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Alive 4

"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..

||   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 '' 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


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 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!


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
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?!


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

Alive 4