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Chalain - So Beautiful, So Disturbing

Feb. 19th, 2007 02:58 am So Beautiful, So Disturbing

I wake. For a moment, I stare at the ceiling trying to remember something. Something important. Something important happened last night, but the details escape me. Something fascinating yet sinister, like touring the CIA offices. Something exotic yet somehow familiar, like putting hot sauce on meatloaf. I wonder if I have a hangover. I wonder why I am thinking about the CIA and meatloaf. I roll onto my side.

There is a strange woman in bed with me.

A lot of things happen at once. First, I realize that this is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen, and I am a lucky, lucky man. Second, I realize that this is not my wife, and I panic. Third, I realize that she's awake, has been watching me sleep. Fourth, before I can really react to thoughts 1 and 2, she smiles at me and speaks with a lovely accent I can't quite place: "So. You like new wife, yes? Yes. Up now, I make breakfast."

She gets out of bed and stretches, perfect curves sliding under silky lingerie and momentarily making me forget about breakfast, meatloaf, and whoever it was I was married to before last night. She seems to know this, and smiles at me again, but apparently she's serious about making breakfast. She turns and strides confidently from the room. As she does, I see for the first time the large Microsoft logo splayed across her back. My stomach lurches as I suddenly remember everything.

Windows Vista. I bought a new computer yesterday... and it came with Windows Vista.

I feel sick, but there's nothing for it but to get up. I step into the hallway and realize that she has remodeled the entire house. I really like the bathroom, it's very modern and artistic. As I shower I discover that the acoustics are absolutely perfect. I dry off with a giant fluffy towel and think to myself that this can't be all bad.

I return to the bedroom to dress. She has set out clothes for me. I am startled to discover that they're fresh from the dryer, warm and soft and smelling faintly of fabric softener. The jeans and shirt are a new style for me, but they feel fantastic as I pull them on, comfortable and loose in all the right places. As I look myself up and down in the full-length mirror, I realize that I look really good dressed like this. You hardly even notice the logo.

It takes me five full minutes to realize that my wallet and glasses are missing. They're not on the nightstand or the dresser. Well, maybe she put them someplace when she exchanged my clothes. I head downstairs to ask her.

The question dies on my lips as I reach the foyer. First off, my house now has a foyer. Sunlight streams in through thousands of cut facets. There is so much glass I almost wonder if there are walls. White tile stretches across the floor, forming a beautiful backdrop for stunning furniture and art. My house now has art in it. And there, by the front door, stands my beautiful new bride, smiling fondly at me as she silently throttles the paperboy.

The world goes dark and my vision becomes a tunnel. I see the paperboy, pinned to the wall. Her impossibly strong hands around his throat, squeezing. His feet are kicking--she has lifted him off the floor by his neck. He looks desperately at me, eyes wide in terror, mouth opening and closing but unable to make a sound. My lovely wife smiles again and says, "This paperboy needs your permission to continue."

Numbly, I nod my head. Instantly she releases the paperboy. He coughs once, then stands up and smiles as if nothing has happened. He hands me the paper and leaves. Still dumbfounded, I watch silently as she pads softly to the kitchen and begins cooking.

After several minutes I realize that I am just standing there, watching her. I am still shaking, but she is so beautiful... so beautiful it makes my chest ache. I continue staring until the shaking goes away. Eventually I drag myself from my reverie, but it is not easy. I decide to try conversation.

"Oh, when I was dressing, I noticed that my wallet and glasses are gone. Did you move them? Where are they?"

"Glasses?" she asks in reply. "...wallet?"

"Yeah, so I can do stuff."

"I can do stuff," she says. "With me, you can do more."

"Uh, yeah... but I really need my glasses."

She smiles at me thoughtfully. I smile back, but slowly I realize that she's not going to answer me. After several seconds of standing there looking beautiful, she turns back to the stove and resumes cooking.

"Okay," I announce. "I'll find them myself." Immediately she jumps in front of me.

