GEezers unite! It’s Not TEh SEnility, It’s TEh Keyboard!

Or, as we scientists put it, the “scan rate key transposition issue” (but be sure to see further crackpot theories below). I am indebted to CPU magazine, 8/09 page 36, where someone mentioned it in a review. ... He will get a visit from the PC omerta police any morning now no doubt; but I did find a single mention on the web which, predictably, was in a thread where an Austin company “Das Keyboard” admitted they had this problem — i.e. a potential advertiser confessed, so it’s OK. ... But all the links to other articles were broken.

And it’s so sad; I’ve been writing keyboard scan routines half my life, in assembly language — and yet, when I make these keyboard errors I would blame myself, violating my own sacred principle: always blame the equipment first no matter how unlikely! ... For Goodness’ sake, Owen!...

Anyway, our advanced personal computer keyboards have, for many years, attained the “N-key” rollover level of enlightenment, which basically means you can type another key without lifting your finger from the current key. This is essential for double-key thingeys like shift, control etc., but without it we’d also have to type everything v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. ... So the deal is, if you type fast-enough — and everyone knows one of the effects of geezer senility is to increase typing speed — when the keyboard software shows-up to check what’s up, it might see two key-down states where there were none before — but it won’t know which was first. ... So, apparently, it reports them in left-to-right order. ... Ha ha ha ha ha!

... You understand, there’s a “scan time” or cycle or something; in my software it’s in the main loop, and of course has less-than-N-key-rollover — well, wait a moment, my antique pedal board had N-key rollover — 2, I think — and of course I’d do the scan, and whenever I detected an event, I’d stop and emit the thing through the MIDI interface, much like a PC keyboard and, indeed, in the case of two keys detected simultaneously, the order of the MIDI emissions was entirely dependent on my scan organization, i.e., arbitrary. ... Which, in the case of music — at least, my music — doesn’t make nearly as much difference. ... But standard PC keyboard software doubtlessly has a comparable mechanism, or it might operate off a timer by now, but whatever, every 4 milliseconds or so the software “scans” the keyboard by running some kind of pattern on its tiny microprocessor outputs, scanning all its inputs for each different pattern, and thusly detecting which keys are down. Any key whose up/down state has changed since the last scan is reported to the mother ship — the PC — as a key event, either up or down as appropriate.

As some guy on the internet outlined it, a fast 120 words-per-minute typist would be 600 characters-per-minute more-or-less, which is 100 milliseconds per character. But such speedy typing is undoubtedly “bursty”, so the 100 ms is entirely too close to the purported 4 ms scan rate, and a burst during certain familiar operations — typing “the”, releasing the caps after the first letter (caps release is a key event like any other) — could easily happen faster than the nominal 4 milliseconds. And it was reported that USB keyboards scan at 10 ms. ... And of course, because of the iron law of speak-no-evil in technical reporting, it’s entirely possible these time periods wander all over the place depending on wackiness of operating system, hardware, etc.

... So there you have it! ... And I was once a really fast typist; I grew-up with the little computers, and also operated many bizarre typesetting machines at incredible speeds. ... Obviously in my geezerhood I’m simply reverting, the way geezers do, and typing really fast again! ... So it’s not the geezer, it’s the cruddy technology! ... I am so relieved....

Visions?

... But then again, there is the visibility problem. As we totter into our golden years, our vision grows dim, and particularly our peripheral vision. ... My attempts to overcome this included a cheapo Maxell Large Print Keyboard which was eminently visible. ... Not because of the big letters I don’t think, but because of the contrast between the yellow keys and black plastic body of the unit. Unfortunately the giant yellow key “EZ geezer” keyboards tend to mushiness or worse. ... So then I went the other way with a beautiful $60 Logitech backlit keyboard, but the back-lighting is apparently just for gamers and other creatures of the night and can’t even be seen in normal room lighting....

Finally, the Neuropathy: Touch-type versus Hunt ’n’ Peck

I have noticed that changing keyboards seems to help. ... But, on the bottom line, my wretched mortal fingers grow insensitive as the winding weary years take their toll, and I wind-up touch-typing gobbledygook when, as is so tragically-often the case, my hands are on the wrong row/column of the keyboard. Those who disdain touch-typing for hunt-and-peck may well benefit from the giant yellow keyboards and may not care about their mushiness anyway. ... But for touch-typers, it’s hard to find the right place easily, particularly on the wondrous millions-of-keys modérne computer keyboards.

