I spent the weekend at sistaur's as she said a storm or something had taken out her modem, and it would be good to do some general cleanup on her computer. I brought an external modem I haven't used since getting DSL, figuring the modem she had was toast. She had done the proper phone diagnostics and found that if the computer's phone line was plugged in, no other phones worked. Before she left for work I'd said that I'd try the original modem and when that didn't work, I'd see about removing it and getting the new one set up.
To my surprise, and later to hers, I plugged it in and it worked. I wasn't arguing, especially since I'd forgotten to pack a toolkit. Neither was she. But it took for-freaking-ever to boot that machine up, and shutting it down was an exercise in patience as well if one watched and waited through the process. sistaur's former housemate had installed a bunch of stuff and I'm not sure what all was from the original setup where unneeded junk is too often included in the default setup by the vendor. One or two wanted to update themselves and had no patience about it, popping up boxes whining about not having a net connection to exploit. But things were going to change.
By cleaning up the Startup menu, which had a number of things that didn't need to be there, cleaning up the desktop, I got the boot time to about four minutes. Not great, but approaching sane. After asking her about a couple of things I hadn't removed and eventually even hearing a suggestion from the former housemate, a bunch of really crufty stuff was removed (I took immense pleasure in removing RealPlayer and the like, but ditching the ancient Norton/Symantec stuff probably made the biggest difference.) and the boot time had dropped to about 90 seconds. Shutdown took about 30 seconds. It's like it's a new computer.
I got a bit annoyed with IE and Acrobat and whatever the default image viewer was, as well as having to hunt for putty (an ssh client so I can check on things at home) so I downloaded Opera, Foxit, and IrfanView, and even an IRC client so I could talk to someone. And after installing and configuring those, I made an Internet menu with the right shortcuts so they'd be out of the way but easy to find.
Later when we were both home, Sistaur guided me through some additional cleanup as many games and old files were things she didn't use or didn't need and this was a time for cleaning things up. I had planned to do some backups to CDR, but simply didn't get around to that. I did leave a stack of blank CDRs so they are available. One more download and I had a bit more control over things that wanted to startup all the time. A few things lived in the system that didn't need to and didn't have a more polite way of being told to go away.
It's been a long time since I used Opera on Windows. It was familiar, of course, but it does look a little different. Or maybe it's that it's the very latest version. Foxit blows Acrobat away. I used to hate PDFs as viewing them took far too long. It wasn't the PDFs, it was Acrobat sucking and advertising for a ridiculous amount of time while pretending to startup - and Acrobat was also one of the things clogging up the Startup. Foxit is nearly instant - like the PDF viewers for OS X and Linux. While I doubt Sistaur will ever use it, IceChat looks like a nice, easy IRC client. I'm not fond of the default layout and color choices, but there is an included color scheme that only needed minor tweaking. The layout was easily tweaked and the alias editor made getting the commands I prefer fairly easy. TinyApps is as useful as I remembered.
That wasn't the whole weekend by any means, but it was the main point of this visit. It was great to see Sistaur so happy. "I have a computer again!"