Most software solutions we use in our computers are just bloated, resource-consuming monsters that eventually reach the expected result. Studies show that more than 95% of Microsoft Word users use less than 10% of its features. It is an well-known situation.
But this scenario really annoys me. My Windows XP machine once recently took around 45 minutes just to return from a hibernated state. The reason? Probably the anti-virus plus a very ineffective memory paging system were fighting for Hard Disk usage while I (the one sponsoring this interesting process with my time and money - two very important resources) was patiently waiting. (OK "patiently" might not be the exact word to represent my true feelings).
When my computer is doing something I do not want it to do I feel my money is just going down the drain. But it seems that software providers really enjoy making our lives miserable. It is simply too hard the get a job done sometimes.
I recently decided that DVD players were not the kind of home appliance I would be investing my precious money on (lots of reasons saved for a future post). I could simply use my Windows XP notebook which plays DVDs quite well and just plug its S-Video output onto a regular TV. I had already invested in the notebook with a DVD player and a S-Video output and on a TV with S-Video input. By the way, I also had an S-Video cable just laying around. Why would I spend 50€ on a fancy DVD player?
But Microsoft decided to make my life miserable with its bloated software. Microsoft's media player was incredibly slow just to start up. It would then insist into looking for crazy things on the internet. First it would look for a "home" screen full of ads that I refuse to call "home". Then, under some circumstances, it would look for codecs and additional software to update itself - again something I did not want it to do. It is important to remember I was just trying to watch a movie.
Every time Media Player insisted on checking something on the internet, it would ask for permission for my internet security subsystem, firewal, and etc and just then it would need to connect to the Wi-Fi network which was not exactly something I wanted to configure with all my family members waiting to watch a movie. And the popcorn was already finishing even before the show had started!
I was simply not getting to job done with the system at hand.
I hate spending valuable resources (money and time) on things I don't necessarily need (be that driving to the electronic store and buying a redundant DVD player or spending time on my living room trying to cope with Microsoft's eagerness for computer's and user's resources).
This weekend I tried something different. I downloaded a couple of Linux distributions targeted to media usage. Even tough I still did not find the perfect scenario, I was amazed by the simplicity and effectiveness of GeeXboX. It is an 8MB image that can be dumped onto a Live CD, HD or USB pen drive and that simply plays every single movie I tried so far.
GeeXboX not only played my DVDs requiring a procedure as simple as just inserting them in the drive but also recognized my external HD and allowed me to play recorded videos encoded with a really diverse array of formats. Simple, easy and straight-forward. No crazy internet access or virus scan. I finally got the job done... with only 8MB of well-done software.