Fun with Technology
4/2/11 - I acquired a new computer last December. It's a shiny big-screen iMac that replaced a 2007 shiny big-screen Dell laptop-something-or-other that never failed to disappoint me. The Dell was slow from the start and got slower as time went on. All the recommended fixes didn't speed it up--not antispyware, meticulous housekeeping, registry maintenance, tweaking the start-up processes, getting rid of autoloaded bloatware I never used, or proper malware hygiene. The machine was equipped with Windows Vista, which explains a great deal. I could have had the machine equipped with XP, but surely Vista would be faster and more secure than XP, right?
Uh, not necessarily. I joined the ranks of the gullible early adopters, soon to discover that Vista stinks. Automatic updates from Microsoft ultimately killed the laptop. I learned way before I acquired the Dell laptop that if you want to maintain your sanity, you establish unautomatic settings for automatic updates so that they don't download automatically and don't install automatically. Otherwise, you are the unwitting recipient of changes to the operating system that you don't necessarily need and that slow your computer down.
The deautomated settings in Vista never seemed to work quite right. Although Microsoft was supposed to simply notify me that updates were available, and not download them until I said so, for 24 hours prior to an availability notification, my computer slowed to a crawl and my Internet connection bogged down miserably. Then the notification popped up and the computer's performance immediately improved. It seemed as though Microsoft downloaded the updates against my will. Moreover, Microsoft apparently downloaded all of them, even the ones I didn't want. Automatic updates then cheerfully let me choose the ones I wanted to install, but made me jump through arcane hoops to keep from being nagged about the updates I disdained.
When the Dell's boot-up escalated to 40 minutes last November, I had enough. I returned to my technological roots and bought a Macintosh, which has evolved 10 operating systems from the flying toaster I had in 1984.