And on this page... some articles about various general computer stuff,
that I thought might be interesting.
CD-R's can last over 10 years - Thu Dec 26 14:40:24 EST 2013
Opening ancient (as old as 1989) Microsoft Word .doc files - Thu Dec 26 14:54:14 EST 2013
My experiences with upgrading Windows - Sat Jan 25 14:57:22 EST 2014
The fascinating universe of toolbar installers and other spam - Sun Feb 2 19:16:04 EST 2014
Anyway I decided to try to see if I could recover their contents. Several of these (about 1/3 or so of them)
simply failed to read altogether, although I suppose one of these special re-laminating machines or some other kind of
physical intervention could have fixed that. When CD-R's can't be read, I get weird message boxes like this:
All the other ones read perfectly. Some of them were as old as 2002 (11 years ago as of writing)
and still read perfectly, which was pretty cool. For example, below is a screenshot of reading
an old CD-R from 2002 that had some crappy picture of a boat I drew when I was a kid.
So, these fuckers can be pretty resilient. Probably if one takes good care of them and stores
them well and uses high-quality media they can last more than the 11 years that some of mine
have lasted so far. Especially considering that I have an 11 year-old CD-R that wasn't even
stored in a sleeve, that was all scracthed and dirty and shit, and I still read.
Often the problem with old media is not the actual media, but it's the fact that the files
are in some shitty ancient proprietary format for which no decoding software can be
readily found anywhere, anymore. This is probably the best reason to not use proprietary software.
Of course, if you're really "down" to read some old proprietary-encoded files, sometimes something
can be worked out involving old software and/or old computers and/or emulators.
Opening ancient (as old as 1989) Microsoft Word .doc files
Thu Dec 26 14:54:14 EST 2013
I have a backup of an old .doc file for a school project that I made in 2006 (where I tried to explain
how 3D glasses work, you know the kind you wear for movies, at least the old-fashioned crappy kind
with blue and red filters that give you a head-ache, as used and seen in "Spy Kids 3D"), using Microsoft Word 4.0,
a piece of software which was released in 1989. Below is a screenshot taken on the actual hardware
that ran the program (an old macintosh):
Amazingly enough, with some begging, Microsoft Word 2010 was able to open the file.
At the first try, it gave some weird error message:
So I did as followed, and opened up the strangely-named "Trust Center" dialog box:
And I unchecked the "Word 2 and earlier Binary documents blablabla" "Open" check box.
Then it allowed me to open the file.
Amazingly enough it seemed to render properly, and it even managed to draw one of the illustrations:
Nice job, Microsoft. For all the criticism of Microsoft, at least it is very very very very good at
backwards compatibility. (It's pretty much that way with Windows too, although unfortunately
it appears the 64-bit version of Windows 8 won't run some old 16-bit Windows games).
update: there's a reddit comments thread
Recently I upgraded a computer from Windows XP to Windows Vista.
I did this because according to all the computer press and Microsoft themselves, XP will be "unsupported"
in April of this year 2014 and will become increasingly vulrenable to security attacks / exploits.
On 4chan's technology board someone said to "expect a massive flood of zero day attacks that
people have already been hoarding, starting April 9" if I didn't upgrade from XP.
In 2012 I had read an idiotic piece of journalism saying XP would become "increasingly unstable"
after April 2014, whatever that means.
Right now there is a massive slew of blogs and other sites constantly repeating this message
that XP will be vulnerable. And lots people you ask in forums or IRC will also repeat the message.
Below are some pictures of these kinds of sites, for historical interest. (They might stop spewing this
message after April).
On IRC they told me I was "living in the past" and I couldn't ever aspire to being a "geek".
All that fucking bullshit. They don't understand that my computer just happened to be a few years old,
and oh, importantly, it fucking worked. I also tried the Linux channel which just spent hours telling
me to install Linux instead, which I already do fulltime since April 2012. I don't even use XP, my
brother does. It would have been stupid "upgrading" a computer from Windows XP to Linux and
then trying to make all the programs work through WINE or something. It would have been a massive
Anyway the main problem was that I wanted to keep the settings and programs intact and avoid
the Windows XP April virus paranoia. The only way to not spend hours reinstalling and recovering
everything was to do an inplace upgrade to Windows Vista. Of course, this led to lots of more
annoying proselytism about Windows 7, because Windows Vista has a bad reputation.
I made a full system image backup (using Paragon Free Backup) of the XP drive in case shit went
wrong, as recommended. This produced a bunch of archive files which I stored on another hard drive.
Anyway, the Vista upgrade installation went fairly smoothly. It took about 5 hours. Lots of percentages
slowly moving. It looked like this (picture from computrogeek):
The problem was once the upgrade was done networking didn't work anymore. The XP drivers weren't
compatible, apparently. Same for video acceleration. So I used another computer to download the
networking drivers for Vista. When I first tried to install them, it told me a driver was already installed
(the incompatible XP one). So I used the "remove program" dialog to try to remove the old driver.
It told me I could not do an install/uninstall operations because it the driver was meant for XP.
Well, that was pretty stupid. Finally uninstalling it through the "devices manager" worked.
Finding the graphics drivers was weird. I went to NVIDIA's site and they welcomed we with
some stupid automated script that incorrectly detected my system as 64-bit Linux and insisting
on finding (non-existant) drivers for that. Finally I got my hand on the precious drivers through
CNET, which tried to make install several toolbars and other garbage.
At this point, networking and graphics were working, and all the old programs, settings, etc.
were working fine.
The last thing to do was to install a metric shit-ton of updates: service pack 1, service pack 2,
DirectX 11, platform update, .NET, whatever. And also a first round of installing
the precious security updates which are the whole reason I bothered to upgrade that system.
The system automatically set itself up to install these at 3 AM every day, which is nice.
The system complained about not having an antivirus so I installed Microsoft Security Essentials.
It was kind of running slow, so I furiously uninstalled many of the useless programs that I had
accreted over the years. HP toolbars that did fuck all, shitty DVD players, etc. All that crap
was bundled with the PC and/or driver installers for various devices years ago. Now it's much
All this for fucking virus paranoia. Not sure how to feel about it all. I won't be any kind of
raving zealot. The good point is that they supported XP for 13 years. The bad point is they
create this whole virus paranoia and try to sell new computers and antiviruses and shit this way.
And I'll probably go through all this in 2017 when Vista is unsupported. Or I could upgrade to
something newer before that.
The fascinating universe of toolbar installers and other spam
Sun Feb 2 19:16:04 EST 2014
If you go to a Windows freeware software downloads site, you will get these vicious little installer
programs that try to install useless toolbars and other crapware.
Some have taken the audacity to having the installer you download do nothing other than try
to install crapware, then actually download the real installer from some obscure concealed
server and the run that.
Anyway, below is my collection of pictures of toolbar spam
(and also other stuff like shareware that annoys you about paying for deluxe versions).
Some I took myself, some are from 4chan.