marahmarie: Don't worry, I'm from tech support (tech-no-mite!)

I'm really up to my eyeballs with all the crap spreading around about how XP can't be updated past its End of Service Date (April 8th, for those of you who slept through it). So I'll say it again:

XP and IE CAN BE UPDATED FOR REALZ.

End of Service does not mean updates will never get pushed through for Windows XP and Internet Explorer ever again. Internet Explorer is still being fully updated by Microsoft (if you use XP just make sure you have Windows Update turned on to get all the updates you need; you might also benefit from reading this little post I wrote on the topic).

For XP users, End of Service means you'll lose just one thing: any updates for XP besides the last updates and patches that were pushed out on April 8th (Patch Tuesday for all MS operating systems).

There are no future updates for SP3. End of the line has been reached. You can stop reading this. It's done.

What you won't lose despite XP's End of Service: Service Pack 1-3 Updates, believe it or not; all past, present and future Internet Explorer updates, believe it or not.

So say you've just put a fresh copy of XP Service Pack 2 on your computer (I don't know why you would do this, but I've done it recently, so whatever), then you turn on Windows Update. Of course you'll sit back and expect exactly nothing to happen because the Intertubes have warned you ever-so-extensively that nothing will happen, but that, folks, is a pack of lies. By using Windows Update your copy of XP SP2 will smoothly and seamlessly update to SP3, same as always.

Or say you're using Internet Explorer 6 on that same SP2 install of XP in the above example. You open it up for the first time, despairing that it's IE6 and old. Despair not! For Windows Update will re-program IE to give you a link to the IE8 download page. Once you've downloaded and installed IE8, all updates Microsoft has for IE8 will be applied as needed.

"OK MM...you hate M$, right, so why are you writing this?"

I'm writing this because I cannot stand misinformation, nor can I stand someone posing as an expert on a topic in which he or she hasn't done research when they obviously lack any hands-on experience, nor can I stand FUD - and Ashley clearly writes FUD - so I think what I'm after is her job. (At least I'm making my desires known here.) And I'm confident Nick will give me her job if he thinks I'm worth a second look (which I'm not - I won't photograph as well as Ashley, but unlike Ashley, at least I know what the hell I'm talking about before I post it online).

The FUD I'm on about is an article Ashley wrote called New Vulnerability Found in Every Single Version of Internet Explorer. The only thing accurate about it is her pretty stock rewording of the nature of the IE vulnerability. She ends it with this five-alarm warning - something that sounds like it's straight from Gizmodo's more Apple-shaped sponsors:

And since Windows XP users won't be getting the patch for this fairly threatening bug, anyone still running the now-unsupported software is going to have to cough up some big bucks to stay safe.

Which is a complete lie, so let me emphasize: if you run XP you will still get all applicable IE patches, like the one she's talking about, which I downloaded and installed tonight. The patch for the current vulnerability is in Windows Update, the patch is being passed along to all XP users, and you will get the patch if you keep Windows Update turned on - it's as simple as that.

Ashley either means to spread FUD or didn't do her research - which is unbelievable considering what she needs to know is in the very article Microsoft posted about the bug, for Christ's sake, which is really dropping the ball if you ask me...are you telling me she doesn't even attempt to learn what's what before she posts? It took me literally two seconds to find the truth on the first Google search I did.

Even more unbelievable is that out of 500+ comments (yes, I read them all!) I was the only person to bring Ashley's misinformation to light four days later. It's not like I didn't give Gawker Media's writers, editors and commentators ample time to set things right before I jumped in to do so myself (which, by the way, is the first time I've commented on any Gawker Media site in over four years). Hire me, Nick, please. Hire me!

marahmarie: Win XP Gangsta Edition (Win XP Gangsta Edition)

Since myself and others will probably be running XP for some time despite how end-of-service (April 8th) has already come and gone (my main reason for keeping it is Aesop here can and will run anything: 7, Vista, 8 - she's run them all - but she was made for and simply runs XP better) I figured I'd do a quick writeup on how to keep an XP computer safe and light on its feet and how to run the newer and more fancy Microsoft fonts on XP.

