Re: PDF files (yes, the Reader is a different story)



Thanks for your description of the problems with AR5.1. Sorry I took so long to respond--had a business trip (and i didn't bring a lap-top and sure didn't miss it!;).

What you describe regarding trouble with your acrobat installation is a perfect example of the **nonlinearity** of the current "windows" / "INTELx86" architrecture/OS approach. I have on numerous occasions, with various windows systems, had a crash or an error event which was unrepeatable. In other words, starting with a set keystroke sequence, the first time, a crash happens; next try, identical key sequence after boot, and no crash.

So, "computers" are now so complex that they are actually chaotic systems. Your system especially ;-0( .

But I also noticed one certain fatal flaw--you allowed yourself to get bullied into installing a software item "on the fly". In my experience, this is a very dangerous activity and often leads to trouble (as foreshadowed by the spooky music..).

I think you are stuck with the only real solution:

Format & Reload.

BTW, I have over the years found that ALL windows systems degrade (inexplicably) over time, and that a Format & Reload will bring performance back up dramatically. I have even done testing of this business in the past, for instance, time to load and open an excel file-----before F&R, say, 30 seconds, after F&R, say, 15 seconds.

Apparently, the "registry" system in windows just gets corrupted a little bit further every time you use your computer.

I have not even started to discuss a favorite aspect of this business, but will mention it: software compatiblilty and load sequencing i.e. which software should be loaded first. It can make a HUGE difference on post W95 systems.

Note that I am not a true compudude, but just another regular (like mechanical type) engineer who has been trying to make computers do my bidding since 1983.




I haven't had access to "inside information" since just before Windows 95, and I didn't understand most of what I heard before that, regarding how Windows works. But I remember that Windows 3.X had a control panel where you could specify how virtual memory is handled - how Windows uses space on the hard disk to swap programs in and out of RAM to facilitate multitasking. You could tell it to use a fixed amount of contiguous disk space and if Windows could find such a chunk, it would allocate it as a file (something.386, I think) and only use that for disk swapping - or you could let Windows manage it on its own. The latter seems to be the only option on Windows 9x+. I think Windows now uses any part of the disk it wants any time it wants. The more RAM you add, the greater the volume of disk swapping needed (it seems) and as the disk gets fragmented, the more thrashing is involved in the simplest operations. Newer versions of Windows seem to do much more of all this, it seems like each revision attempts to maintain a constant response time on the latest generation of hardware - I suspect this is Microsoft's effort to sell new computers, since that is the only time most people upgrade their OS. You use your computer until the hard disk is full, then you get a new computer with a much bigger hard disk and copy everything over. It's like buying a new car because the ashtrays are full, then emptying the old ashtrays into the new ones! I'm keeping Windows 95 on this computer, mainly because I can't get a newer driver for my little laser printer. I have upgraded the MS browser several times but I think I'm at the point that MS doesn't support it with newer versions for Windows 95 any more. That's OK with me, this one is working pretty well. I also need to reformat and reinstall periodically - that is much easier now with a newer computer with a huge hard disk connected via $10, 100 Mb/s Ethernet cards, to use as temporary storage! Also, my little printer works fine via the network - it shows up on the other computers as an HP LaserJet IIp.

I love how cheap computers get when the new chip, etc. comes out (plus the economy slows!). I'm astonished by what you can get for $300-$400 for a not-very-latest-generation PC compatible with bigger hard disk than I'll ever need, CD-R, DVD, new OS, etc. The latest motherboard I bought came with a CPU (2.4 GHz) literally more than 10 times the speed of the one I'm using right now (233 MHz) [which is nominally more than 100 times the speed of the first personal computer I worked with, the TRS-80 (model 1), 1.77 MHz, and that cost 600 old dollars]. The only truly awful part is the little speakers they sometimes include.



Oh, yes. I am indeed aware of the degradation over time of a windows installation. I am on maybe my eighth reload of W98se. This is a great improvement of reliability over W95, though.