"You would like help finding something? I have many new ways to search."

Ooookay. Kind of creepy, but... "Yeah. Where are my glasses?"


"Yes. Oh, okay. Look, what I want is to see the screen resolution."

She turns and goes straight to a cupboard. "Resolution is in cupboard seven. Appearance and Personalization, Adjust screen resolution. Also in cupboard nine, Ease of Access Center, Adjust screen resolution for reading."

"Oh, I see. It used to be I just right-clicked anywhere on the desktop and chose Properties. Cupboard seven, I guess. I just want to see what the current resolution is."

She listens dutifully but stares at me blankly.

"Well? Let's have a look. What is the resolution?"

She looks into cupboard seven. "You are using Gateway Widescreen LCD monitor and Norwood Micro LCD. I have set best resolutions for them. Would you like breakfast?"

"No, I want to know what the resolution is."

"It is the best for these monitors. They are side by side now. I can duplicate the same image on both of them if you want--"

"No! Just tell me what the resolution is! It's a brand-new monitor and I want to know what the native LCD resolution is! I don't want to change anything, I just want to know what you're doing with it!"

She continues to smile beautifully at me, but does nothing. It's as if she doesn't realize how frustrated I am. Or perhaps she cannot conceive the possibility of not satisfying me, of not being beautiful enough. I realize this is getting nowhere. I march past her and peer into the cupboard.

It is full of beautifully polished tools and devices, laid out in an aesthetically pleasing pattern. The pattern is strange to me but I can see that once I learn it it will be easier to find and use the tools I use most. It's annoying now, but I can already start to see how I could get used to this. At last I see my glasses on a back shelf, tucked out of the way. I reach in and pull them out.

Suddenly the world goes dark again. She has turned me around, her beautiful gaze locked with mine. I cannot breathe, and realize with horror that her perfect hands are closed about my throat. The world, so full of sound, goes eerily silent. I claw at her hands but they are unyielding. She smiles, as beautifully as always, and says, "Display Properties needs your permission to continue." Somehow I manage to nod or squeak out an affirmation, and she lets go. Color and sound return to the world as I fall to my knees, gasping for breath.

I stay down for several minutes, not daring to look up at her. She resumes cooking. I don't look up until I hear her setting the table. At last I climb to my feet and ask the only question I can think of.

"What's for breakfast?"

She smiles that perfect smile at me again and replies, "Meatloaf."

I look at the meatloaf. I look at her. I rub my neck and think of the CIA. I look at her again. She really is gorgeous.

"Oh, what the hell," I say as I sit down and grab the hot sauce. "I can get used to this."

Thank you for your attention. With over 200 replies and growing to this post, I can understand if you don't read the conversations that followed this post. Please note the following before making your own original reply, however:
  • I've already been told to get a Mac. I've seen them, I may try one someday I bought a MacBook Pro in October 2007. It's great. Feel free to tell me what you like about your Mac.
  • The Mac commercal about "Vista Security" is hilarious, and it has already been posted.
  • I've already been told to get Linux. I've been using linux since 2001. Currently I favor Kubuntu on my other machines. Feel free to tell me why you like your linux box.
  • Yes, I've seen Beryl. It's gorgeous, and the video has already been posted.
  • I don't actually need help finding display resolution.
  • The speech recognition perl script video is hilarious, and it has already been posted.
  • The "Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection" article has been linked several times.
  • Yes, beauty is more important than many other features of an OS. I maintain that, all else being equal, pretty is better than ugly.
  • Read through the DRM threads before talking about DRM. It's a flameworthy topic, and I cowardly refuse to offer an opinion of my own, but at least this way we can keep the same arguments from cycling.
  • You don't have to be polite, but courtesy is appreciated. I am interested in what you have to say, especially if this post struck a nerve--even if that nerve makes you feel angry at me or my writing. Remember that this is MY journal, however. Posts that are abusive and/or free of content may be deleted. I've only deleted two posts so far, so I'm pretty open-minded--just be aware that if you choose to post vitriol, the burden of proof us upon you to actually have something to say. Otherwise your cleverly crafted jabs may simply be stricken.

