Everything is Cool

By Shamus Posted Sunday Mar 8, 2015

Filed under: Personal 70 comments

The only reason this post exists is because the previous posts are dangerously negative and I hate to have that much bellyaching sit on top of the site for too long. So… yeah. Let’s talk about some positive stuff:

  1. Thanks for all the advice about Windows 8 hotkeys. That smoothed out a lot of annoyances.
  2. Also thanks to the advice to “check your drives”. I’d read that Windows 8 users would never need to check drives because it would all be automatic. But sure enough, once I found chkdsk it turned out two important drives were a mess of scrambled crap. Fixing them solved my speed problems, my problems getting Steam to work, and the ages-long restart times.
  3. The screenshot at the top of this post if from a programming project I had to shelve when I began working on Good Robot again. It yielded some interesting lessons. I’ll get back to it eventually.
  4. Daylight savings time is still stupid. I know I say this every year. Twice. But it’s true.
  5. Sorry about that last bullet point. I know I promised this post was going to be positive.
  6. Kinda bummed I missed PAX East this year. I guess that’s not very positive either.
  7. This is harder than I thought it would be.
  8. The previous point wasn’t a complaint, was just an observation. So it shouldn’t count as negativity.
  9. We’re going to talk about Good Robot this week. No but for real this time.
  10. I have a special love for programs that just live in their directories and don’t need to be installed. FileZilla.(FTP client.) Foobar. (MP3 player.) VLC. (Media player.) Audacity. (Audio editor.) Thanks to developers who make sure their software is a good guest on my system.

Not much left of the weekend, but enjoy it anyway. I’ve got work to catch up on.


From The Archives:

70 thoughts on “Everything is Cool

  1. Arvind says:

    I was hoping for some added grumpiness in my life after reading this post. I demand a refund!

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Ill help you there.Khmhm:

      Damn kids,get off my lawn!

      1. Arvind says:

        Relying on the community to provide what should have been there in the first place.

        Twenty Sided is the Bethesda of blogs!

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Daylight savings time is still stupid. I know I say this every year. Twice. But it's true.

    Yes,its true.And that statement is definitely a positive.

    1. Andy_Panthro says:

      Even more annoying is how everyone is talking about it now, but in the UK (and EU?) we change on a different date.

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        Small reminder:

        The UK is still member of the EU. This may change depending on the scale of in-group/out-group thinking that continues to go on in the UK.

        Also, geologically and geographically, it is located within Europe. This is not going to change while humans walk this planet.

        (and yes, all of the EU changes on the same date — 29th of March this year)
        (the rule is: last Sunday in March until last weekend in October)

    2. Hitch says:

      That means it’s time for me to once again trot out what is widely regarded as the stupidest idea I’ve ever had.

      I think the problem with daylight savings time is the jarring jump of an hour. It would be better if we eased into it. Toward that end I propose adjusting the clocks 10 minutes each month and reverse direction twice a year. This will achieve basically the same effect with a lost less disruption in our daily lives.

      Right now (if you’ve thought about what you just read) you’re probably thinking that sounds pretty dumb. But my analysis of social trends lately indicate this will catch on as a popular idea in the next few years. The world is becoming so dumb that this will sound brilliant.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Or how about we not do it at all?Plenty of countries arent doing it,and they are just fine.

        What I propose,instead,is to be even more radical and abolish times zones completely.Does it really matter if its evening at 4 or at 16?Its just a number after all,so why not have a universal clock for the entire planet,and only have work hours be at different numbers in different countries.

        1. Sleeping Dragon says:

          As someone who absolutely sucks at converting time between timezones I could actually get behind this.

        2. ET says:

          Saskatchewan doesn’t use DST. I’m glad every time I remember that other people go through with something so stupid and pointless twice a year.

        3. 4th Dimension says:

          Couple of problems. First is a flag wavy one. Whose zone do we use as default? GMT? No matter which we choose somebody in some country will turn it inot a political flag wavy contest by claiming it’s unpatrotic to use “foreign” time zones.
          Second one is more practical. If we do your plan, we now have to do mental gymnastics every time somebody from another part of planet mentions time, in order to figure out what time of day it is. “I go to work at 1am” Now does he mean he works some sort of night shift, is it afternoon? Or is everything fine.

