Precisely Speaking

General Category => Rants & Raves => Topic started by: precisonline on July 10, 2008, 11:19:51 PM

Title: Thank You Microsoft
Post by: precisonline on July 10, 2008, 11:19:51 PM
It's now beginning hour six of my attempt to install Microsoft Visual Studio 2008, and I can say that without question, there is nothing in software that should be this difficult or frustrating.

What's interesting is that I haven't actually begun to INSTALL Visual Studio yet.  See, I've tried.  I tried several times and each time the installation begins, but abnormally terminates somewhere in the middle.  Searching the Microsoft site for insights as to why this might be happening produced absolutely zero information, so back to Google I went, only to find that LOTS of people have experienced the hell that I am experiencing this evening.  Come to find out, if you've installed any part of any previous Visual product from Microsoft, those (purportedly) have to go away before you can install the new stuff.  I had downloaded a copy of Visual Web Designer back in 2007 that I never did anything with, so I figured hey, no harm no foul, right?  Yeah, now I remember that it's Microsoft we're dealing with here.  Once you've installed software from the Redmond Death Star, you're pretty well horked from that point forward.

Nonetheless, I tried uninstalling the stuff I installed last year.  It went a little ways into the uninstall and hey, look at that - it blew chunks.  Come to find out, if you've installed one of these bastard children and have not registered it with Microsoft, you CAN'T UNINSTALL IT!  Even more egregiously, parts of the program WERE uninstalled and now not only can the program not be uninstalled, it cannot run and furthermore cannot be reinstalled.  (If it can't be reinstalled, it can never be uninstalled.)  Everything I've tried blows up somewhere in the middle.

Welcome to the last four pathetic hours of my life...

After deleting directories and redownloading everything, I finally was able to reinstall the Visual Web Destroyer to a point where I can uninstall it.  And now, here in hour six of this extreme waste of time, I can now once again make an effort to install Visual Studio 2008, all the time having the sneaking suspicion I'm in for one hell of a bumpy ride.

Yippee. :(
Title: Re: Thank You Microsoft
Post by: precisonline on July 11, 2008, 08:38:24 AM
Well into the eighth hour, and it's beginning to look like no matter what I do, Visual Studio is not going to install.  Now that I've lost over an hour restoring my work machine after this install fiasco has nearly decimated it, I think I'm going to have to buy a new laptop specifically for this.  The risk of losing all of my crucial business data over this one install is just too great, and unfortunately, it is appearing to be far too likely.
Title: Re: Thank You Microsoft
Post by: precisonline on July 12, 2008, 09:26:48 PM
It's now day three, and I am convinced that Microsoft's old slogan of "Where do you want to go today?" is designed as a ploy for them to figure out how to prevent you from getting there.

Early in day two of this disaster I got a call from Nathan Rector who had a sterling recommendation.  "You might try downloading and installing the Microsoft Virtual PC" he said.  This free download creates a virtual machine on the current machine that runs completely independently of the rest of the box.  As Nathan explained, this would allow me to have a fresh install of XP or Vista where I could install the Microsloth Visual Stupido without having to buy another machine.

While this was indeed a sterling idea, and I sincerely thank Nathan for the out of the box (or perhaps "in the box") thinking, it didn't work.  The download and installation of the Virtual PC software went really pretty well.  Then I realized that in order to actually use this, I'd have to buy another copy of XP or Vista to make it work.  You might be thinking "reinstall the version you're using in the VM" but alas, it's a Sony OEM thing and doesn't install in a virtual machine!

So... faced with giving the Death Star more money for another copy of this turd they call an OS, I just couldn't bring myself to it.  Buying Vista off the shelf was going to set me back a solid $300 and change, and I figured that if I'm going to drop that kind of money on a turd, I might as well get a laptop out of it.  So I ponied up a couple hundred more and bought another laptop.  Oddly, this gives me two consolations.  First, if this experiment doesn't pan out or I don't get this gig that I'm going through this hell for, I still have a laptop instead of an "operating system" copy that has absolutely no long term value.  Second, I'm confident that Sony paid the lowest possible dollar for the copy of Microsoft's "operating system" on this laptop, so while I'm out a couple hundred more than the copy of the OS alone, at least all my money didn't go to the Death Star.

From here, if it wasn't so painful, it would be funny.  The Virtual PC software, after installation, told me in no uncertain terms "hey, I know you just went through this installation, but yeah, there's not enough space on your hard drive or enough memory to do anything practical, so... dude, you just wasted another hour of your life.  Thank you for buying Microsoft!".  Even having the service running brought my poor little laptop to its knees, so there was no way I could keep this virtual PC thing.  (And by the way, up until this disaster, this "little laptop" has done just fine in running my company and my technical life for the past couple of years.)  So I uninstalled Virtual PC.  And oh what a crap storm that started!

