Vestigial organs of operating systems

On Google+, Dan Gilmor mentions that the Windows 8 machine he’s using still has tap-to-click set as default for his touchpad, and that despite years of experience, this setting stubbornly refuses to stay turned off when the machine is restarted.
Tap-to-click functionality began plaguing computer users when LCD screens were so expensive that laptop cases didn’t have room for a reduced-size keyboard, teeny touchpad and tiny buttons. To save space, touchpad drivers had the ability to translate a sharpish tap on the pad into a left-click. Back then, the smallness of the laptop meant that someone with average hands couldn’t rest the pads at the bottom of the palm on the case while in a natural typing position. Not that those hobbit-sized (movie tie-in!) keyboards could be used with anything like a natural position. Maybe this worked on an 11-inch laptop; I wouldn’t know, my first laptop had a whopping 13.3-inch screen and, having read of others’ travails with those newfangled touchpads, a joystickish thing called the Ergo Trac. (Thanks, Dad, that Fujitsu Lifebook E370 rocked!)
Time passed, and LCDs got bigger and cheaper, keyboards expanded until you could find laptops with full-sized layouts with arrow keys, home/end/etc. keys, and number pads. And, slightly larger than the first ones, touchpads with nice, big buttons (sometimes three), special zones at the edges for scrolling and other cool touchpad tricks—and tap-to-click set as default. Waiting to turn inadvertent resting of my wrist muscles into a click, to turn a gentle landing in preparation for a nice slew across the screen into a click, to turn a frog fart from three counties over into a damned click that trashed hours of work in one fell swoop. For some reason, it’s still the default (I have no quibble with it being available—I’m sure someone out there needs it and I can’t cast stones with all the idiosyncrasies I have) and for some reason it resets when you restart. Because, I guess, you’d really like it if you’d just give it a try, and once you like it there’s no reason to go back to a tap-to-click-free world, is there? Drink the damned Kool-Aid!
And, of course, to disable it you have to go to the control panel, go to Mouse, figure out what tab it’s hiding under, and finally click to disable this beast from hell intent on destroying your very soul. You know what would make a couple million dollars for someone who could write it? A switcher app that let you create shortcuts on the desktop for simple, repeated actions located deep in the bowels of Windows. Like one to change the default audio device to my USB headphones and one to switch it back to speakers. One to turn off the touchpad tap-to-click, and one to taser the person who came up with it. You know, useful things for the end user.
I’ve seen similar things done with batch scripts, but you have to either write one yourself, manage to modify one you find without mangling it or trust that the blob of executable code you downloaded from the Intertoobz won’t inadvertently turn your machine into a very expensive and maddening paperweight.? Which is just the sort of thing you’re trying to avoid by turning off tap-to-click.

The Reality-Based Community: Fair is fair

Reposted in its hilarious entirity, “Fair is Fair” by Michael O’Hare at RBC:

The “worst president ever?” meme has floated from bitter-liberal whining lounges to mainstream venues and plutocrats like Donald Trump, who should know which side their bread is buttered on. This piling-on in the face of the clear facts has to stop if Democrats want to keep a shred of intellectual respectability.
History simply will not support this level of condemnation. Never mind presidents from decades back, here are five contemporary presidents who completely refute the idea that
Bush is the worst:
None of the antiwar protesters arrested in Washington Friday night were
beaten in captivity. Not a single fractured skull or broken jaw. Bush is much more protective of civil rights and free speech than Robert Mugabe, president of Zimbabwe.
Bush has never, ever, claimed to have an herbal AIDS cure revealed by ancestors in a dream, nor touted it to replace anti-retroviral drugs. Bush is much less anti-scientific than
Yahya Jammeh, president of Gambia.
The number of US dissidents killed overseas by plutonium poisoning is zero, and the number
of US businessmen ruined and imprisoned for opposing the government is also zero. Bush is much more respectful of law and property than Vladimir Putin, president of Russia.
Bush hasn’t tried to fire even one Supreme Court justice, much less a chief justice. He’s much more respectful of separation of powers than Pervez Musharraf, president of Pakistan.
Bush hasn’t named a single city, river, month, or day of the week after himself, and aggressive research has turned up no gold-plated colossal statues of him, not even silver-plated. Bush is much less egotistical and narcissistic than Sapurmurat Niyazov, the late president of Turkmenistan.
George W. Bush, better than many presidents; let’s give credit where credit is due.