A Clean Install of Windows XP

December 28, 2009

My sabbatical is underway.  The lone Windows program I still run is Quicken.  The Windows version is so much better than the Mac version.  So on my home desktop I run VMware Fusion with my very old imported Windows XP virtual machine just to run Quicken.

But the home desktop wasn’t coming with me and I need to pay the bills.  And so today was the day I upgraded my Fusion licenses to version 3, installed one on my laptop, and then began a clean install of Windows XP (SP2) from fresh shrink-wrapped licensed media.  Started about 1:00 p.m.  I’m not going to say that I was totally attentive, indeed about a five hour gap while I turned the leftovers of the Christmas Day rib roast into a hearty soup and ate dinner.  But now as 11:00 p.m. is passing what is up with this?

The Fusion “Easy Install” was.  Nary a glitch.  All questions up front.  Took about a hour, mostly in the Windows install stage.  The machine came up with and rightfully complained no anti-virus and so I installed from the UW site-licensed software in about 15 minutes.  Ah, but then Windows Update.  Phase 1:  downloaded and installed three update tools, rebooted.  Pretty easy.  Phase 2:  (and in the middle of this was when I moved into the kitchen)…Windows Update deduced that I need 62 Mb of SP3 and it was installed without my intervention and rebooted.  Windows Update again.  62 updates (I know it is odd that 62 keeps coming up) totaling 97 Mb.  The first one wanted me to agree to a license.  And then things seemed to move ahead.  Except I discovered it stalled at update #21, wanting another license confirmation.  And it seemed to move ahead.  Except I discovered it stalled at update #39.  Except there was no obvious indication of what was going on, other than a progress bar seemingly indicating that progress was being made.  Not!  There was a hidden window wanting confirmation of something.  And in the end #39 needed two more confirmations, but at least now the window was on top.  Free flowing thereafter, up to #59 as I started this rant.  Phase 4:  And now at 11:18 p.m. system has restarted and I’ve just logged on and back to Windows Update.  More questions about IE8 configuration.  (Ah, I take it back not just Quicken; I will install Firefox).  And three more updates!  Finished at 11:20 p.m. and now restarting.  Phase 5:  And at 11:23 Windows Update launched yet again.  We’re done:

No high-priority updates for your computer are available. To check for optional updates, return to our home page and click Custom.

All this time to get a clean install done?  I can only blame about 40 minutes for the size of the significant downloads.  Everything else was balky behavior and an absurd approach to user acknowledgments.

As son Mark (my Mac boy) kibbutzes, no son, Windows 7 wasn’t an interesting alternative.

Update 12/29 at 12:56 a.m.  Installed Quicken, works fine, but… Phase 6: Windows Update is taking another 69 Mb bite for .NET stuff.  And at 1:19 a.m. another restart.

And so I think I now have a stable Windows XP installation that supports my lone application.  Does Windows 7 solve any of this?  I don’t know.  But at the retail price for W7, and with XP working, what is the point?

So the final thought.  There must be many Quicken users on Macs that would buy the current version as a virtual machine.  Microsoft needs the revenue for whatever their license piece would be.  I wouldn’t care if it was totally crippled, if it were stable and the application ran.  Intuit takes many shots to the head over their Mac implementation.  This would be an affordable path, even tossing in Fusion or Parallels.


December 26, 2009

Leslie correctly pointed out that while I deserve precedent for Skypetailing (TM), I was far from the first to gather for a social cyber cocktail.  And so it is with Skypedining (TM), which I have now coined and a Google search backs me up on this being a new word.  Admittedly though fully evident that there have been many Skype-enabled dinners.

Its origins:  last night we very much enjoyed sharing our traditional Christmas dinner between myself, Tobae and Mark in Whistler and Daniel in Portland (although truth be told he asynchronously ate spaghetti–missing my rib roast of beef prepared on the BBQ, classic McDuff family rice pilaf, and some quite good, though pricey, asparagus from Creekside Market.)  Daniel sat at one head of the table, and while it would be good if the camera on the MacBook Pro was a bit wider angle, it worked well enough, enabling us to gather the family.

Don’t Trust ‘Em

December 26, 2009

A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll on global climate illustrates the politicization of science in the United States:

Scientists themselves also come in for more negative assessments in the poll, with four in 10 Americans now saying that they place little or no trust in what scientists have to say about the environment [emphasis added]. That’s up significantly in recent years. About 58 percent of Republicans now put little or no faith in scientists on the subject, double the number saying so in April 2007. Over this time frame, distrust among independents bumped up from 24 to 40 percent, while Democrats changed only marginally. Among seniors, the number of skeptics more than doubled, to 51 percent. … [M]ore than six in 10 Americans see a lot of disagreement among scientists on the issue of global warming. That’s the view of nearly eight in 10 Republicans and about two-thirds of independents. A smaller majority of Democrats, 55 percent, see general agreement among the scientific community.

Indeed, as a scientist I have no traction with my Republican mother-in-law.  She revels in how I am taken out of context in her favorite climate skeptic book.  Makes no difference that I can explain how.  Her own son, a nuclear physicist at Oak Ridge, gets no traction as well (and he had the enjoyment of climate bashing over the holidays).  She is a very smart and accomplished woman, holding a Ph.D in economics.  She must be doing something right…re-elected the mayor the sixth largest city in Georgia with 84% of the vote (three opponents splitting the rest).  But wouldn’t it be simpler for her to explain why our economy cannot afford to stop carbon emissions, which may well be true, rather than accepting Republican mantra that the practice of science is flawed.  (Or perhaps I’ve misjudged and her views are aligned not with Repuplicans but with other seniors?)

No wonder I fear for our new College of the Environment at UW, nearly all of its units rooted in the natural sciences.  Are we now instantly less credibile?  Perhaps the only saving grace is that we are located in a blue state.

Skypetailing in Action

December 16, 2009

Following up on my original Skypetail post, I had Skypetails with Scott Veirs today.  He is at his neighborhood pub in Seattle and I am in my hotel room in San Francisco.  The picture says a thousand words:

Skypetailing with Scott Veirs

Sam is My Man

December 12, 2009

In early November I talked about “Hot Rocks on the Ocean Floor” to my friend Tracy’s third grade class, fifth time I think.  It is always tremendous fun.  An age where they are just beginning to understand and understanding is still okay.

A pleasure is receiving the thank you letters.  Each charming in its own way.   But this one stood out:

Dear Dr. McDuff, I hope you liked Meridian Park [School] cause we liked you.  That show was interesting, your awsome!  You look like a pro thats what I want to be a pro I want to be a star just like a you.  I want to be just like you when I’m a grown up I want to be just like you; Smart intilliegent and the smartest oceanographist in the world.

Thanks Sam!