20 November 2008

My demonized computer

My computer has a demon, it really has.

OK, it's probably a daemon, but it's a demonic daemon.

It takes control of my computer most mornings about 9:20, just when I'm trying to get some work done, and wastes about half-an hour every day.

What happens is that the hard disk starts churning, and the computer then takes an age to respond to anything. The only way to gain control again is to press and hold down the power button until the thing stops, and then reboot.

But this morning I decided to do it the long way. When I clicked a few times and there was no response, I checked, and sure enough, the disk activity light showed that the hard disk was churning. I'd been viewing a web page, and tried to close it, as I thought it might be trying to send me something long and expensive, like a video. When it took a long time to close, I realised what was happening.

09:23 - Decide to shut down
09:26 - clicked the Restart button
09:28 - htqtra08 closing, then computer closed down and time disappeared
09:36 - time reappeared on reboot
09:43 - Loading ZoneAlarm
09:45 - Reboot complete.

OK, so that is 22 minutes, but from the time the problem starts to the time I get back to where I was working and start working agan, it's more like 30 minutes.

It's possible to save 5-7 minutes by switching off with the power switch instead of going through the close-down but it's still a long long time.

I'm running Windows XP, and if ever I have to replace this computer, I'll probably be forced to use Vista, which to all accounts is worse.

One of the problems is that Windows never tells you what it's doing half the time. Microsoft don't see fit to tell you. Press Ctrl-Alt-Del to see what program is running and misbehaving so one can close it down, and there's nothing there. When you boot up, there are all kinds of "processes", and I've read that you can speed things up by omitting some of them, but how do you know what they do and whether you need them or not? Microsoft doesn't tell you.

There are other things Microsoft doesn't tell you, or someone doesn't tell you.

Some program, I don't know which, underlines things it regard as spelling mistakes in some documents. But it underlines some spellings that are correct. So where is it, and can one adjust the settings and update it's spelling dictionary?

There is another (or perhaps the same one) that "suggests" things to use to fill in fields on web pages. The trouble is, it "suggests" every typo I've ever made. What is this program, where can one find it, how can one adjust its settings and remove the typos?

Are there any fundis out there who can answer some of these questions?

Someone I know had a hard disk crash recently, and when her hardware had been repaired, she had a problem "revalidating" the Windows operating system. She tried every available method, but nothing worked.

Eventually a friend helped her by loading a pirate version of Windows XP on her computer. It was half the size, booted in half them time, and ran at about twice the speed. It was a stripped down version that was an improvement on the original.

Actually for most of my work I'd be quite happy to use MS DOS. The only trouble is that it hasn't been updated and can't handle modern hardware -- disk drives, controllers, video cards etc.

People say use a better OS, like Linux, but I don't know whether the programs I use most often would run under Linux. I have 20 years of work on my computer, if not more. I really don't have time to start all over again and redo all that stuff.

So perhaps it's time to exorcise my computer.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

hello, i just came across your site today and was astonished to read of the child witch issue in africa. now i want to know more...am going to check out that org. that operates in nigeria for a start and bookmark your weblog for future reading.

on another matter, i was empathizing with you and your computer problems...it seems all computer have some kind of demon in them and they do their own thing often. but i think you may be limiting yourself to your system because you don't know enough about linux and you think that you have to transfer everything manually from your current computer and operating system to a new one. first of all i'm no computer expert at all, but linux is an operating system ...as a stand alone...and it can run all kinds of programs...the difference between it and microsoft windows is that linux is free, free, free, lol. (by the way, i use windows vista, i used to use windows xp and vista is far better. i never really understood what all the concern was about. it just seems to operate a lot more smoothly than my old program). there are probably other benefits to linux but rather than pretend i know what they are, i will refer you to this website which i came across when doing some general research about linux for a friend in africa :-))
first read: http://www.linux.com/whatislinux/119700, then go on to
http://www.linux.com/forums/

also, i know there are some ways now where u can either have all your stuff from one computer transferred over to another relatively painlessly, or set up a file sharing protocol (i think these are two different things). i haven't done it myself but here are some instructions for file sharing...
http://www.reallylinux.com/docs/basicnetworking.shtml
i'm sure you can find more info about this to cover your specific questions. good luck.

James Higham said...

Get a Mac, Steve.

Sue said...

I'm using Windows 2000, but I know my computer has a limited life... it's having graphics accelerator problems, and the motherboard is so old that I can't just replace the graphics card, apparently. Richard refuses to allow XP or Vista in the house (well... he refuses to have anything to do with them, and I'd be lost trying to set up a computer from scratch). So my next one will be a mac. All the rest of the family have mac notebooks. They are apparently faster, more secure, and much easier to use. One can even load a windows emulator on it, to run any programs that won't run under mac - but open source programs like Open Office (which I use already) can handle any documents created under windows.

Oh.. and when you see the red underline thing, you should be able to click the right mouse button to bring up a floating menu that gives the option 'add to dictionary'.

Steve Hayes said...

Mac? Mac?

I'm very suspicious of Macs.

If I knew someone who had one, and could demonstrate that they could run my software, or work with my data at least as well as the existing programs can, then I might think of it, but I believe they are also very expensive and way beyond my means. So buying one like a pig in a poke and then finding that it couldn't do anything I wanted to do is just not on.

Harry Haddock said...

Steve

Have you considered downloading the live CD version of one of the linux distributions, i.e. one that runs from the CD and doesn't make any changes to your computer, and seeing if the various open source programs can work with your data? Running from the CD often means the live CD versions run like a two legged dog in treacle, but it would allow you to test your theory, at least. I'm about to get my Dad to do the same thing, because he's sick of the continual upgrade cycle and virus issues.

Ubuntu would be a good place to start ~ https://help.ubuntu.com/community/LiveCD

Anonymous said...

i guess u weren't inspired by anything i had to say about linux, he he. perhaps u'll take harry's advice. i don't have my own blog so i don't write u from there. take care and good luck or God bless with all the computer needs. we don't function without them anymore esp. if we want to be global :-) penny

Jenny Hillebrand said...

Hi Steve
I also use Vista with far more success than I anticipated. Just make sure you have a decent amount of memory (2Gb at the moment). It is however worse than XP at hiding things from the user (in a somewhat condescending manner), but there is also stuff available that helps you find which processes you can block and how - if you're willing to take the time!
Macs and Linux are cool in theory, but take a commitment to being alternative!

Anonymous said...

I use Firefox as my browser. If I don't want it to remember what I enter into a form, I click on tools (at the top of the tool bar), then options, then privacy. In the "history" section of the privacy box, there is a wee box that you can tick or untick that says "Remember what I enter in forms and the search bar." Untick this box, and voila! No more typos.

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