The following is a rant I wrote shortly after I got my new laptop. It’s about a month old now but the frustrations are still relevant. In it I ramble on about how horrible an experience my new laptop is both due to Acer and Microsoft being just silly.
I feel bad that I spent money towards this crap, but unfortunately in the laptop realm I really had no choice. If it were a desktop I could have built one for the same price or cheaper then any retail offering. Laptops are a different breed. If I were to build one it would cost me twice as much due to the fact that white box laptops are so rare even today.
I think it’s important to note many of these frustrations come directly from Acer. In fact I’m going to hold off blaming Microsoft and Vista until I get a clean install of it and can rid myself of the Acer nightmare.
Onwards to the rant…
The new laptop:
For Christmas my gift was a new laptop. I’ve never owned one before and I’m hoping I can get more done without being tethered.
After a bit of shopping we decided on an Acer Aspire 4720. It was available at Circuit City for $479 after a mail-in rebate. My time there was not as bad as I thought it would be but a sales associate could have come seen me earlier then the 15 minutes it took.
Soon I was unpacking it and getting it ready. I checked to make sure there weren’t any special instructions. There actually wasn’t much in the way of instructions. With this laptop I received only a quick start card. No CD or DVD restore disks. To begin it turns out it just needs to be plugged in. I fired it up.
It took a minute or two to get running. Windows did it’s thing and finally asked me some default questions. Next, next, next, yup and next. Something like that.
This computer is so loaded down with crap that it honestly takes several minutes to load completely into windows vista home. Not only is there a handy dandy program for every piece of hardware that comes with the computer but there are nice things like the yahoo toolbar, a ninety day free trial of norton internet security, and easy access to the internet to buy more stuff.
Did you know you can upgrade your vista experience straight from the computer. I’m sure at some point a major credit card is required.
It’s ridiculous the amount of crap that comes pre-installed. So ridiculous I’m trying to come up with ideas to get around the horror.
Idea 1) Install Ubuntu
And the geeks rejoice. I’ve already tried a live CD of Ubuntu 7.11. Unfortunately there is no love with the wireless or the sound. There are methods out there to get these to work apparently but these are not integrated with this version of Ubuntu.
I didn’t really get to check out the other devices. Looks like Linux might wait on the sideburner.
Idea 2) Restore system, hoping crap will be gone.
Sigh.. if only. A restore of the system using Alt-F10 only restores to it’s original crap filled state. A similar restore using the handy dandy restore disks I wasn’t provided and had to burn for myself yielded the same exact results. There went three hours of my life.
Idea 3) Try to uninstall crap programs and bring windows vista to an operating condition.
It’s what I’m currently working on. Let’s see what we should delete.
Acer Arcade Deluxe (I’ll stick with my WolfET thank you)
Acer Assist (Apparently an application which will install updates for your acer product. I’ll hunt them down myself. Kudos for using Nullsoft Install System. This uninstalled in seconds.)
Acer eDataSecurity Management (Apparently a program that will encrypt data for you on your laptop. Umm.. it’s my laptop… maybe I’ll just set a password.)
Acer eLock Management (Apparently a program that allows you to password/lock drives on the computer)
Acer eAudio Management (a program that allows you to turn false surround sound filters on and off and apply some different EQ filters. Buh bye)
Acer Registration (I’ve already registered when I first got the computer. Don’t need that software again. Another that uses Nullsoft. It’s important to note this program doesn’t seem to remember you’ve registered and continues to nag you.)
Acer GridVista? (Apparently it gives you some extra options in setting and orginizing your windows?)
At this point I rebooted. Gridvista asked for it and Windows Vista wanted me to anyway because of 14 critical updates that it had automatically downloaded.
This started at 10:46, at 10:50 I was up and running again.
I then uninstalled:
Adobe Reader 8.10 (I’ll install Fox-It later. Adobe wants a restart but I told it later.)
Orion (An instant messanger software package, I’ll install Miranda32 later)
Yahoo! Toolbar (Give me a break already)
Acer Screen Saver (This isn’t the only one, but certaintly the most boring. Apparently also needs a restart)
Big Kahuna Reef 2 (Apparently a game/screen saver.)
Treasures of the Deep (same)
It’s important to note neither of these removed the icons from the Acer Games Menu. I’ve also noticed after a while that neither one of the screensavers removed the entry from the screen saver menu. While the former was fairly easy to get rid of, the later will need to be hunted down and manually uninstalled. Already on a base install there are programs with a glitch leaving behind garbage.
