Monday, June 28, 2010

Windows 7 Annoyance - Shut Down or Restart

I use Windows 7 on "this" machine.  Actually I use a virtual copy of Windows XP that is an image of a PC that I retired running virtually on my copy of Windows 7 via Microsoft Virtual PC 2007... but that is a different story.

Virtualization is an interesting tool, it lets you run programs in a "sandbox" keeping the mess that sometimes happens if you surf a web site with a .RU extension (Russia) that turns out to be not entirely friendly.  

On the other hand Windows 7 has a couple of very different aspects from a visual standpoint.  There are certain things that happen in background that the operating system says to the user "Hey, Buddy, Wake Up! There's something important!". 

How does it do that?  Simple... Black the screen.  Completely.

Oh sure, it comes back with a box with choices of things to do afterwords, but that always catches my breath and makes me think "Oh Crap! Did FPL Have Another Power Pop that Killed my old Laptop"? 

I'm on a roll here, there's more to it....

I use this machine that I am on as my "big boy" computer.  It is an old laptop, about 3 or 4 years old, running Windows 7 that I upgraded from Vista (Ugh) and for the most part Windows 7 runs well on it.  Much better than Vista (Ugh) did. 

In my consulting work and my job search I beat the thing up.  I run a LOT of program windows at the same time.  For the most part, repeated programs are a web browser.  My personal preference is Firefox.  I know how to make it not show me advertisements using "adblock plus" and I highly recommend it.  I make Firefox open up as many as 60 windows at a time because it makes it much easier to automate my job search by reading a page within a tab and closing it when through. 

Needless to say, it works for me.  Once through The Daily Job Search, I typically have as many as 10 separate Firefox windows open and some of them have multiple tabs with their own web pages open.  It is a neat trick to open all your multiple email accounts in one browser window on their separate tabs, use another to research Joomla! and how to import a web site, and have a few job opportunities that you wanted to read a second time before applying.  Right now, I have seven Firefox Windows open, three windows with more than three tabs open.

There's a lot going on on this old machine.

I was going to post a picture today for the blog, and will do that tomorrow instead.  Why?  Simply because I got into the big Windows 7 Shutdown Feedback Loop. 


There are a lot of configuration settings on both Windows and Firefox.  I'm a strong fan of manually adjusting things and not letting the computer do things "automagically" for me.  When you shut down this particular machine, first I have to shut down the Virtual PC which can take about 10 minutes itself.  Then Click Start, and click on Shut Down on the Windows 7 "side" to shut down the main PC. 

Here is where it gets tricky.  Firefox is told by Windows 7 "Hey, I'm shutting down".  Firefox says Hold On, let me tell the owner of this thing something, and pops up a box saying "Do you want to Save and Quit, Quit, or Cancel". 

Obviously in this case, I almost always click "Save and Quit" since it is too much effort to bookmark every single page I have open on every single tab.  At this moment that would be 15 extra bookmarks and it is just after 8 AM on a Monday morning.  But I don't ALWAYS want to so I won't tick that box that says "Don't Prompt Me".  You don't want that because if you hit a web page with a virus, a bad piece of code, or something else that crashes your browser, when you restart the browser, you are right back where you started and in a loop.

The problem is when you miss that little window of time.  The dog barks.  The parrot is climbing down out of the cage.  You just got out of the comfy chair and went to make the second mug of coffee... what ever happens to distract you and...

You come back to a big black screen with the ghost image of your desk top and information that a program is holding up the works.  Won't you please fix it, I'll sit here patiently.

Stop being so helpful Windows.  We are Not All Idiots, Microsoft.  You're doing it wrong.


See the problem is that you have a prompt on the desktop from Firefox that is demanding to know "Do you want to save your work" and you just covered it all up with a big piece of black taffeta and are trying to act all sly and sleek about it.

I know you have focus groups to look at things and ask Is this Better Than That? like some stupid Eye Test for Operating Systems, but this was a place where you took the short yellow bus into town for your Happy Meal.

Systems are my work.  This system doesn't work (for me).  Here's the solution.  Don't cover things up!  Real basic right?  The problem is not limited to Firefox.  Any program where you are able to save your work may hold up the system from a restart and there are many times that you won't want to save.  If you open up a copy of Notepad and use it as a scratchpad intending to destroy it when through and you go to restart, you will go through exactly the same issues.   Changing to Internet Explorer is not an option since it is big, fat, and bloated and would slow me down massively in comparison to Firefox.  I almost NEVER use Internet Explorer since it slows down the computer and introduces some problems with the operating system because someone in Redmond Washington have decided that everyone needs this kludge called "IE" threaded all through your Operating System like a cancer that ends up turning it into a Single Point of Failure.

Someone up at Microsoft needs to go to their design team and say "Hey when you shut down, if there's something blocking the operating system, just pop up a window so they can get to the offending prompts".   It would be so much simpler.

There you go, it only took me 20 minutes to write this down.  I'm the project manager - you come back when it's fixed.   I'll see you on Friday.

(Yeah, I didn't think so either!)

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