Aquarium Blog

Sunday, September 19, 2004

Adam Barr's blog

I am quickly becoming a fan of Adam Barr's blog. I haven't read his book yet, but I read his not-a-blog page some time ago, and I liked it. Perhaps, it was "One Example of Why People Dislike Microsoft Software" the first post that got my attention. I just wish others showed more often this attitude:

So anyway I go back to my office and my computer is still spiking its CPU usage, so I call the Microsoft helpdesk. It was actually pretty trivial to diagnose that the problem was that Windows automatic update was obsessively trying, and repeatedly failing, to install some update on my machine. What was a bit trickier was making it stop. The update was being pushed by the domain administrators, so neither I nor the helpdesk person had the ability to disable it. After various attempts (Microsoft helpdesk technicians can, if you authorize it, get access to your desktop remotely and try things directly, rather than instruct you), I finally had to reboot to safe mode, rename a directory, and then reboot. The CPU calmed down, although I guess the update remains uninstalled.
OK, so what can Microsoft do about this? Someone (maybe Einstein, maybe not)
once said "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a
different result." Perhaps Microsoft should fix Windows Update so it isn't insane. We could improve Task Manager so it reveals the path of each executable, and maybe some information like whether it is signed, and also let users snapshot process information so you can catch briefly-running processes. That's all part of the basic ability to figure out what the heck is running on your computer, that Linux does better than Windows. Then you've got Microsoft's historical over-reliance on GUI administration tools and the assumption that things will work, not break, and all the other
questionable design decisions Microsoft has made over the years. Yeesh.

Being Adam Barr an insider with such a clear view of what needs to be fixed, one tends to think that eventually, Microsoft will do the right thing. Way to go!


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