Monday, September 14, 2009

What I hate worst about Windows

Keeping Monday "lite," let's have a little rant, shall we?

So you start an application. But you know it'll take a minute or two to be ready to go. So, you have three options:
  1. You could stare at your monitor, unmoving, zombielike, perhaps drooling just a tad.
  2. You could go do something — get coffee, go fishing, raise a family.
  3. You could start working in a window that's already open. Like that document you're writing in Word. Or that email to which you're replying. Or that post you're composing for your moderate (or high) traffic blog.
Normally I opt for #3. I'm an Ephesians 5:16 guy... or I try to be.

I reserve #1 for watching TV, and #2 for when I'm doing those activities — which I don't do instead of doing something else.

And, perhaps thanks to my Mom, I'm a pretty fast typist. If I'm on a riff, the words pretty well fly out. And, though self-taught, I'm basically a touch-typist. That means I don't always have to be watching the screen.

Ah, but Windows. Windows knows better than I do which window I should be working in.

So, though I might have started that application 10, 40, 75 seconds ago, and though I might be in the middle of a sentence... for no apparent reason, by sheer sovereign gracelessness, Windows plucks me out of the window I'm working in, and smacks me down in the window it thinks I should be in.

Now, I may not know this for a half-dozen words. Or I may hit "Enter" or the space-bar, to separate words or start a new paragraph (chiastically speaking) — but that isn't how the new window interprets those moves. It sees a spacebar as a selection; it sees an Enter as "OK," or "Cancel," or "Delete all hard-disk files."

And because I'm really typing fast, I don't even see it happen until it's too late.


So I want to tell the programmer-dudes, "Look, dude — I'm in the window I want to be in! If I wanted to be in that window, I'd switch to that window! I don't expect apps to pop up with the speed of light, so I'm doing something in the meanwhile. So please, blink on the taskbar, give a discreet little 'boop' — but don't yank me out of my window and into your window, okay?"



beachbirdie said...

LOL. Computers are so much fun.

Reminds me of a friend who (I'm dating myself here) back in the days you had to speak DOS to get a long with your machine, typed 'DEL *.*' at his C:\ prompt.

Funny now, wasn't funny to him...

zostay said...

Focus stealing is evil. Programmers sin when they write a program capable of stealing focus for any reason. Even if a person missing a window will cause a nuclear strike on their own house, a program shouldn't steal focus.

By the way, any programmer or system administrator worth anything has the same motto, "I hate computers." This should be a fundamental law of computer science taught by in introductory textbooks.

Stefan Ewing said...

Shhhh, don't give the Mac guys an "in" to riff on Windows! Gee willikers! We already get enough grief from those silly "Mac versus PC" ads.

Or I may hit 'Enter' or the space-bar, to separate words or start a new paragraph (chiastically speaking)

Love it.

Anonymous said...

Windows, How do I hate thee? Let me count the ways... For starters:

1. I hate your memory hogging ways
2. I hate your security holes
3. I hate your insufficient testing prior to product release
4. I hate that you tend to freeze
5. I hate that it takes forever to boot up

MJ said...

I'm sorry, but I have to say this. Get a Mac. Just do it. After using Windows PC's for more years than I care to admit, I took the plunge and bought my first Macbook two years ago. Never looked back, never will. When our pathetic desktop PC finally dies (and I may hasten the day with a mallet), it will be replaced with a shiny new Macbook Pro. There is simply no comparison.

DJP said...

Not really wanting to spend all the money I have to get one of the three or four models/configurations Apple thinks I should have, cut myself off from my favorite SW (including BW), and get hooked for life on Appoin (rhymes with "heroin").

It's just like I saw it ~25 years ago: get one of their pcs, and they own me.

GrammaMack said...

To avoid those annoying forced window-switches and the inevitable resulting foul-ups, I have a fourth option: play a round of FreeCell or Spider Solitaire.

zostay said...