Thank you, and I look forward to hearing what you have to say!

Current Mood: amusedamused
Current Music: Latin Quarter - Marc Antoine

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Date:February 19th, 2007 03:22 am (UTC)
How very poetic! Of all the things I expected Vista to inspire, this wasn't one of them.

I was planning on waiting a couple of years before taking the Vista plunge - if ever; I haven't read much about it but it never seems like a good idea to get any Microsoft OS before it's burned in for awhile.

Is it super-duper spyware heavy? You keep mentioning the CIA. :) But seriously, I always assume that newer MS stuff has more ways of reporting everything that's installed on your machine to the Home Office to, um, protect you from illegally copied software and competitors' software, and stuff like that.
Date:February 19th, 2007 03:24 am (UTC)
Oh - and what has this hussy doen with chaliren?
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Date:February 19th, 2007 05:01 pm (UTC)


The whole time I read this article, I thought of Tricia Helfer - in her role as the genocidal Cylon Model Six. No matter how beautiful and desireable, you really don't want her anywhere near.

I suppose the fact that I know the name of the actress who plays Cylon Six (and that there is a Cylon Six) makes me a geek. However, I think I'm in good company. After all, you compared a new computer OS to a spouse.

Hmm. :)
Date:February 21st, 2007 09:13 pm (UTC)

Re: Hmm.

I had the exact same mental image...
Re: Hmm. - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Hmm. - (Anonymous) Expand
Date:February 19th, 2007 05:11 pm (UTC)
Absolutely stunning analogy! I loved it. I bought my new dev machine in time to get the free upgrade to Vista, but still with XP. I have been having lots of fun with it so far in XP that I have been loathe to install Vista and deal with the good, the bad, and the ugly of it. Your little story both makes me want to run screaming from the room, and get right in there and give it a whirl.
Date:February 19th, 2007 06:06 pm (UTC)
I haven't found anything I can't live without, but it really is gorgeous. I wanted to stay on XP SP2 for another 6-12 months but I needed a new computer and Vista was the only OS available now.

I'm not ready to recommend to people that they should go upgrade, but I can say that being forced to upgrade isn't as horrible as some would have you believe. I haven't found anything outrageous. For example, I haven't had a run-in with the DRM yet.

Like a marriage, my happiness with Vista may stem from my willingness to give it the best chance I could. I bought the most powerful computer CompUSA had available--2.5GHz dual core, 2GB of RAM, 320GB disks, I disabled the onboard video and installed a high-end video card. I bought an OEM bundled computer designed for it and didn't upgrade an existing OS.

It has not been without "new relationship" issues, but so far my reaction has been positive. She may be the deadly agent of sinister government, may not speak english well, and may only know how to cook meatloaf... but the sex is FANTASTIC.
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Date:February 19th, 2007 05:29 pm (UTC)
I love this story! This story is worthy of a broader publication than just your Livejournal. Thank you for sharing your experience with Vista.
Date:February 19th, 2007 05:44 pm (UTC)

Actually, I blame you a bit for this. I'm definitely a "follow the crowd" person, and your recent exciting story stuff makes me want to "me too" more than a little.
Date:February 19th, 2007 05:52 pm (UTC)

On relationships...

Yeah, I've dated girls like that -- drop dead gorgeous but totally f***** up in the head. Just get a Mac. She'll be just as beautiful, and better adjusted than you are.

By the by, I'm not a long-time Mac user. I just bought one for shits and giggles two months back and it was the *best* purchase I've ever made. I've never liked Windows, but only now do I realize just how stunningly bad it really is. The *only* time I ever use my Windows box any more is to upload maps to my GPS, because that's the *only* thing I need to do that I can't do on my Mac.

