, where it took me no less than forty minutes to attempt to change the default application for opening text files to Emacs on Windows 10. After nearly an hour of fighting, I gave up and resigned myself to the fact that I cannot open my files with the application of my choice.

This, of course, leaves aside the fact it takes up to nine minutes for Windows to boot to a usable state. I define “usable state” as one where I can open an application and use it. Windows also perpetually displays the wrong time, even after it is corrected again and again.

I have a fairly recent version of Linux Mint that boots in 20 seconds on the same hardware. Linux also manages to display the correct time of day somehow.

These are my text files, on my computer, in my home directory no less, yet Microsoft decides. This isn’t accidental, boys and girls. Microsoft making decisions for you is how they force you to use your property as they see fit.

It goes without saying that I can open text files in Linux with whatever application I choose. The reason this is true is because there is no financial incentive for Linux developers to interfere in my day to day work.

For those of you gearing up to send me comments like “works fine for me,” note that my problem is not unique. Also note the multiple suggested workarounds in that Stack Exchange thread and the fact each one failed to solve the problem. For my part, I manually edited the registry entries and Windows ignored them. If you do have a solution and everything works fine for you, please post your instructions in that thread so everyone can benefit.

Apparently there is some crucial corporate objective for Microsoft in making absolutely certain Notepad is the default application for opening text files. Oh, and by the way, it should be pointed out Ronald Reagan had just been sworn in for his second term when Notepad was new. Microsoft finally got around to updating it a few months ago after forcing the world to endure cheap failed software for more than 30 years. What if we had all those wasted man-hours back? What dollar value could we put on that?

What if Kenmore or Whirlpool had shipped a refrigerator that randomly reached temperatures of 150 degrees for an hour or so a couple times a month?

So for those of you wondering, that’s why serious people use something other than Windows when it comes time to do serious work. Those who do not are just better at tolerating failure, wasted money and wasted time.

Goodbye Google

After another 45 minutes fighting with my analytics dashboard, I have extricated Google Analytics from all my web properties forever. I’m this far from blocking Google entirely at the router. Yes, that means my sites won’t show up in search, but I’m not convinced showing up in Google searches matters any more.

Yeah, I know. There’s some genius on YouTube who uses analytics and search consoles and webmaster tools and super-technical-gee-whiz-wowEEEEEEEEEEEEMONEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE except I know better. Google has constructed a giant taffy wad of unintelligible nonsense designed to consume time and return nothing. Analytics used to be a good product, but now we’re back to the social media thing: Solve a puzzle, win a prize. The only problem is, there is nothing Google offers that will help you in the slightest when it comes to selling products. That is unless you think spending $2.40 a click for traffic makes sense on any planet populated by humans.

You see, when I look at Google analytics I notice almost all of the traffic Google says I’m getting is from fake referrals. Remember kids, Google is a $760 billion company with buildings full of PhDs. They only hire the smartest people in the world, yet somehow they are getting outmaneuvered by teenagers who can fake referral traffic with a couple dozen lines of Python code.

Why isn’t this fake traffic being automatically deleted from my reports? This has been going on for months. Why is it when I set up a segment or a filter and say “block everything from this host name” it doesn’t block anything? Google does a phenomenal job lording itself over our e-mail, but I suppose controlling your e-mail is more important than controlling your web site.

You know, with my new server I have access to my own web logs now. How long would it take me to write a Perl script to get accurate traffic data? An afternoon? And then I’ll be able to customize my reports any way I like.

If you’re in business for yourself, this is one of the most important things you can do to make your enterprise more efficient. Don’t invest time or treasure in anything that doesn’t give you a bankable return on that investment. When you find yourself standing in the surf filling buckets with seawater and emptying them back into the ocean, it’s time to take a step back and ask yourself if you’re getting any benefit.

One thing you can be certain of: The technology industry excels at handing you a box of blinkenlights that doesn’t do anything useful. They also really enjoy charging you a lot of money for it too. Google analytics is just the most recent example. It is an utterly useless service now, which perfectly explains its affordable price. Free and worth every penny.

Doesn’t Google have artificial intelligence and self-driving cars? Aren’t they the self-appointed Internet Police? and aren’t they SO MUCH SMARTER THAN YOU ARE?