Best Practices For Installing and Using XP after April 8th End-of-Service Date

  • Don't! Use it! At all! Ever! Again! (from The Book of Do As I Say Not As I Do, Chapter XP)
  • Turn on Automatic Updates (users who install or use anything less than a fully updated copy of XP running SP3 Build 5512 Final will get all updates needed to bring their OSs current despite being past end-of-service date)
  • Don't use anything less than Service Pack 3
  • Turn on Windows Firewall
  • Turn off possibly dangerous services
  • Don't use anything less than Internet Explorer 8. Once SP3 is installed, IE6 or IE7 will take you to the IE8 download page so no worries. Install IE8, then go to the Menu Bar-->Tools and click on Tools, then on Windows Updates. IE will take you to Windows Update where you can install more updates you'll need
  • While still running IE8, go to Tools-->Internet Options-->Advanced and turn off ActiveX, all scripting, meta refresh, cross-domain content, automatic downloads of anything, and turn on all certificate checks (especially after Heartbleed); under the Security tab set all Zones cookie handling (except for restricted sites, which are already set to high) to medium-high; turn off all third-party cookies
  • Download Firefox, close Internet Explorer and don't open it again; install Firefox and set it as the default browser (it's worth mentioning that all three of you worldwide still using an AOL web browser are running whatever version of IE is currently installed on your computer every time you use it; older copies of AOL's browser, newer versions of it, and AOL Explorer itself are just IE disguised in an AOL hard-candy shell - same goes for Avant and Maxthon browsers, so you should stop using them, too)
  • After Firefox is installed get Web of Trust for search engine safety and to avoid entering dodgy websites; for better password management use a secure password manager; I use LastPass
  • Before logging into any website or email account, check for Heartbleed vulnerabilities both past and present; change passwords once affected websites are known to be patched
  • Don't install Java - uninstall it if it's already on your PC (link for this and next tip)
  • Don't install Flash - uninstall it if it's already on your PC; instead of Flash use the HTML5 Player on Youtube (it plays everything, just search for what you want and click on the desired result)
  • Don't go without antivirus but don't use Webroot SecureAnywhere as an alternative antivirus solution - read this to see why you should use a classic antivirus instead.

Vista/7/8 Fonts on XP

You can get all the basic Windows Vista/7/8 fonts from two sources.

  • For fonts that begin with the letter "C" (nope, I'm not kidding;, they all do) download PowerPoint Viewer, which will also install a useless thing called ctfmon.exe; if seeing it run in Task Manager 24/7 drives you nuts (it drives me nuts) use this to get rid of it
  • For Segoe UI, download Windows Live Mail (it's not as bad as it sounds - the downloader includes five or six programs but you can uncheck them all except for Live Mail, and you never have to use it; it won't run on start up or otherwise get in your way); download link and some good tips

If I left anything off my lists (or if you'd like to debate me or each other about anything on my lists - I'm sorta democratic like that) please let me know and/or go ahead in the comment section...

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

The good: the CD I used to reinstall the OS has all the standard games on it which of course includes Internet Reversi. [personal profile] silveradept can imagine how happy this makes me; what he or she may not be able to imagine is how bad I am at it after years of not playing (which is good! moar challenge): really, terribly fucking bad. Even on the easiest games I'm like "Whut" like I've never seen the board before. Which is uh, great! Almost like having amnesia. Yeah.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

As a followup to my recent Microsoft post, I went ahead and installed Windows 8.1 Enterprise Evaluation last week on another computer besides the one I was using that day (that computer has issues so I gave it to my fiance, who's better at handling its restart snafus - they're unfixable and the PC is a known lemon because of them - than I am).

I'm now running Win8 32-bit on an old Compaq Presario tower (Pentium 4 dual core/4GB RAM/160GB hard drive) that I previously ran Windows 7 on (while my fiance is running the same version of it on the lemon), and I have to say it runs faster than Win7 and XP on both computers - by a long shot. Everything is instantaneous; menus open without delay, switching back and forth between windows is smooth and effortless, and the screen display is much brighter even with every old-ass video card I've chosen (and I've tried two so far, the second one after the first died this morning when the fan gave out on it).

