REBOL Technologies

Reflecting on the state of computing while installing XP SP 2

Carl Sassenrath, CTO
REBOL Technologies
19-Oct-2004

Article #0029
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Has anyone noticed that when you update Windows components and security patches online, the actual download sizes are usually larger than what their website says? For example the web page will say that a download is 400 KB, but then downloads 1.6 MB. I don't get it. I'm sure there's an entire team of people who have nothing else to do but to keep that web page up-to-date. So, why is the size always wrong?

Anyway, today, I helped my son clean up his computer that was completely taken over with pesky adware that installs itself through the browser, seemingly without permission, then downloads more software, so by the time it's done you have about 20 other adware tasks running, and they are difficult to remove.

This all happened within a week after he updated to XP. Figure that. I've noticed that this problem has gotten a lot worse in recent years. In fact most of the non-computer-professionals I know have similar problems. Computers are getting "taken over" left and right. I thought XP was supposed to solve this problem, wasn't it?

So, my son and I decided to update his computer to XP SP 2 (their web site says it's 75 MB to download, but as soon as you start the download, it tells you its 90 MB - another case like I mentioned above.) Then, if you think the 90 MB download takes a long time, wait until you see how long it takes to install it. What's taking so long? (Maybe they wrote it all in some Frankenstein variant of XML?) I'm writing this blog while waiting for the install to finish. (So... 90 MB, that's a lot of code... Such things always make me ask: what could you do with 90 MB of compressed REBOL code?)

In conclusion, although "personal computing" has gotten a lot faster and a lot more "multimedia" in recent years (the hardware guys have done a great job!), under it all, it seems like the situation has not really improved much. The "advancements" in computing are supposed to make computing easier, but the improvements come at the cost of larger and more complex systems that take longer to download and have just as many problems. The brand new XP SP 2 laptop I got this week has already crashed four times in four days. That's at least 100 times more often than the old NT4/IE4 system down in the basement. Of course, the new XP crashes a lot more quietly -- the task bar ("Start" bar) simply vanishes along with the rest of the desktop, then explorer (desktop) restarts. At 3.2 GHz it only takes a few seconds. So, I guess that's an improvement in computing, right?

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