Last night, as I was preparing my machine for a presentation (Telling it: “You do not have a Sony battery. You’re not going to be melted down into a picnic bench.”), I rebooted to shake out any incomplete “security update” post-processing. Sure enough, when the machine restarted, there was some uselessly named program, trayapp.exe, running. Its installer was caught in a perpetual loop, hanging when it couldn’t find its installation media. When I hit “cancel,” it rolled itself back then retried installing itself. Inspiring design. There were a couple of google references to this being related to printer drivers. I plopped the printer driver CD in and voila, the circular dependency was severed. For now.
“Driver” is a misleading description of what came with my HP multi-function printer. It’s more like five separate applications, each specializing in a single function of the printer — scan, fax, wash, rinse, spin — plus an uber-wrapper that chirpily pretends to manage the lot, but whose purpose is to interrupt my work and try to upsell me HP stuff.
The wrapper also checks for updates. Daily. Sweet Buddha, how’s that not spyware?
Trend Micro antivirus program that came with my laptop phoned home four times a day. By digging around its settings, I was able to ratchet this down to once a day. But, as someone who practices safe hex, even this seems excessive. And, as with the HP “driver,” Trend Micro’s “suite” was also a hierarchy of programs written by groups that didn’t eat mingle. I’d tick the “Don’t bug me” box on the anti-virus tool and the adware tool ignored it. With no master don’t bother me toggle, I gave up and voted the application off the island.
Sun’s Java Runtime and Dragon Naturally Speaking are annoying in that they install their own agents. Other programs ( winamp, Apple iTunes, Photoshop and Acrobat) just phone home when you run them and are online. Acrobat’s is the most annoying because it throws up a window preventing me from doing work. The one time I pressed “go update,” it wanted the original CD. Like I have nothing better to do than root around my bookshelf. The nerve. With all this stuff running, it’s no wonder my machines seeming slower.
After the update spirits had been exorcised, it was time to cleanse my system’s disk. I hit the motherlode, finding 2Gb of Media Center sample media buried in the “Disk Space Wasters” folder. It’s unlikely I will ever need to summon the The Fast and the Furious clip (330Mb) while driving, so, shift-delete. Buh-bye.
I had a brief flashback to my Vista experience when it required 15Gb free space to install. A large component of that was the sample media files. Sure, the Apollo 13 clip was better, but why not just skip all of this stuff rather than find and delete later?