5 steps for surviving using XP in the workplace

Ok, I’m not typical by any means when it comes to operating systems, but desktop systems - even less so.  I’ve  run Linux on the desktop since ~1997, and I’m very comfortable with it…at home.  While there are a few exceptions where companies would let me run Linux on the desktop, that’s not the theme of the larger companies I’ve frequented of late, so of course I’ve had  to use XP for the past 3 years, and it hasn’t been all blood and roses.  First of all I can’t stand the  Fisher-Price UI - it’s awful, really, how dumb do I look? (that’s a rhetorical question)  The first thing I do  to a new system I have to use is to revert the UI back to its ‘classic’ looks - at least this way I wouldn’t be  reminded of how much better XP was supposed to be since they changed the way some widgets look (seriously,  right click on yr desktop, choose ‘Properties’ then look at that same dialog box that you saw in Windows 95!).  I usually end up  making Windows look and act as much like a Linux desktop, to make it more tolerable for me to use, but first we’ll start with what really bugs us about Windows, resources that seem to be constantly straining, regardless  installed RAM!  Disclaimer: use my suggestions as just that, if things catch on fire, businesses fail, war breaks out, I can’t be held responsible.  Having said that, life is short, and what’s the worst that can happen?

I. RESOURCES

With each iteration of Windows needing more and more memory is required (which contrasts nicely with Linux),  so it is essential to make sure nothing is running on your system that you don’t need.  Unfortunately Microsoft  and other 3rd party providers (RealPlayer, Apple I’m looking at you) love to have things run on your rig at  bootup to ensure they leech your system resources fulltime.  Let’s rip those stole ways outta there!

II. APPLICATIONS

There are a number of applications I use and recommend others use to help make Windows work better (or just act  more like Linux), and they’re all free.  Generally I’ll create a ‘bin’ directory within My Documents to install  my new apps to, just so I can keep a tighter leash on them.

III. UI

You know what I think of XP’s default theme, but even the old one looks like a photocopy of a photocopy (insert comment about Xerox’s first desktop here), and is ripe for improvement.

IV. EXTRA CREDIT

For those who want to go the extra mile, here are some final ways to make your computer usage more useful at  work.  As always keep in mind your company policy on acceptable use, I can’t take any responsibility for  injuries, damage, explosions, blah, blah, blah.

V. CONCLUSION

I hope this guide has prepared you to better deal with Windows XP in the workplace, or at least made you realize that your hatered is shared among many.  Let’s face it, it’s not the best tool for  the job, but as long as you have to use it you might as well take control of it to make it run better, and be less annoying to deal with.  Maybe you’ll find a place to work that allows, or even encourages, the use of Linux or Apple, and there are  places are out there, and that will certainly help you survive your time with XP.

Do you have a suggestion that I haven’t covered?  Some nugget of advice you’ve cultivated over the years of  indentured servitude to the MS behemoth?  Sound off in the comments.

 
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