Date:February 19th, 2007 06:48 pm (UTC)

Re: On relationships...

Yes, yes, yes.
Over the years, I walked through the versions of Windows. 95 to 98, 98 to 2000, 2000 to XP. In each case, the upgrades brought new features and (somewhat) better stability, reliability and usability. Like trading a candle for an kerosene lantern, and then to a bright flashlight, and then to one of those REALLY bright LED flashlights...

Then, almost by accident, I ended up with a mac running OS X, having purchased one of the new Intel Macbook Pros to run XP on, just because the hardware is so sexy. I never bothered to install XP.

OS X is *amazing*. Stability? I never *knew* what stability was before. I regularly go months now without rebooting my laptop, I just open and close it when I need it. The applications *just work*. Wireless networking? Totally painless; compare that to XP's 'Wireless Network Hell' configuration process. If trading up from 2000 to XP was the equivalent of upgrading to a superbright LED flashlight, then ditching it all for OS X was like coming out of the cave and seeing the sun for the first time.

Vista - (Anonymous) Expand
Date:February 19th, 2007 06:39 pm (UTC)
But did you ever find your wallet?
Date:February 20th, 2007 01:41 am (UTC)
It was dangerous enough trying to find his glasses, I wouldn't risk going for the wallet, too.
Date:February 19th, 2007 06:49 pm (UTC)
My word.  May I post this to readers_list?
Date:February 19th, 2007 07:00 pm (UTC)
Squee! I'd be honored. Thank you!
Date:February 19th, 2007 08:13 pm (UTC)
Oh man, this is exactly how I felt.

I now have a network problem, wireless network, intermittent. All my other devices are OK except for my Vista PC.

"There is a problem with your network" She says.
"OK, let's see the settings, I ask.
"It's OK, I can fix it for you" She says, smiling.

I wait. The network works, then it doesn't work.
"There is still a problem with your network" She says.
"OK, let's see the settings, I ask.
"It's OK, I can fix it for you" She says, smiling.

This goes on.
Date:March 20th, 2007 02:36 pm (UTC)
OMG, this is exactly my problem!!! And "she" forgets my dual-screen VDU settings every time I restart the PC, so I have to set them up all over again. But then the whole Windows+Tab thing looks sooo much prettier than Alt+Tab... *sigh*


Date:February 19th, 2007 08:55 pm (UTC)
LOL. Lovely.
Date:February 19th, 2007 09:11 pm (UTC)
Briljant stuff.

Came here from
Date:February 19th, 2007 09:13 pm (UTC)
I love the imagery, but it obviously wasn't inspired by an actual experience since you don't have to elevate to change display resolutions or open Display Settings...
Date:February 19th, 2007 09:22 pm (UTC)
Interesting observation. Incorrect, but interesting.
(no subject) - (Anonymous) Expand
Date:February 19th, 2007 09:49 pm (UTC)
I don't know if it was intentional or not but it sounds like you're enjoying Vista's speech recognition and text-to-speech engine. :)
Date:February 20th, 2007 01:44 am (UTC)

It's really wonderful from what I hear.

Date:February 19th, 2007 11:49 pm (UTC)


Thanks a bunch, you have done in a few minutes what I have not been able to do in a year with my clients. Explain in real language why Vista bothers me so much. Can computer guys use the term VIBE when describing software? Can it have an aura? Well done.
Date:February 20th, 2007 04:16 am (UTC)
that was beautiful. Thank you!!
Date:February 20th, 2007 11:02 am (UTC)


this is the funniest thing i have ever read! this is exactly what happens with vista, lmao!
Date:February 20th, 2007 01:41 pm (UTC)

this story!

This is some fun writing!! It should be published somewhere else than just here! makes me really, really glad that I use a Mac G5!! If there are ghosts in this machine, it's because I put them there... ! I had to use pc/Windows at work for years...couldn't wait to get to an office that used Macs. And even after the university adopted a campus-wide operating system that pretty much only ran on pc, we still stuck to our Macs!!