Video playback is bright, realistic-looking and flawless, video-related sound is often a bit jumpy at first but usually smooths out within a few seconds (and no, I don't understand why audio is laggy when we're on a 25mbps cable modem connection), and the msn.com home page - special to Win8/IE11 - is a sight for sore eyes. Win8 embedded apps, weather and time displays are amazing. I know, I know, I'm gushing! Let me stop.

My only complaint specific to Win8 is I routinely get lost while saving pictures (specifically, screen caps), then move from my Pictures folder back to Firefox. It seems I need three jumps to do it (save picture, hit Escape, hit Start charm, click on Firefox window) which seriously confuses the hell out of me.

Another small quibble is also an ongoing issue in Windows 7: if I save any picture to Local Disk (C:), then try to open it to upload online (say to imgur.com or to PhotoBucket) it just disappears. I mean poof! gone. It simply isn't on Local Disk (C:) anymore.

To prove it, last night I used Everything to find two pictures I'd saved to (C:) - that I subsequently "lost" when I tried to upload them - only to find that Windows had created AppData links to them and shortcut links to the AppData links, but had preserved no copy of those screen caps on the (C:) drive itself! But that's where I'd saved them - to the (C:) drive. It's truly perplexing to have this happen not just on Win7 but on Win8, too.

So now I'm forced to save pictures, screen caps and so on to the Document folders (or to the Pictures folder) which isn't how I like to work; I prefer the speed and convenience of tossing my screen caps on disk (C:), then sorting them out later.

Is it useless for me to complain about this, or is it a known issue I can fix myself somehow? ETA: [personal profile] andrewducker to the rescue!

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

I've been unhappy with Window XP's performance ever since I added Service Pack 3 to it a few months ago so I did a reinstall of the entire operating system last week. A good operating system shouldn't take days and days and days to reinstall but between 1) formatting, 2) reinstalling it, 3) applying all Service packs, updates, patches, Hotfixes, .Net installations, browser installations, browser security updates, and browser patches, it has taken me day after day after day. I'm nowhere near done with it yet - nah. I'm just "resting between updates".

Windows OneCare can go suck it...

I have a 90-day free trial to Windows OneCare and when it is not slowing my computer to a crawl with CPU-intensive "tuneups" it is always yelling at me in in it's bright yellow "angry face" that my status is only "fair" and that "action is required" - why, you may ask? Because another update is always waiting in the wings. And another. And another. I'm past all the updates that bring me up to Service Pack 3 and Internet Explorer 7 (again) and it's still not done yelling at me.

Tired of being "yelled" at...

Since the computer is constantly yelling at me to perform an action, and since I'm constantly performing an action on it (this almost sounds like something illegal, doesn't it?), I'm too distracted by all the little brouhahas going on within it to actually enjoy the goddamned thing, so I've been posting that I'm tired of being Microsoft's helpless little bitch.

I am tired of it. Warning: This is going to be another "angry little commentary" that Microsoft can go stick right up their collective asses. As long as I'm not attacking anyone personally or knowingly misleading anybody, I'll say whatever I want on my blog.

Microsoft makes a deal...

Microsoft makes a deal with each one of their customers: pay us some money, and we'll give you an operating system. It should be that simple. Installation of the operating system should take no more than 1-2 hours, and require no updates, patches, Hotfixes, browser upgrades, unwanted, unexplained .NET and "Data Component" installations, or anything else.

If such downloads and installations are thought to be required, then free updated versions of XP on DVD, tailored to every version of XP and every OEM out there that runs XP, with all the latest said patches, updates, and what should be optional browser, .NET and Data Component installations should be available ASAP (every Patch Tuesday if need be), at no extra charge to us, since we already bought the operating system we were supposed to get (the one that was supposed to be safe and usable without 3-5 extra gigs of bullshit on it).

