I don't know if it's allergies or a bad reaction to attending half of Three Penny Opera on the 25th, but I have had neck and upper back cramps all day yesterday continuing to today. This does not bode well for flying to ORD and then DUB next week. Lisa claims it's because I fell asleep during the 1st half of TPO (I was resting my eyes, as everyone knows, if I'm asleep I snore louder than a small jet engine).
I built, or rebuilt, a machine yesterday. This is one of three allegedly high-end PCs I bought as part of a consulting gig a couple of years ago. It had had Windows Server 2003 on it until about January when a service update accidentally destroyed the WS2K03 image. I bought a 120GB drive to stick in it (it had had a 40Gb, all it was supposed to do in its previous life was to run WS2K03 and MS Exchange, but it never quite got that far). I also picked up an ATI Radeon 9550 graphics card as I wanted to see what I was missing with some of these games like Second Life which I can't even play on my laptop.
From start to finish it took about ten hours. There was about 30 minutes to open up the box, remove the existing drive, add the new drive, the graphics adapter, and a CD drive and about 9 hours, 30 minutes to install Windows XP Professional, download and install 59 updates, reinstall the graphics adapter drivers, install cygwin, install Firefox, etc.
My goal is to keep the image relatively clean, so I'm trying to restrain myself from doing too many customizations (though I had to download the Cleartype Powertoy from Microsoft, otherwise the screen would be illegible).
In theory I could use the remaining MSDN disks I have (actually I'm not sure about that, I let my MSDN subscription lapse at the end of 2005, so perhaps I was supposed to destroy all of the DVDs that I have piled up?). But I wanted a "real" copy of XP, and most of my interests are leading away from development on Windows after a brief foray last year.
As I was doing the install (which I should add, went absolutely smoothly, it just took awhile to update and reboot repeatedly) I recalled many wasted days and nights I spent at IBM's Myer's Corners Lab: downloading disk images of OS/2, "burning" them to floppy disks (well, 3.5" disks weren't so floppy were they?), and installing onto my 120Mb PS/2 Model 80. Sure, it was exciting, it was fun, I got to file a number of bug reports, but mostly I lost a lot of sleep (and I'm sure productivity: while I worked most of the time off MVS and VM systems, a dead PC is just as useless as a dumb terminal). There were hundreds, perhaps thousands of others who did the same thing on some times a weekly basis as new betas dropped of OS/2.
My interest was in networking...I was one of the first to load the TCP/IP stack for OS/2 when it became available internally and I had a notion that I would write something using networking but never got around to it (I don't count some of the simple Rexx scripts I wrote as programming).
And so I was sitting here yesterday, installing XP, and recalling OS/2 and it gnawed at me: why are we still worrying about drivers, and compatibilities? Why do I have to sit and acknowedge various dialogs, EULAs, and what not? I mean, are there people who really revel in all of the possible options and opportunities to screw up? I know there's lots of technobabble junk under the covers, but I don't care. No wonder technology turns off so many people, no wonder so many leave their systems unpatched: it's a complete pain in the ass (and with Microsoft, a weekly complete pain in the ass).
And I know part of that is simply the nature of Windows, and Microsoft's sheer terror at obsoleting anything. OS/2 was a pain to install because it was very precise about system settings and configurations. I had problems installing it on my IBM PS/2 Model 80, pity the person trying to install it on something that was not officially supported like a Compaq, Dell or Gateway. Microsoft took the opposite approach, trying to be as broadly compatible as possible. Windows won, but we're paying for that now. I'm sure OS/2 would have had countless problems by now as well, but I have an inkling of a feeling that we'd be spending far less time individually or as a group patching and repatching systems had OS/2 had more success.
e.p.c. posted this at 17:23 GMT on 27-May-2006 from Brooklyn, NY.