I'm running late. Which means of course that my computer's crashed, which means - horror of horrors -- a reset. Windows itself has got better -- if you avoid using Outlook or IE it can run for simply ages -- but the same can't be said for the mess of beta, pre-release and otherwise ungodly applications one runs in the course of one's duties.
That's OK. What's not OK is the ever-increasing imbecility of all this nonsense when it wakes up in the morning. We're all a bit like that -- some of us more than others -- but it's now taking me a good three minutes to get past a forest of blithering nonsense before I can do anything I want to. I know I've said this before, but it's getting worse.
For example: Yahoo! IM. This used to be a model of rectitude: now, it springs into life offering me great yet unexplained rewards if I choose to upgrade. I know, having made that mistake on another computer, that this upgrade will result in BT's VoIP balderdash making a permanent and -- yes! -- noisy home on my computer. You can't de-install that: neither can you tell Y! IM not to bother asking in the first place. So up pops the "You want to upgrade!" window, over the top of the "Please log into Gmail" box, which is on top of ICQ - neither of which seem to want to let me tell them to just remember who I am. The timing of these things is perfect - just enough to let you start to type in your name and password but not enough to finish before the next one appears. [I've tried telling him to install Miranda, but will he listen? - Ed.]
Or take Prevx Home. This is a free anti-spyware utility that works a bit like ZoneAlarm. It monitors various internal activities in Windows, and if it spots something writing files that should not be written or tampering with the registry it stops the event and raises the alarm. Jolly good idea, and with the latest version it seems to have stopped its habit of taking down your operating system pre-emptively before spyware can have a go. But for 'Generic Intrusion Prevention' it's bloody intrusive. Restart, and up it pops. "Prevx is about to check for updates", it says, all over the top of the other twenty windows demanding your attention. That's nice. Oh, I have to click on Begin? And when it's finished noisily sucking down its bits, I have to click on Finish? Even when there's nothing to download?
Each individual quantum shell of idiocy doesn't add much to the sum total of morning misery, but put them all together and a chap's wishing for the days when the only technology that took minutes to warm up was the wireless. Kudos to people like Grisoft, Webroot and Gipsymedia who make stuff like AVG, Spy Sweeper and Digiguide -- stuff that sits there silently and only interrupts me when there's good reason.