Solution #1: MaxiTouch™ Dots

The one thing that seemed to make the most difference was putting bits of tape on the “F” and “J” keys — where most keyboards already have totally-undetectable vestigial tiny physical marks. Scotch tape worked, but deteriorated too quickly, so I used some “filament” tape from the garage which lasted — you understand, I’d “bunch” it up so it’d be obvious. ... But then there’s “MaxiTouch Dots” (~$15 a bunch @ amazon) which I hoped would look better than the filament tape at least. ... And they did, but at first I thought they were too tall, and’d get in the way. ... They’re really noticeable: sight and feel. I equipped both my main keyboards, and it is sort-of annoying, but also sort-of wonderful — miraculous even! — I can type again! — no more amazing “mpe od ykr yo,r” spewing from my hands when least expected. Or at least not nearly as frequently. ... And you can give the grandkids and even their parents the traditional horror-of-decrepit-age-thrill as they whimper in the corners about “that ugly keyboard grandpa uses, with those weird dots”.

Solution #2: Geezer Keyboards versus the Ultra Fashionable Invisible Space Bar

My final challenge was the “disappearing space bar” of modern so-with-it keyboards, that “chiclet” flat-as-all-get-out look. ... One of the advantages of my fancy Logitech keyboard was a still-detectable space bar, but lesser keyboards, and all the laptops I’ve encountered — well excluding a ridiculously expen$ive one — have a space bar so svelte and waif-like it won’t “go” half the time, at least when I think I’m pressing it. But older keyboards — of course! — often have wonderful unthin stand-up keys including space bars, and I’ve maintained an extensive supply. ... Well, as it turned-out, only a few of the modern USB flavor. Which is enough for me, today, but I don’t know what I will do in the uncertain menacing years ahead. ... But I have quite a few PS2 antique clanky keyboards with real space bars, and in our beautiful modern world there are USB-PS2 adapters at amazon with good reviews, and so I tried the “Gefen ADA-USB-PS2 USB to PS/2 Adapter” @ $3, and it worked great! ... The last time I visited these things they were flake city, but they have finally come of age, and at last my keyboard future is bright, with antiquities of the storied past....

Even if you haven’t foresightedly saved a collection of clanky PS2 keyboards — in the face of much hurtful derision I might add — the existence of the USB-PS2 converters means your flea market/thrift store opportunities are much larger, and you might find still the typable bargain keyboard of your dreams....

Where’d They Go?

And now that I’ve concluded I’ll live in the keyboard past, the time has come to wonder, where have all the keyboards gone? And why? ... My answer is simple: nobody types anymore. Many of today’s youth grew-up poking at cellphones, and then computer keyboards. A Jack Ganssle column I read, can’t remember which, complained that today’s programmers don’t touch-type, unlike many of us techie geezers, but instead laboriously hunt-and-peck. And it’s obvious that the computer keyboards have evolved into control panels with numerous “convenience” features, some of which occasionally work, but their last consideration is to make touch typing convenient. This is not just the paranoid delusion of the cranky geezer mind; it’s obviously the commercial direction the things took, and that’s because nobody cares if they can type on them, beyond the absolute occasional minimum....

In the pitiful STEM abuse fitfully rendered in the great socialist child prisons, I don’t think anyone is left behind because of typing skills. That’d be barbaric. And in the elite academies where the leaders of tomorrow get trained in bureaucratic in-fighting and/or a smattering of technology, using a computer is regarded as second-nature, the birth-right of the affluent and powerful, and nobody has to be taught how to do it. ... In the good old days, sonny, they didn’t exactly teach touch-typing at Harvard or MIT, but you were expected to know it. Well at least I think so; I hardly have any personal experience, but it seems likely; there are images of nerdy beautiful youths hammering at their adorable expensive manual portables, engraved in my capricious memory....

— the typing software engineer
3/9/15

Whither the Delphi Database Components of Yesteryear?

Wed 4/29/15 9:59 am. As my beloved Delphi Rapid Application Development environment stumbles into the sunset, my investigations into databi have led to a depressing conclusion: the pride of Delphi, the wonder of the programming world, the Delphi database components — they were, at worst, a scam and, more commonly, an impediment. This is shocking, because Delphi had two major advantages over Visual Basic:

  • It compiled real Windows program, not the interpreted Visual Basic (and now, NET),

  • It supposedly provided EZ-connectivity to databi, competing with vast expensive products like PowerBuilder.

