10/13/2005: About a month now....
Unfortunately, Real Life™ is conspiring against me, and I've been dragged, kicking (vigorously) and screaming (loudly) into the 21st century. Alas, I've (finally) been forced to "upgrade" to Windows XP (some work applications require it, not to mention, of course, that you simply can't get new equipment with Windows 2000 anymore (and unfortunately, my work is a resolutely Windows shop, and I have to use a number of applications that Just Don't Work With Linux (and I don't have the time or money to either diddle with WINE or buy a Windows emulator or Virtual Machine that works)). In my defense, I waited 4 years until XP Service Pack 2, so I'm reasonably sure it's out of beta now.
For the most part, I can't say I particularly care for XP. My attitude towards Windows pretty much formed back when I converted to Windows 95 ("I have to say I loathe it less than I anticipated"), and when Windows NT 4.0 went to the Win 95 user interface I basically got used to it. Converting to Win98 SE (again, making sure it was out of beta) and Windows 2000 was basically an exercise in annoyance (Microsoft just can't stick with something that works; having gotten used to where everything was located in Win95, I was forced gradually to accomodate myself to the gratuitious changes which accompany any new Windows release). XP really pissed me off; I simply can't look at the new XP user interface without thinking that someone's taken away my old computer and replaced it with the latest offering from Fisher-Price's "My First Computer" line. In my job I have to provide support for a number of XP users, and I can't imagine how any of them (grown human beings (some pushing retirement age, even!) with professional degrees (and in some cases, Ph.D.s!)) can stand working with that monstrosity. So the first thing I did to my XP box was to reset every user interface option so that it looks and acts as much like Windows 2000 as possible. Not perfect, but as long as the system sounds or other XP peculiar interface "features" don't intrude, I can delude myself into thinking nothing's changed (nothing important, anyway....).
However, as Mom used to say, "if you can't say anything good, don't say anything at all". Well, really, I thought Mom was full of shit on that one (Mom was a grand woman, but still full of shit on a number of issues), but I will go ahead and give XP props on one feature that seems to work. ClearType. Because most of my XP references stated that ClearType (a video display font smoothing technology that, IIRC, Microsoft stole from somewhere ("innovation" my ass; Windows98 is so similar to Windows95 because Apple hasn't invented anything worth copying since 1995. --Jakob Nielsen)) was designed to make LCD displays look better, and because my XP box is a desktop with a CRT display (my laptop, the only computer I own with an LCD display, is a Win2K/Mandrake 9.0 dual boot box and going to remain that way for the foreseeable future), I hadn't bothered to try it out.
Then Bryan pointed to a post by Steve at Yellow Doggerel Democrat, wherein Steve sings the praises of ClearType for us old, decrepit fogies, even if we're using CRTs. And I have to say, having now experimented with it, that it's a considerable improvement over the default Windows display algorithm. So drop by Steve's and follow the directions he gives; you may just like the results (and if you don't, you can always reset things back to normal).
Len on 10.13.05 @ 08:36 AM CST