Monday, October 15, 2012


     Still recovering from the disasters of September.
     I installed Ubuntu 9.10 from a CD. As part of the installation, it partitioned my harddrive, left Windows XP in the lower partition, and installed Ubuntu Linux (UbLinux) in the upper partition.
     I immediately upgraded to Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx. I chose not to upgrade to Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin. (What is a pangolin, anyway? Some kind of anteater? Who is the short-bus genius who came up with that name?)
     Why did I not choose 12.04?
     Because I had chosen it before and did not like it. Let me tell you why.
     The most important thing about any computer program is not what it does. The most important thing about any computer program is the user interface. That is, can you navigate to and use what it does?*

     Here is a screenshot of 10.04:

     It has a task bar at the top. From left to right, the first three positions are drop-down menus. The Sound & Video menu is open.
     Next comes a group of shortcuts to fire off applications like Firefox. You can unlock any of these from the Task Bar and move it to another place on the bar.
     On the far right is the date-time display and the off switch.
     In the bottom bar, displays tell you what is running. At the far right is Trash.
     Simple. Elegant. Intuitive.

     Here is a screenshot for 12.04:
Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
     Note the absence of drop-down menus. Instead 12.04 gives me a side-bar filled with icons. I recognize the Firefox icon but no others. The top task bar is bare of shortcuts. The only things on it that I recognize are the date-time display and the off button.
     12.04 seems to be driven by a tie-in to Ubuntu One, some kind of Linux Cloud. I have heard about Cloud computing. As I understand it, the Cloud lets me store my files off my computer on someone else's drive space. Where the sheriff does not need a warrant to access them.
     No thanks.
     But leaving Ubuntu One to one side -- and I shall -- everything I want to use, everything I want to navigate to is now hidden. 12.04 forces me to play Hide-and-Seek with all the applications, files, and games I want to access. Not gonna do it.
     I come from Texas. We have a saying: If it ain't broke, don't fix it. 10.04 was not broke. 12.04 does not fix it.
     Okay, geeks -- yeah, you guys who designed 12.04. IMO Ubuntu 12.04 is a monstrous
     Go back to the basement. Throw out the 12.04 screen design. Return to the 10.04 screen design. And next time you short-bus geniuses decide to change the Ubuntu interface, ask me for permission first.
* Who am I to make such statements? Well, I am a writer now, but I used to be a computer systems analyst specializing in the man-machine interface. That is, I have some experience with interface design and layout.
     There may be something to 12.04 that I don't get, but if I have to use that verfluchte interface to get to it, it is effectively not there.
     I keep thinking of this, wondering what I missed. I conclude that if I missed anything, it is not my fault. It is the designer's fault for cobbling together an interface that diverged so radically from Ubuntu's historical interface as to render all users' previous experience with the Ubuntu interface obsolete and thus make the interface unusable.
     I stand by my statement. 12.04 is a FAIL. Shoot the designers pour encourager les autres.

