From the Desk of the Mad Scientist: Windows


I get a lot of questions about having five siblings, while most of them focus on the fact I have a seven year old brother, many of the serious questions focus on the sibling closet to me in age, my twenty year old brother, the Mad Scientist. Mad-Sci is the brain of the family, he is currently studying engineering at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. The story that I use to best typify my brother is from when I was seven and he was five. We lost Mad-Sci five minutes into a shopping trip at Caldor (remember Caldor? God, I am old). We found him about twenty minutes later in some sections, probably the TVs. While my mother was visibly upset and distressed, Mad-Sci hadn’t even noticed that we weren’t there we had told him of the hunt for him, where his small five year old self simply shrugged. Coming up of the break is a note that he recently wrote about the new Windows operating system, 7.


I’m not an early adapter.

That’s a complete lie. I got the Nintendo Gamecube, Spore, syphilis, and Windows Vista more or less the moment they became available. However, I like to tell lies about myself, and one of my favorites is the idea that I muse long, hard, and penetratingly about my every decision, and consider the opinions of all the people who came before me and wrote reviews. Besides, in this case it’s a convenient lie for the narrative I’m fabricating…Reluctant Testimony is the term. As every lawyer knows, an account is more believable if it’s given by a person who is biased against what they’re saying. I know this, because I have heavy, leather-bound law books on my desk at home. Medicinal law books, that I’m holding. For a friend. These law books tell me that if I want to show that my witness is telling the truth when he says “My buddy Dave did not kick that puppy!”, I must first establish that my witness thinks kicking puppies is wicked sweet, and he wishes Dave would kick more puppies.

So, I wasn’t going to get Windows 7. Experience has taught me that that road leads only to compatibility problems, boring endgame content, dwindling third-party support, and local lymph swelling. Besides, they were asking for $120-$220. For an upgrade. Over a hundred dollars for the same thing I already have, redundantly giving me things I have without being different and matching what’s there. Already. That I have.

“But Tom,” I was told. “Windows 7 is also available to students, for the low, low price of Thirty United States Dollars. It’s hidden on their site, beyond the Forest of Gloom, through the ridge of Forg-Atun between the tiny carat-shaped mountains, beyond the cursive warning ‘here be dragons’.” “Bitch, please!”, I retorted, downing a stein of Jager-grog and pulling my wench near, “If those legends were true, someone would have bought it.” “They did,” my friend said, “By whom I mean me. I did. That was confusing back there, when I said they. I mean I.” “Then why am I here, making Tolkien/Pirate/Guido references? I must investigate!”

I have investigated. Windows 7 is not worthless. It is worth exactly thirty American dollars.

First, there’s the window style. It’s basically exactly the same as Vista, with its much-touted ‘Aero” interface, which rounds out the edges and lets me change the color and transparency of the frame. So, when I do a Google Image search for “Emily Deschanel + puppies + birthday cake”, instead of a rectangular box of disappointment, I get a glassy infocard of disappointment. Now, with 7, I can snap my disappointment to take up half, or, if I can bear it, all of the screen, by dragging it to the top or sides. $0.73

Next, taskbar pins. Those of you with Vista will remember that program shortcuts can be added to the taskbar, instead of taking up desktop space. This seems to be a uniquely PC sentiment, by the way. Mac users always seem to cover their desktop with their crap. Apple computers. Organization is for squares and poor people.

Anyway, now, the shortcuts look kind of like the Launcher bar thingy from the Mac interface, except that they also act as depositories for all of the windows opened in that program. So, if you have twenty Firefox windows open, you can simply mouse over the Firefox logo on the edge of your screen for easy access to all of your scatterbrained bullshit. Seriously, take some Adderall, you ditzy waste. $6.35

The shutdown sequence. In Vista, you shut down your computer by clicking the little dropdown menu next to the Power symbol, and clicking on “Shut Down”. Clicking the Power symbol itself put the computer into Hibernate, a choice with no precedent, no logic, and no fans. In contrast to this legendary failure, 7 returns things to their proper order. Instead of the Power symbol, there are the words, “Shut Down”. $2.13

When searching for a program on the Start Menu “All Programs” list, NO LONGER must you mouse over each folder to pop out a new list, sometimes doing this up to four times, being extremely careful not to let the cursor leave the list, lest the entire thing collapse back into its hovel in the Start Button, no doubt cackling to all its Verb Button drinking buddies about how much of a clumsy, dim-witted moose you are for leaving ever-so-briefly the pixel-perfect playing ground of their totally arbitrary sorting system. Now, clicking on folders makes an indented list, just like Everywhere Else in the Goddamn Hard Drive when set on “list” mode. $9.44

The snipping tool. This gadget takes the guesswork out of screenshots by letting you click, drag, and save a section of the presently visible screen. Holy. Shit. So awesome. $4.52

The calculator. Now, a list of your recent operations appears, like a basic graphing calculator interface, helping you keep track of what you’ve already done. You can even open up your past operations as a menu, and call back the answers. This is pretty handy. $3.81
Remember how the Vista buttons glowed when you moused over them? This is a stupid feature, and now it’s even worse, as the glow takes almost a full second to completely fade when the mouse moves to another key. This utterly pointless graphical feature was designed, no doubt, by a guy in the art department named Brett. Brett wears a lot of hemp, and he’d love to tell you about why that is. He’s found ways to segue to his love of hemp, and to avoid the topic you cannot say the words ‘economy’, ‘freedom’, or ‘with’. Brett has a soul patch and listens to The Polyphonic Spree with his noise-canceling headphones. Brett spells ‘through’ as ‘thru’, and says internet acronyms like ‘ROFL’ in spoken conversation. Brett plays the guitar, which means that he knows “Hey There Delilah” and the bass chords to “Rocky Raccoon”. Brett has a LOLcat-a-day calendar.

The problem with the glow is that it makes it hard to follow what button you’re actually about to click, as when you move over several, all of them light up. The light distracts from the arrow, drawing the eye to the glow, and the brain’s time spent processing which glow is brightest is time I don’t feel like wasting. Brett has a girlfriend named Kaylee, and he likes to french kiss her in the middle of unrelated conversations with other people and make loud, wet noises.-$1.66

Sticky Notes. Now, regular people like to use Post-it notes to record important memoranda, but really? Paper? Pens? Adhesive paste? Fuck that noise. This is the 21st century, great uncle Angus. I make typewritten notes on tiny yellow boxes.

Don’t disrespect, or you’re gonna get wrecked. $1.91

The magnifier. This lets you zoom in. This is really helpful to me, because I’m ninety four years old and I can remember when Warren G. Harding was President. $2.77

QED, dickwiches. Before you say anything, no, that didn’t include tax, and you’re kind of a nerd for checking if it did. Sales tax doesn’t need to be compensated. It’s my civic duty to help keep the country running. I sometimes walk right up to city hall and stuff C-notes under the door, because if I didn’t Medicare would go bankrupt and you’d all be eating peanut butter-dry Ramen-Sriracha sauce sandwiches on damp Wonderbread.


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