Meatloaf? Ok, but not for breakfast!!
Date:February 21st, 2007 05:16 am (UTC)

Re: this story!

Heh, I worked in a Mac office once. It was funny, everybody wished they'd switch to PCs, except for the guys who did page layouts (I worked for a newspaper, and evidently the software for page layouts on Macs is pretty nifty).
Re: this story! - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: this story! - (Anonymous) Expand
Date:February 20th, 2007 09:15 pm (UTC)


Congrats on making the front page of Digg, though some other blog took the content they did link back to you.
Date:February 20th, 2007 09:21 pm (UTC)
Ha ha! Poor paperboy.
Date:February 20th, 2007 10:28 pm (UTC)
awesome story! Well done!
Date:March 6th, 2007 07:20 pm (UTC)

Agreed - Nice job!

That's all. I liked reading your story. Haven't used Vista yet, but I'm no longer a professional IT guy, either, so I'm taking my time on that.

Date:February 21st, 2007 01:47 am (UTC)

loving the poetry. :)

My sides are seriously hurting. I love the analogy of the wife (or the UAC) throttling the husband (or the user). lol. I want some meatloaf now.
Date:February 21st, 2007 05:04 am (UTC)
She gets out of bed and stretches, perfect curves sliding under silky lingerie and momentarily making me forget about breakfast, meatloaf, and whoever it was I was married to before last night. She seems to know this, and smiles at me again, but apparently she's serious about making breakfast. She turns and strides confidently from the room. As she does, I see for the first time the large Microsoft logo splayed across her back. My stomach lurches as I suddenly remember everything.

Windows Vista. I bought a new computer yesterday... and it came with Windows Vista.

Hey, do you mind if I metaquotes this? :*D
Date:February 22nd, 2007 02:58 am (UTC)
It would be my pleasure. Thanks for asking!
Date:February 21st, 2007 06:48 am (UTC)

There was an error...

And here is why I think Ms Vista needs shipping back to Microsoftland and the old wives should be brought back from whatever foul place she locked them in:

I was trying to set up a VPN connection yesterday for a client. No problem, I thought- it's a VPN set up for the Microsoft Way (tm) (PPTP with MSCHAPv1 authentication).
So, VPN set up. I click to connect, enter the credentials and...
"There was an error."
"Click here if you want me to diagnose it."
So I click...
"There's nothing wrong with the connection."
Now, call me picky, but when there is an error I prefer to at least see a short error message. Something to give me a hint of a reason why this stupid system isn't behaving as it should. I eventually find this hint, after much googling (searching on MS wasn't helpful even after turning on full logging and checking the text logs- application events being of no use (although they did tell me it timed out)).
It transpires that Microsoft have decided they don't like MSCHAPv1 any more. Their VPN client only allows MSCHAPv2, CHAP, or PAP.

So, strike 1 against Vista is the frankly abysmal error messages ("Ohhh! Problem! My diagnosis says everything is perfect!" - like a marriage in which one half doesn't realise the other is cheating with a syphillitic goat).

The only other annoyances thus far (but these three are enough) are the way some of the settings have been concealed (I had no trouble finding screen resolution, but it took me five extra clicks to get to a place where I could assign a VPN shortcut); and the frankly dire performance. It looks like Apple OS, but it performs like Windows 2000 with minimum memory trying to multitask on intensely graphical applications (and this is on a brand new computer).

So, while I'm going to have to get used to Microsoftland-WifeV6.06 (aka Ms Vista), I'm really not enjoying doing so thus far, and I'm not expecting the experience to improve greatly.

Date:February 24th, 2007 09:48 pm (UTC)

Re: There was an error...

It transpires that Microsoft have decided they don't like MSCHAPv1 any more

because you shouldn't be using it... it's not secure.
Date:February 21st, 2007 10:40 am (UTC)

It could be worse. She could be Man Edition.