          Also more importantly countries that span tomezones will have big problems with legislations that use ours to define things like what is night and day and normal working hours. So you will have things like normal hours in Moscow would mean working in the evning in Vladivostok, and such. And yes no matter how much we computer nerds might dislike it many things that are important are tied to time of day, like farming.

          1. Trainzack says:

            To avoid the flag wavy issue: Use Mars time.

          2. Daemian Lucifer says:

            The flag thing is unimportant.It happens no matter what change is proposed(language,currency,whatever).Even the gmt being considered ground zero was contested back in the day.Its a nuisance,not a problem.

            The mental gymnastics thing already happens,only its reverse now.When someone from other time zone says “call me in the morning”,you have to convert that to hours.Heck,we already had a bunch of events happening here that were a real pain because of the conversion.So you are swapping time of day,which is an arbitrary thing based on earths rotation,with a fixed number,which is much more elegant.

            The countries that stretch through multiple time zones already have that problem now.Having universal time would actually help them,especially in cases where country borders are concerned.

            And things like farming and such that are tied to the time of day wouldnt even be affected,just like they arent now.If you are depending on the sun,it doesnt matter if it rises at 5 oclock,10 oclock,23 oclock,or carrot oclock,you adjust yourself to follow the sun,not the clock.

            1. ET says:

              The problem is, that now you have to adjust your arbitrary numbers, for every city you deal with, which isn’t in the exact same longitude as you. Your proposed solution adds more confusion than just using 24 time zones, and abolishing DST.

              1. Sleeping Dragon says:

                I’m pretty sure we’re way past the point of dealing with DST here.

                Obviously we’re discussing an idea with no chances of implementation but I think the amount of mental gymnastics required now is greater than with a “global clock”, I’m not even going to count the number of streams I’ve missed by an hour or that I showed to an hour early. It would also make setting up times easier, I do realise that profesionals who deal with several timezones usually get the hang of it pretty quickly but still. Right now if someone says “can I call you at 3pm?” you have to recalculate the timezones to figure out if it’s the middle of the night or morning or what. With a global clock you’d immediately know that you, say, get up at 2pm in your area and only get to work at 3.

                That said I think we should be grateful we even have a 24 hours day globally (except for where we use the 12 hours one… which is still 24 hours when you come down to it).

          3. Volfram says:

            3001: The Final Odyssey used a system like this. Every 15(ish) days, the “local” time zone moved an hour, so everybody ended up as the “standard” time at some point out of the year.

            I favor abolishing DST. and sticking with a 24-time zone system. Switching it to a gradual “10 minutes per month” change is indeed one of the stupidest ideas I’ve heard to solve it. I don’t think it would catch on regardless of how stupid society gets, because it’s too much work.(almost as much as shifting the global time zone an hour west every 15 days.)

            1. SteveDJ says:

              Then here is an even more bizzaro (and by your reasoning, stupid) proposal. With all the electronic clocks, and computers/phones/smart-watches, etc. these days, I propose the following:

              On January 1, our clocks just start automatically cutting 20 seconds off each day (at midnight) … effectively ‘springing forward’ those 20 seconds. By June 30, we are essentially about 1 hour ahead.

              So on July 1*, the clocks reverse this trend, and automatically begin adding 20 seconds to the end of each day (at midnight)… effectively ‘falling back’ those 20 seconds. By the end of the year, we are back were we started.

              Nobody really has to think about it, but magically we get more light in the evening during the summer, and more in the morning during winter.

              *Ok, the mid-point is likely off by a couple days, but the clocks would just do the right thing anyway. And with an odd-number of days 3 of every 4 years, obviously one day would remain ‘unaltered’.

      2. Lazlo says:

        How about this, I propose a compromise: Some people like DST (at least I assume such people exist I haven’t personally met any), others dislike it. So I propose that we keep half of it. Abolish the spring forward part, but keep the fall back. It might take some getting used to, but I think that within 24 years we’d all come to accept it as the right solution.

        1. Zak McKracken says:

          I could get behind doing the fall thing every single weekend…

        2. Lisa says:

          I know of two people that love DST. So there’s two whole anecdata points for you!