Or maybe they aren’t. Perhaps that’s the lesson here. Either way, they’re out in the parking lot with a cardboard box as far as this little gray duck’s web sites are concerned. Black out.

Am I Part of a Trend?

Seems I’m not the only one who has had enough of social media. Can’t say I’m surprised. Even Forbes looked like it was in on the trend until the writer decided to add 1000 words of “you’re doing it wrong.”

Folks, there is nothing you can do to make social media better. Twitter and Facebook (and all the other noise-hoses) have a vested interest in keeping your stuff invisible. They don’t want people to click away to some other site. They want to keep them on Twitter and Facebook so they can show them ads. That way they get paid when someone clicks or taps away.

Social media is central control on a platform that was specifically designed to prevent central control. Here’s the basics: Big tech knows what the individuals on the web want. Everyone wants their stuff to get attention. Attention is the currency of the Internet. Big Tech hoards attention and uses it to reward their sharecroppers in exactly the same way medieval kings hoarded gold, land and wealth. Their rules are just like your boss’ rules: never pay ’em enough to sue you.

You know what the first thing is central control does when they get control? They make you invisible, and then they force you to work for them in order to get your visibility back. Except you never actually get your visibility back. You sure do waste a lot of unpaid time making their sites better and sending them free traffic, though.

If you are trying to get traffic to your site, social media is competing with you. They are not cooperating with you. Stop. Unplug it. Stop spending your treasure on “post boosts” and dollar-a-click ads. Stop trying to pick better hashtags. Twitter has an automated system designed to make everything you post there invisible, no matter what hashtag you pick. So does Facebook and every other social noise site.

Here’s the good news: If all the social media sites disappeared tomorrow (from my pen to God’s ears), the Internet itself would shrug and reach for another chicken salad sandwich. AOL came and went. Myspace came and went (and incinerated $500 million in the process). Google+ came and went. The “portal” thing came and went. Internet’s still here, and the basic technology hasn’t changed much. The web, links and e-mail all work pretty much the same way they ever did.

If you want to get your message out, you have everything you need. You don’t need social media.

Hey Twitter, it’s Time Someone Said It

I think I speak for more than a few reasonable people when I say I’ve about had it with Twitter. Three times this week I’ve been presented with the lockout screen because I followed a few dozen people.

Now we all know there are limits on the number of people we can follow. That’s enforced at the account level and is usually calculated by adding some margin to the number of followers you have. The more followers you have, the more people you can follow. Fair enough.

Then why is there a second and a third limit on the numbers of people I can follow (or unfollow) in some arbitrary time interval? Why not just leave it at the original limit? Well, the answer is pretty obvious. Twitter doesn’t want you doing too much communicating. The croppers might get uppity and out of control, dontcha know.

Here’s what needs to be said: Twitter is a worthless, pointless waste of bandwidth and air conditioning. It is a noise machine. It is a firehose of nonsense that nobody pays any attention to. It produces nothing of value. At all. It is about as useful as a rocket-powered unicycle.

Twitter’s LIFETIME stock value is -30%. The company basically lit fire to six billion dollars. If you had invested $10 in Twitter in 2013, it would be worth $7 now. Why? Because Twitter doesn’t produce anything except noise. For $21 billion I could rent a 747 and park it someplace with its engines running to produce all the noise I want and still have enough left over to do something useful, like create jobs or build a product people actually want to pay for.

Here’s the value proposition for you, dear user of Twitter. You know what this site does? It takes your hard work, in the form of tweets, videos, pictures, animation, links and so on, and it publishes them at Twitter.com. That gets Twitter more traffic.

What do you get in return? Well, if you follow this many people, nothing. If you follow this many people plus one, your account gets locked and you get a reading from the book of no-nos.

Let me tell you about my experience on Twitter so far. I have 8000 followers and change. Our account features Jessica Halloran and has been traditionally presented in her voice as a fictional character. We’ve posted 5200 tweets, many of which had full color art from our comics, games, books, book covers, videos, etc. Want to know how many referral clicks we’ve gotten from Twitter in the last nine years and seven months? (We joined in March of 2009)

835

That’s one click for every six tweets on average. Now that might sound pretty good, until you look a little closer. In 2009, Twitter had a tiny fraction of the number of users it has now. So you’d expect that since our tweets are getting better and our potential audience is growing, we’d be getting more clicks, right?