Every day I wake up next to a small, kind of Chubby punk-rocker. She is witty and edgy and never tells me anything. Talks with her are frustrating and weird and I never really know what the little thing is trying to say. Even if I'm late and hangover, it takes me hour upon hour just to make sure both my socks are the same color and clean. Still, anytime she squeezes next to me and tells me that I'm the only one that has root,

I can't resist smiling and saying: Linux, I love you...

Also, she has this strange smell of penguins...
Date:February 21st, 2007 12:24 pm (UTC)

Re: It could be worse. She could be Man Edition.

I was trying desperately NOT draw the parallel, but I guess we've all been sleeping with penguins? Now the *bsd folks can chime with something about "the devil you *know*...."


Vista (and chalain's rather frightening post-Utopian view of it kind of sounds like some kind of weird, Revenge of The Stepford Wives: The Stepford Husbands sort of thing. I am being afraid, very afraid, and going back to embracing my inner penguin. :-)
Date:February 21st, 2007 03:27 pm (UTC)


Did you really have trouble finding your resolution, or was that just intended as an illustration?

Either way, you've probably found it by now, but if not, just right-click your desktop -> personalize -> display settings. Resolution is right there, under the slider. It's no harder than it was in XP, and this layout seems a lot more intuitive for new users.

Personally, I've been using Vista (x64) since just after RC1 came out, and I'm really happy with it. Aero is really neat, with the little preview panels. The search/run bar in the start menu is pretty handy. I also feel a lot safer with UAC turned on.

I'm still skeptical of signed driver enforcement, though. On the one hand, it should be really helpful for preventing rootkits and the like, but it does break a couple of apps that I use occasionally (Truecrypt and PowerIso don't seem to have signed drivers yet). I really hope the cost for driver testing isn't prohibitive for freeware/open source developers.
Date:February 22nd, 2007 03:15 am (UTC)

Re: Resolution

I really did have quite a bit of trouble finding it, like 2-3 minutes with the store display model and then another 2 again with my own PC at home. Before you start laughing uncontrollably at how stupid I am, let me try to explain. I do think there's a usability nightmare here.

I modified the story a bit about the UAC dialogs, but yes, the resolution was actually pretty frustrating. Somebody else has already criticized my intelligence by saying "Just click Personalize, ooh Vista is hard and scary". Well, okay, but nobody told me to click Personalize, and honestly, when I read it, I didn't think "Oh, here I can set the display properties." When I "Personalize" something, I put my name and identity on it, not customize it or make it compatible with my hardware, so that menu option didn't get past my mental filter.

Especially with "NVIDIA Control Panel" so big and bold right there next to it.

(The careful reader will note, at this point, that I'm in NVidia's software, not Microsoft's. Without denying this, however, the careful reader can shut their piehole, because all *I* knew was that my freaking resolution couldn't be set. So, Nyeah. :-) )

Inside the NVIDIA CP, You can click 2 options: "3D Settings" and "Display". Display even says: "Setup display resolution, multiple displays, photos and video support". (Italics mine.) However, when you click Display, you are given only three options:

  • Appearance:
    • Adjust desktop color settings
    • Rotate Display
  • Multiple Displays:
    • Change display configuration

Change Display Configuration works just like the story says it doesn't: you can configure multiple monitors and see what the model numbers are, but not see resolutions.

I finally found it by going through the Control Panel. I *also* didn't know about "click Start, and start typing a search term", but when a fried (who happens to work at MS) pointed this out to me, my new life with Vista got a WHOLE lot easier.

Again, I realize that the bug is with NVidia's software, but with clearly labeled signs saying "What you want is really over here" it was very hard for me to see past the poorly-labeled (to my thinking, anyway) sign for where I really wanted to go.
Re: Resolution - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Resolution - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Resolution - (Anonymous) Expand
Re: Resolution - (Anonymous) Expand
Date:February 21st, 2007 03:34 pm (UTC)
Consider yourself linked. :-)