I live in a Windows-on-hardware free home. That is, my work machine is a Mac, our family machine is a Mac, my wife's laptop is a Mac, my personal machine is a Linux Mini, and I have two Linux servers and a Linux router?

However, I have Windows installed on my Linux Mini under VirtualBox solely so I can use Logos and I have Windows running under VMware on my Mac to do software testing for work.

I flat refuse to use Windows unless I must.

DJP said...


threegirldad said...

You'll never catch me complaining about Windows' many...idiosyncrasies. I make too good of a living because of them. ;-)

Here's a translation for that inscrutable system error message:

Yesterday it worked.
Today it is not working.
Windows is like that.

(more here -- and several other places)

Logan Paschke said...

Are you running Windows 95 or something?

This has been pretty much fixed through vista from my experience for two reasons.

1. Finally bought a $700 Laptop which runs very fast so I don't encounter those error windows at all anymore.

2. Ctrl-Alt-Delete makes it easy to just close the other application.

But I feel your pain, although it's something I haven't had to deal with since I got this new computer.

DJP said...

Hunh; I thought I'd put up Windows haikus here. They're very funny.

We have had some other haiku, however.

DJP said...

No, this is every Windows machine I've used, anywhere.

Vista's the worst OS I've used since ME. I am not a fan.

At work, they use XP Pro. It's actually worse, there, since I have two monitors. So I get something started on A, then start working on B - just to be YANKED back to a midcourse.


threegirldad said...

Yes, and you'll notice that I didn't try to write my own this time.


Barbara said...

Amen and amen.

David Regier said...

Don't remember where I saw this, but it went something like this. . .

If your buddy's arrival time was like Windows' expected download time:

Hey, I'll be there in 20 minutes.

Hey, I'll be there Thursday morning.

Hey, I'll be there in 18 minutes.

Hey, I'll be there Friday afternoon.

Hey, I'll be there in 15 minutes.

Hey, I'll be there in 3 minutes.

Hey, I'll be there in 3 minutes.

Hey, I'll be there in 3 minutes.

Hey, I don't know when I'm going to get there.


DJP said...


Or, alternate ending:

> gurk! <

Aaron said...

I have Vista at home and don't understand why it takes you 75 seconds to load a program. I can load just about any program in less than ten seconds and all the MS apps load in under 2.

And having a MAC sounds wonderful until a piece of hardware dies or a software problem actually does happen or you want to buy some software from a local store. Then you'll wish you had a PC.

ChrisMattG said...

Bibleworks 8 - takes forever to load, always pulls me out of something else.

Susan said...

Dan--here are some computer poems (including computer haikus and then some). My favorite is "Yesterday" and "Write in C". (The word "milestone" should be "millstone" instead in "Yesterday".)

Susan said...

(Is my comment being moderated? I'm only asking because it disappeared on me....)

Susan said...

(It disappeared again. Okay. Question answered.)

Barbara said...

David's comment reminds me of If Microsoft Built Cars

P.D. Nelson said...

Two things: First Dan please for the love of us who do not have access to your dictionaries define thoses words aka "chiastically" Oy!

Second: Upgrading Macs mean buying a new machine. Think about that you Mac lovers. And don't even protest remember your running on Intel now and if your not your not using the latest and greatest.

zostay said...

Meh. Tech support tends toward Russian Roulette no matter what make and model you have, even if you pay for service named after a precious metal (you just tend to be on hold for less time). It always comes down to this question: Did I get someone on the phone that knows his stuff this time or not?

PC tech support is bad and so is Apple's. But if I can't get a unix-y environment, I can't do what I do happily, so I avoid Windows since it only does unix-y at gunpoint. Being able to fix the hardware yourself just means a bunch of your time spent fixing it yourself. If you like that sort of thing, wonderful, but I'd rather be doing something else with my time than trying to figure out why my rig won't boot.

In summary: What has man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity. (Ecclesiastes 2:22-23)

Gov98 said...

