Everyone Always Hates The New Version Of Windows

The Windows 8 fans keep claiming that ‘oh, Windows 8 hatred is nothing new, everyone always hates the new version of Windows’.

Of course it’s a pure myth, as anyone who’s used Windows for years could tell you.

Windows 3.1/3.11 were major improvements over 3.0; for a start, they didn’t crash all the time. No-one said ‘uh, 3.1 sucks, I’m sticking with 3.0’, or, if they did, it was soon followed by ‘oh damn, it’s crashed again’.

Windows 95 was a major improvement over 3.11. No-one said ’95 sucks, I’m sticking with 3.11′, though increased hardware requirements discouraged upgrades. No-one said ‘this start menu sucks, I want Program Manager back’.

Windows 98 was basically 95 SP2.

Windows ME was widely hated because it was a downgrade from 98 which had no reason to exist other than to keep the Windows 9x team employed a bit longer.

When XP was released, many people stuck with 98 because of the increased hardware requirements, but it was an significant improvement once they bought a new PC that could run it well.

Vista was widely hated because it was slow and bloated.

7 fixed the speed and bloat and is now at least on the same level as XP, if not an upgrade.

8 is a clunker for desktops, it may be viable on tablets.

I don’t see how anyone can claim ‘everyone always hates the new version of Windows’, unless they’ve only used Windows since XP. Most versions of Windows have been clear and significant upgrades over the previous version; the only big failures have been ME and Vista, though Windows 8 looks to be a good candidate for the list.

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Bottom-Mounted PSU

Am I the only one who hates the recent switch from top-mounted to bottom-mounted PSUs? Now, instead of the PSU pulling air from inside the case and blowing it out the back, it pulls air from below the case and blows it out the back. In theory that might seem a better idea because the PSU is sucking in cool air, but most PCs are placed on carpet, which means you’re also sucking in dust, carpet fibres and all kinds of other crap that will soon cover the insides of the PSU. Not a good plan.

You can fit them upside down, as I did in my home server, but then if anything falls down (e.g. you accidentally drop a screw while fitting another component, or a tiny sliver of metal comes off while screwing it in) it goes straight in the PSU. If you can’t get it out, it will short out next time you start up.

Another argument used to justify the change is that modern computers are more power-hungry, so the PSU needs better cooling. That may make sense if you’re using a dual-CPU system with four GPUs, In this case, my new i7 system uses less power than the Pentium-4 it’s replacing.

New PC

With Canonical ending support on the version of Ubuntu on my laptop (the last with Gnome 2) and Microsoft likely to kill Windows 7 soon to force people onto Windows 8, I decided it probably is time to get a new Windows PC and offload the games from my laptop so I can wipe Windows from the disk and install Linux Mint. Since NCIX had a reasonable sale on this week I’ve got one on order that should be fine for games and video editing until at least Windows 9; i7 3770, 16GB RAM, Nvidia GTX 660 and various other goodies.

I’ll be interested to see how well Guild Wars 2 runs on it when it’s assembled.

Guild Wars 2

Since the release I’ve been logging on most days to get the daily bonuses, then logging off as I don’t have time for long gaming sessions.

With five characters that means slow progress :). My Warrior finally passed level 30 last week and the Elementalist is getting close.

The Cabin In The Woods

The 2000s horror revival has officially jumped the shark. Just as the Scream series killed horror in the 90s by making heavily hyped horror movies without any horror, The Cabin In The Woods seems to have done the same today.

I can imagine how this movie came about. The writer put on a brave smile to cover their fluttering heart as they walked in the room to pitch it to the producer, and sat in front of his gold-plated desk with sweaty palms and more rolling down their forehead.

“So what’s your pitch? I don’t have all day.”
“OK, you see, there’s this gang of cliched horror movie characters and they’re being killed off in a cabin in the woods, but get this. IT’S ALL A REALITY TV SHOW.”
“Oh, God. Reality TV is so last year. Got anything else?”
“What about this other one? There are ancient Gods living underground and this corporate cult lead by Sigourney Weaver are sacrificing kids to them so they won’t rise up and destroy all life on Earth.”

