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29 Reasons to Not Get Vista

Microsoft Windows Vista hits (assaults) consumers on 30 January 2007. Starting with New Years Day that gives you twenty nine days to think about the big mistake you're about to make.

Every day of January 2007 until Microsoft Windows Vista is released you can read yet another good reason why it's not a good idea to get it.

14 January 2007 Reason #14: Scary Movie 2.

Anyone who is made to fully understand what's going on inside their Windows computer comes walking away terrified. No exception. Mafia gang wars - inside your own house! Aggressive warrior code from one gang fighting it out with another for supremacy - and 'ownership' of your computer.

A common reaction is turning pale and yelping 'that's going on inside my house?'

But every Windows user has seen a scary movie sooner or later. It's all too commonplace by now. What are not commonplace are the scary movies narrated by the PC technicians themselves - the Windows repair warriors who are supposed to have seen everything. Their stories are the real shocker.

Here's the second of many.

This needs to be said.

Another Windows box, another 4 hours of my time rescuing it from all of the ills in the world and saving ignorant Windows (l)users from themselves. After a while, it begins to feel like a losing battle. A computer literacy test ought to be required for every PC purchase...

Whenever I am asked to fix a friend or a family friend's Windows box, I always expect the worst. My tools usually include copies of Ad-Aware SE, Spybot Search & Destroy, ClamWin, and SysInternals' Rootkit Revealer. All of those programs are free and whenever I mention them to those (l)users, I am immediately greeted with suspicion. How can they be FREE? Aren't you supposed to pay for Norton like anyone else? One chap just blew $150 on Norton only to find that it failed to live up to the task of protecting his PC. On a PC I just recently rescued? ZoneAlarm, NAV, and the like couldn't stop Windows from being infected with over 120 pieces of spyware, adware, and data miners. Fortunately I have yet to come across a box that has been compromised by a rootkit.

It absolutely blows my mind as to how just doing something so simple as surfing the web can cripple Windows. I have no idea how some XP Home boxes can even be recovered without complete reinstalls.

Reinstalls are never a walk in the park as some would like you to believe. First of all, most (l)users who need to recover their boxes are never prepared for it. They don't keep backups, they don't have external hard drives let alone know what they are and what they're used for, and if they even had a spare drive somewhere, more often than not their Windows box is a vegetable. But that's not the worst of it.

Nowadays, PCs do not even come with physical recovery tools. Instead, you're expected to access some hidden partition on your hard drive. If your drive gives out or if you decide to get your feet wet in Linux? Sorry, sucka. At best, you might get those recovery CDs if you're great about cogently explaining away why you really need them and that you are not out to steal from Bill's loot. How then, are (l)users supposed to recover their machines? Oh, that's right: they don't know how to.

To top it all off, I don't even know how I am even qualified to be doing these recoveries. I'm a Linux (and former Mac) guy, yet I always seem to be pulled into Billy Boy's mess. Unfortunately, whenever I fix someone's box the responsibility and blame lay squarely on me instead of where it belongs at the feet of Gates and Ballmer.

Ignorance often breeds ignorance. Time and time again the (l)users peer over my shoulder, questioning my points and clicks around their system as if I'm going to wreak further havoc. When I explain to them why I need to run several programs to remove the malware and to check for rootkits, they ask me what else they need to buy to protect them. Sometimes, they'll even throw their hands up and politely ask me to stop rescuing their machine. 'That's okay. This PC is garbage anyway. I'm going to go out to Best Buy and get a new one.' Mind you, these PCs are relatively new (2 years or less) and perfectly usable with a little TLC.

If it's bad enough where I need to bring in Knoppix and an external drive, they'll smile and refuse. 'No really, it's okay. My crappy PC is dead.' Uhm, yeah. Along with all of your digital photos and documents. You're just going to throw all of that out...

Meanwhile, Billy Boy and the so-called AV industry are laughing all the way to the bank...

If you find yourself dealing with Windows (l)users and their broken boxes, and you cannot convince them to at least give Linux a try, here is what you can do to help make their lives a little more pleasant in Billy's Bullshit:

1. Password protect all accounts and restrict administrator access to at least one of them. In reality, this may be quite difficult as many programs will insist on administrator privileges.

2. Neuter Internet Explorer. This is quite possibly the biggest culprit for all of the adware and spyware on the box to begin with bigger holes than the ones in the ozone layer. Install Privoxy and tighten down the user.action file. Point all HTTP requests to localhost at port 8118. Offer to install Firefox and Thunderbird as replacements for IE and Outlook (you may end up having a hard time selling the idea to some). Make them the defaults and don't allow IE to wrestle for the position (e.g. turn off default checking). Remove Internet Explorer from the start menu list of recent programs. Give Firefox the following extensions if you can: AdBlock, AdBlock Filterset.G Updater, Fasterfox, User Agent Switcher, and SwitchProxy. If Privoxy's user.action file is too tight, you can use SwitchProxy to turn it off and the user will still be able to browse ad-free thanks to AdBlock. Some may also suggest NoScript but you don't want to panic the (l)user who may not know what to do with it.

3. Offer to install Ad-Aware Personal SE, Spybot Search & Destroy, and ClamWin. Some swear by AVG; I don't know - I haven't tried it for myself. Emphasize that they need to run these often and to keep them updated. You'd be surprised at how outdated the definition files are. You'd even be more surprised to know that quite a number of (l)users are lulled into a false sense of security by merely installing NAV and failing to update the definitions.

4. Show the (l)users how to delete unnecessary temp files that are gobbling up HDD space.

5. Show the (l)users how to defragment their hard drives and explain why they should do so. On just about every box I rescued, Windows was in serious need of defragmenting.

If Windows is so trashed that reinstalling is the only option, look no further than a Linux live CD. The easiest and cheapest way to recover a (l)user's data and to prepare their box for a reinstall is to grab and burn a Knoppix ISO. Attach your external, boot up the live CD, mount your external and make it writable, and you're all set.

Looking from the other side of the fence, I have to wonder how 91% of the computing world puts up with this on a day-to-day basis. As if the recent VML exploit wasn't enough.

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