      3. 4th Dimension says:

        The problem would be that we would have to remember to synchronize our watches every month. And that is a bit impossible.

    3. Felblood says:

      It made me feel better anyway.

    4. Mephane says:

      The most stupid thing about DST is that basically everyone agrees that it does not and never has achieved what it is claimed to have been made for, and abolishing it would take but a simple change of law that could be completed in an afternoon, to get rid of this nonsense forever – yet it is still here. It’s like a splinter in your foot that you don’t remove because hey, that might take a full minute of your time so you just sit there and scratch the itching area from time to time.

  3. Peter says:

    Might want to watch out with Filezilla, their installers have recently started sneaking in crapware in an insidious way. Since you use the portable version you should be fine though.

    Looking forward to more programming posts.

  4. DGM says:

    Glad that Win 8 is working better for you than trying to be positive is! :P

    Also, I love that screenshot. Very pretty. I’m looking forward to hearing more about that project whenever you get around to it.

    1. Jonathan says:

      It reminds me of Hover.
      Does anyone else remember that game? It shipped with our Acer Aspire Win95 PC. It took several months before we found the Windows desktop behind the Acer desktop interface (which wasn’t bad at the time, since we were still trying new things like 30-day demos of AOL & Compuserve).

      1. Bryan says:


        Yeah, I remember that. Or … I remember some kind of hovercar-ish game that we were playing on a demo machine (…remember those?) in Circuit City or one of the big stores like that (…remember *them*?), back when they existed, and had demo machines sitting out, that I thought was really cool.

      2. Yeah, Hover! I used to love grabbing the jump power-up and ramping off of the upper level thingies. Over and over.

    2. MichaelGC says:

      It is pretty, isn’t it! And I’m betting those are just test-textures. Or, placeholdery things to make it clear whether whatever is being attempted has/hasn’t been achieved. Er. If you follow me.

      They do look nice, though! – and I tend to lose pretty much every bet I make, so…

      1. Wolf says:

        You are right about them being test-textures. They have the directional information you need to identify texture sides (is this mirrored, am I behind the texture), they have a bump mapping example to check if that is working correctly and the letters for ease of corner identification I guess.

    3. Volfram says:

      Did Shamus do an article on BSP brushes recently, or did I find that on the archive binge I took while looking for the Project Frontier executable?

      Because if the former, I bet they’re related.

  5. Canthros says:

    DST is the time of year when I am reminded that I can’t figure out how to set a frigging watch.

    Stupid, overcomplicated digital watches.

    ETA: Oh-ho! It has an automatic DST setting, so I shouldn’t have to do this again in the fall. … I wonder why I ever turned that off?

    1. Bryan says:

      Does it switch on the right dates?

      My previous motherboard had “automatic DST adjustment” in the real-time clock. And no way to turn it off. (Arrrrrg.) And it switched on the older dates.

      As I keep the hardware clock in UTC, this … broke spectacularly. Luckily I upgraded CPU, memory, and motherboard since then and the new one doesn’t do any such stupidity.

      1. Canthros says:

        The watch in question syncs with a radio signal broadcast from Ft Collins, Colorado of an atomic clock. It seems to have switched over on the correct date, as it now agrees with, e. g., the computers and my cellphone.

        I think I must have turned it off a year or two ago because I was sure it would be wrong because of revisions to the changeover date, or something. … Obviously, I reason about these things fantastically well. Having looked up some details on Wikipedia, the status of daylight saving time is actually part of the signal being used. So, it probably takes care of itself, as long as everything is working properly (which might also have been the problem a few years ago).

    2. MichaelGC says:

      Were you visiting Arizona? They don’t do DST. (Well, most of Arizona doesn’t do DST. Nothing is ever simple when it comes to DST…)

      1. Canthros says:

        Never been to Arizona, but I attended college in Indiana while they were still a DST-free zone. Stuff that was reliant on the world outside the state’s borders was a little awkward, at times (mostly TV schedules–I think DVRs existed, but certainly nobody had one), but it was nice not losing an hour in the springtime.

        Anyway, no, that’s definitely not why I turned it off.

