Armageddon XP Rant (& A Tale of Two Hardware Stores)

15 Feb

Let me start by saying I’m not an old fuddy duddy who can’t stand change. I like good change. I like positive change. I like real innovation. The Internet rocks. What I don’t like is arbitrary, pointless, counterproductive, time-wasting change. When those things are at play, I’ll take the conservative option every day.

I don’t want my refrigerator connected to the Internet. I don’t want to worry it’s sending out spam to your cell phone. Do I need to monitor its online usage to be sure its not paying undue attention to the new Maytag models?

I don’t want start-stop vehicle technology. I had that back in the 1970s; it’s called stalling. I don’t want electronic throttle control. Drive-by-wire, die in a fire. I don’t want a computer controlling my dryer.

I like simplicity. I like tossing underwear in the dryer, turning a dial for time, pushing a button, and woahla. I’ve never wanted a dryer that could twitter the world about the status of my underwear.

In the day, we were more civilized. This article would be called an editorial or an opinion piece. In the day, we were less truthful. Today, we call it a rant. It’s a rant.

I’m already in a bad mood because of the closing of 7 Corners Hardware. They were Saint Paul’s premier hardware store for 80 years. If you needed special bolts for a project, you could find them. They were the Midwest’s largest tool distributor. If you needed a Milwaukee right angle drill with a 36″ snout, they had one. It’s in their catalog. I have a Milwaukee right angle drill, but can’t imagine why I’d need 3 feet of reach with it. Somewhere out there is a guy who needs it for something. Where will he go? I’d be surprised if any big-box retailers carry it.

Hardware stores that carry odd hardware are disappearing. Hardware stores that carry quality bolts are disappearing. The guys who understood tools are disappearing. I went into a Harbor Freight looking for a brush. It was on their website. The kids there were clueless. They thought they might have seen it, somewhere, sometime, in the past. Sorry, no help today. They were nice enough kids. But they weren’t “tool” guys.

This is reflective of today. As Americans, we just don’t fix stuff anymore. We toss it out and buy new. If we must fix it, we call in a professional.

Another prepper-blogger posted a similar observation asking “We’ve all got skills, redundant skills, but what do you do with all that ‘unusual’ knowledge in a throw away world that doesn’t care about the old ways?”

The answer is obvious. We annoy our wives by bringing home a lot of stuff we can fix, which she calls useless crap. Because it makes more financial sense to buy a new dryer than replace the computer module in the old one, an otherwise serviceable machine is tossed.

As citizens and consumers, we’re told spending more money to buy new stuff is good. Tossing the old is good. It’s beneficial. Planned obsolescence makes sense.

An example of this was the “Cash for Clunkers” program. In 30 days, over $3 billion of taxpayer money was spent overpaying for used vehicles to “take them off the road.” Car murder, more like it. They literally poisoned the poor cars till they died, just to be sure nobody would salvage the engines.

This is bad news if you’re in the market for a used car today. Far less supply and prices are at record highs. The program benefited some, but like all government programs, it came at a cost to others.

The hope is that the “maker culture” with their interest in electronics and 3D plastic printing will revive the interest in tinkering, repairing, and rebuilding things.

The best example showing how helpless citizens are becoming is our reliance on software. If it goes buggy, the best we can usually do is restart our PC, and soon, our toaster. We have no practical capability to ferret out the problem ourselves. We’re at the mercy of Microsoft.

In two months, we’ll face XP Armageddon. That’s when Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP. They’ll no longer offer patches for bugs or security vulnerabilities. This is a hacker’s dream come true.

Nearly 1/3 of all PCs still run Windows XP. It’s used by hospitals, law firms, small businesses, governments, ATMs, and individuals. These people will all be put at risk.

The Target hacking debacle occurred because an HVAC vendor was compromised.

How many small business vendors will be targeted and what will the consequences be?
Agree with his motives or disagree, Edward Snowden, was a contractor who had access to the NSA’s computers. How many mission-critical systems will be compromised because of outsourcing to vendors still using XP?

I understand Microsoft’s position. They want to sell us Windows 8. Without being compelled to purchase it, nobody would. If you must upgrade, look into Windows 7.

Microsoft isn’t offering Windows 7 anymore. But there are a ton of copies at the retailers, so it should be available for a while. My understanding is that it will be supported until 2020. Be sure your older system can run it and that you purchase the correct 32 bit or 64 bit version. Those with more computer skills are migrating to Linux.

If you want to continue using XP, backup your full system. Run a firewall program. Maybe do your web browsing in Linux and install a dual-boot system. You’ll have XP if needed for older programs.

Just because Microsoft won’t be supporting me and you, doesn’t mean everybody’s in the same boat. The dirty secret is that Microsoft will continue to support some big clients. England’s National Health Service, for example. Microsoft will patch their systems and keep their patient data safe. Sharing the patches with us, not so much.

How many remember the fear over Y2K which drew many new converts to prepping? We were prepared for Y2K. Because of that, the transition was seamless. Are we prepared for the end of XP? In two months, we’ll find out.

One Response to “Armageddon XP Rant (& A Tale of Two Hardware Stores)”

  1. thoughtfullyprepping February 15, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    USoft is supporting the NHS? Jeez, can it get any worse!

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