The producer yawns. “Lovecraft wrote that in the 30s. It sucked. It still sucks.”

The writer stands. He’s failed, he sucks, he couldn’t come up with a good movie idea to save his life, he’ll never work in Hollywood again. But as he turns to leave…

“Wait. They both suck, but… what if… WE COMBINED THEM IN ONE MOVIE?”

The smile returns, for real this time. What if the reality TV show was actually being run by a corporate cult lead by Sigourney Weaver who was sacrificing the kids to ancient Gods so they wouldn’t rise up and destroy all life on Earth?

“Wow, that totally makes sense. Why didn’t I think of that?”
“Because I’m a producer and you’re just a writer.”

And this is the big problem with the movie. They couldn’t decide whether it’s a reality TV movie, an evil corporate cult movie or a parody of cliched horror movies. The end result is the movie equivalent of mixing mushy peas, ice cream, marmite, bacon and mashed potatoes; all of them are perfectly edible by themselves, but not blended in one amorphous blob.

It starts well enough as an obvious parody of the cliched ‘cabin in the woods’ genre, but rapidly goes downhill, piling absurdity on absurdity until I simply can’t take any more. To give some obvious examples, if they’re killing off the kids for the ancient Gods… why not just kill them? Why bother with the whole ‘cabin in the woods’ fakery? If they need a specific mix of cliched character types to make it work, are we seriously supposed to believe all these characters know each other?

Worse, because all the characters are completely cliched caricatures, by the mid-point I really couldn’t care whether they lived or died. That is always fatal for a horror movie. The ending actually showed a little originality, but by that point it was too late.

It’s not a horrible movie, it’s often funny and, unlike Scream, I watched it to the end. But it wants to believe it’s far more intelligent than it really is and I can’t imagine ever wanting to watch it again.

Transformer Update

Just booted up my Asus Transformer 300 for the first time in a week or so and it found an OS update to download. No idea what it was as it still claims to be Android 4.1.1.

I see the VLC Beta is finally officially available in Canada. I’ll see if it works any better than the early Beta I tried and had to manually install over USB.

Gwibber won’t start, and how to fix it

I use gwibber to monitor Facebook and Twitter feeds so I don’t have to log in there. It hasn’t worked in a few weeks, and attempting to open the GUI did nothing.

I finally tried running it from the command line and got the obscure error “DatabaseError: database disk image is malformed”, which is tremendously unhelpful and shows someone isn’t checking their error conditions correctly.

Turns out that gwibber stores tons of data in an sqlite database hidden in ~/.config/gwibber. Since sqlite is hardly the most reliable of databases, this can get corrupted.

To fix it, first kill all gwibber-service processes. Then dump the database and rebuild it:

$ cd ~/.config/gwibber
$ echo ".dump" | sqlite3 gwibber.sqlite | sqlite3 new.db
$ mv gwibber.sqlite old.db
$ mv new.db gwibber.sqlite

When you’re happy with the way gwibber, just delete old.db.

I must admit, I’ve never seen the attraction of sqlite. It’s handy if you want to create a small database which you won’t be reading or writing often, but software like this abuses it by creating databases of hundreds of megabytes or more. When gwibber restarted after rebuilding the database it created a journal file of over half a gigabyte on a machine with 3GB free. Not good.

Decisions, decisions

Do I buy a faster Windows 7 laptop now, or do I keep using this one until it’s no good for gaming and hope Windows 9 is out by then? I mostly run Linux, but I can barely imagine putting up with Windows 8 even for booting up and launching a game.

Gaming laptops are actually becoming hard to find; according to the web sites, none of the local stores have them in stock, they have to be ordered online. I don’t really think I want the courier leaving a $1500 computer on my door step.