  6. pdk1359 says:

    0: seeing this list made me think of that ‘everything is awesome’ song. positive
    1: positive
    2: positive
    3: cool. probably positive, unless regret exceeds standard operating parameters
    4: I’m positive that daylight savings time is stupid, but the comment ain’t positive. Sorry
    5: a wash, really
    6: more regret. not positive
    7: not positive.
    8: or not. double neutral?
    9: YAY! yeah, yeah, yeah! *ehem* positive
    10: cool. positive.

    It seems the post is more positive than not, but here’s some Sugarwiki
    sorry about the landmine. crud, more regret. a wash?

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Everything is awesome!Everything is cool when youre part of the team!Everything is awesomeeee,when youre living a dream!!

      1. MichaelGC says:

        psst … if anyone asks: I’m not dancing. Heavens, no: I’m just testing the springs in this chair.

      2. NoneCallMeTim says:

        I was scrolling through the comments going to post that :D

    2. Trix2000 says:

      A link to TVTropes? What kind of cruel monster are you?!?

  7. Bropocalypse says:

    I also enjoy programs that are set up that way. Is there a word for that? More programs should do that. I guess it’s not possible for every program, but it’s fun to fantasize about having all your progs on a separate drive from your system.

    1. Bryan says:

      Portable edition? Or at least, that’s what Firefox called it back when they could do that. You drop the directory onto a flash drive, plug it into any machine anywhere, and run the program.

      They might still allow it, not sure. I’d imagine the hoops to jump through to get the profile directory somewhere other than the standard OS location for those wouldn’t have changed…

      1. Tobias says:

        It’s still around as a separate release on portableapps.com, along with a lot of others. (A shame my employer’s IT dep blocks executables outside standard directories. I mean, I’d do the same, but it really sucks for me)

    2. This is why I loved https://www.tinyapps.org/ back when I had a Windows machine (Linux is my favorite OS, Mint my current favorite flavor, though that may change at any point- especially if it starts getting dumb and app-y like Ubuntu did.) Most of the programs on tinyapp.org were lovely little gems that just did what they did and ran when needed without any install at all. Of course nowadays I have no idea if they still do or if any have even been updated in say the last 10 years.

    3. Eric says:

      Yeah, I think in general that programs using config files and living in their own directory is ideal. I do like the idea of segregating “programs” and “documents” but nobody follows the same standards so in practice, it’s a mess.

      There is also a special place in my own personal hate-box for programs that leave their files as leftovers after you uninstall them. If I uninstall you, I want you gone, period. Not with 5 different Users -> etc. folders remaining that I need to clean up. That I have to run Revo Uninstaller (or clean things up manually) to make sure a program actually uninstalls is just ridiculous.

      1. Mephane says:

        I do like the idea of segregating “programs” and “documents” but nobody follows the same standards so in practice, it's a mess.

        In fact there is a huge difference between program config and documents. Like, of course I would want the program config to sit in a directory within the one where the program resides. And of course I wouldn’t want my documents in there, too. Those are two entirely separate concepts. Yet Microsoft thinks its clever to mix up the two and then you have trouble dealing with either.

        I have been boycotting the user/documents/whatever directories for a decade already, and have my own directory somewhere else, independently and not using the feature where you can tell Windows where your stuff reside, because I very much do not wish it to interfere with what stuff gets put there.

        1. Kian says:

          There’s a problem with the config residing in the “current working directory”, or the program install folder. If multiple users use the machine, they all get the same config files. Also, the program has to run in Admin mode to get write access to Program Files. So A might change something, and that reflects on B’s environment when he uses the program later.

          Which means config files have to stay in each user’s directory, so that they each get their own experience and others can’t affect it. Now, technically, applications should store that stuff in Users/Username/.AppData. My problem with that directory is that it is a hidden directory, so regular users will have trouble finding it, and it might not get backed up by someone formatting the machine or moving or whatever.

          My preference, in Windows, is for the program to be installed in Program Files, with everything there remaining immutable (except for updates and such), and the user’s files and preferences to go to Users/Username/Documents/Company/Program. The extra “Company” directory serves to keep clutter down in the Documents folder.

          That way, you can backup your Documents folder, reinstall the program, copy your documents, and get everything the way it was.