I know this is crazy to say, but windows ain't bad. It's easy to complain about but it works as well as any operating system out there.

I note I'm writing this on a Macbook Air...but quite frankly I'm not impressed with Mac OS, if you limit the things that can be done then yes you get a more stable platform, but good for you.

Windows, frankly just tends to work well in many situations, yeah not perfect, but you can throw a lot at it and it keeps on going.

The reason, I think, that 85% of the world uses Windows is because it actually does run better in most applications.

Michelle said...

I think being a touch-typist means not always having to watch the keyboard (using touch instead of sight), so you're free to follow on the screen. Left forefinger stays on the "f" and right forefinger on the "j". :)

Russ said...

This never happens to me, at least not since 3.1. Try going to TweakUI (or get it if you don't have it already -, go to general > focus, and tell windows not to let applications steal focus.

DJP said...

Oh, dude! If that works, I just may need to rename my little boys and cats "Russ" for a day. Or myself, or the blog, or... something!

Aaron said...


I've built my own machines for several years now. It is a whole lot less time to fix the hardware yourself than it is to take your machine somewhere to have it fixed. Plus it's a whole lot less expensive. And when I want to upgrade a piece or change a drive, I don't have to beg Apple to let me do it.

DJP said...

PD, picture the first of two lines of a verse from Proverbs as having two elements, A and B. Put too simply, chiasm is structuring the two lines as A B | B1 A1.

Like this:

I chowed down on my Big Mac
My burger I raised to my mouth.

Lots of Proverbs are chiastic, though often you have to read Hebrew to see it.

The Squirrel said...

"Vista's the worst OS I've used since ME. I am not a fan."

So very true. I've been running Windows7 for a few months now. Best. Windows. Ever.

But it still has the same issue of which Dan writes...


Stefan Ewing said...

Not to mention that the structure of a lot of narratives appears to be chiastic, as well...

Stefan Ewing said...

Vista was...well, let's just say it should be a software design case study of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it."

zostay said...

Sir Aaron, It takes less of my time to have someone else fix it in either case. I used to maintain 500 machines for a university department, I got tired of surgery (among other things), so I looked for something else to do.

Now, I write software. Please don't make me do surgery anymore. I can work on a different machine while I wait for the first to be fixed. That's an acceptable compromise for me.

DJP said...

Well, we ought to put the blame where the blame is due.

The Microsoft Windows O.S. has nothing to do with this problem.

Individual programs are responsible for how they interact with the main window.

I couldn't imagine a window manager NOT permitting a new window to steal focus, though I'm sure they all support background startup.

DJP said...

That was not me, it was Mike. This comment service stank. I am bailing.

Mike J said...

Hehe... that comment system was really annoying to use anyway.

"Focus stealing is evil. Programmers sin when they write a program capable of stealing focus for any reason."

Focus stealing is evil. Evil evil evil. So is bidirectional coupling. Developers should be hamstrung for both.

And speaking of focus stealing, I'm glad that in Vista you no longer automatically reboot your computer when Automatic Updates comes up while you're typing.

And speaking of Vista bashing, I'm going to disagree with some, as I, for one, find it to be a very trustworthy O.S. It's actually (as quantifiably as possible in the area of security) a very secure O.S.

Since the topic of Apple came up, Apple corporation is making the population dumber. That doesn't mean they don't make something good. It means that, IMHO, they are not helping the computing world. For example, the Mac ads illustrate this: the one mocking UAC as a security guard made me ill with its hypocrisy - since OS-X requires privilege escalation like Vista does, only its implementation is arguably more primitive (MS implemented a snazzy hybrid user mode for Vista). As another example, they keep saying that Apple users don't have to worry about malware - yet Apple is apparently integrating antivirus into the forthcoming OS-X versions, and there is already an Apple botnet in the wild. The best thing Apple users can do for themselves is to stop evangelizing for Apple. OS-X is criticized quite a bit in the security community, and it may well be swiss cheese when it comes to security. The last thing you need is for your little flame to turn into a large lamp so every bug out there comes your way. Be happy with your working equipment and stop trying to make it so popular that all those holes turn into exploits.

