Software Rant

Why is it that every vendor who creates a software application for a personal computer thinks it should install itself as the center of my universe?

My latest high tech toy acquisition, a respectable DSLR, generates rather sizable files in the "RAW" mode that offers the most flexibility in post processing. As such, this old desktop was falling a little short on resources to manage the growing pile of image files. I upgraded to considerably larger hard drives with no particular problem, but I already learned the hard way that CD ROMs were no longer the way to archive my raw files.

Since this machine came with a DVD Read drive, I figured -- easy, just install a DVD R/W drive in its place. That too was quite painless (financially as well as physically). Well, my old utility for burning data files on CD ROMs admits to DVDs, so I set up to burn a few and clicked "GO". BZZZZ-z-z-zppp! "(xyz) does not support this drive."

It has been so long since I interacted with the vendor of the CD ROM software they no longer recognized my user log-in. I did some investigating and found that their latest incarnation only runs on Windows XP and Vista. (We're still happily running Win2K Pro, SP4, here.) So I found another utility that would run on Win2K, XP, and Vista that I believed had a decent reputation and acquired and installed it. To avoid liability, let's just say "think Roman emperor." It is a rather humongous suite of stuff, about 90% of which I'll probably never need or want, but there it was. That brings us to phase one of this rant.

Why on earth must such a package be a huge piece of bloatware that wants to fill my screen, stick buttons all over everywhere, and change the fundamental way I interact with my computer? I just want to occasionally select some files and burn them onto a DVD -- SHEESE!

Included is a function that allows you to explore your file directory. Big whoop! Windows since at least 3.1 has had a perfectly satisfactory way to do that. I suppose I should admit to being a somewhat command line sorta guy. I have File Explorer set to show file extensions, dates, etc. -- I care about that stuff! This new wonder utility gave me a sort of video experience that was telling me nothing but file names. If that wasn't bad enough, the whole system was running as though it was working over a 2400 baud dial-up connection.

Eventually a bit of sleuthing disclosed a process running that was consuming 90 to 100% CPU time and eating memory as though there was no tomorrow. A bit of Google searching disclosed hordes of angry buyers out there asking "what the hell is this process?" Turns out it's a part of this wonderful wacky universe that tries to catalog all your media files by "running in background." Obviously the creators of this piece of malware are a bit unclear as to what running in background is supposed to mean. Worse yet, according to what I discovered via Google, this problem in Version 8 also existed in Version 7 -- and is so bad it occasionally screws up its own companion applications! This they inflict on the public?

Well, fortunately there's a fairly simple way to disable it, and now, life is good again -- I think. I have successfully burned some DVDs -- and tasks respond in milliseconds instead of minutes.

Welcome to Software Land; the place where we

"do it because it can be done."

The curmudgeonly D. W. Thomas 15 July 2008