Since January, 2017 we’ve gotten 42. We got a total of 3 clicks in all of 2017.

Three clicks.

In the five-and-a-half year period between October of 2006 and July of 2012, when we were publishing our comics, ladystar.net generated over 218,000 uniques.  That’s roughly 100 visits a day.  LadyStar produced more traffic in nine days than our lifetime total on Twitter produced in nine years.

Now I’m not going to say this reminds me of the 179 clicks I got from Facebook that I thought were “targeted” for English-speakers in the U.S. but turned out to be from anywhere-but-America, but what I am going to say is this reminds me of the 179 clicks I got from Facebook that I thought were “targeted” for English-speakers in the U.S. but turned out to be from anywhere-but-America.

I’d really like to participate on Twitter, but the reality is Twitter isn’t going to allow us to communicate with our followers or find new ones without constantly interfering and threatening to close down our account. So we’re leaving.

Those of you investing time and energy in Twitter, I recommend you consider what I’ve written here. Twitter is not the least bit interested in you, and they have no obligation to protect your account or do anything valuable for your life or business. All they are doing, ultimately, is trying to profit from your relationships with others and sell your hard work to advertisers while giving exactly nothing back. The same is true of Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat and all the other noise factories out there.

Social media is a waste of time.  I say this as someone who was doing business on the Internet when Mark Zuckerberg was in sixth grade. The people who tell you they are getting zillions of sales and visits from social media are either lying or they are leaving something out, like the bill for their paid ads, which is a taffy wad of stupid I’ll reserve for another post.

Set up your own site. Make real connections with other people. Don’t give Twitter the power to interfere in your life and business. Black out.

Are You a Blue Shirt Picard?

If you’ve watched Star Trek: The Next Generation much, you’ll recognize this episode. Alongside “Lower Decks,” “Tapestry” depicts the life of the low-ranking officer aboard a ship commanded by a legend.

These episodes tell an important story, and one we can all learn a thing or two from. If you spend your life following the “rules,” you’re going to find that society will be very happy to have you sit quietly in the corner and un-volunteer yourself from life. You’ll be shoved out of the way and be expected to spectate while others get their share and yours.

Consider your favorite social media site. They all want you to communicate and interact, but not too much, because that’s bad. What you’ll eventually discover is social media is specifically engineered to stop you from communicating, but that’s another article. Who is to say how much is too much? Well, if you’re selling something, how much ain’t much, that’s for sure.

How do you get a date? Well, you just walk right up to her and introduce yourself and announce you have a favorite table at her favorite restaurant. Shocking, I know, but that’s how men and women find ways to avoid eating alone on a Friday night. The rules say you can’t just ask her out. Who do you think you are? Well, you’re the guy who breaks the rules, because that’s how you get noticed.

There is one principle you can always count on. The rules are there to separate the blue shirt Picards from the starship Captains. Follow the rules and play it safe, and you get to sit at a table in Ten Forward listening to Counselor Troi “there-there” you about your wrecked life. Get stabbed through the heart by a gorilla with teeth on the outside of his mouth, and you get to command the Enterprise. The latter is most assuredly not following the rules, now is it? Which result interests you most?

If you’re in business for yourself, ask yourself this question: are you avoiding the Nausicaans, or are you prepared to start a bar fight to get what you want?

When you run into an obstacle in your pursuit of what you know you need to get to the next level, just ask yourself if the decision you’re about to make will lead you to becoming Blue Shirt Picard or Captain of the Enterprise. Then you’ll be sure to make the right choice.

How Did These People Get Hired?

This kind of thing has long confused me. Let me explain why.

When I interview for a job, I take it pretty seriously, and I’m sure my employer does too. If I were the kind of person who was routinely frozen in terror when my alarm went off, or the kind of person who has trouble brushing my teeth, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be taken very seriously at work. That’s why commercials like this are so confusing and annoying.

Let’s take “Tyler,” for example. The man is brushing his teeth while wearing a dress shirt and tie. He has an anxious and frankly dull look on his face. Yet he is apparently the head of HR for the same “medium-sized” company as “Marcie” the cartoon character who is probably still motionless and staring at the ceiling.

Then there’s “Whitney,” who is texting in the shower with the same amphetamine-fueled look on her face as Marcie. What is this commercial trying to say? Are these people lost? Mentally ill? Paranoid?

