Yet Another Journal

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» Monday, July 11, 2011
Windows 7 and Me
I got word some weeks ago that my separate desktop computer at work and the laptop I was given for teleworking would be merged into one unit, a brand-new laptop that I would have to take back and forth to work.

Now, this sort of makes sense to me, but on the other hand: I have a working desktop. I have a working laptop. Why "excess" both of them and spend money on a brand new laptop? I would have waited until either the desktop or the laptop died before spending the bucks. But evidently after 26 years of government service, I still don't understand the decisions behind government spending.

I was also told I'd be getting Windows 7 with this new hardware. Now, I've heard nice things about Win7, rather than the vile epithets that accompanied Windows Vista. My own desktop computer came with WinXP installed, but I also got a Win7 disk in case I wanted to upgrade. This meant I could "try it out" before "buying," so to speak.

So last week the IT tech told me it was time to get my laptop. We arranged it for today, but, surprise, when I got in, my CPU was gone and there was the laptop already set up to the docking station. So I turned it on and gave it a swing, eventually couldn't get into any documents in ICE (it's always ICE that "breaks the king's peace," as it were) and contacted the tech, and he turned up some minutes later to help.

After working on it one day, my feelings are mixed.

First, the one thing I notice about each new version of Windows is the icons get bigger and brighter. Win7 as on my desktop this morning made me feel like a 4-year-old who needs BIG LETTERS and BIG COLORED PICTURES to be able to do anything. (By the time we get to Windows 10 it will probably come with virtual Crayolas.) With XP I could rein in this iconic overload by going into the start menu and asking it to exhibit Windows Classic menus and small icons. I've been told this is possible, but I haven't found most of it. I'm an adult. I just want words. I don't need singing and dancing icons. I did make the icons smaller, but I still have this blob of color and words on my start menu rather than nice neat rows of folders the way I like them.

The worst problem I had was the way it looked on the monitor. When I first turned on the computer, it had been set for the highest resolution the monitor would handle. Everything was impossibly tiny—and I've never complained about tiny! I told the tech about my problem and he showed me how to adjust the resolution. I find it a tiny bit annoying that everything isn't bunched together logically like it used to be. Screen resolution is in one place, wallpaper in another, themes in a third area...why? I can't tell you how long it took just to change the wallpaper (now a fall scene; in this heat I must have something inspirational to look at). Anyway, I got the screen resolution set so that Outlook was very readable, but ICE is still horribly teeny, with the lines too close together. Grrr. Plus, depending on the application (this includes ICE again), the typeface is raggedy. There's something called "ClearType" that's supposed to help with that, but you can't change it unless you have administrator access. Gah.

Plus I can't get the Desktop. You know, the Desktop icon in the Quick Launch bar (no Quick Launch in Win7; instead you pin things to the taskbar). The one that brings you back to the main screen with the icons. I did find a "desktop," but it opens in Windows Explorer and shows you what's on your desktop. Duh. The taskbar is its own set of problems. When I move my mouse over the minimized windows of the taskbar I get two colors melding and bleeding into one another like special-effect smoke in a Harry Potter film. The two colors are very light, with white letters on them, and the lack of contrast makes me squint. I can hardly tell which is which. I tried to find "Themes," but all I found was something with sets of nice pictures (apparently there are wallpapers that change every 30 minutes; give me a break—I want a work environment, not an art gallery. I did finally find the gadget that changes the colors of the frames and the windows, etc. but it didn't seem to work well on those minimized windows. Have to give it another smack tomorrow.

To add insult to injury, I was supposed to undock the laptop and bring it home.

No matter which latch I pushed, I couldn't disengage it from the docking station.

Combined with five purchase orders, one mod, a very delicately worded e-mail that needs to be sent, a contention over invoices, a missing contact, what seemed like three million e-mails—well, it wasn't one of my more stellar days.

And it was a bloody 95°F today, and hotter tomorrow.

So home, and James, and Schuyler and Willow, and supper, and two glasses of milk, and coffee ice cream for dessert, and Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix were all very welcome tonight.

But I'm not sure what looks more like Voldemort right now, Win7 or the purchase orders...

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