(a blog)
Sunday, March 13, 2005
  And the award goes to...

Dear lord what a day. My trip to Fry's last night, though joyous, has caused no end of ensuing grief. So to commemorate the last 24 hours of my life, I will hand out my famed Most Annoying Technology This Weekend award. The competition was stiff, but nominees: I commend you in your ability to make my life miserable. Runners up: The gigabyte of RAM I purchased, for your inability to let me know if you'll stop causing bus errors now that I've increased your CAS latency. I know you can't speak, but maybe you could you overwrite my browser's memory with your response? Firefox 1.0.1, which overcame the stigma of being merely a point release of a point release. You are a security-only update, but you've managed to reach heights of instability and memory use that your predecessors could only dream of. My Comcast PVR, whose poor user interface never fails to leave me awestruck. Your unapologetically bad menu system brings back fond memories of command-prompt-based applications. "Shall I kick you in the shins? Available commands: YES" Myself. Though I am not a technology, per se, my ability to nearly reduce an AMD Athlon CPU to a heap of smoldering rubble is unparalleled. Note to self: when tipping a computer case on its side, ensure that power cables which have repositioned themselves are not holding the CPU fan blades firmly in place. And before I hand out the Most Annoying Technology This Weekend award, let me first say that this software package is one of the most absurdly annoying programs I've had the displeasure of using. Its faults are so grievous that they nearly deserve to be called crimes against humanity. If software were packaged in a form more satisfying to destroy than a CD, it (like the AMD Athlon) would have long been reduced to a pile of smoldering rubble. And the award goes to... Roxio Easy CD & DVD Burning! Not only is your title marginally grammatical, but you are guilty of the following: Requiring more reboots during installation than Windows. Yes, I know we all miss the good old days when installing every application required restarting the computer. You bring them back, and more! I was delighted to see that, after I rebooted the first time, you chirpily announced, “The registry has been updated,” and required me to reboot again. My delight reached new levels when you required the same steps every time I installed a software update! Hello, 1995? I found your soul mate. Changing the drive letters of my hard drives. I had a fit of apoplexy when I saw that the directory containing all of my most precious files was gone. Yes, I perform regular backups, but what progress had I made on my various projects since the last one? But then I realized that you had just switched drives D and E. Roxio Easy CD & DVD Burning, you are such a joker! Silently installing an update to Windows Media Player. Yes, all I wanted was to burn some CDs; and yes, I unchecked everything you wanted to install except for the CD burning software… but I suspect you know best. Including in the box a technical support ID that your website tells me is invalid. I was impressed when you felt necessary to require some form of identification beyond the CD key when I clicked, “Contact Support”, but this truly demonstrates your business acumen. Print the tech support ID on a scrap of paper that will be lost next week, require it before you’ll let me contact technical support, and provide as the only alternate option a $35 per incident phone line? Brilliant! Your questionable handling of CD burning projects that span multiple CDs. I should have read your instructions to find out that a utility is needed to extract files from such projects. While you could have simply burned 700 megabytes worth of files to each CD - perhaps even using some intelligence to avoid splitting directories across multiple CDs - this will certainly prolong the grief. And lastly, for the quality of your uninstaller. Having blunted me to reboots by the installer, the reboot required by your uninstaller didn’t phase me. The fact that the uninstaller doesn’t remove everything did. As did the fact that searching for “uninstall” in your product support knowledgebase returns 100 results. As did the fact that there are likely more documents with the keyword “uninstall” because you return a maximum of 100 search results. As did the fact that I can’t bookmark particular articles in your knowledgebase because upon returning to them I find that the information has secretly been switched with a “Session has expired” message. As did the fact that your uninstallation instructions involve searching my hard drive for driver files, renaming them, renaming a few back to their original names later, editing the registry, and - my favorite part - going to the System Tools and creating a system restore point. However, you do kindly offer a separate uninstallation program called RoxiZap. Though I must admit I’m wondering: how do I then uninstall it? And so, Roxio Easy CD & DVD Burning, you are the undisputed winner of the Most Annoying Technology This Weekend award. My congratulations to you and yours. The award for Technology that Didn’t Make Me Want to Stab My Eyeballs will be split this week between Windows XP, for simply rebooting when you discovered that what you read from memory most certainly wasn’t what you originally wrote to it; Linkman, for excelling as a bookmark manager and for having an amazingly responsive and generous owner Thomas; Offline Explorer Pro, for downloading files off the web like a champ; and memtest86, for probing my RAM until it broke down in tears.

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