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One for the computer boffins among us.


“Cruft” is a word for crud, junk or stuff that accumulates over time. The dust bunnies under your bed are cruft. You also get virtual cruft on computers–the longer the computer’s been running, the more stuff that accumulates in its deep dark software recesses. The more stuff that accumulates, the more problems you have.


Some years ago, Dr. Dobb's Journal columnist Verity Stob indentified the following levels of cruftiness for a Windows PC. My condolences to those of you who are all too familiar with the higher levels of cruftiness.


*Cruft Force 0. Virgin.*

Description: The “Connect to the Internet” shortcut is still on the desktop, and the “How to use Windows” dialog appears at logon. Menu animations and the various event-based sound effects–even the dreaded Microsoft Sound–seem cheerful and amusing.


*Cruft Force 1. New.*

Description: User has taken time to rename cutesy desktop icons incorporating the first person singular possessive pronoun [Ed. Note: for example, My Computer, My Documents, My Network Places].


*Cruft Force 2. Comfortable.*

Description: User has now got around to resetting Explorer so that “web content in folders” is suppressed. Something has made a C:\TEMP directory in the proper place unasked, for which mercy the user guiltily feels grateful.


*Cruft Force 3. Lived-in.*

Description: One time in seven when the user starts Word or other Office 2000 app, instead of running, it pretends it is installing itself for the first time and starts a setup program.


*Cruft Force 4. Middle-aged.*

Description: Amount of time from screen showing “real” Windows background to the logon box appearing is >30 seconds. Sometimes cannot “browse” other machines on LAN. Get first real BSOD [blue Screen Of Death]. An extra disk of huge capacity has been installed. CD-ROM moves from drive F: to drive [:


*Cruft Force 5. Worn out.*

Description: Some time after bootup, always get a dialog “A service has failed to start - BLT300.” What is BLT300? Nobody knows. Although one can manually remove/disable this service, it always reappears two or three reboots later. If one double-clicks a document icon, Word takes 4 minutes 30 seconds to start up. But it still works fine if started as a program.


*Cruft Force 6. Limping.*

Description: “Web content in folders” Explorer setting switches itself back on unbidden. “Setup” programs start crashing while unpacking their own decompression DLLs.


*Cruft Force 7. Wounded.*

Description: No longer able to logon using original account as the system freezes, so must logon as “Verity2? or similar.


*Cruft Force 8. Decrepit.*

Description: A virus checker is installed at the insistence of IT. This actually improves performance, apparently violating Newton’s laws. Blue Screens Of Death are served daily. The SETI screen saver, like ET himself, encounters difficulty calling home and despairing during an overnight run creates 312 copies of its icon in an (impressively expanded) system tray that fills half the screen. Successful connections to the LAN are very rare.


*Cruft Force 9. Putrefaction.*

Description: Can only see the 32-GB D:\ partition ? the one which has all the source code on it ? at every third boot. Starting Control Panel shows rolling torch animation. The applet icons never appear.


*Cruft Force 10. Expiry.*

Description: Machine only runs in Safe mode at 16-color 800?00, and even then for about a minute and a half before BSODing. Attempts to start an app are rewarded with a dialog “No font list found.” Ordinary dodges, such as reformatting the hard disk(s) and starting again, are ineffective. Cruft has soaked into the very fabric of the machine, and it should be disposed of safely at a government-approved facility. There it will be encased in cruft-resistant glass and buried in a residential district.



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it should be disposed of safely at a government-approved facility


What you mean leaving it on the London Underground or on the front seat of an unlocked car in a major population centre??

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