Over the years, I’ve worked through a few Delphi database magazine examples and stupid books, but I always attributed the puzzling difficulty of the thing to my assembly-language roots and lack of appreciation for the finer things. ... Now in my dotage, and after going through two or three real database projects with Delphi but not the EZ friendly stuff — it’s clear: the Delphi database components make database programming harder, not easier....

The one overriding reason for this was SQL. For a brilliant programmer like me, the SQL language was easier than the components. SQL was one of these market-leveling trends, like universal hardware standards (only an idiot would buy a PC today with proprietary hardware — i.e., a Macintosh), and ever-spreading software standards (XML, FOSS). ... For some years it hasn’t made sense, at least for a programmer, to learn any proprietary database scheme, no matter how user friendly, when learning a little SQL will inevitably pay-off better. Even in the mad forward-rushing era of NOSQL, the SQL language is often available as a crutch for the weak....

The fog of commerce left an innocent victim class, the non-programmer who was supposed to be able to use Delphi anyway. ... To such a one, the components seem easier than a frightening technical thing like SQL. But even for these, I would suggest the SQL pay-off is still better than wasting time with the EZ components — and the proof is in the pudding: databi’re more important than ever, but Delphi sadly fades away even as I type.

Inklings

I had an inkling of these disturbing insights while writing my first database program in 2002. I did use a single Delphi component, but it was the non-visual Tquery, which provides an SQL interface to Delphi’s Borland Database Engine (BDE) (antique; Borland disowned it years ago). ... All I did with it was stuff in SQL statements I concocted. The application didn’t need visual presentation — but even if it had, I’m pretty sure SQL + non-database visual components like TStringGrid would’ve been easier, compared to deciphering the intricate relationships between the visual database components. I’m pretty sure, because later I saw such a thing in the demo for the excellent DirectMySQLObjects. No doubt the talented creator of this package knows his stuff, but however you slice it, reading through his source and seeing what he did is still easier than using the visual database components.

How’d it happen, anyways?

Well it’s not really a tale of greed, sorrow, and tragedy. ... No, in those distant days when Delphi came among us — 1995 or so; I started with it in ’96 — microcomputer databi were still cryptic cranky things, and Borland’s components were easier to use than trying in Delphi — or any language, for that matter — to communicate with the database directly. ... If I had been doomed to deal with databi then, I might’ve slogged my way through the components, and thought them good. ... Indeed, there were many such once, and on the web you could find them celebrating master-detail and other obscure mysteries they’ve conquered in hard-won contests. ... So for them, it wasn’t a scam.

But for quite a while now, it hasn’t been like that, and those in these later times beguiled into the Delphi databi components were not well-served by whatever brought them there; usually some pitiful magazine, all of which have gone themselves to the eternal bit bucket....

It is done

So it’s over; SQL rules them all — until it falls-over in its turn — and I will never, apparently, know the inner secrets of the Delphi visual database components. ... Please understand, the other Delphi visual components are still perfectly useful, and as far as I can tell, it’s still easier to write Windows programs in Delphi (or obsolete Linux programs in Kylix for that matter) than with any other approach, which is no doubt why Delphi remains so wildly successful....

The Last Days: Dave Intersimone (Borland) and Bill Gates (Everything), at some show around 4/04. ... Bill’s just an average guy wandering around the show, just happened to stop at the Borland booth; notice the worshipful hangers-on. ... An Intersimone column where I got this picture maintains an autumnal hue, waxing nostalgic on the old days, recounting previous collisions with Bill....

... I’ve lived in a parallel universe during these golden years, first in a sort-of average imaginary microcomputer company (Ithaca InterSystems) like those imaginary cities/states that used to appear in 30s movies, and then I was just an industry drudge, far removed from the microcomputer ferment. ... My standard vocational emotion for those days was spite, as these lunatics released strange menacing broken products, in between occasional bright spots. ... But now, when the jig is up — Bill’s noblesse oblige is an apparent effort to help keep Borland afloat, and Bill’s showing a little mileage himself — I confess I already miss it. ... I miss the endless industry convulsions — which, in the end, it turns-out practically nobody cared about, since apparently the Bengladeshi can do all this stuff without a yearly Comdex explosion (which indeed did disappear shortly after I wrote this!) — I never actually went to any you understand — the silly puffery, the wretched little products in their colorful boxes — which, nevertheless, I yearned-for and would buy and use and then complain-about bitterly....

