Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Pleasures of Upgrading a New PC - PDF

I started this whole mess a couple days ago.

First I had to decide which machine to save and which to recycle.

Then I had to load in the operating system and the basic software. 

Next are the PDF programs.  I use PDF very heavily.  I print to it from all my programs and I read the things I have printed.  It is easier for me to keep my documents in PDF on a memory stick than buy another filing cabinet.  So first, it's time to install Acrobat Reader.  Going to puts up an annoying survey.  I don't do free surveys - No Thanks.

Then off to the download page with the little grey box with the little lighter grey text.  Really, Adobe, how about something that is easy to read.  Are you so busy being a fanboy of your own work that you're forgetting that there are all sorts of people trying to use the site?

On the download page, there is a red box with white text (Bad color choice - ADA Compliance?) with "Download Acrobat Reader on it.  I'll save you all the effort, the link is here.  After clicking the Download Now link I was presented with a page telling me how to get past the browser's setting to allow the download to continue.  Probably that is the best way to manage that, since you should not download software without actively thinking about it.

Here's another annoyance I have with Adobe, they force you to use their own download manager.  Nobody else seems to use this software so I allow it to install then immediately uninstall it once I have finished with it.  Kind of a waste of time and effort if you ask me just to show me some annoying advertisements.  Ok Adobe, here's the worst thing about it... now that I have downloaded your garbage download manager, it wants me to close the browser.  That little dog is chasing it's tail.  So That just won't happen just yet.  I've got the blog article to finish.

Sidestepping the abysmal Adobe Acrobat reader installer, I'm going to get the printer.  Or rather CutePDF.  CutePDF is one of many free pieces of software you can install on the computer that will act like a printer and produce a PDF Document out of anything you are going to print.  Really sweet little piece of code and it makes life easy. 

Surf to get all the info on it.  Basically, you can download the CutePDF Writer from this link and use it for personal or not for profit use.  When you install it though, it asks if you want Yet Another Tool Bar so you will want to make sure that you DO NOT install the toolbar.  In this case it was the "Ask Toolbar" a worthless blemish on the browser world.  The installer has three check boxes asking nosy questions.  If you uncheck the first one where you do not accept the end user license, the others are turned off and you go on to install the Cute PDF Writer.  The next time you go to print a document you will notice a new printer called CutePDF.  It doesn't really need any configuration, just remember where it puts the PDF Documents so you can save them or print to paper later.

CutePDF does depend on something called PS2PDF and wants to install it, so it will pop up a window asking yes or no.  Select yes so you can go on with it.  When through, Cute PDF will open a browser window with documentation on how to use it, but basically it's easy as pie.

Since Adobe doesn't know how to install their reader without clobbering my browser... I'll continue this post... Tomorrow.  Basically if the survey magically appears, I'm going to slam that practice.  There is no reason, AT ALL, to force someone to download a magically delicious download manager just so you can install some free software.  Another problem with the way software is delivered these days.  You just never know what it's doing in the background.

OK, maybe not "tomorrow"...

After having gone through the Browser Restart nonsense, I ended up watching this install happen.  Or rather just the install of this abysmal "Adobe DLM".   It did not actually install the software.  I had to go in and re-download the software and have it install again.  It dutifully put up a window saying it was downloading and installing "McAfee Security Scan Plus" - something that I DID NOT WANT.  That will be uninstalled immediately after I get this install to work with Adobe Reader.

Theoretically, it went through and installed both Adobe Reader and McAfee Security Scan Plus, but I wouldn't have known that unless I went and looked at the Adobe Download Manager.  Mangler more like it...

Closing the Download "Mangler", I noticed that all my icons for PDF have changed to the official Adobe PDF graphic.  Having an old PDF on a memory stick, I double clicked on it and lo and behold, I was presented with a Personal Computer Software License Agreement.  Pretty worthless, clicked through.  I'm not in the business of reverse engineering this steaming pile of software, and frankly if I knew of an open source alternative that actually worked in order to read PDF Documents, I'd uninstall Adobe Reader in a heartbeat.

Accepting the agreement and signing my life away, I was able to view the document.

Now to get rid of the hitchhikers...

Going into Control Panel on Windows 7 I found everything in Confusing Categories, so I selected "Small Icons" and it broke everything out into a large list.  They're not quite as easy to deal with but categories imply someone else is deciding how things are, and frankly it's easier to hunt for something in front of you than have something arbitrarily packed into little groups and given hints on how they are grouped together.