I continued to uninstall the other games. Each was a 60 minute demo of a game which I could buy the full version. No thanks.
These included. Dynasty, Bricks of Egypt, Galapago, Jewel Quest Solitare, Luxor 2, Mystery Case Files – Prime Suspects, Myster Case Files Ravenhearst, and Zuma Deluxe.
Norton Internet Security was next, 90 day free trial ends on day 1.
While I’m uninstalling I’ve been experiementing with tweaking windows. I tried to go back to the classic start menu. Not sure if I like that. (The new one looked like they got the orginization right)
I restarted again. Maybe it’ll get up a bit quicker.
Though I’ve uninstalled all the games and Norton, links still appear in my welcome center offering me games and security. I investigate the games link which leads to a game website.
I unclick the button that says run at startup. I don’t want to be welcomed by advertisements.
Next round of uninstalls:
Launch Manager (A program that runs in the background and apparently loads up nifty programs with those pointless buttons on the top of the laptop.)
Acer eNet Management (Does my internet work without it? Seems so.)
Acer Power Management (Might install this later, I’ll see what Windows has to offer in the area)
Acer ePresentation Management (Easy breezy buttons to configure multiple Display devices. I don’t have multiple displays.)
I took some time to clean up my start menu. I deleted that empty games folder. It’s important to note in the interest of safety in order to do ANY *^&*(#% THING on vista you have to click OK 2-9 times.
Deleting the icons that should have been deleted on uninstall took me.. ohh wait.
I apparently need permission to delete the icons. Try Again. I need permission to delete the icons. Cancel. Try to delete again. You need to confirm this operation. Continue. Windows needs your permission to continue. Continue. You need permission to perform this action. Try Again. You need permission to perform this action.
There is no getting rid of these icons it seems :( I did find that I can delete each one. I haven’t yet deleted each one to see if I can rid of the folders.
This madness has to stop.
Apparently what’s making me hit OK, or Continue 2000 times every action is what’s called the User Account Control. We saw some of this with XP SP2. It’s gotten about 40 times worse. Off that goes, maybe It’ll be better.
You have to restart to make it happen. About 20 programs told me to do so already. Lets see.. it’s 11:56 now. It comes back up at 11:58. Wheww I’ve trimmed a minute off the bootup. And…. I’m able to delete stuff.
I get rid of the GameZone icons that were leftover from a crappy uninstall. I also notice one on the desktop which is now gone. I also get rid of the Empowerment icons. Thanks for leaving those behind after uninstall.
Just for fun I use the Acer Tour.
Nice music. Nice slideshow. I quickly exit and uninstall.
At this point I’m about out of things to uninstall. I’m not sure what this Acer Mobility thing is.. but it’s gone as well.
I start digging through menu’s. Figuring out that Microsoft has done what they do with all their operating systems. Which is hide the menus you need to really tweak out the system in different places. I change it for best performance. I also turn off a few services. Now that the damn User Account Control is off I can actually use my computer somewhat. The welcome center still tries to sell me stuff. So does my Start Menu.
Everything is getting clean though. I use IE for the first time (ohh wait everything that tried to install more crap/sell me crap/even the extra buttons on my computer launched it.) I mean I actually loaded up IE to surf the net. Most notably to mozilla.com to get firefox. I close down the two acer related buy more crap tabs and set google.com as my home page.
With the install of Firefox I decide to install some more fun. WolfET comes next along with the patches and 7-zip. I also install VLC, and Foobar2000.
When I started on this journey Windows was using around 74% of available memory (1 gig with this model) Now it’s using around 51%.
So I’ve managed to cut out about 250 megs of crap loaded into the background. Now if only I can get rid of 250 more….
I’ve been using Vista for a few days now. I’ve got to admit there are a few things I like about it. Explorer is clean for once, the new location bar is pretty sweet how it groups directories, but you can still just type up a path in the bar like always.
Still 512 megs just to run an OS? And this is after trimming as much fat as I could find. There seems to be so much stuff that has to do with licensing and DRM related services. Also thumbnails for pictures seems to be missing. (Just wasn’t turned on.. although I have found a bug with thumbnails. More later.)
The fact is I bought this laptop as an update to my 1.4ghz 712mb system. This has dual core 1.4ghz, plus 1 gig memory. It should run a little better then my old computer. Yet it runs worse. Thank you Vista.
After much surfing I’ve found that I can buy a clean version of Vista from Microsoft for just shipping and handling. Before I really blame Microsoft I’m going to try again from scratch. There should be more rambles and rants about this later.