The first attempt to uninstall the Virtual PC hung near the end, disabled all my network connections, and refused to allow my machine to shut down normally.  The uninstall is supposed to take a couple of minutes; I left it to run for SIX HOURS.  Did it uninstall?  No.  Well, it didn't actually install ITSELF, but it DID uninstall enough of my Cisco VPN client so that I was no longer able to connect to any of my clients!

After a couple of hard reboots, I was finally able to re-enable my network connections and get the virtual PC thing off my laptop, but the Cisco VPN solution was horribly horked.  Now, if you've never installed the Cisco VPN solution, it's not really the most enjoyable of experiences.  Every now and again the Cisco installer gets about halfway, blows chunks, and then doesn't allow you to install or uninstall the software without going through hours of dangerous and very error-prone registry changes.  Fortunately, it wasn't that bad today.  I was unable to install the Cisco solution because according to the installer, it was ALREADY installed.  And that's true, it was.  Rather than being uninstalled, the Cisco solution had simply had its heart and lungs sucked out of it by the Microsoft Virtual PC uninstaller.  (Why do I feel the urge to make a "Nightmare on Elm Street" reference here?)

Two Cisco uninstalls, a couple of reboots, and a reinstall later, I'm back to having a working Cisco connection.  The new laptop accepted Microsloth's Visual Stupido pretty readily, and I was able to open the customer project, only to find that a good solid portion of the project is missing.  In other words, I've gone through THREE DAYS of technology hell and as of this moment I have absolutely nothing to show for it....

...except for a new laptop, that I'm CERTAIN will run Linux.
Title: Re: Thank You Microsoft
Post by: precisonline on July 13, 2008, 07:53:56 PM
And the madness continues...  But this time there's some real poetic justice.

This entire ordeal started when I received a couple of zip files from a prospect who simply asked me to look into the code.  I unzipped the files and instantly recognized dozens of C# files, which I was able to view in any of the many editors I use.  But surrounding the C# code was a lot of infrastructure - and code that was clearly IDE-generated - and I realized that to get a complete picture of this situation I'd need the Microsoft IDE to look around.

I had been told that the code was written in VS2005, so I went looking on the web for it.  Go to the Redmond Death Star's website and of course you'll be really hard pressed to find any information about VS2005, as they are now pushing VS2008.  Figuring that VS2008 probably did everything that VS2005 did, I figured what harm could it do?  (Yes, I know, I know...)

VS2008, while saying it could convert the VS2005 files, has been faithfully unable to open many of them.  Thinking that the files are really there and they just aren't being converted properly, I went on a search for VS2005 - anywhere.  Deep, hidden under the surface of the RDS's website there are still lingering pages to VS2005, so I did in fact find it, and was able to download it, and all it cost was a couple more hours of my weekend. :(

After the couple of hour download, I realized that VS2005 comes as an .img file, which - according to the website - is simply a DVD image that should be burned onto a DVD.  So that's exactly what I did.  (Oh, did I mention that at some point in this disaster I had to buy a bunch of DVD-Rs for this?)  But guess what?  Vista doesn't recognize the .img format!  30 minutes of burning a DVD later, Vista brings up the File List window, as if to say "hey man... now what?".

I could be frustrated.  I could be bitter.  I mean hey, this disaster has cost me several days of my life and I'm no closer to a resolution than when I started.  But as luck would have it, this is where things turned truly humorous.  And seriously, I am not making this next part up.


There is a program called "Alcohol" that knows how to read .img files.  Using Alcohol, I was able to finally install VS2005 on Vista.  Without Alcohol, it wasn't going to happen.

So with plenty of Alcohol, I have successfully installed VS2005.  That would be good except VS2005 doesn't run on Vista without a service pack and a patch for the service pack, which have been downloading for the past hour or so.  When these are done I might have a working VS2005, but then I have to open the project and see if these hours of downloading, installing, uninstalling, etc. have given me anything that can read the files that I was sent.

Oh yeah, in order to install VS2005 I had to uninstall everything I did earlier.  So I seem to have a knack for returning to ground zero.  It's funny that I've never had to do that with U2, BASIC, PHP, C, C++, Java, or any of the other languages that run on Linux.

Maybe this just needs more Alcohol, perhaps?
Title: Re: Thank You Microsoft
Post by: Tom Pellitieri on July 14, 2008, 06:45:48 AM
Your latest post reminded me of this exchange from Stephen Sondheim's "The Frogs":

Dionysus:  "Ah!  A hymn to Dionysus, the God of Drama!"
Xanthius:  "I thought you were the God of Wine?"
Dionysus:  "That too... A little wine will get you through a lot of drama."

And BTW, it's AT&T that uses the Death Star as their corporate logo... :)