I selected Programs and Features to get the list of programs to uninstall.

First program to uninstall: McAfee Security Scan Plus.  I was presented with a small Uninstall window upon double clicking the name which allowed me to get the offense off of my computer.  From their own site you can see that all it does is go through and check your current firewall and virus scanner as well as some other things.  Useless since all of this is managed by Windows Firewall under Windows 7.  You can view that under Windows 7 in the Control Panel.

Second program to uninstall... Adobe Air.  I have never been able to find a site that uses it.  I have never been able to find a use for it.  I am not clear as to how this would make my life better by having it on my machine.  It reminds me of Silverlight, which is another "internet platform" that has not taken off.  The description I got from Adobe's website is this:

Adobe AIR, a key component of the Flash Platform, unleashes the creativity of designers and developers by providing a consistent and flexible development environment for the delivery of applications across devices and platforms. 

Thanks, but you're not needed.  It warns you that those applications that require Adobe Air will no longer work if you uninstall it.   If I find a site that uses it, I'll reinstall it - or more likely go to another site.  Buh Bye!

Next to go is the Adobe DLM.   It forces you to install this bit of crapware when you install anything by Adobe.  I don't need it otherwise and now that I have Acrobat and Flash on my computer, I can get rid of this bit of Computer Chaff....  Except it magically disappeared when I uninistalled Adobe Air and double clicked on the uninstall within the Windows Programs and Features list.

Remember, this is YOUR computer.  An application running on it will only slow you down, so if you don't need it, get rid of it.  If the program is suspect, search online as to what it does.  Take the time to read about that machine that you paid all that money for. You'll be surprised as to what you learn.

One other hitchhiker.  Apple Quick Time.  It decided that it needed to be installed on one of the pieces of software that I downloaded.  It is only very slightly more useful than a toolbar since just about everything else is compatible with Quick Time and on a PC it acts only a little more stable than a virus.  Time to get that particular program if not removed, at least neutralized.

In Windows 7 there is an area that all the currently running apps go to.  It used to be in the far right next to the clock under Windows XP, they grouped them together in a little triangle to hide them away.  In my case, it's to the right of the battery and to the left of the clock/speaker/wifi sentry/battery/Windows Action Center.   There's a little white triangle that you can click once on and it brings up a pop up.  If you hover over it, it shows the phrase "Show Hidden Icons".  Helpful but why hide them?  Sure, its all minimalistic, but not exactly helpful.  Ok, we can live with it this way, so click and find the Q for Quick Time, right click on it and select Preferences.

Under the "Update" tab I turned off "Check for Updates Automatically".  Quicktime is a bit of a security hole, and normally I uninstall it completely but I do that only after seeing if I have any QT movies to watch.  Usually that takes a week, so until then, I will just tell it to play well and leave me alone - don't check for updates until you're banished.  Furthermore on the Streaming tab, I'm turning off "Enable Instant-On".  I hardly use Quicktime so why keep it up and running?  Finally under the advanced tab, I select all the way at the bottom "Install QuickTime Icon in system tray" and turn that off.   I just don't need it.  Uncheck that box, select Apply and hope it actually goes away until I get annoyed and fully uninstall Quicktime.

After I click "OK", it goes away and I get a helpful pop up from Windows 7 "Program Compatibility Assistant" asking whether it installed correctly.  I tell it yes, because I really don't use Quicktime, but if you click that there was an error, it will submit a check to Microsoft to help you further check for problems.  Helpful, useful in determining problems if you need them, but not really a problem Right Now.  Thanks, Windows, I've got it from here!

Mind you this is just getting the computer up.  All this day's Blog posting was about installing three programs so I can watch movies on You Tube and the like, and read and print PDFs.  It should not have taken this long.  The Application Development Manager in me has come out in full force, gathered all the Project Managers and Business Analysts into a room and say "You Can Do Better!".

Software does NOT have to be this bad!

One last helpful hint for today.  Once Adobe Reader is installed, launch it with a file to read.  If you have the version 10.1 that I got, you will notice helpful little bubbles showing up under the tab that says "Comment" in the upper right.  I didn't like that so I went in to turn it off.   To do that....

Under Adobe Reader, Select Edit and Preferences.
Click on the General Categories and find the check box that says "Messages from Adobe".
I cleared both boxes in that group.  I don't particularly want messages from Adobe like they're a needy ex-partner.

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