    4. Zak McKracken says:

      actually, you don’t need “portable” programs (i.e. ones that don’t need to be installed) in order to have them wherever you like. You only need installers that have the basic decency of asking you where to put them.
      Lucky enough, most of them do these days. What I’m regularly miffed about is software that doesn’t ask me where to put it in the start menu. That’s very very impolite because I like to keep my start menu in a state that allows me to actually find stuff in there and remember where it is. Of course you can move things about after the fact but that means that the uninstaller will not find the entries and they’ll have to be removed by hand if you want to get rid of them.

  8. Eruanno says:

    Let’s all post positive comments!

    Here is a picture of two cats after a wrestling match. Yes, cats AND wrestling! *High-fives Mumbles*

    And you, dear commenter commenting after me, are a wonderful person and I’d totally give you a hug and/or high-five and/or other positive reinforcement of your choice if we were in the same room.

  9. Kian says:

    “I have a special love for programs that just live in their directories and don't need to be installed. FileZilla.(FTP client.) Foobar. (MP3 player.) VLC. (Media player.) Audacity. (Audio editor.) Thanks to developers who make sure their software is a good guest on my system.”

    It’s always seemed strange to me when programs can’t do that. I understand why you might need some registry keys. A good guest should tell the OS “I’m here” so that the OS’s uninstall facility can clean it up. Portable programs tend to fail in that respect. Relying on the registry beyond that, however, feels icky. I much prefer to stick configuration files in the user’s Documents folder (in your own folder).

    Then again, even that location is a bit of a mess in Windows.

    1. Zak McKracken says:

      I can also get behind programs that want to register their ability to open certain types of files. And for some software, it makes a lot of sense to also add a line to the context menu in the file explorer. Notepad++ is such an instance. Would never go without it again.

      1. Blake says:

        Notepad++ is great. And I like that it has the option of putting its settings in its install folder instead of in the registry. Only thing that confuses me about it is that it isn’t the default option when installing it.

  10. WILL says:

    Are you really missing out on anything by not going to PAX?

    1. Alexander The 1st says:

      At the very least, missing out on conflu.

  11. Blastinburn says:

    I am also a massive fan of programs that just sit in their directory and work completely out of there. Which is why I like looking for programs which are “Portable”, meaning they can work off a flash drive. Any Portable programs will never touch the registry (though windows might index them) and keep all their settings in their own folder.

    There is even an entire site dedicated to portable software: http://portableapps.com/

    1. ET says:

      The coolest example of portable software I’ve ever found:
      Dymo’s plung-n-play* label maker. Its software lives exclusively on the device itself, which presents itself to the OS as a flash drive. In fact, you could store files on it if you wanted to**. If there’s an update, or if the program gets corrupted, it’s a < 10 MB download from their website. It’s like they understand that device drivers are bullshit, and a pain in the ass. :)

      * Although, weirdly enough, I don't think Dymo ever refers to it without the acronym. Maybe they forgot what it means? :P

      ** It is, however, only about 10 MB total storage.

  12. Ah, yes, DST. It being so early this year has thrown me for a massive loop. On the plus side, it’s 7:30 and still light out, I love this. Just hate the change, really. I know there’s reasons not to do DST all year round, but I wish we would.

    And the “yup, not everything sucks” post. I have to remember to do that on facebook so it’s not just me whining. I find it’s good for me to find positive things about life, the universe, and everything so I don’t get stuck on the negative.

    1. Henson says:

      And I thought I was the only one who likes daylight savings. Good to know!

      For me, though, it’s about not getting up at 4AM. I wake up with the sunlight, see…

  13. Alex says:

    “I have a special love for programs that just live in their directories and don't need to be installed. FileZilla.(FTP client.) Foobar. (MP3 player.) VLC. (Media player.) Audacity. (Audio editor.) Thanks to developers who make sure their software is a good guest on my system.”

    While I don’t know that they go quite that far, I was pleasantly surprised to discover I didn’t need to re-download all my games when my previous computer died. League of Legends was just a copy-and-paste, and Steam is very good at recognising that you just copied-and-pasted 99.9% of the required files into the right folder and to just install the handful you didn’t.

