"Funny" incidents with PC's - Part 2
I read STS's article in the last issue on various 'funny' incidents in the
world of the commercially omnipresent, not to mention omnioppressive Wintel
PeeCee with great interest. This provided me with immediate motivation to
start work on a sequel, as a bunch of "amusing" Wintel related glitches
presented themselves for my immediate enjoyment, when I actually first tried
to get hold of this previous issue of Alive!
(We are of course talking about "amusing" in its most teeth-grinding
and hair-pulling incarnation, which to the person on the receiving end,
might not be that amusing at all!)
Go back in time, I've moved house, and abandoned my BT phone line... No
wait, a little bit further forward would be better. In the gap before I move
myself to get another phone line installed, my internet needs had to be
satisfied with visits to sympathetic parties. In practice, this mostly boils
down to sessions on my girlfriend's PC.
The lovely Nicky has a PeeCee, which in common with millions of others
worldwide, is a bit of a bodge box of no particular parentage. It was put
together by an ex-boyfriend, with whom she's on good terms, and it generally
does what she asks of it. It's hardly current for entry-level level
standards now, clocking in at a 'prehistoric' 200 mhz. But the important
thing is, that it works, well generally it does.
I spot that the new issue of Alive, known as 'Alive Cubed', is ready for
download on the Dead Hackers site, so blank disk at the ready, I click on
the zipfile link to bring home this precious item. So far okay, as some sort
of fancy looking download client kicks into life. This is a creature known
by the beastly name of 'Go-Zilla'.
It seems to be doing fine at first, a tasty looking front-end shows the
steady progress of the download as a series of raster-like indicator bars.
The look and feel of this application squeals "Amiga!" at me for some
strange reason. In fact, the download progresses very well, the time to
completion melts away. But just as the download completes, a dialog box
crashes into view. Its message is as inexplicable, as it is unhelpful..
||"NO PICTURES ARE INSTALLED,||
|| I CANNOT RUN WITHOUT ADS, ||
|| PLEASE REINSTALL."(!?) ||
Which means that I'm not getting any transfer of that zipfile to my disk. I
decide to give it the benefit of the doubt that first time around, and head
directly to the 'alive.atari.org' site to try again.
Nothing happens, it's as if the program has got stuck?
Nicky says at this point "Oh it sometimes does that!" and suggests a reboot
might be in order. This seems to me to be the computing equivalent of
putting leeches on plague boils (or shutting down Windows!) but it might
hopefully work, if the anecdotal evidence is correct.
As this is a "slow" PeeCee, rebooting seems to take forever, then longer
than that, as the various anti virus programs and other third party gadgets,
designed to annoy the arse off you and protect the PeeCee simultaneously,
lumber into life. Eventually, after a 'really long cup of tea' sort of
pause, we're finally ready to go again.
Once more, the bollocking piece of crap called 'Go-Zilla' sadistically takes
you through the entire download process,and yet again, it stumbles across
the dialog box from the planet weird, right at the end.
It is impervious to reason, as before, so it is time to switch off and start
Usefully, the ex-boyfriend (a nice bloke called Russ) who put this lot
together is online, and on an online chat session with something like a
Microsoft proprietary version of IRC, and he suggests disabling Go-Zilla
(with a hammer?) Only at this point, Nicky gets very concerned about me
touching any settings on her PeeCee. She could well be right to be worried,
but this means we get no further forward. The net result of those fiddlings
I am allowed to do, is that I manage to get the "NO PICTURES INSTALLED..."
dialog right at the start of the download process, which saves time I
IT'S GOOD TO
I'm totally bored with this by now, and not a little bit pissed off, so as a
final gasp solution, I decide to email STS to get him to send Alive Cubed as
an email attachment. I turn to my webmail account at talk21.co.uk for this.
A simple job, you might think?
Not a bit of it!
It took THREE attempts to send a simple email. The problem with the talk21
email text editor, is that it has all sorts of oddities lurking at the edge
of the keyboard if your fingers stray too far, that effectively put an end
to the text window you are currently working on!
Not to mention the second attempt, where the whole of Microsoft Internet
Explorer simply disappeared from underneath my fingers whilst in mid-type.
Yep, it disappeared like th....
Well the PeeCee didn't actually explode and set the room on fire, but I'm
sure it could have done that with just a little bit more provocation!
