2016.12 minutiae

  • Last month my computer crashed twice in two days, and since it was over six years old, I decided that it was time to get a new one.  It wasn't even a huge investment: I still use a desktop, so a powerhouse machine near the top of the line only cost a few hundred bucks.  I've spent much of the time since then looking up and implementing various hacks to make Windows 10 suck less.  A lot of them came down to "Microsoft didn't remove this feature, but did turn it off, so enter this crazy long hexadecimal string into the registry to turn it back on."  Like, Microsoft made the deliberate choice to hide the "Recent folders" option from "Save as" and upload windows, which is the functional equivalent of an automaker deciding that, hey, y'know, just for fun, let's make it so that three doors of this sedan can't open.  You can still get into the car!  Just go in through the driver's door and climb into the seat of your choice from there!

  • I also installed a package to make Windows 10 look and feel more like Windows 7, because 2010s graphic design is atavistic.  It's like we're living in 1520s China, except instead of setting our naval fleet on fire we've chosen to immolate everything we've ever learned about how to make a computer screen look pretty.  The package didn't bring back the rounded window corners, which is fine, and while I initially grumbled that I couldn't get translucency to work, having the accent color change every hour to match the background is a decent substitute.  The important thing is that it did give some depth to scroll bars and buttons and things, and above all, it brought back window borders.  WINDOWS NEED BORDERS.  I don't know how anyone can cope with a bunch of borderless rectangles.  I couldn't — they made Windows 10 unusable to me until I put in the fixes.

  • You may wonder, why not just switch operating systems?  I did give it a go!  For a few days I dual-booted with Zorin OS, which my research had suggested was the easiest flavor of Linux to adjust to.  But I just couldn't get used to it.  One of the main things I was looking for was an OS that would let me customize it to my liking, but I soon got the sense that when people touted Linux as customizable, they meant "you can code up your own distribution" rather than "you can toggle a bunch of options until it works the way you want".  The last straw was that I couldn't figure out the file structure.  Like, where is C:\?  Where do I start stashing my files?  'Twasn't for me.

  • This month in unfortunate cognates:

    This doesn't actually mean "pardon us for molesting her", but it still seems like the phrasing could have used a quick rethink.

  • I have spent most of my waking hours since the election watching Masterchef Australia, which I expect to be writing up at length in a few weeks.  I mention it now to make this tangential observation.  The winner of season two was a guy named Adam Liaw, whose food did not look like my sort of thing, but who is smart and funny and seems like a swell guy, and who was therefore one of my favorite contestants that season.  We have the same first name.  One thing about the name Adam is that it does not lend itself to diminutives.  It's not just that it's short — a lot of names with standard diminutives are also just a stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable, yet people still feel compelled to chop off the latter or replace it with an ee sound: Daniel→Dan/Danny, Thomas→Tom/Tommy, etc.  But I can attest, based on years of interest in onomastics and decades of being named Adam, that when your name is Adam, people call you Adam.  However!  In Masterchef Australia, not only does Adam Liaw receive a letter from his parents that begins "Dear Adie", but it turns out that the British and Australians have latched onto a fad of abbreviating everyone's name with a zz sound — Gary becomes "Gazz", Jeremy becomes "Jezz", etc. — and to my astonishment, there was a contestant who took to referring to Adam Liaw as "Azz".  Crikey.

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