Stuff I Hate

Originally published 2001 in Atomic: Maximum Power Computing
Last modified 03-Apr-2013.

 

You want to know what annoys me?

Oh, all sorts of things. Some of them even have to do with computers.

The way Windows handles monitors, for instance. That annoys me.

What's so hard about this? A monitor supports a particular range of resolutions, at a particular range of refresh rates for each one. That's pretty much all there is to it. Yeah, there's the power save stuff and the Plug and Play extras, but you can get away with two small lists of numbers to describe any normal display.

Disturbingly often, though, you take a Windows box of any flavour, and you plug it into some other monitor. Then you restart in Safe Mode to tell it not to try to use a refresh rate the new monitor doesn't handle. Then you restart it several more times, while cursing. Then you plug it into a THIRD monitor that pretty much works but at only one resolution for no doggone reason at all. Then you bring it back to the monitor it started with, and it works just fine. For one session. Then, when restarted, it drops to 640 by 480 and professes total ignorance of the specifications of the screen.

I have a little song that I sing in situations like this, when Windows has restarted in 640 by 480, obligingly rearranged all of the icons into that screen area, and, of course, saved their position when you restart again.

The little song is to the tune of "Camptown Races", and it goes "All my icons in a pile, doo dah, doo dah..."

Yes, I know there are utilities that save your icon positions.

Don't make me hurt you.

I should count myself lucky, I suppose. The last time I went to the place that caused the above to happen, my computer turned out to be pretty much all right - I plugged it into a Mac monitor and it just decided that the only resolution that monitor could do was 1280 by 960, despite working properly with it the last time.

OK, whatever. It's a Tiny God, it can play Tribes 2 just fine at that resolution.

The guy next to me changed his monitor driver (which is just a dinky little text file with display specs in it), and Win98 helpfully corrupted a vital VXD. And needed to be reinstalled from scratch.

What else annoys me?

How about mathematical na´fs who get all hot and bothered about a bodacious RAM latency tweak that gives them another 158 points in ZootyBench 2002? They draw an impressive graph that gives the idea that this represents at least a 50% improvement. But if you read the actual numbers, it becomes apparent that their score actually increased from 30,584 to 30,742, this difference being noticeable only to Commander Data. Unless you draw a graph whose Y axis starts in the stratosphere.

Half of these schnooks have their own domain names.

I'm just getting going, folks.

You know how much heat sink grease you need between a CPU cooler and a CPU? A thin smear. A really thin smear, if both the CPU and the cooler you're putting on it have a nice flat surface. The grease is just meant to fill the air spaces, not lubricate the joint.

But this doesn't stop people putting a big dog-turd Swirl O' Grease on their chip and smushing the cooler down into it.

Don't think it's just newbies that do this - you should have seen the P4 review box Intel sent me, and how much cleaning it took to make the CPU suitable for photography. I think parts of me are still grey.

While I'm on the subject, let's have a big hand for a more recently arisen variant.

Many CPU coolers these days come with a little square of pre-applied "chewing gum" thermal compound on the bottom, covered with a piece of tape. You're meant to pull off the tape, then install the cooler. The tape is generally an eye-catching colour, with a prominent pull-tab, to alert you to this fact.

If you don't remove the tape, you'll end up with what can safely be described as a "nasty melted mess" on the bottom of your cooler, and your CPU may or may not have survived the event.

OK, sometimes the tape's clear, and there aren't usually any instructions. But when the tape's absolutely one hundred per cent visible, and your computer keeps going beep-beep-beep in alarm at its CPU sensor temperature before the Windows boot process is complete, you'd think that the sensible path to solving the problem would not involve just unplugging the PC speaker cable to silence the alarm.

Dang it, now I'm out of space. I didn't even have room to talk about Macintoshes.

They don't annoy me for the reasons you might think.

Find out why they do, here.

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Give Dan some money!
(and no-one gets hurt)