The Enemy MIA

... As I totter down the years, I’ve noticed that while I miss missing friends, in a way missing enemies is even worse; there is no door that closes so firmly as when I run into some awful obnoxious cretin of my formative years, now a mere shadow, a few heart attacks or other dangerous disorders closer to (or beyond) the grave. ... It just takes all the fun out of things....

Sharpie Metallic Silver

It really is the best thing since sliced bread! It is improbably promoted as useful for “diskettes” — and I have used it for that, in the antique computer attic — but basically it makes legible marks on black/dark plastic, and just having these things around makes you realize how much of that stuff there is! ... Power supplies aka the “wall wart”; various “Darth Vader” styled audio components; marking dark-colored CD/DVDs. ... And what I noticed just now, speaker wire — i.e., for indicating polarity: I should note that I do not have frontal lobe impairment, and therefore often use lamp cord for this purpose (i.e., instead of $uper cable from the hi-fi section); most of this stuff is slighly polarized but it’s hard to see....

You Will Use Microsoft Security Essentials (MSE)

So I wouldn’t swear MSE works or not, but after all it’s obviously more likely than the tattered all-but-criminal competition. ... And I at least must face my doom: it’s free, and it kind-of works, and this is probably the end of virus $oftware. ... I assume Microsoft did it because they had to — you have to google for the product, i.e. it’s not installed by default or pomoted, so the swarming anti-trust/EU blowflies won’t attack, but I presume Microsoft felt legal exposure without supplying some way to defend against the virii hordes that wasn’t the typical scammy commercial Anti-Virus (AV) offering — certain kinds of OEM clients, i.e. giant corporations, probably demanded it....

Anyway, MSE’s all I’ve been using for a few years, and it is such a relief from those free and pay commercial anti-virus programs....

— the endlessly disappointed but nevertheless-amused programmer
Tuesday, September 18, 2012 1:02 pm

Mon 2/23/15. And those with the despised-but-inevitable Windows 8 get it with the thing, except it’s called “Windows Defender”....



Why your free web email won’t sort with the oldest email first

It’s called “the Tragedy of the Commons” aka “socialism’d really work great if we just had some way to force those idiots to do the right thing!” ... “Idiots” here is a progressive technical term, meaning those with working frontal lobes.

So when the average citizen gets to his free email, if the oldest emails are the first things he sees, he’ll wonder what happened to the email he knows his computer-literate nephew sent him with pictures of the kids. He’ll be upset and angry. He’ll tell everybody “email brand X doesn’t work”. ... I need hardly add that the average citizen has about 5 million emails he hasn’t read and never will....

Fine, you object, all the free email products now default to newest message first, and he’ll get to see those kids. ... But what if he accidentally, or the computer-literate nephew on the annual trip to Florida, switched the sort order? ... The average citizen of course will be totally incapable of switching it back, and he’ll get angry etc. The outcome of which is average citizens — the ones who couldn’t install Adblock Plus if their lives depended on it — will miss all the tasty advertising from the brand X email when they switch to Brand Y, which they conclude is much better since the unending parade of kids’ pictures always show-up. ... Brand X of course notices the fall-off in traffic, researches the problem, and amidst their busy technical tasks of making graphics incompatible and crashing the browser, they ensure that every time their email runs, it resets the sort order to a decent senility-compatible newest-emails-first format. ... QED eh?



Usux™, Why We Hate You: Windows Malware 8 Installation

We interrupt my usual mindless whining to bring you this special message: DO NOT!!! PURCHASE A COMPUTER WITH WINDOWS 8. Not only did the giant stupid corporation attempt to stick it down our throats — mostly unsuccessfully, excluding idiots like myself and presumably some innocent pilgrims — but they’re finished with it now! THEY’RE NOT GOING TO FIX IT! They’re going to devote all their attention to WINDOWS 10, in a desperate attempt to get someone to buy the c--p they insist on flogging. So broken things, like the winhlp32 mindless catastrophe I just went through, won’t be fixed! ... Because now they want you to upgrade, to Windows 10, and they’ll use their usual technique, which is let the current c--p rot in the wind!

Or Windows 10 either....