This story finally does have a happy ending, as STS did get my third (rage-
splattered and incoherent!) attempt at email, he did send an attachment,
which I successfully retrieved in a lunch hour session on a fast connection
at the local library. At the same time, there are some features of this
story, which are really and truly disheartening.
There was too much time spent pointlessly fiddling, on what would have been
otherwise a quick five-minute job on my *reliable* Atari set-up, this
severely detracted from the time that would otherwise should have been spent
in a more companionable fashion with Nicky. There were no harsh words said,
but I could tell she was fed up with it all as well. Maybe Bill Gates has a
future in population control in an overcrowded world, by airdropping
PeeCees, with an internet connection, to densely populated third world
I think a lot of the instability and poor working was due to the fact that
the hardware might have been too bodged together, or just too "old" for the
software. Pro-Wintel people might sniff at that, and suggest that the
upgrade cycle is progressing too slowly in this case, but they surely miss
the point here? That is that good software should work, regardless of the
parentage of what it is running on (if it is capable of running the world's
most common operating system, then the rest of it would be a doddle?)
Finally, can someone please have a quiet word with the programmers of Go-
Zilla, and get them to take idiot lessons, or anthrax pills! Either way, the
end result will be a lot less painful, next time!
NORTON NOT ON!
Sometime later, the following Sunday evening...
Norton Internet Security gets an inflated sense of self-importance upgrade
and starts to block EVERY webpage it comes across, even the internet
provider's own homepage! Nicola nervously teeters on the brink of disabling
the naughty Norton, "Is it safe to do that?" she asks. Author of this
textfile loses interest, and consciousness...
The other day, I was at the house of Nicky's aforementioned ex-boyfriend,
the nice bloke called Russ. He is also the current keeper of the psychotic
cat-thing called Frankie (see 'Cats I have Known' on the cih.atari.org
pages, if you must), so we dropped by to see both of them. Frankie greeted
us ecstatically, but we managed to keep any loose fingers and other easily
accessible bodyparts out of reach of his snapping teeth...
Meanwhile, Russ was pleased to see us, and on his PeeCee, he had a fully
working copy of the notorious 'Go-Zilla' download client. Now I decided to
use this to download the rather tasty 'Awaken' demo preview, and a little
4ktro from Satantronic from the Dead Hackers pages.
On this occasion, Go-Zilla performed flawlessy with the zipfiles. No stupid
dialogue box this time, and the files seem to save easily to some
undisclosed location on Russ's hard drive. So undisclosed in fact, that when
I come to locate them, the vast windswept acreage of Russ's drive space
comes up with a dozen likely locations with the title 'Downloaded files' on
the folder, on more than one physical device. So I get Russ to help out, and
even he needs a bit of time, burrowing through several likely folders,
before we finally get there.
At last, the files start to transfer to disk, but do you get the feeling I'm
saving the best bit to last? Yep, well you're just ahead of me there! The
'Awaken' files transfer easily enough, an aggregate size just shy of 800k.
Not a problem for the 4ktro to transfer to my 1.44mb high density disk then?
Yet the disk comes up as full, and the transfer is aborted! What is going
on? A closer look reveals that the Satantronic 4ktro has somehow "grown" to
an astounding 780k in size!
It looks like Go-Zilla has difficulty with such a small size of zipfile, and
has somehow joined it together with the other two files I downloaded
previously, to make a total mess of it!?
I don't think this is over just yet?!
REVENGE AT LAST!
A week or so later than the last extract..
Nicky was feeling tired and went to bed fairly early. I used the opportunity
to conduct some discrete net-raiding, after first considering the Go-Zilla
problem/phenomonen a bit further.
This came with a file with the magical name of 'UNINSTALL', so I did!
No more problems with Go-Zilla anymore, revenge is cool, and all-consuming.
It's gone forever, yes!! Hahahaha!
Wanna know the number of Microsoft staff that Bill Gates has redeployed, in
order to fix the bugs and security holes in Windows 2000, and Win XP?
Well according to the Seattle Times, there are up to 7,000 people working on
these unedifying tasks! I mean, what a waste! You've got enough for a demo
scene, a big demo scene, and plenty left over for several award winning
games?? But I suppose if they were any good, they wouldn't be working for
Microsoft in the first place!
CiH- For Alive! Mag - Oct/Nov 2001. And a little bit in Feb '02