Last week I ordered an inexpensive laptop computer so I could run some of the Windows-only ham utilities. I also needed a small machine I could just throw into my pack for mobile operations. Many hams recommended Lenovo computers since they are fairly sturdy and don’t emit as much RF interference, so I found a cheap refurbished model on eBay, the model B570, with an i3 CPU and 4 gigs of RAM.
The machine itself is barebones — just the way I like it. It’s nicely constructed and has a decent keyboard. It’s no speed demon, like my loaded iMac i7, but it seems plenty powerful.
Sadly, all that nice hardware goes to waste with an operating system like Windows. I forgot how utterly DIRTY the Windows experience is. Examples:
- McAfee Antivirus. It came pre-installed and it nags, nags, nags and nags some more. Even when I was a die-hard PC devotee, I never ran McAfee. I always figured smart browsing and common sense would prevent any strife. Sadly, that’s not the case nowadays and some form of protection is almost required. Wow, is this program a piece of garbage. Not only was it burning up my CPU and slowing everything down, but it wouldn’t even let me browse certain websites in the default configuration. I’ve disabled it altogether, and now it’s bitching at me that my computer is wildly insecure. A buddy suggested I used Microsoft’s latest security utilities instead of McAfee, so I’ll explore than in a few days.
- Device drivers. Simply, my USB-serial adapter just… doesn’t… freakin’… work. I’ve tried about a dozen different versions of the driver and the end result is always the same. “Device cannot start.” As a result, I haven’t been able to connect my FT-847 to the laptop and play with Ham Radio Deluxe. I’ve ordered another adapter that allegedly works with Win7. I’ll keep the old one on my PPC Mac, as it works beautifully on that machine.
- Speaking of device drivers, wasn’t it Steve Jobs who once uttered “Windows is just a collection of poorly-written device drivers”? Good to know some things haven’t changed. I felt like I was using Windows 95 for the first time again.
- Windows and its patronizing attitude. Windows wants to do everything for you: “Locate the best device driver” or help “troubleshoot this device” … the problem is, IT NEVER WORKS. At least for me it never does. Why does Windows want to do everything for you, rather than follow Apple’s lead and just make it easy and logical to do complex things.
- Why all the reboots? Change one setting. Reboot. Install anything. Reboot. Turn off a security session. Reboot.
- Paranoid security. I’m using Karen’s Time Sync to ensure my clock is set properly for JT65. I had to disable the HIGHLY annoying User Account Control system so that Karen’s Sync would run at start-up.
- Constant software updates. All the damned time….
- Bloatware. Even on this barebones machine, I have trial versions of Office, and some crappy utils for webcams and so forth.
I could probably go on and on, but why bother. I’ve used Macs exclusively since 2005, and have had my hands on Apple machines since the mid-1980s. I’ve also built PCs, and I was a huge fan/advocate of Windows 2000. A decade ago, I would have told you that Macintosh stands for “machine always crashes if not the operating system hangs.”
But nowadays, using OS X is like a breath of fresh air after sucking on the exhaust pipe of Windows.
I’m not giving up. I’ll get all this sorted out and Windows will run just fine once it’s customized to my liking. Already, I’ve been listening in on JT65 QSOs and Fldigi seems to work great also. Sadly, all the jacking around getting this PC set up has cut into my radio time. I haven’t had an SSB contact in days.
And if all else fails, I suspect this machine will run Linux just fine…