... The free sometimes compulsory Windows 10 upgrade is supposedly over by 9/16, but I carefully inspect every “upgrade” Usux™ emits to my Win7 systems — Usux™’s Win10 desperation was perfectly obvious, and of course they were so desperate only because they want to help us. ... Actually Win10 has gotten detectably better in my recent experience and in a year or two probably won’t be worse than a midly annoying software virus (i.e., like McAfee security software), but last I looked you can still buy windows 7 machines and whenever I am in such a position, so I will do, until I can’t. Perhaps by then the Win10 compulsory upgrade mechanism will be so broken it can be resisted....

So below is my by-now ancient whining about windows 8, which I leave here for a while ’cause of the tips ’n’ tricks at least which at any rate I might need to remember.

...The Thing Itself

2/17. I actually spent more than 2 minutes on a windows 10 system for the first time, and it is indeed noticeably worse than the windows 7 systems I run around the laboratory:

  • I searched for “multiple displays” in the control panel, which in windows 7 always gets me to “Set up computer to use multiple monitors”. Naturally this has been totally expurgated in windows 10 — it would be evil for it to work the way it used to, some poor bengladeshi probably had to spend minutes rooting-out the reference — but could be found with the “search” feature which, itself, hides in different places depending on how it feels. The actual multiple monitor setup was incoherent and probably broken. Five or 20 tries got it going....

  • The taskbar, so beautiful and serene, will no longer hide. No doubt part of the super “Anniversary” we-broke-so-much-stuff-we’re-celebrating update. But I have an ancient program that I made fix that in the dearly-departed XP — and it still does it! ... Aren’t I clever? ... Of course it crashes under some obscure conditions — but that’ll fit right in with the New Windows™, no?

  • But then it was all cured when I logged-in again, which is good, ’cause the crashing made annoying “dinging” noises and when I killed my clever program, the little taskbar’d stay hidden, forever. Until logout/login. So all’s OK and everything works ’jes great! .... So saddle-up, OS cowboys; Windows 10’s ur gal!....

Ancient Windows 8 Whining

I bought another computer, as we all must someday, and it came with Windows 8. And Usux™ tried to force me to give them an email address and desperately tried to join-me-up with some anonymous undescribed borg-collective mediocrity. There was no “next” or “exit”. So I entered the default c--p, something like (of course the screen cannot be recalled) “someone@somewhere.com”, “password”. Whereupon the pitiful Usux™ robot troll told me that “password” had been used too often, and to protect me from grievous harm they were locking that nasty thing down!

... I mean couldn’t they pay some consultant a million dollars to tell them you shouldn’t kick the user in the teeth when he’s just bought your new product!!!?!?!?! ... Probably paid the wrong consultant — “users like discipline, they want pain, teach ’em you’re the master and they’ll just naturally bow before you.” ... At least providing the obvious bogus user/password did exit from the extortion screen. ... Another windows 8 setup on another day revealed that there was a screen before the scam screen, with a cancel button: it said “set up your account?” and it might’ve lasted 4 seconds before moving to the scum account screen; it lasted for so short a time, I couldn’t get the iphone up to take a picture! ... This is professional criminality!

But my super 8.1 Windows did boot up into the normal old desktop instead of the ridiculous loathsome touchy “charm” junk; I gather that’s the towering achievement of the 8.1 upgrade. ... Now I’ll search the web for the beloved “My Computer” — only to find out it’s been purged, awaiting the return of the King with Windows 10; but most of its scintillating right-click features are hiding with the “Control Panel” on the menu I get when I right-click the stupid modérne-windowish icon in the lower left-hand corner, on the who-ever-knew-what-it’s-called bottom-of-screen now-by-special flight-of-programmers-from-the-coast transparent bar.

And I suppose it’s not Usux™’s fault, but McAfee made the usual embarrassing scene when I uninstalled it, finally claiming my computer would be overrun with virii the instant I clicked that button — and I didn’t even know “Windows Defender” aka MSE comes with windows 8! ... And speaking of Usux™’s innocence, some people get upset about all the trash the OEM installs on new computers, but I find it kind of comforting to go through the tedious item-by-item uninstalls; it’s sort-of a new-machine checkout — will it continue working that long? — and I’ve got to wait a while anyway for Usux™ to do its inevitable 5 million updates anyway before charging forward. ... The “Acer Portal” did hang-up uninstalling, always such a comforting indication of real careful s/w development, but the sovereign cure reboot seemed to fix it....

