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Registry Groaners

Week of November 29, 2002
Read to the end for information on how to win a prize.

We had a hard drive crash at home. Of course my backups weren't as recent as I'd like. Lost several weeks' config work in Linux. I can redo it all, it'll be easier than figuring things out the first time, but it won't be fun. My own fault, of course. It's too easy to let those backups slip.

My Windows backup, OTOH, was only 10 days old. I thought that since I had all of the files, I could just move 'em back and reboot, and I'd be back where I was. Wrong. The registry in Win2K is really tough to replace, and then NTLDR apparently wasn't in the right place... Spent quite a few hours on it, then finally gave up and reinstalled the OS. Ah well, as we know Windows wants to be wiped and reinstalled every year or so anyway, or things start to get ugly inside the registry.

The registry - what a sorry excuse for a database! Or maybe it's just the registry tools. Probably both. And then the way the stupid apps use it...

We use WordPerfect at work, so I just reinstalled it at home. I installed it as Administrator. So where does the installer put its global settings, that anyone who wants to run the app needs to read? Why, in HKCU for Administrator of course! And then when I try to run it as an ordinary user, it offers up the helpful error message of 'Invalid setup.'

The solution? No problem, just have every user who wants to run WordPerfect reinstall the program! That way, the installer will know to put its registry settings in _their_ HKCU too. Of course, you'll need to remember and re-deselect every little sub-sub-component that you turned off during the first installation, in order to keep Corel from larding up your hard drive with 200 MB of shit you'll never use. Now repeat for every user who wants to use WordPerfect!

Naturally, the better solution is to export the Administrator's HKCU\Software\Corel, and then re-import it once for each user. And what fraction of Windows users will be able to figure this out? And they should have to do it - why?

I found an amusing statement on the Quicken support site once. I had noticed that when I ran Quicken as Administrator (I know, not a smart idea, but I think I had to install it as Admin, so what's the difference after that), I would get sounds. There's a little cha-ching sound that I like that you get when you complete a new entry. But there was no sound when I ran it as an ordinary user, and no sound option in the app either.

So I went to the Quicken support site and found the explanation: In Win2K/XP, sounds in Quicken 'are not available' for any users other than the one who installed Quicken (who would typically be Admin).

If you guessed that they're wrong, and what the solution is, you win the prize.


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