If you have "no place to go," come here!

Corporate schlock, king-size egos

So, I'm down in Cambridge, MA at an internet cafe in Central Square, where there is a time limit of exactly one hour for free access, at which point the cafe blocks your machine. And I'm almost ready to go, and I'm almost at the end of the hour, and I've got the map to my destination in one tab, and the invitation in the other, when....

... without even asking me, Windows Vista Home (I know, I know) closes everything to update itself. Just seizes control of my machine and does what it thinks best. My favorite part is the stalled progress bar and the message "Do not reboot."

* * *

Then, the venue was MIT's Stata Center, which ran a few hundred millions over budget, leaks (bad for the computer science department's equipment), has no freight elevator that goes to all floors (bad for an engineering school), has two fourth floors (bad for anybody trying to find their way in the building), and also has offices whose strange geometries make engineers (who do tend to be rectilinear in outlook) physically ill from vertigo -- all of which I heard from an MIT student in the course of our walk to the Kendall Square subway stop. "So how did it happen?" I asked. "Ego," came the answer.

Now, to be fair, the public space of the building was wonderful, even if I couldn't find the bathroom -- lots of nooks to study, and a generally pleasurable place to hang out. But one can't help but think that the only real value in the building could have been achieved with classical methods.

NOTE And speaking of corporate schlock: Google Groups.

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Historiann's picture
Submitted by Historiann on

I lived there briefly in the mid-to-late 1990s, when it looked like Central Square. I was amazed when I went back there in the late 90s how much it had changed--rents jacked up so the independent coffee shops and bookstores had to leave, a supermarket plopped down in the middle. All very weird and suburban looking.

Is the Can-Tab still there? The Plough and Stars? The 1369?

Valhalla's picture
Submitted by Valhalla on

but the Plough (which I love) and 1369 is still around. 1369 opened a second store over in Inman.

But you're right on, Central isn't what it used to be. A lot of the restaurants are still independent, but the stores mostly are not. Harvard Sq. is much, much worse -- I visited in the mid 80s and thought it was so cool (to the point where I almost regretted going to college out in the boondocks), but now it's nothing but Gap and Urban Outfitters as far as the eye can see. Sigh. Inman is kind of what Central used to be, but it's not quite as T accessible. The economic FAIL hit a lot of the remaining indie stores pretty hard, too -- lots of empty storefronts just outside both squares.

splashy9's picture
Submitted by splashy9 on

With a new Windows PC is right click My Computer, hit Properties, then go to the Automatic Updates setting and chose notify me when updates are available but not download them automatically or install them. I hate it when it takes over like that - it's the default setting.

Oh, and I do the same with cookies. I make the browser let me know when it wants to set a cookie, so I can refuse if I want. Firefox will let you just allow a cookie for a session, then it's deleted when you leave the site.

Submitted by regulararmyfool on

Thanks, splashy9, for the cookies tip.

Getting that crap Vista off of my personal computer and getting a bxxtleg setup of XP installed cost me more than the damn computer did. It had some features that I really wanted but when my computer locks up for anything that some jerk at Microsoft just happened to think would be cute, it had to go. I have destroyed too many computers out of sheer rage when an "upgrade" cost an arm and a leg, but you had to have it and then hit the one change that really screwed things up. I have too fast of reaction time and absolutely no control over rage. In fact, one of my towers is in for repair now. The repair man couldn't believe that I actually threw the damn thing across the room. Techies, this is not a religion, this is a damn tool. I go back to card feeders and Hollerith cards.

It will be a cold day in hell when I ever pay Microsoft another dime. All Vista did was teach me how to find a reliable bxxtlegger.