Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Windows 10, Linux, Elections, Etc.

So as of October 1st, our RV park is fully under the new management. Everyone is giddy with relief that Carefree is no more. Sun RV is the second coming of Jesus, Buddha and Mohamed all rolled into one. So far, things are looking up, but most of the changes to this point have been cosmetic, like firing half of Carefree's bloated management structure and trimming trees. All very necessary of course, but hardly the sort of massive reform I'd like to see. For example, our rent went up 5% again this year while my parents' rent increased 7.5%. Not earth-shattering for us, but a huge deal to retirees living on fixed incomes.

[Aside: What I love best about that little bit of neo-liberalism is that while rent, one of the major expenses for the retirees living here, is going up 5% or 7.5% a year, inflation is somehow non-existent. I'd love to know what the "basket of goods" that is used to calculate that. We already know that it doesn't include such luxuries as food, gasoline for the car, or propane to heat the house. But to come up with a zero inflation number year after year after year, it must consist of only the bare essentials like cell phones, tablets, flat-screen TV's; ya know, the necessities of life.]

Understand that this isn't criticism; simply caution. Right now, the park is looking better than it has since we moved here four years ago with more sprucing up on the way. What has me concerned is that the last time a corporation (Carefree) came blowing in making major renovations, the rent doubled. All this tree trimming and road repaving and landscaping doesn't come cheap. Someone has to pay for it. If we assume the most logical outcome, that Sun RV isn't paying for it, that doesn't leave many alternatives. In fact, I count exactly one: the residents.

But that is all in the future. For now, everyone is basking in the afterglow of all the hot, corporate sex between Sun and Carefree. Me, I sit here having my private fantasies about Nancy No-Nuts living in a cardboard box in some Phoenix slum. I realize that in reality he is likely living large on some tropical island enjoying all the money he squirreled away in his Cayman Island bank accounts, carefully hidden from the IRS as well as his ex-wife. But this is my fantasy; if you have a problem with it, go have your own. Somewhere else.

Life with Windows 10 continues to evolve, mostly in negative directions. My work PC will no longer install updates. The whole process seems to work right up to the last reboot, then the PC just hangs tight. The only cure is the Big Red Switch (which of course is now an itty-bitty black button, but you get the idea). Then Windows has to make a second attempt at the install, which also hangs to BRS. Only after two failures will it roll back. Thanks to the fact that you can no longer tell Windows that you do not want automatic updates, I had to go thru this Every Single Morning until I finally found the registry hack that stops the madness. We are also having weird printer issues, like randomly insisting that the blank paper must feed from the bypass tray, or demanding a departmental password. Not show-stoppers, but certainly aggravating when you are busy. And Win10 is a freakin' nag. Yes, I'm fully aware that I do no have the latest version of Office installed. You do not need to tell me three times a day. (Or, in the case of my home PC, that I do not have Office installed. Seriously? I also don't have Quickbooks or Photoshop installed, but I don't see messages from Adobe or Intuit constantly popping up over what I'm working on to tell me that.)

(I probably shouldn't have said that; it might give the bastards ideas. I can see Microsoft charging Adobe some large sum of money to have a message pop up three times a day; "You don't have Photoshop installed! Click here to fix this! All major credit cards accepted." Gawd....)

Debbie's PC has been having browser issues. As in the browser for no apparent reason suddenly eats 99% of the CPU. The problem started with Chrome. It was so bad that not even rebooting would cure the problem. She had to go into Task Manager and kill every Chrome process that was running. I switched her to Firefox, but the problem is still there. The only difference is that if you give it a couple seconds, it seems to self-correct. I have no way of knowing this for sure, but it feels like an attempt by Microsoft to force everyone to use the Edge browser. We haven't gone there yet, mostly because I refuse to do so on principle, but sometimes principle must give way to Just Getting Work Done. The whole experience feels more and more... well... Apple-ish; as in, "We know what's good for you, and by God we are going to give it to you good and hard!"

All of which made me give Linux another try. I ran a couple distros way back in the dark ages and just gave it up as too much work. As I said above, at some point standing on principle needs to give way to Just Getting Work Done. So I said screw Linux and jumped back into the Microsoft universe. But all through the last decade, I was hearing from those who stuck with Linux (mostly Bob Thompson) and their ups and downs. A lot of the issues seem to be getting resolved, and with our current Win10 travails in mind, I finally hit the Linux Mint web page and now have Mint 18 Cinnamon 64-bit running as dual boot. I haven't had much time to play with it, but I've already found a problem. Amazon video doesn't work because of the DRM that Amazon uses. Now I hate DRM as much as the next guy, but we lost this fight. DRM is here to stay. What I like about Mint is that when I search for a solution, I find a solution rather than twenty pages of how I'm such a tool for giving in to the man, blah blah blah. Again, I just want to watch a damn video. I'm too old and too tired to waste my time sticking my tongue out at Mom and Dad when they're not looking. As a backup solution, I think my DVD player can access Amazon, Netflix, etc. as can my TV IIRC. But in any case, no big. I'll likely keep playing with it until I get bored, nuke the partition and add it back to my NTSF C: drive. Or I figure out how to live with Mint and maybe, just maybe, it's Win10 that gets nuked. We'll see.

Not that 2016 isn't already going by fast enough, but can I please just go to sleep and wake up on November 9th? I may go into berserker mode if I have to sit through any more political ads or get one more phone call. It doesn't matter if it's Hill&Bill or The Donald; the economy is heading for another Great Recession (Did the last one end? I can't tell....) and the only difference this election will make is who gets blamed. I fully expected things to be imploding already, and in many ways they already are. Just don't expect the mainstream press to talk about it until after everything has burned to the ground. I mean, it took them the better part of a year to figure out Trump is an ass. Us Deplorables have known that for a decade, but many of our kind would rather have an ass as POTUS than a murdering psychopath. I say lets just get this over with so the economy can get on with the whole swirling the drain thing.

Well, I need to get dinner started. And in the blessed name of Elvis, try not to shoot the TV.