Posts Tagged ‘Windows’

Gaming the System

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

My father has a pair of Microsoft® Xbox 360™ systems. He spends a fair amount of time on one or both of them, by himself and with my brother.

(My mother reports that my father's interest in the Xbox developed after I sent to him links to the Rooster Teeth Productions Red vs. Blue machinima videos.)

I have more than once been impressed by video games as programs, and wouldn't mind doing such programming, but I've never been much for playing them, unless one counts Rogue and NetHack as such.

And I really loathe the Xbox controller. It strikes me as a product of path-dependency, rather than otherwise optimal design. The particular path was begun by a controller for the 1983 NES (an 8-bit gaming system with a clock-speed of less than 2 MHz and accordingly limited possibilities), with understandably little consideration as to the effect of the design on the future. Each subsequent controller design was affected by the desire not to impose too much change upon users, and perhaps in some cases by a need for compatibility with existing and anticipated gaming systems. Were controller designers starting with an understanding of the information that players would now want to be transmitted, but otherwise fresh, then the designs would be radically different.

But it discernibly saddens my father that I don't join him on his systems when I visit. So I have purchased an Xbox 360™ wireless controller for Windows and a copy of Halo®: Combat Evolved for Windows, so that I can practice using controllers of that d_mn'd design, with a game of the sort that my father plays. (My computer does not have enough umphf for some of the newer video games.)

I'm also then being compelled to boot-load Microsoft® Windows in order to play the game. So I'm running an operating system that I hate to play a game that doesn't appeal to me to familiarize myself with a controller that I hate. Maybe I'll stop hating the controller. (I sure won't stop hating the operating system!)

I mentioned this matter to the manager of the apartment complex in which I live. She noted that there are far worse things in this world than feeling obliged to play video games. That's certainly true.

And it's even true in the face of something that I didn't mention to her, which is that something about the game — beyond the awkwardness of the controller and the usual objectionability of Windows — adversely affects my mood. Perhaps it's that the fictitious world has been one of emptiness punctuated by violence.

Abominable Snowmen

Thursday, 4 December 2008
[image of tumble weeds arranged and decorated like snowmen] Tohono Chul Park Seasonal Display

I didn't get a chance to ride the bicycle that my father gave me. The vehicular gate to the parking area of the apartment complex in which I live was mysteriously disabled; and a few days later, on 25 November, exactly one thing was stolen — that bicycle. Whoever stole it came prepared with something that could cut through a heavy-duty security cable.

I learned of the theft on the morning of 26 November, as I was packing my car for a trip to visit my parents. The complex manager promised to review the video recorded by the security cameræ. Since the bicycle wasn't visible from the street and the thief or thieves were prepared with cable cutters, I'm pretty sure that the theft was by a party including someone who had been on the property earlier, and that said person or persons had disabled the gate. He, she, or they were probably attendant to the position of the security cameræ.

As unhappy as I was, I considered not travelling, but I knew that I would make my parents very sad if I didn't come. So I went ahead.

On top of ordinary reasons for visiting them, I had been asked to help them get their computers up-graded from Windows XP SPs 1 or 2 to SP3. Although SP3 installed without difficulty on my Windows partition, the installation aborted on each of their machines. Well, we have SP3 on their machines now, but the processes have been trips through mine-fields, with many explosions.

We ultimately resorted to formatting the principal hard drive of my father's desk-top computer, and installing everything from scratch except in-so-far as we have over-written much of the new contents of the Application Data folder with the old contents. It seems to be in reasonably good shape now.

Things went smoother with respect to my mother's lap-top computer, but (at this stage) the OS knows that the built-in sound card is some sort of audio device, but does not recognize it as a Playback or Recording device. In fact, the OS likewise cannot tell what sort of audio device a SoundBlaster PCMCIA card is. I've tried many things, and visited many sites looking for a fix, but have so far failed.

As I've fought with the computers, my mother has repeatedly acted as if my father has been pushing me too hard to solve the problems, while actually my father has at various stages pushed me to quit working the problems hours before I would normally want to stop. I greatly wish that neither would act this way.

Also making me unhappy is the reduced opportunity to talk with the Woman of Interest. My parents are Morning People, and operating on something like their schedule greatly reduces my window of opportunity to speak to her. Then, because I use a head-set, people don't have a good visual cue that I'm using the phone. People have a propensity to start talking to me without first listening to whether I'm in conversation. And, finally, a fair amount of my normal telephone interaction with the Woman of Interest involves one or both of us being relatively quiet for extended periods. (We have unlimited connection time within the Sprint PCS network,[1] and so leave the connection in place and interact as if separated by a room partition.)

My brother and his long-time girl-friend also came for Thanksgiving, but left on the week-end. Yester-day, they got a quick civil marriage. Later, they will have a bigger ceremony to which they can invite friends and family. What precipitated the marriage seems to have been that my brother was offered a job in Tucson shortly after being laid-off from his job in Austin. I think that his girl-friend reälized that she should seal-the-deal. (Yes, she seems to have been the one most reluctant to commit.) My parents and I really like her.

With my brother moving to Tucson, my father is now speaking wishfully of my moving here as well. But he does understand that I would much rather live in or near the forests of the Pacific Northwest than in the Arizona desert.

Yester-day, my cousin Lyn (a really nice guy, who suffered some sort of in utero cerebral damage) came to visit my mother. I tagged along as they ran errands yester-day, and to-day as they went to Sweetwater Wetlands and to Tohono Chul Park.

[1] Actually, we're limited to 44640 minutes per month (or sometimes as few as 40320 minutes). Perhaps not enough if one loves eight days a week.

You may be high / You may be low

Saturday, 4 October 2008

The Windows installation on my computer is currently spending many hours to accomplish something that should take less than a minute.

Most computer storage systems have a sort of thing that some of us know as directory and others know as folder. People speak and tend to think of files as being in these things, but actually files are only in these things in much the same sense as a persons are in a phone book. Hence, directory is at least the less misleading term (paper files being in paper folders more as people are in buildings). Directories are usually themselves implemented as files, which then makes it trivial to put directories in other directories.

Logical disk C on my computer entirely resides on one physical hard drive. I have a directory on C such that I'd like to move it from one parent directory on C to another on C. What that literally means is that I would like to add a listing for it to another directory, remove a listing from the earlier parent, and change what the moved directory lists as its parent. I don't want to relocate the files that it contains to another part of the logical drive; I certainly don't want to relocate them to another physical drive. I don't even want to relocate the directory in question. I just want to change which parent directory lists the directory in question (and what it lists as its parent directory). So I did a cut-and-paste from one folder to another, something on the order of twelve hours ago. The move is still in-process; the progress bar indicates that it is less than half done. The disk drive is in a state of near-continuous activity, and the dialogue box is listing the subcontents of the directory one-by-one.

(Sadder still, this move is in preparation for moving the files in question to a different physical device, which will take considerable time no matter which operating system is used.)