Microsoft wants, of course, to sell me on the improved reliability of XP. But each and every time they come out with a new system, I go through the "new needs" syndrome: I must buy a new printer, because my old one is no longer supported. I must buy a faster processor and more memory, in order for it to run. I must give up on the motherboard that still had that one EISA slot, because none of the new processors will fit the old board, and the new boards don't have EISA. The $600 EISA DAC board, thus, must go-- and the new PCI-based boards are only $600 to do the same thing.

I estimate that my cost of going "current" is NOT the $150 or so for the OS; it is four to five times that, and I would spend considerable time getting it all "right".

Are my experiences unusual, or am I alone there? I dunno. All I have heard of XP has left me underwhelmed when not dismayed.

Apparently, it IS somewhat more reliable, when the installation has gone right. But that does not mean it will not suffer "degradation" and get progressively flakier over time, just like its predecessors.

Go Linux? Possibiity-- except Linux, as yet, hasn't got all the applications I want, or drivers for the devices I want.

And now I see SCO is suing or threatening to sue, over what they claim is pieces of ATT Unix code in the Linux kernel. So the Linux community may well be held hostage to a court battle over whether some who participated in Linux development should have been ALLOWED to.

(note that, if SCO *REALLY* wanted Unix and Linux to coexist, they would have HELPED replace whatever offends them in the kernel-- or given the opportunity for the Linux community to do so. They're not protecting the sanctity of intellectual property for U and Me... Litigation means they want the licensing of Linux and royalties. That's ALL it means.)

Oh well. Yeah, I'll probably go through reload hell again, see if Acrobat works afterward. Wish me luck.




re: " I must give up on the motherboard that still had that one EISA slot, because none of the new processors will fit the old board, and the new boards don't have EISA"

I, too, yearn for that EISA slot. I am using an old Logitech bus mouse, which has the best feel I've ever experienced for a mouse. which requires an EISA slot. I figure I am destined to live with PII/PIII architecture for the rest of my life, although I have seen a celeron motherboard at the local Frys which has a single EISA slot. I have plenty of old PC boxes in which to try putting a new-fangled board.

I'm also sticking with 98SE as long as I can, with my old Gateway Pentium Pro's (3 of 'em, one with an overdrive to get to 333 MHz). I have a newer Sony with XP, and despite its 5x speed advantage, I hardly ever use it 'cause I can't stand an OS that thinks it is smarter and knows better than I do what I want to do next!!! I've been using computers for 40 years, and am quite capable myself, thank you. Well, usually - I have yet to reliably write a CD with XP! Besides, it's easy to crash XP, too.


glynn, Dave:

Just out of curiosity, do you guys mean EISA or ISA?

I've got a Tandy EISA system and some EISA bus SCSI adapters for it, but I never heard of a special EISA bus mouse! (not that I'm saying there never was one)

Also, the things you say apply equally to ISA - it has pretty much disappeared from motherboards. Another reason I am keeping this 233 MHz system running - my scanner needs an ISA slot (and I probably can't get a driver for it above Windows 95).



I don't think it matters: ISA or EISA. My mouse has a card which plugs into an (E)ISA slot, and the mouse connects to the card. Mine's a Logitech, but (at least) Microsoft also made several versions of bus mice. I think the original intent was to save the serial connector for other devices. The intro of the PS2 version of mouse connection ultimately superseded all other kinds of mice.

I don't know how complicated it is to put the (E)ISA slot on a motherboard, but it sure would be nice to have it. Another option would be some kind of a PCI/ISA adapter. I have no idea if voltages and logic are compatible, but if so, somebody should make one and I'd buy it (I might buy three of them, for my various PCs).


My current mobo is just that-- Has one ISA slot, but that is the one consisting of two connectors-- sort of a long slot followed by a shorter one. I can see the card in my mind, though I haven't got the box open. I presume there is something out there called EISA I just borrowed the name from, which is totally different.

The mobo, BTW, is a Tyan Trinity 400, which has been rock-solid, a great machine. 4 PCI slots plus one combo slot area (that has a PCI AND a ISA, but you use one or the other, not both). It is a slot 1 system and could also use a socket 370 cpu (again, not simultaneously; it is not a dual-cpu design). But alas--my combo of Peripheral stuff in it will not run faster than a 66MHz bus speed without the odd occasional lockup, which I can't permit. So I am running a Celeron 533. If I boosted the bus to 133, I could drop a Pentium up to 1024MHz in it.