Sigh. I digress.

Btw, I'm a more than full-time software engineer, so I'm not making up my comment... ;-)

Aaron said...


I agree with you. I think Apple hasn't experience the security problems tht MS has only because Apple computers aren't nearly as widely adopted. And they keep saying Apple OS is sooo simple to use. That's true until you have something wrong, then it's a royal pain to fix.

And to Zostay, I'm not arguing with you. If you have two computers, great! Adn nobody wants to have computer problems, much less fix them. But I have only one computer at home. When it goes down, I don't have another one to work with. It's way faster to pop the hood and fix the problem than to take it to BestBuy or (the Apple store) that's likely to make the problem worse and more expensive.

Mike J said...

"I agree with you. I think Apple hasn't experience the security problems tht MS has only because Apple computers aren't nearly as widely adopted."

That's true to a degree... but OS-X has a better security model than XP. But it's not better than Vista.

Thus, it should be kept in mind that privilege escalation in an OS like Vista or OS-X largely backs attacks up to (a) vulnerabilities, or (b) social engineering.

You won't have something install on your computer automatically by simply visiting a website in either Vista or OS-X, barring some horrid hole in a browser plugin (more likely these days, though even that is contained on Vista). On XP (SP1) that could happen, and the 9x kernel (Win 95/98/ME - called 'mistake edition') was a just an embarrassing disaster.

I think Apple won't admit they have a problem. I received some anecdotal confirmation of this at a software engineering conference I recently attended, where the keynote speaker (who was no proponent of MS) made the joke, "All these companies will admit they have problems - well, except Apple" - to which a room of over 1000 software developers of all stripes and countries erupted in laughter. That's telling.

Microsoft admitted years ago that they have a problem. And they took huge steps to fix it. Vista's impressive security is the fruit of this.

Hacker competitions have recently been cracking into OS-X with what is reportedly relative ease. That's a legit concern. It's also been noted that busting into Vista would have been much more difficult.

Malware isn't usually made for kicks; it's made for money. Once OS-X has a sufficiently large user base, it becomes a money-maker, and therefore a target. However, Apple's market share peaked a few years ago, and actually was declined again (9.5 to 7.5, as I recaall, from 2007-2009).

Future attacks will largely be predicated on social engineering - and if an entire segment of computer users is being told that they DO NOT HAVE TO CARE about this, well, who do we think will end up being the first victims to these things?

The oblivious Mac user downloading a pirated version of Photoshop and turning his Macbook into a key-logging zombie, thinking that the Mac ads are actually truthful, is more vulnerable on the internet than the Windows XP user who knows what can hurt him.

Apple should starts producing ads that are truthful instead of faddish - but then, this situation is really analogous to much of contemporary preaching, where giving people what is FUNNY and FADDISH has priority over telling the GRIM REALITY so people can AVOID IT, because the reality of things just doesn't sell products... err... fill pews... quite the same.

Anonymous said...

"Not really wanting to spend all the money I have to get one of the three or four models/configurations Apple thinks I should have, cut myself off from my favorite SW (including BW), and get hooked for life on Appoin (rhymes with "heroin").

It's just like I saw it ~25 years ago: get one of their pcs, and they own me."

Umm...Dan...this is the worst use of logic you've ever displayed. Get a Mac bro.

Aaron said...

says the spider to the fly...

DJP said...


I just accidentally rejected Zostay's comment! Sorry, Zostay. Here it is:


Come to the Dark Side... we have cookies.

zostay said...

That's alright. I thought the comment screen had lost it and gave up on sending it. You want me to set you up a Movable Type or a Drupal or something? :-p

I've never trusted these canned hosting things.

DJP said...

I don't know what those are, offhand. Are they comment-hosting services?