Thursday, September 08, 2005

My butt hurts.

Microsoft is the devil.

Yeah, I know, hardly an original viewpoint, but let me tell you why.

This new computer came bundled with a trial version of Microsoft office. Every time I started up word, or opened outlook to check my mail, I got an overly friendly message ‘reminding’ me, that unless I ‘activate’ the software (IE, put one extra drop in that ocean Bill Gates calls his bank account ‘many features will be disabled’.

‘Many Features’ being disabled means you can’t actually type anything on MS Word, and Outlook refuses to send or receive any mail.

What’s the point in this? Either bundle software…or don’t. Don’t try and tease me with a trial as though I’m going to be so impressed that I’ll hand over a few hundred dollars.

Things don’t stop there. You see, Word, I can do without. Outlook is a different story. I need an email client or it means creating a new hotmail address, emailing everyone I know and telling them the new address, then updating my blog settings…in other words, it would be a right fuckaroo to change.

So I tried to download outlook express, the free version. Microsoft decided that the average user shouldn’t be allowed to pick and choose what applications he downloads, he has to download software bundle. In this case, the entire Internet Explorer 6 bundle.
Remember how I have a 26k internet connection?

It took forever…but here’s the rub. I downloaded, double clicked…

“newer version of IE detected. Setup will not continue”.

What the FUCK!?!? I’ve just spent three frigging hours downloading this, and now you won’t let me install it? What if I just happen to like the older version? When did Microsoft get the power to decide what I can and can’t install on my own computer? Warning me that I’m trying to install an older version, and asking me if I’m sure is fine…not allowing it?

In the end I gave Microsoft the middle finger. I downloaded Mozilla’s Thunderbird.
Guess what Microsoft? Mozilla’s email client is a tiny half meg file, has twice the features and it ten times easier to use…fuckers.

As soon as I can be bothered to download it, I’m ditching IE as well, and going back to firefox.

Today wasn’t all bad.

I actually managed to get my hands on some games…although that didn’t go quite as planned either.

Buying your first games for any untried system can be a little daunting. Just because your computer absolutely spanks the minimum requirements on the game, doesn’t mean it will run well.

Well, my comp s a decent speck, so I got the following, in order of preference:

Star Wars, Knights of the Old Republic

Now looking at the minimum requirements of each here’s what I thought was going to happen:
Farcry would be a bit dodgy, Kotor would run comfortable, and my computer would spank Halo’s ass and call it a little bitch.

What actually happened was Farcry worked perfectly, at the highest resolution with all graphic options as high as they’d go. I mean the visuals in that game are awesome. The lighting effects have to be seen to be believed.

Halo ran, but with nearly everything turned down as low as it would go. (Made by Microsoft…why was I surprised).

Kotor was so slow it was unplayable. We’re talking a frame every few seconds.
The bad part is I thought it might just be a driver issue. I went to ATI’s website.
Not only was it totally unclear as to which driver I need, each download was 30 megabytes…or 6 hours download time. I’m not looking forward to downloading that and finding it’s the wrong driver.

Some days it’s just not worth chewing through the straps.

Anyway, I’ve been playing Halo for the past 6 hours, and my ass has gone to sleep…so I’m going to turn the computer off.


MC Etcher said...

It's good that there are finally some quality alternatives to MS products!

In the end, competition will make all the software better.

Kato said...

Far Cry is beautiful and has some good moments but it's also way too hard at points. There are a few sections that are so frustratingly hard that you want to just chuck your box out the window. So, fun game, but really unbalanced difficulty. The multiplayer is interesting, though have only dabbled in it.

I didn't play the single player of Halo on the PC but the Multiplayer was pretty fun. Don't be surprised if you have issues with it performing--when it came out it would chug on even a good machine. The code is, in my opinion, not particularly optimized.

KOTOR was a lot of fun. A good RPG with an excellent story and superb voice acting (a rarity). The user interface suffers a little since it was developed for the console at the same time, but nothing's perfect. Have you patched it yet, as you may need to both patch it and have the most recent video drivers to take care of some issues with the game.

Incidentally, the latest ATI driver is Catalyst 5.8 (just like NVIDIA they have a unified driver for all of their consumer cards). You can download it here as a 25 MB file or here, and here as two ~10 MB files. The full page with those links on it is here.

Are you sure Office on your machine isn't a full version? Microsoft requires you to "activate" all of their products these days. So, like if I go buy Office and install it, it comes up and tells me I have X days to activate or I can't use it, even though I've already paid for it. It's their way of making sure you're using a legal copy. Just a thought.

Craig said...

I love(d) KOTOR. I keep thinking I'll pick up KOTOR II, but I can't bring myself to drop $50 on it. Your problem could easily be a driver issue. KOTOR does not like ATI at all from what I could tell. I had to get a new driver to get it to work at all, and then I still had the problem that during the game, after each load screen, the gamma correction got screwed up and it was almost too dark to see what I was doing. Fortunately, the problem was corrected by "Alt-Tab"ing each time. Convenient. isn't it?

I went away from IE a few months ago, and I don't know if I'll ever go back on my home PC. Firefox is so much better for so many things.

Paulius said...

Etcher : Open source is the only way to go. It's just a shame that the majority of people don't realise that there's an alternative to Microsoft.

Kato : Agree with the Farcry balancing issue. Without being able to save anywhere, it gets a little frustrating that some enemies can kill you with one swipe...and come at you en masse, leaving you defenceless when you have to reload.

I bit the bullet and downloaded the new drivers. Made a huge difference with Halo, not tried farcry yet, but kotor still chugging at at about a frame every 5 seconds.

I want to update Kotor, just in case, but there's nothing in the patch release notes that look like it would help...and the patch is also 25mb...about 13 hours on my connection.

MS Office is definately a trial. This machine came with the full version of MS Works...but that doesn't have an email client.

Kato said...

Yea, I had the brightness (gamma) problem too. It's an ATI issue, I've seen it in a couple of other games. There was a really bad bug for awhile where the game would randomly CTD while loading a level. This would happen several times per play session and was highly annoying. It turned out to be weirdness between KOTOR and certain ATI drivers. Go fig.

The last couple missions in Farcry are a pain in the ass, btw. Also, one of the last levels performs really really poorly for some reason.

I would definitely update KOTOR, since they patched a lot of things, but you're right there's nothing specific to ATI in there. But yea, waiting for the download sucks. Sounds like a classic overnighter.

Sucks about that MS Office trial. Was worth a shot though. MS Works blows. Still, if Firefox's mail client works for you, than get down with your bad self. Years ago I used to use the Netscape mail client cause it did everything I needed without bloat. But I use Outlook now and I like the way the present the information, even if it has a slew of features I don't need (at least it doesn't feel topheavy, like some apps, *ahem*Adobe*ahem*).

Paulius said...

I'm sure I can procure a copy of MS office from somewhere. It's a pisser because I had it on my laptop, and now my laptop's gone kaput, I already own a valid licence.

Not that Microsoft will take that into account.

as for the download, it wouldn't bother me so much if I didn't used to have 3mb broadband. With that, a 20 meg download took a couple minutes, tops.