Winhelpless

But Usux™ definitely was responsible for my usual failure to get hold of Winhelp the first two or 17 tries; apparently I was supposed to google for “windows 8.1 winhelp” not just that ol’ tired “windows 8 winhelp”. They’re totally different! ... Windows 8.1 is the operating system that starts with the real desktop, not the icky-poo paw paw charmy kiddie whatever that idiotic thing with the blobs is, which you can still get at any time by clicking the Usux™ logo (and perhaps always if you’re so foolish as to purchase a touch screen-equipped laptop), but I can right-click the logo and select “desktop” to get the more-or-less working thing back — or, it turns-out, just click the stupid logo again. ... And we all want Winhelp of course the better to run antique aka “working” programs. ... And then just for fun some Usux™ idiot broke the whole thing....

Startup Programs? Why’d you want to do that?!?!

And for today’s tip ’n’ trick, apparently Win 8 decided the wittle user wuser luser shouldn’t make those nasty startup thingeys, so this guy tells you how. It’s not pretty, but then it never was; basically you have to create the shortcut somewhere, in the Wunnerful Winders File Manager of course, and then somehow locate a startup folder and copy it there. But I’ve got my trusty OwenShow up and running and can leap tall file-explorer windows in a single bound.

Fat Borders

... And the ridiculous new super-thick kiddie balloon tire fat window borders? Googling “thick windows 8 borders” gets stuff including the usual RegEdit necromancy which I did indeed execute, but my first hit was the extravagantly-advertised “http://www.howtogeek.com/130138/how-to-change-the-window-border-size-in-windows-8/” which is obviously malware, although I’m sure they’d deny everything, as they always do. The necromancy incidentally is, in “HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Control Panel\Desktop\WindowMetrics”, set “BorderWidth=0” and “PaddedBorderWidth=0” which will utterly crush the stupid fat borders. However I experimented and settled on -30; the 0 values make the borders disappear, and all but impossible to drag with a stupid laptop track pad gadget.

Virtual ISOs

... And once I had an ISO mounter (sung to “Can You Spare a Dime?”), “MagicDisc”, but it would not go in win8, since Usux™ has safely locked-down all the driver installations so only their rich corporate friends can flog that stuff. With the exception of the kindly German who gives it away in the open source WinCDemu. ... But after endless delving, I discovered Win8 has its own ISO mounter! Just right-click in (file) Explorer on something.ISO, and click “mount” on the context menu. Installing WinCDemu adds another context menu item, something like “mount and select drive” which might be nice, but for almost everyone the built-in’ll be adequate. I mean, Explorer proceeds to open the ISO for you....

Further Tips ’n’ Tricks ’n’ Twitches ...

A week or so and the whirling dust in Owenlabs settles down, and I feel I’ve beaten the thing down a little....

For the latest look in non-shimmery stupid transparent taskbars, OpaqueTaskbar is your site. Seems to work, but it requires a resident program to do it every time Win8 starts, because Usux™ loves that shimmery sick-making transparency so much. But only in the taskbar. I.e., the crack windows team forgot when they expurgated Aero™ from the rest of the litter, for that clean new “simple” look....

... There’s been a Windows graphics “snipping tool” apparently since Windows 7 at least, but finally my beloved 1998 PaintShop Pro 5’s screen capture function fell over in the new svelte Win8, and so I tried the snipping tool. Which sux in numerous interesting ways, but the odd insistence on putting a red box around whatever you clip seems so extravagantly stupid it has to be on purpose. ... But then, who knows the vast reaches of Usux™’ subconscious incompetence? ... Anyway I had tentatively settled on http://screen-grab.com/ which seemed to work and is open-source! ... Mon 6/22/15: Oh well looks like Usux™ shot it down poor thing. ... RIP. ... I looked into the $50 market leader SnagIt, but some unfixed Windows 8.1 contretemps was a year old, as the regulation 4-point don’t-ever-admit-the-date informed me. I’ll never know, ’cause the promised “no-strings” 15-day trial immediately insisted I login before I could use the software, so I guess they forgot that string. Which of course is why I so prefer open source....

Fri 11/20/15 10:10 am: Whoa! Screen-grab is back! A version something like “c:\pq\t\Screen Grabber Installer 16027.zip” worked in my wretched win8 system! I am so joyous. I mean, previous failures might’ve been cockpit error, although I was so annoyed at the Usux™ Snippit that I doubt it, but whatever, this one installed, and worked, twice!