Thursday, October 11, 2012


     This is the tale of my experience with Shareaza. 
     September was not a good month for computers in my home. My Compaq Presario C500 died. The soup I spilled across the touchpad likely had something to do with that. The replacement SONY VAIO lasted 5 days before its internet connection failed, just enough time for me to order a replacement through eBay.  I bought a refurbed hp 6730 from heyheyca, and I recommend him: 5 stars in all four categories. 
     The 6730 arrived Tuesday morning, and I spent the afternoon connecting to the internet. heyheyca gave me a choice of operating system -- Microsoft's Windows XP or Vista -- and I chose XP. I once had Vista. Can't say enough bad things about it. For the first time in more than a year, I am running a Windows operating system. When I run Windows, I feel anxious. (I plan to install Ubuntu Linux (UbLinux) tomorrow.) 
     Shareaza is an example of why I feel anxious when I run Windows. 
     I spent most of yesterday clearing out my inboxes, but I had one other task that caused me to delay the installation of UbLinux. My wife commanded me to burn a music CD for a neighbor boy. (Guys, when your wife asks you to do something, that's a command.) Just one track. The problem was that I did not have the track. So, to purchase a download, I googled it.
     The first item to come up in my Google search was Shareaza. 'Free!' it said. 'Legal!' it said. I was skeptical of those claims, but I decided to try it. The only way I could try it was to install it. So I did. 
     Big mistake. Huge. 
     I installed Shareaza and searched its listings for the track I wanted. Shareaza had many videos of performances of the song. It seemed to have many audio tracks, too, but I sampled them all and found them all to be the same hip-hop remix. Disappointed, I googled again, linked to another site, and soon had the track I wanted. I burned the CD for the kiddie, tested it, and went back to clearing out my inboxes. 
     I work with both Firefox and Chrome browsers running and switch between the two. The first time I switched to Chrome after I installed Shareaza, I noticed a new tab open: Shareaza. I did not open it. Shareaza did. I closed the tab and switched back to Firefox. There I noticed that Shareaza had changed my default search engine from Google to Shareaza. I had other things to do, so I went back to clearing out my inboxes.
     There I was, minding my own business, when a little window popped up in the lower right-hand corner to tell me that vander1221 was visiting my hard-drive via Shareaza. "Hmmm," sez I. For a few minutes I tried to see what business vander1221 had with my hard-drive. Nothing bad seemed to happen, so I gave it up and returned to clearing my inboxes. 
     Later, the same window popped up with another name in it. Someone else was visiting my hard-drive via Shareaza. "Hmmm," sez I again. I did some research.
     Turns out Shareaza is a peer-to-peer network. When you join, you invite others to share your files. How that makes for legal downloads I don't know, and I earned a law degree. 
     Matters got worse. 
     I switched back to Chrome and found -- wonder of wonders -- that the Shareaza tab had returned. Persistent little devil. I closed both browsers and restarted them.
     Chrome came up with an extra tab: Shareaza. Evidently the little devil had written itself into my 'Tabs at Start' list. Firefox came up without my regular tabs. Instead, there was only one: Shareaza. This devil was out of control. I made a decision: Shareaza delenda est. 
     I looked for an uninstall.exe in the Shareaza folders without success. I turned to Google for 'uninstall Shareaza'. The first site listed was singularly unhelpful. The second site was a forum whereon a frustrated user wrote about his failures trying to uninstall Shareaza via the Control Panel. I gleaned enough from this to have a go at killing Shareaza on my computer. Here it comes:

How I uninstalled Shareaza. (How to uninstall Shareaza.)
1. I closed all applications, and I mean all. 
2. I clicked the START button (aka the WINDOWS key). 
3. From the START menu, I selected 'Control Panel'.
4. In the Control Panel window, I double-clicked the 'Add or Remove Programs' icon. . . . and I waited while 'the list was populated.' 
5. I selected Shareaza and clicked the 'Remove' button in the lower right-hand corner of the 'Add or Remove Programs' window. 
6. A warning popped up to tell me that Shareaza could not be removed because it was running or 'resident in memory'. (Note those last three words.)
7. I got a drink and mulled over the situation. This was the same problem the kid on the forum had. I decided.
8. I hit the START button.
9. I selected 'My Computer' and opened it. 
10. I searched my C drive until I found the Shareaza folder. 
11. I clicked on the Shareaza folder and hit the DELETE key. 
12. When my operating system asked if I really wanted to delete the Shareaza folder and all its contents, I clicked 'YES'.
13. The operating system returned a warning that access was denied. This surprised me, because I was in administrator mode. I had access to everything
14. I got a stiffer drink and mulled over the situation anew. I decided. 
15. I hit ctrl-alt-delete keys. This brought up the Windows Task Manager. 
16. In the Windows Task Manager, I clicked the 'Processes' tab.
17. I scrolled down until I found the Shareaza process.
18. I highlighted the Shareaza process. 
19. I clicked the 'End Process' button in the lower right-hand corner of the Windows Task Manager window.
20. I clicked the START button. 
21. From the START menu, I selected 'Control Panel'.
22. In the Control Panel window, I double-clicked the 'Add or Remove Programs' icon. . . . and I waited while 'the list was populated.' 
23. I selected Shareaza and clicked the 'Remove' button in the lower right-hand corner. Success. Shareaza deleta est.

     I hope you learned something from my pain. My father had a saying: Experience is not just the best teacher. It is the only teacher. My corollary: It does not have to be your experience.

     I recommend against Shareaza. I found it to be a greedy devil that gave me nothing worthwhile, gave away files I paid for, threatened to give away work that I created (and thereby debase my copyright), and led a mutiny against me for control of my computer. If you read my tale and decide to install it anyway, good luck with that. At least you know how I killed Shareaza.