Geek Plague – Fanboyism

In the world of geeks we have a problem. A serious epidemic that threatens our peaceful natures. This plague must be stopped before needless violence rips from us the very thing that binds us together: our overwhelming passion for tech/sci-fi/fantasy stuffs. This plague is the mutation of a mild mannered geek into a frothing-at-the-mouth fanboy. Fanboyism really isn’t a new phenomenon. As long as there have been geeks, there have been the radical right-wing zealots that evolved into full blown fanboys. It isn’t restricted to a specific genre of geekdom either. For today’s purposes, though, we will look at the OS Fanboys.

Probably the most famous group of fanboys in current times is the Apple Fanboy. Oh sure, there have been Apple Fanboys since the birth of the computer company in an unsuspecting garage. Since the advent of the iPod, however, the Apple Fanboy has been propelled into the Spotlight (see what I did there?). These are the guys that swear by everything Apple and condemn everything Microsoft. They are touted to have an unwavering belief in Jobs, their “messiah”. But they are not alone.

Microsoft Fanboys are always ready to return a volley of scathing remarks about Apple’s “toy” computers. They all but worship the corporate empire that Gates built and believe that the only reason people resent the object of their near-worship is its unparalleled business success. They resent the idea that any software or hardware offering could dare to think it can compete with their Titan Champion. They stand resolute and declare that all other systems are either just as vulnerable or more vulnerable than theirs. They proudly preach that the only reason their beloved OS is unfairly targeted more than any other is because it is so awesome. It doesn’t stop here, however.

The third leg of this unholy trinity is the Linux Fanboy. He lives by the mantra that all software should be free and open to everyone. He denounces Microsoft and Apple for their evil and secretive ways and blames any faults discovered in their systems on this closed environment. In the eyes of the Linux Fanboy, only the almighty Linus understands the truth in how to get the most out of a computer. Only open-source can save the geek world according to this steaming waste of carbon-based life form. Okay, that was unfair…all fanboys are steaming wastes of carbon-based lifeforms.

I’ve been accused of being each of these over the years. I find that funny. While it’s true that I do not like them all equally, the levels at which I do like them changes with time. I have a tendency to ramble on about one more than the others at any given moment. It has to do with which one I’m learning new things about or spending the most time on. See, I keep saying this in many different places: Each systems has its strengths and weaknesses. Each OS has tasks it performs a bit better than the others. The best thing to do is know them all and use the right system for the job. I really don’t see what is so hard about that idea.

Do I agree with Microsoft’s marketing practices? Not really. Do I believe that open-source is the silver bullet (ugh, I just used a buzzword) for cracking the computer world into an ecosystem that dwarfs what we have now? Not a bit. Do I think that Apple’s idea of totally locking down everything is the solution to the world’s computer problems? Not even close. But each of these groups does have important things to offer. The hard part is navigating the Fanboy Minefield to find real information. I think Dwight Silverman found this out with his article on Mac pricing. I’m guessing he wasn’t expecting a three way war to break out in the comments like it did. Unfortunately, that’s life on the intarwebs.

So to all Fanboys: Until you can stop frothing at the mouth and open your minds a little…shut up. Learn to recognize that other systems…other opinions…can have merit. I’ll be glad to calmly debate the merits of any system over any other. Is that too hard for you?

Windows Vista SP1 RC part 2

After a couple of days with SP1, I have to say I am really disappointed. I haven’t noticed any difference in the speed of unzipping files nor in copying large files across a network. These were my two biggest gripes with Microsoft’s flagship OS. I have not noticed any real difference in boot speeds nor in general responsiveness of the OS. On top of that, it appears that memory usage is a bit higher. Way to go Redmond!

Under Windows XP, I routinely advised people that they should just use the Compressed Folder feature for zip/unzip operations because it was pretty snappy and didn’t involve installing/updating 3rd party software. After all, how many everyday home users have a need to do more than unzip a random file or zip up a couple of files to email to a friend? My guess would be very few. Unless you have a couple of extra hours on hand each day, however, I wouldn’t suggest using Vista’s built in Compressed Folder functions. Go get 7-Zip or something equivalent if you want to get your work done before the end of the century.

Large file copies over the network seem to be just as slow. Perhaps Microsoft’s goal was to allow everyone more time to make phone calls and do manual paperwork while using Vista. I can’t think of anything else they could mean when they talk about how efficient Vista is when compared to XP. That said, I do have to admit that many of the changes made in Vista from XP are great. I love the redesigned Start Menu. I like the breadcrumb style address bar in Explorer windows. I really like the changes made to the wizards for network connections. And yes, annoying though it may be, I like UAC. But then I’m also a long-time Linux user…so I’ve got a little experience with having to use elevated privileges on a per process basis. It’s about time that the MS boys stuck it in there. (It could be better implemented, but I’m happy it is implemented at all.)