But what I have has been just great for what I do. I am loathe to mess with new memory, new DAC, new SCSI card, etc. If only it had a nice stable OS that would not crumble like a sand-castle in the rain.

I've been dreaming, in fact, of a product a friend of mine told me about.. He works for a school district, and oversees a bunch of PCs in classrooms. They apparently bought a product (Win-based) that allows the kids to use the machines, mess around, stick their own software in it, and basically wreak havoc on their OS installations.

At the end of the day, the PCs are rebooted, and this software returns the PC *magically* to exactly the same as before the kids got hold of it. A special set of directories on a network drive holds files the kids generate for class; but the PCs themselves stay pristine. The software sounds simply wonderful. But I think it is likely fairly expensive.


glynn, Please post the name of the software that you mentioned that protects the OS--it sounds very interesting indeed!


The name of the product is GoBack Deluxe Edition, recently sold from
Roxio to Symantec.
lists it for US$29.95. The feature referred to is "autorevert", and I
can see that it could be very useful for classroom PCs or demonstration
items, but I don't think you'd want to use that feature on your home PC.
But you can also use GoBack revert your PC to some time of your own
choosing, as long as the drive hasn't changed so much that GoBack hasn't
been able to keep track of all of the changes. If you defrag your hard
disk for example, you probably won't be able to revert to a time
previous to the defrag. You may have to disable GoBack before installing
some MS Windows updates. You can also use the deluxe edition to recover
files that have been deleted or overwritten, subject to the same
limitations. It's definitely not a replacement for backing up your hard
drive, but it has saved me considerable grief a few time. It's very
useful for recovering from recent changes, for example, a software
installation gone bad, or a file inadvertently deleted or overwritten.
It does have its limitations, but even so, I highly recommend it if
you're using an MS Windows system that it supports. Norton SystemWorks
2002 came with GoBack Personal Edition which, if I recall correctly,
doesn't have the autorevert or file recover options. I think that there
may be a trial version available on the Roxio site.

I do hope that Symantec continues to improve and market this product.




Actually, GoBack keeps track of changes in a "hidden" "system" file, gobackio.bin, in the root directory of the drive. I think that the default size of this file is about 10% of the drive size. GoBack also begins running before MS Windows itself, so you can recover from changes that prevent MS Windows from running. If I recall correctly, it modifies the partition table, so you should check on compatibility before using it with multi-boot systems.




The one my friend recommended was Deep Freeze Professional. Don't know how exactly it differs from GoBack, but I think it IS a differnt system.


Thank you. I meant to mention that I thought that there was more than one application that does this. Looking at the Deep Freeze web site, I get the impression that Deep Freeze always reverts to a a particular state at reboot, rather like GoBack with autorevert enabled. Good for classroom and public access computers, but not what I'd want on my own personal computer. Single-copy pricing is higher than GoBack, but I notice that Deep Freeze offers discounted pricing for corporate-government, library, and educational licensing. The Roxio site is offline at the moment; I suppose that Roxio might offer discounts for site licences, but I really don't know.



Cotter's law:

The length of time it takes a desk top computer to perform a given task is directly proportional to the speed of the processor.

(Processor speed increases linearly with time, while the software to be processed increases as the square of the time.)


That sounds about right. Why is it "Cotter's" law?


It's Cotter's Law because that's my last name.

The name is Noël Cotter. The first name, Noël, is Noel with a dieresis (Two little dots as you see on Christmas cards.) over the "e". Software people, not being members of the real world, tend to view this mark as something found only in French and German whereas it is really a perfectly legitimate part of English spelling as well. Hence, a lot of software chokes up when given this character. Specifically, when I first joined a Yahoo group the Yahoo software choked up, and in a fit of pique I chose the handle "unspellable". Tha Yahoo software has since improved somewhat on this point.

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