Victory Over Snippit!

But I managed to set the built-in snipping tool to “white” borders, which is a definite improvement. ... And then — glory be! — I found and unchecked “Show selection ink after snips are captured” (in options) and by gosh it works! I mean, ol’ Usux™ could disappear the option in the next secret revision, but for a little while, snippit is actually functional! A red letter day for the giant stupid monopoly. ... Maybe the option was there all the time and I just didn’t have eyes to see? Or maybe a secret update secretly made it appear? Who can know? ... And of course it still takes 37 keystrokes/mousing where screen-grab can be configured to one. But it’s Usux™; they can’t help it. ... And the beloved screen-grab is obviously superior...

The “Start” Menu & Classic Shell

One of the great Win8 controversies was that even when one managed to claw one’s way back to the good ol’ desktop, there was no start button. ... I really don’t know what normal people do with these astonishing Usux™ betrayals. I’ve used the superlative and amazing OwenShow and my own endless maze of batch files for years, and only went to the beloved start menu as a last resort — no más obviously. ... Years ago I was very impressed in a scornful way with some usofty’s excuse for hiding actual programs in paths like “c:\Program Files (last Tuesday)\secret 639D680A\Stupid Path” — which excuse was that Usux™ didn’t want the lusers from MSDOS starting their programs in those directories, in their desperate urge to figure-out how the so-EZ-to-use Windows 3.0 worked. But now with Windows 8, that’s their only choice....

If you are not amused, there’s ClassicShell, a free not-too-destructive lump of software what brings back the start menu and so much more. I won’t be donating to the fellow because (1.) in providing a start menu button, he obliterates all the valuable stuff I’d discovered in the lower left-hand corner right-click Stupid Icon () menu, and (2.) his beautiful software did not obey my explicit instructions to not start automatically, and then I had a typical Windows contretemps where all my screens went weird and the mouse wouldn’t work and I forget — and there was ClassicShell in my way. ... But if you really miss the start menu, he does a creditable version and may bring you happy happy joy joy....

The Parasitical Pokki

My beautiful Acer’s bloatware included some excrescence known as “Pokki” (?). It is so sneaky and obscure no one will even say what it does, but it appears to be a blobby Win8 enhancement. That is, as is so common, the wildly-popular Win8 blobs weren’t enough for you, Pokki could help. ... When I search in Windows 8 for “Pokki” the top of the list is “Pokki start button for Windows 8 64 bits”. ... Needless to relate, the uninstalled Pokki left scads of stuff on the hard drive; actually it uninstalled in an instant, and no wonder! There were ten or so different directories thoughtfully left behind. ... Incidentally, if it isn’t obvious, it is to me that somehow money changed hands, from the malodorous Pokki to whoever’s in charge of bribes at Acer. ... But after my unedifying HP experiences, I am eager to uninstall the parasites — before they update....

Uninstalled Blobby Win8 Desktop

My final amazement after a while was that most of the blobs in my Windows 8 blobby desktop were without function! ... Click and — nothing. I realized in a moment this was because I had uninstalled all the c--pware months ago, but the svelte super-subtle Windows 8 desktop didn’t know that. It was without clue. ... The blobs will never die. ... Innocently betraying to us a hint about what was so attractive to Usux™ in those cute tablet/phone thingeys that Win8 was going to conquer — that the users’ll be too stupid to uninstall malware helpful Usux™ utilities....

Weird Ghostly Blobby Menus

No doubt it’ll all be fixed with the grand ’n’ glorious windows 10, but one of the amazing things of win8 is the weird ’n’ wonderful blobby menus that pop-out from the right, top, bottom, I don’t know where. ... I can’t replicate the behavior that makes them appear; I think it’s something to do with waving the mouse, for which I am of course cravenly apologetic but I kinda have to do that to do stuff. So far I’ve resisted the temptation to click any of the ghostly wacko totally-undecipherable icons that appear so briefly, and I think I’ll be able to control my enthusiasm going forward....

Goodbye Windows 8....

And then at last I couldn’t stand it anymore and returned to my cranky desktop. ... Which of course I’ll be sure to upgrade to win10 whenever the apocalypse seems imminent. ... & then again the poor machine stopped updating itself, which convinced me it was sick beyond hope, and returned to the forever-cranky win8 system.

— the ever-compassionate cranky programmer & bon vivant
12/16