I realize commercials like this are supposed to be light entertainment. The narrator’s alliteration, the silly looks on everyone’s face and the “plodding towards mediocrity” soundtrack are all rather obvious in their intent. We’re not supposed to take these people seriously. But that’s really the problem, isn’t it?

Why are office employees always portrayed as borderline incompetent, terrified adolescents in popular media? It’s not funny. It’s not entertaining. It’s like a fast food commercial where a customer is served a dead rat in a rat-shaped styrofoam container. It shatters verisimilitude and makes us question how any of these people got hired in the first place.

How can we expect anyone to invest tens of thousands of dollars and years of their lives earning an education, gaining marketable skills and acquiring the experience and qualifications to get a good high-paying job if this is what our society thinks of the average office workplace?

“Marcie” is a “masterful marketer,” yet she can’t get out of bed. “Tyler” apparently plans to spend most of the morning grinding the bristles off his toothbrush and “Whitney” is going to need a second job to pay for a replacement for the phone she’s trying to destroy in her shower. The commercial tells us they all need “a little help.” No, what they need is a psychiatric evaluation and a weekend or two at the Happy Home.

Then we switch to a scene with Marcie and her boss where a grown man is jumping around the room and making alarming gestures while the “masterful marketer” is sitting at a cafeteria table in an enclosed office. Meanwhile the “head of HR” has a line of people (who are ostensibly on the clock with benefits and accumulating paid vacation days) lined up at his door while he taps a pencil eraser on the desk and has a slow motion conversation with a mental patient. Then there’s Whitney, who is still popping speed and can’t manage her e-mail.

Now I may be overthinking this, but these people are being PAID to work in the glass-walled offices at this company. Commercials like this make hard-working, well-educated and competent people doubt themselves and our whole society. If these three clowns have jobs and paychecks, with executive titles no less, what’s wrong with you if you can’t find employment? If I were a college student in 2018, and I saw this commercial and then attended even one job interview that didn’t become an offer, I would have a long list of questions starting with “can I have my money back?”

How can someone get hired and paid to work a full-time job and not be able to handle their e-mail without throwing themselves on their desks? I can understand the problem if the man auditioning to wear a gorilla costume in the circus really is the manager of this company.

What I object to in commercials like this is the infantilization of grown men and women with jobs and careers. Hiring managers far and wide complain at exhausting length they can’t find qualified candidates, yet this is the result? The people in this commercial aren’t qualified to dress themselves in the morning. The proof is the pattern of toothpaste stains on Tyler’s shirt that were obviously CGI-ed out of the later scenes.

This portrayal is the workplace equivalent of the “incompetent dad” character that has been a staple of family commercials for the last 20 years. Here’s Bob. He weighs 275 pounds and is five feet eight inches tall. Bob can’t change the liner in the kitchen trash can without two people helping him, yet somehow Bob pays the mortgage on this fabulous five-bedroom house and makes the payments on the $40,000 SUV parked next to the Mercedes in his 1800-square-foot driveway every month. Don’t you wish you were Bob and got paid every two weeks despite that frozen puffy blank look on your face?

The audience for these works of 90 IQ entertainment is being made to believe these people are not only gainfully employed, but “masterful” high-ranking executives who are “wizards” of arcane skills like “project workflow,” whatever that is.

There’s another one of these commercials somewhere on YouTube where employees are running in circles and screaming because they can’t make their business software work. I’d look it up but I just ate. If the soundtrack were added to video of toddlers engaged in a food fight in a daycare center nobody would be able to tell the difference. Again, how did these people get interviews and job offers? How does this company stay in business?

Our parents didn’t work in places like this. My father was a newspaper reporter and my mother was an award-winning features editor. When I visited their offices, everyone in the building was a full-fledged grown-up. They covered important news stories and put 90-page newspaper editions out every day. The Los Angeles Times had a circulation of close to two million readers (who all got a newspaper every morning) when I was in elementary and junior high school. There was simply no such thing as people jumping around and crying and screaming at work. It simply didn’t happen.

I think I speak for more than a few people when I say I wish we could see examples of professionals in commercials for a change. While we’re at it, let’s throw in a real dad too. Because I can guarantee you there is no woman alive who would marry or even date Bob the talking beach ball. Black out.