There are still a great many things I need to dig into on the SP1 RC. It looks like the Remote Desktop application is replaced and I’m not sure I care for what they’ve done. It reverted to the old style of not asking for credentials before attempting the connection and it appears that the /console switch no longer works. I’m not happy about that at all. I manage all my servers using RDP and I always connect to Console0…

So anyway, this seems to be a very lackluster Vista update on the surface. Perhaps when I dig a bit deeper into the changes I will find something worthwhile…but I’m not holding my breath. C’mon Microsoft…give us the fixes we want already…it isn’t like you can’t afford the investment.

Windows Vista SP1 RC

Well it looks like the boys at Redmond have finally gotten the Vista Service Pack into a publicly available Release Candidate (Thanks to Slashdot for the heads up). As with most of their OS releases from the past decade, version 1.0 has issues. Most notably from my perspective is the agonizing plodding of the system when trying to unzip files. I have noticed that the unzip problem seems to be directly related to whether there are folders inside the zip. “Are there folders inside the file?” and “Will this take about 5 minutes shy of FOREVER to extract?” have the same answer. With any luck, SP1 will do what they claim…fix the speed issue.

Of course there are lots of other additions and fixes included in the SP ranging from support for EFI to correcting some power consumption issues from hard disks not spinning down when they are supposed to. A detailed list of fixes is available from Microsoft right here. Simply scroll down and find the files “Notable_Changes_in_Windows_Vista_Service_Pack_1_Release_Candidate.doc” and “Overview_of_Windows_Vista_Service_Pack_1.doc”. These go into far greater detail than I want to in this post.

As I type this, I am downloading the RC to install on my system so I can test how well MS has addressed some glaring deficiencies in their flagship OS. Don’t get me wrong, I love a great many of the design changes in Vista. I just notice that there are things that XP handles a little better or at least with more polish. I don’t agree with the nay-sayers who claim that XP is superior, but I also disagree with MS that Vista is the ultimate OS achievement.

Besides, if you go back and look at reviews and online discussions back in 2001 when XP was released you would see a great many horrible things said about it when compared to Windows 2000. As a matter of fact, it sounds just like the reviews and discussions being heard about Vista vs. XP right now. Funny how history repeats itself. I figure that in a couple of years we will hear how Vista is the greatest Microsoft OS and they shouldn’t worry about releasing the next version because it’s pointless. And the world will go on a-spinning…

-more to come after I install and use Vista SP1 RC for a bit

New Vista Patches

According to this article at, Microsoft has finally released a couple of patches to address performance and compatibility issues. The biggest issues addressed by the performance patch in my opinion would be:

When you copy or move a large file, the “estimated time remaining” takes a long time to be calculated and displayed.
After you resume the computer from hibernation, it takes a long time to display the logon screen.

As for the compatibility patch? Only one item jumps out at me (probably because I experience this all the time):

The Printer Spooler service stops unexpectedly.

These are listed as KB938979 and KB938194 on Microsoft’s website. With any luck, they will be included in Patch Tuesday’s release. I like Vista. I like it a lot. But it still has a way to go before it becomes the true successor to XP. There is simply no excuse for some things, like the amount of time it takes to unzip a file. I’ve tried several experiments to attempt to solve my performance problems with zips. They all had the same result. My Packard-Bell 486SX/25 unzipped files faster. So kudos to Microsoft for working on the issues and here’s hoping they get the rest of these performance lags fixed soon.

Windows Home Server RTM

According to Qblogger over at the official Windows Home Server Blog, the code has been finalized and released to manufacturing. I tested the software on and off throughout the beta and it’s an overall well designed product. I’ve seen a few people complaining about it lacking certain features, but they seem to forget what the purpose of this device is. This is a media sharing and desktop system backup solution. It’s a server for suburbian families that have lots of music and photos they want the kids to be able to get to easily. It’s a desktop backup system that is simple to use so any important information on any system in the home is protected from hardware/software failure.

This product is not a corporate or professional level server. It isn’t meant to run Exchange or SQL or host your blog. If you want these things, go buy Windows Server 2003 Small Business Server or build a Linux box. However, if what you’re looking for is a system to backup the important files on your home computers and share your media from a central, always-on location … then this is a good choice. It integrates almost seamlessly with XP and Vista (at least from my experience) and does a good job at the tasks it was designed for. As a matter of fact, the only problem I had was that I didn’t setup my main Vista system to backup before I toasted it with an errant RAID driver upgrade. (My main system has about 200GB more storage than the box I used for the Home Server.) Oh well, live and learn.