The onus should not be on us, their paying customers, to make our own slipstreamed versions of XP and to update them constantly. Why should I 1) work for Microsoft for free by constantly creating my own updated, slipstreamed OS installations or 2) waste hours of my life in abject misery downloading and installing all the "required" updates one-by-one?

I want to do fresh installs of XP a lot. For whatever reason. Usually to improve the performance of my computer, since Microsoft provides no way to cure it's quick disintegration after install, and unapproved methods for improving performance are at best only bandages, little stopgaps before the OS's self-destruction is assured. Over the years I have wasted days of my life downloading everything Microsoft wants me to download after a fresh install of XP. Does Microsoft care? No. Do I care? Yes. A lot. I can only waste so much of my time before I blow my top over it.

Microsoft breaks the deal...

On top of everything else, Microsoft wants to act like it's our problem, like we're the ones in the wrong if we don't play along with this time-wasting little game of theirs. Updates are their way of saying to us every three hours or so: "Whoops, we f^*ked up", but they won't actually admit that in words. How the sublimal message, in the absence of what would have to be their constant admission of error, if they were facing reality, comes out is: "Oops, you f^*ked up. Your computer is not up-to-date! Action is required!"

Bullshit.

So I make a New Deal any Microsoftie can refuse...

If Microsoft wants to keep sucking all my free time and all the joy of owning a computer out of me, then I'm going to start billing Microsoft for my time and misery.

How's that for a New Deal?

Forget the old deal, because Microsoft didn't uphold up their end of it: providing me with a usable operating system in return for some money. This operating system is not usable at all, according to Microsoft. If it was I wouldn't have to update it constantly. It would work and be more or less guaranteed safe and good as-is - forever - end of story - right out-of-the-box, or right from the OEM. That's what I paid them for.

What I got isn't the same thing. It's only usable, if you will, BETWEEN UPDATES, which is, after a fresh install, for no more than a few minutes here and there for days and days and days on end. I got sold a bill of goods. I want my purchase price back and about $3,000 for my time and misery wasted over the years on this decrepit, incomplete, towering pile of bloated crap.

Yes, I'm tired of being Microsoft's "helpless little bitch", of being a "good girl" and "doing what I'm told" to save their monolithic and ridiculously profitable corporation, which apparently thinks operating systems are built out of reversible Lego blocks, time and money. No. That's all wrong - both ethically and from a "serving the customer" standpoint. Spend a lot more of your time and your money on me, Microsoft. Or don't - and watch me switch to anything but Microsoft and never look back.

marahmarie: Sheep go to heaven, goats go to hell (Default)

I am completely fed up with Microsoft. I am sick and tired of their endless updates, patches, hotfixes, and unwanted, unneeded .NET, Service Pack, and Internet Explorer installations that take all day to download and install, and require me to defragment and clean up my computer aftwerward in order for it to ever run well again (and it never runs as well again as it did with just Service Pack 1 on it, no matter what I do). I am sick of having to burn out my hardware before it's time with constant restarts to finsih installing all of the above. I am sick of being sick of it. I am Microsoft's helpless little bitch in the face of their stone-faced tyranny and I cannot take it anymore.

As the author of this article for ASE Labs I know very well about more well-known open source options for replacing my operating system with. But I wrote that article over a year ago, so I would assume a lot has changed since then that I haven't had much time to look into. If you are familar with free, open soure operating systems I want you to do me one simple favor: leave me a comment telling me which of the many flavors of open source OS is the best one for someone like me, who has used Microsoft's OSs for too many years and is kinda set in her ways. I am begging you for your comments.

I want an OS that isn't hard to install, that is free, that I can dual-boot with an MS OS if I want, that downloads and installs various programs from the Internet without difficulty, that looks good, that is secure, that is user-friendly without climbing a steep learning curve. And it must run Firefox 3 - without any issues. I know my past article on free open source operating systems covered new-at-the-time flavors such as Ubuntu. I want to know if Ubuntu is still my best choice overall, or if any of you reading this would recommend another OS besides or instead of that one. I am open to any and all suggestons, recommendations, opinions, and ideas. Thanks in advance...