Techno-Weenie Rant #872:
I think I have finally expunged Acrobat Reader 6.0 from my machine. What a piece of crap!
I use Acrobat all day long for researching stuff and I can say with some authority that Adobe peaked with 5.1. It may be the way I use it, but 6.0 was a giant step backward. It has a new Teletubbies-style interface that will comfort (and consequently thrill) a lot of housewives and technophobes.
For someone who uses it for real work, though, it sucks. It takes forever to load. I think Adobe actually improved the start-up time from 3.0 to 5.1. Of course computers just plain got faster in the meantime, too, but 6.0 brings all of the advances in processor speed and disk access of the last five years to their knees under the sheer dead weight of stupidity. What's more, on my Windows 2000 machine at work, it's unstable as hell. It hangs unrelated applications. Sometimes you can resume your other application by terminating 6.0. Other times you have to restart the other application, too. At least once it hung the entire machine to the point that it was necessary to power down. Didn't we say goodbye to that shit with the upgrade from Windows 95 to 98 or NT? I thought we did.
If you have more than one instance of Internet Explorer open with a .pdf file open in them* and try to terminate 6.0, it gives you the option of closing all instances of IE or leaving 6.0 open. 5.1 was somehow able to just let you do things however worked best for you. Now you have to do things in a particular order so that the programmers at Adobe are not inconvenienced. Also, the search engine now sucks big time and some of the "one key" shortcuts I used to use all of time don't work any more. Great, guys, just great.
For home, I finally found a place on Adobe's web-site that allows you to download previous versions. Of course nowadays, removing a piece of installed software from your machine is like removing a brain tumor with its tendrils wrapped around all kinds of vital arteries and things**. So after farting around with the requisite invalid shortcuts and plug-in specs and whatever for an hour, I finally removed the tuberous, stinking mass that is Acrobat 6.0 and got 5.1 reinstalled and reinstated as my .pdf viewer of choice.
It's a different matter at work. Our "corporate" IT Nazis have some sort of automatic background scan that checks all installed software periodically and if you don't have the latest version, it will actually replace the one you do have with the latest "greatest" one behind the scenes without giving you any chance to intervene. These people don't actually use the software, there're just in charge of it, so talking to them is like trying to explain the difference between slotted and phillips-head screws to a teaspoon.
*In my frantic daily search of the web for parts that can actually be bought for money, I often have several copies of IE up and, just as often, more than one is displaying a .pdf file.
---Which reminds me of one of my other main bitches: Companies that list products in their catalogs or on their web-sites that aren't actually for sale. Sometimes you can get a couple of samples for free, but if you want twenty of them, forget it. You have to buy an entire production run of 2,000 or 10,000 or more pieces. Or nothing. There ought to be a law requiring them to label such parts with a little icon that means, "Forget it, sucker. As attractive and applicable as this product might seem, it's strictly for show and you CAN'T HAVE IT!"
**One tiny ray of hope. I attended a C# programming course last year in which the instructor, a Microsoft familiar, said that MS, itself, was beginning to come out of denial a bit and starting to admit that, maybe, the Sacred Mother Of All Blindness Registry was, maybe, not the best best idea they ever had (it is certainly hailed far and wide as one of the most poorly executed). He actually said that, in future .Net products, MS would be abandoning the Registry little by little. Amen.