    1. Blake says:

      Yeah Steam is pretty great like that. Also gives you the option of verifying installs when you want to be sure.

      Somewhat related: Something I discovered when setting the Steam installer for a game at work, the backup/restore game feature in the Steam client gives you the same files the steam installer uses. Like setting up the steam installer was just modifying a couple of text files (with application ids and such) and copying in the appropriate depot files.
      Steam is quite a good bit of engineering.

  14. Karthik says:

    > 10. I have a special love for programs that just live in their directories and don't need to be installed.

    I’ve long wondered about this. Why isn’t every program like this on Windows? “Installing” something is sleight-of-hand (if you’re being charitable) or a bogus process (if you’re not) anyway. Is there ever anything more to it than copying some binaries/dlls over and adding a couple of registry entries?

    On Linux, installing usually refers to compiling code yourself or (more likely) getting a package manager to sort out a dependency web so you can use the same libraries for multiple packages. But Windows programs are almost always binaries that ship with all the libraries they need, a frankly welcome redundancy that obviates the need for an installation process.

    1. Chargone says:

      I can think of a few reasons why installing rather than just copying might be useful or helpful. The more obvious ones are less applicable now, mind you. And a lot of the rest could be done by way of a “this program wants to access X. Is it allowed to?” Dialogue the first time it tries (something microsoft Did for a while with network access, before releasing a game who’s install process included code to bypass the check. :S).

      Yeah *shrugs* hardly an expert though.

      1. Blake says:

        I think that was one of the aims of the Metro apps, to make PC apps work like mobile apps in asking for permission and how easily you can uninstall them and know them to be gone and such.

        Of course they did this by giving people Metro apps, which do not play nicely with desktop apps.
        Microsoft REALLY should have let people run metro apps inside windows from the start instead of the fixed sized things they started with. Then people might have actually been ok with using them.

    2. Kian says:

      Well, it makes sense to call the self-extracting executable that copies the files over an “Installer”. And while it’s at it, it can give you options like asking you were to install. It can also do some helpful actions, like registering with the uninstaller so you can remove it from the “Add/Remove programs” interface in windows or from your package manager in Linux. And you need admin privileges to copy files to Program Files or the corresponding install location in your Linux distribution. Safer to have one program ask for it than to run around as root for malware to exploit.

      Considering all this, it doesn’t seem so bogus to call it “installing”.

  15. A. Ellery Breland says:

    Shamus, thought you should know MASH is on Netflix now! Take a break from windows and enjoy!

  16. Peter H. Coffin says:

    The epitome of #10 may be PuTTY. The darned thing is useful running the .exe right off the download website.

  17. Kdansky says:

    Try https://ninite.com/ when installing stuff. It’s SUPER AWESOME PRACTICAL.

  18. SteveDJ says:

    There are a lot of DST comments scattered above, so I leave this here for all. I don’t know how I missed this going around last November (when it likely was first released), but if you’ve not seen this before, it is hilarious!

    (also, please excuse the ads saddled at the beginning, and more-so at the end)


  19. Tim Keating says:

    “I have a special love for programs that just live in their directories and don't need to be installed.”

    My apologies for getting all fanboy, but I can’t believe that not one person has pointed this out: this is basically every application on Mac OS X. (Okay, maybe they’re all windows & linux folks who don’t actually know this.)

    This is one of the things that wooed me over to the dark side. An “application” on Mac is an executable directory with a defined structure (called a “bundle” in developer parlance). It contains the actual executable, all the localization files, any other resources it needs to run (like the icon the Finder shows in lieu of the standard directory/folder icon)… and most importantly, the property list files (the Mac OS equivalent of the registry) all live inside this structure, as well.

    For probably 90% of the apps I’ve ever installed on any mac I’ve owned, the install process went like this:

    1. Download and open a DMG (disk image) file.
    2. Drag the application into the Applications directory.
    3. There is no step 3.

    Likewise, uninstalling just involves pressing the delete key.

    At the same time, you’re not REQUIRED to do this. It’s just the good citizen model for shipping apps. You can still just gin up a binary file and execute it from the shell if need be (and it includes bash and all the POSIX utils).

    Okay, enough of me gushing :-)

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