Thursday, April 19, 2012

Windoze won't sleep, go figure

I don’t speak French, so there is no pretence when I say “Plus ca change, c’est plus le meme chose” sounds more exotic and poetic than the English equivalent, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” I only know what it means because of a Rush song, but I've already used that title in a previous post, also on Windows. Imagine that.

Either way, Windows 7 – so long evolved from Windows 3.11, Windows 95. Windows 98. Windows ME. Windows XP. Windows Vistahahahahaha - has all kinds of slick new features…but for all those number that have changed…one thing remains utterly the same. 

It’s Windows. Smh.

The Comment

When I first started researching and discovering Ubuntu/Linux, one of the reviews I read from a much more tech-inclined reviewer resonated with me. He wrote “I like Ubuntu because, once I’ve set things the way I like, they stay that way, they don’t ‘just change’," (oh, how I wish I could find that comment out there in cyberspace; you'll just have to take my word for it that that's what I read).

This comment was contributed to a discussion started by someone who was frustrated with his Windows experience, wanted to switch, but didn’t know in which direction to look for a less stressful alternative. So, folks were discussing various reasons why they prefer Ubuntu and offering suggestions as to why someone might enjoy appreciate Ubuntu as opposed to Windows, and in fact was a swing at Windows, which essentially was being accused of changing things even though the user didn’t request any such changes. 

I remember this comment because of its poetic understatement. Other people were talking about Ubuntu’s media support, how much the out-of-the-box tools were so much better/more stable/easy to use. There seemed to be an almost “thou-dost-protest-too-much-ness” about all the whiz-bang cheerleading…until this quiet, very non-glamorous, relatively pedestrian comment was made about user settings. Whoopty-doo, settings don’t change – could that really be a even be called a feature? Let alone one worth mentioning?
And, thus am I reminded.

New machine. New OS. Same old BS

I have a fairly new work laptop with an Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM…and Windows 7 64-bit. I like to have it automatically go into Sleep mode when I close the lid, and wake from Sleep mode when I open the lid; so, I configured the settings to do this. And it works beautifully…for two days.

On day three after taking it out of the box, I closed the lid, headed out on my commute home and, when I get home and opened the lid, the computer was still on – I had just enough time to see this before (you guessed it) the computer went into Sleep mode.
All the settings I originally set, way back all of not quite 72 hrs before, had not changed. One should therefore expect that the operating system would operate the system consistently with the settings that had been set. But, in the world of Windows, that’s apparently asking too much.


I remember a colleague, a Mac loyalist, once said to me “look at my MacBook – you see all the programs I have open? I booted up this machine 9 months ago, I’ve never had to re-boot. I open it, it’s on instantly, ready to work; it’s always on and always ready to work. You’ve had to re-boot your system more times this week than I have in over a year, and I run many more resource-hogging programs than you do. You Windows guys think “re-booting” is just a part of using a computer, but you’ve been hoodwinked because, here in Mac civilization, it’s not even a part of our vocabulary. You have no idea.”

It’s not fair…it’s not my fault

And, he was right. I can’t imagine it. Just last night, I overheard while a man at a table near me attempted to complete a presentation for a client. He opened up his Windows laptop (different make than mine, but Windows 7 just the same) and plugged his internet stick into the USB, and it wouldn’t work. Later, he attempted to plug in a portable printer….and it didn’t work. But, he knew what to do – re-boot. Which he did, after which the stick and the printer both worked.

That reminded me of a funny bit from The Empire Strikes Back (I refuse to even mention the reverse-engineered “Episode V" claptrap). Han Solo was convinced he had the hyper-drive fixed on the trusty old Millennium Falcon. He pulled the lever, nothing happened. Leia rolls her eyes while he yells “it’s not fair, it’s not my fault.”

They stop at the Cloud City to have the Falcon checked out by the previous owner, Lando Calrissian. Stuff happens, and we end up back in the cockpit of the Falcon, but this time Leia's riding shotgun with Lando, who had his guys fix the Falcon. So, when he pulls the lever…nothing happens. As they scramble under Empire blaster fire, he yells “it’s not my fault. 

Different mechanics. Different pilot. Same old Falcon. 
Different laptop manufacturer. Different user. Same old Windoze.
The aftermath

Minute after hour after day of use grappling and fighting with an operating system that causes frustration, lost productivity and stress can’t be good. Thus I find that, indeed, what appeared at first to be a most innocuous comment emerged as among the most insightful, +shining examples of the gap between Windows and other operating systems out there.

Meanwhile, I’ve changed my settings. Now, the power button has been set so that, when I press it, the computer will go into sleep mode. I deliberately did not choose that setting previously because I needed the power button to just shut down Windows and turn off the computer when (not “if”) the operating system froze and would not respond to CTRL-ALT-Delete. Our IT guy at work said, “No worries, you can press the power button to go into Sleep mode, and press-and-hold the power button to shut it down and power it off.”

Which is a relief. Because I’ve got to be able to re-boot, right?

What’s new?