There’s a Hole in the %&*#^! Bucket

Ultimately, the thing that I absolutely cannot fucking stand about Windows is that every time I try to fix something, especially remotely, it turns into an infinite regression To fix A, I have to first fix B. To fix B, I have to change C. Now what the hell is wrong with C???

Case and point. I got a call from another office because somebody’s printer is not working. I travel to that office, and ultimately just delete and reinstall the printer. Open up Word, insert some test garbage, and print. Done.

I come to work the next day and have a call in that the printer is not working. Turns out that it is not working for some particular program that (unbeknownst to me) needs a particular batch file/hack to run when Windows boots so that it can print. (Didn’t need the hack when we were on Windows 98.) Oh, yeah, I made a small change to the printer name when I reinstalled it. We just need to change the printer name in the one-line batch file…

…which requires me to travel to that office again. Unless I can do it via remote. Windows XP has this thing called “Remote Assistance”. I can have the person on that computer send me a request, and I can then just click on a link and run her computer remotely and fix the file. Neat, huh?

Nope. The program works by sending the request file via email, and she gets an error saying that Outlook Express is not set up. She doesn’t use Outlook Express, she uses Outlook. I instruct her to go to Control Panel and change the default email program to Microsoft Outlook. She does so and tries the request again. Same error. I send her back to Control Panel, and the default has reverted to Outlook Express. What the Hell???

Some Google searching turns up the little tidbit that you cannot change your default email program unless you are an administrator, as it is a system-wide setting. Huh? So apparently in Windows XP, two different users with two different accounts on one computer can’t use different email programs? What kind of drunken half-wit prick thought that was a good idea? (I’m looking at you, Bill.) Naturally, Windows does allow you to change the setting, but then silently reverts it the moment your back is turned (i.e. you close the settings window). This is one of the worst kinds of software failures — when a program changes things silently. Microsoft programs do this all the time — I think it must be in the style manual:

Help the user by constantly making assumptions about what they really meant to do, and then silently change what they actually did to what the software assumes they meant. Remember, people are stupid and software is smart.

I realize that the remote request likely won’t work anyway because I’ll be remote-controlling a non-admin login. Huh.

I call the person at that office who has admin access. He’s not a techie, but I should be able to talk him through it. I don’t like doing this because he’s a busy man (runs that office), but if three minutes of his time can save me an hour of travel, that’s a win. I get him to log on as admin. He goes to the batch file and makes the change. Just to double-check we did it right I ask him to go into Printer settings and double-check what I named the printer when I reinstalled it last night. Error. Sorry, administrator does not have access to the printer because it can not be found.

Fuck it. Looks like I’m traveling. If I thought I could get away with it I would stop at an Apple store on the way and buy a Mini to replace this piece of shit. Unfortunately we have one critical app that is running on… wait for it… DOS. Don’t even get me started.

(Note: Post title from this.)

[Insta-update — As I’m writing this, the user called me to say that she could print again. It appears that the fix worked despite the printer being “lost”. Once again — What the Sam Hill is going on with this broken-ass software?]

[Update: Alternate Title: “There’s a Hole in the Bucket. Just Fucket.”]

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2 Responses to There’s a Hole in the %&*#^! Bucket

  1. Anna T says:

    Sounds like you had a fun few days, there, Strider…I can’t say anything, because we were stuck using a DOS app at Faulkner…they are supposedly in process of “upgrading” to the Windows version of that app, but I’m sure I’ll be long gone from Montgomery before they go anywhere _near_ live. *maniacal laughter*

  2. Strider says:

    We actually started using the DOS program in 1998, because the accounting software we had been using since c 1972(!) was not Y2K compliant.

    We are actually in the process of upgrading to a Windows based program, which is nice. Naturally, it has a remote web interface that requires Active-X, and is thus IE Windows-only. (grrrrrr… I _told_ you not to get me started)

    As tech director, I am considering requiring everyone to use Firefox with IE Tab.

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