Windows XP Service Pack 2
If any of you out there have been using Windows a while, you're probably aware that Service Pack 2 for Windows XP is out. I have two computers here at home. One is what I call my "widget" server (just for files and stuff,) the other is my main computer I use all the time.
Small note: I highly recommend that if you use your computer at least once a day, you should have a secondary computer. It doesn't matter if it's a piece of crap. Having that second box is good for backing up stuff, storing things and so on. With a router (available at your local Radididididio Shack,) Windows is easy to network so you can share files to/from your boxes.
First I'll talk about the install process.
The Service Pack 2 update seems to be easy. You install and reboot. I figured I would try this on the widget box first. Blew it up. Completely. Blue-screened everything on next boot. Had to reinstall the whole thing. I was ticked off.
On my main box, I held off loading SP2 until I was sure I could do it safely without blowing up the box. I cleaned it up and bit and ran the install, installed fine. My widget box most likely blew up because I was attempting to do it remotely (yeah I know, dumb idea..)
Next I'll talk about what I immediately notice about SP2:
Service Pack 2 is supposed to address the (ever prevalent) security issues among other things with Windows XP, particularly with networking and the Internet Explorer web browser. One word can describe this whole update thing: "Nannification". This is word I saw used in Motor Trend magazine a few times, and it very accurately describes what this update does: It's "nanny's" your browsing and network habits. For people like me, this is very, VERY annoying - because the first thing you want to do is TURN IT OFF - which isn't easy to do.
1. Pop-up blocker now in Internet Explorer.
One would think this is a good thing, right? Not really. The pop-up blocker does a lot more than just block pop-up's, in a bad way. It makes some sites cease to work entirely - like citicards.com (credit card provider). When you attempt to use their Virtual Account Numbers feature, it simply doesn't work at all because that system requires the use of one safe pop-up.
Because of my distaste for the pop-up blocker in IE, I went back to my old blocker, Google Toolbar. Works great. Always has. It blocks about 95% of what I don't want to see, and allows me to see everything I want to see.
2. Software-based firewall put in Windows for stupid people.
Anyone who uses fast internet should have a router. It acts as a great firewall, truly. However, most people are outright stupid and just run their computer "wide open" to the 'net, hooked up to a cablemodem with absolutely no protection whatsoever. Windows Firewall is a software-based solution to this. My opinion? It sucks. It constantly pops up warnings everywhere like "Are you sure you want to view this site?" or "Are you sure you want to download this file?" Yeah, stupid Windows. If I didn't want to I wouldn't have clicked it in the first place.
If that isn't annoying enough - it's not easy to find out WHERE to shut it off. Nowhere in the new SP2 install does it mention "Oh by the way, you have a new icon in your Control Panel called Windows Firewall." I had to find this out myself.
A software-based firewall is a dumb idea because someone eventually will find a way to break through it. This is exactly what happened when the Blaster Worm virus hit. Everyone who had software-based firewalls got hit, and hit hard. I had two friends that both got nailed so bad that they had to reinstall Windows. One of them had to do it twice. Those of us with hardware-based firewalls (like a router) never got hit, at least I didn't. I think that's proof enough that a software-based firewall just doesn't cut the mustard.
3. Auto-updating rammed down your throat
A part of SP2 that is a bit of an annoyance is the constant reminder to turn auto-updating ON. I don't like it ON. I have it set to OFF, because I will update my computer when I feel like it, not when Windows tells me to.
4. Another stupid icon in the taskbar
There's either a red or green "shield" icon in the taskbar for "Microsoft Security Alerts". I hate having icons down there. I have only 3. One for my messenger, one for my Sound Volume control and one for Steam. I don't need any more. And no you can't just right click and get rid of it. Hell no, that would be too easy! You have to disable your Windows Firewall, a few other things, and then it goes away -- AFTER A REBOOT.
The only positive thing about my SP2 install is that it didn't blow up my computer, thank God. Every time of of these Service Packs comes out, I just cross my fingers and pray that my computer starts up again properly.