Crumbs From the Corner: Adventures in Woolgathering

Monday, August 4, 2008

What Happened?

“Progress is man's ability to complicate simplicity.”
-Thor Heyerdahl

Progress; upgrade: despite what the words might imply, improvement does not always follow. Often, I find, it is better to leave well alone.
Our computer is constantly badgering and heckling us to update certain software and to get the latest installment of such and such a program.
Spouse is old-fashioned and methodical, and makes use of some systems that pre-date 2002. For the most part they are quieter, less ostentatious and flashy and they tend to allow our computer to run much faster, being free of extraneous hidden tricks.
We were forced, though, to update our Internet browser the other evening; my e-mail was suddenly no longer compatible with the current browser and everything went wrong in a single day.
We quickly opted for a newer version, hoping that it would resolve the e-mail trouble.
It certainly did that.
It reminded me, too, that nothing is ever perfect.
I like to play music while tapping away on the Internet and usually I can go to a myriad of different websites trouble-free while I listen.
After we installed the updated browser I set to work on my various tasks, clicking here and there quite contentedly.
I soon found that every single time I opened a new page, clicked a link or did anything at all on the Internet with the new browser, the music halted for a few seconds, as though the singer had been physically muffled- and then resumed after a few more hiccups. It performed the action every time, without fail, and was most disturbing to me.
Another element distracted and infuriated me and made me determined to return to our original browser- I would find a way around the e-mail problem- and it was this:
Spouse, who was listening with one ear as he engaged in his own projects, would look up, startled, the moment the music was cut off, and he would ask, with purest innocence:
"what happened?"
The first time, I explained that I presumed the matter to be related to the recently upgraded software; I hardly had to go into more detail as Spouse, shall we say, is the computer monarch.
"What happened?"
Poor Spouse; he experienced a very understandable reflex action to the music being terminated and I could hardly blame him for being surprised every time a soothing song was strangled into silence.
"What happened?" Spouse said on average four times a night for three nights, until one withering look from my direction finally advised him not to ask.
"What happened?"
As soon as we have a free moment we will downgrade- if one can call it that when it works so much more efficiently- to the old program.
Spouse's words are resounding still in my head: while I cannot undermine the benefit of the very electronics I utilise and enjoy, the truth is that technology was once meant to aid us, to enable our lives and to leave us time for the finer things in the world.
We are far from that ideal, instead doing intricate battle with more complex machinery, and drifting ever further from simplicity.
I ask: what happened?


julochka said...

go get firefox. it's free. it's open source and it will free you from the tyranny of internet explorer 7. :-)

plus, turning back is very, very difficult. i know, i had to help my neighbor do it. think historial snapshots and time machines...

good luck!!!

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

We're already using firefox! Really, But it's an older version, and had to upgrade it because my e-mail page was completely unreadable with it, all of a sudden. I used to use explorer but now I can't even imagine how I ever did.
I know why you thought I used explorer- I was surprised myself that this happened, but there you go. You can never be entirely free.

San said...

I've been there and it is SO annoying. All of this "upgrading" is a pain. It's all part of a big plot to force us to buy new computers at a brisker clip. And I RESENT it.

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

San, I should add that the computer I use is more than nine years old and secondhand. We'll use it until everything falls off because it works perfectly. We use programs that are old because those were days when software was more simplistic, and as long as we can we'll hang on to that. it does cause trouble sometimes such as, for example, recently we tried to install a new scanner- and the scanner actually wouldn't work on our computer, wouldn't install, because we didn't have the upgraded material- in that case Windows XP. Did we bend and get Windows XP? No- we sent the scanner back, thank you very much. We'll find our ways around their nonsense.

Pappy said...

Everything these days is proprietary. If you don't buy my operating system and use my software your system will not work. If you try some other system, it may work, but some critical file will be in proprietary use and will cause a malfunction of some type. The same is true of trying to add hardware to some major brand computers - It simply won't work unless you use their brand. Greed is a terrible obstructor of progress in any endeavor. The technology field is full of it. Pappy

Anonymous said...

Technology moves so fast these days that unfortunately upgrading is essential, at least from time to time.

Couple of suggestions.
- upgrade the RAM (memory) in your computer. This is surprisingly inexpensive and can make a huge difference in the performance of even an older machine.
- Windows XP is the best version ever. Vista is the worst version ever.
- 90% of users only use 10% of the features of most software.
Just some comments from a former PC User Support person.


Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Teixcan, yes- greed is the key word. It's also true, unbelievably, that you can buy a DVD in a store, go next door to buy a DVD player, (not even talking about different countries or states but the next building) and find that your movie won't play on that machine. It's inconceivable to me how they get away with it but they do. I try not to enable or encourage that sort of greed. I'd rather find a new way around it than give in. It does make me furious how they manipulate us.

Steve, thanks for your help- we use Windows 2000 and it's flawless as far as our usage goes.
I've heard many good things about XP but we don't find that we need it- if we come up against a problem we just get around it. Also, I'm wary of new software because they tend to install hidden things on your computer which not only makes it run slower but wasn't requested in the first place. As we are right now we know what is on it, and I check my processes frequently- every few hours- to see what is running. If something is not looking right to me I kill certain processes and get on with my work. They won't catch me :)
Also, the audio problem was fixed; Spouse adjusted the "process priority" of the music player which seems to have helped- so far no audio interruptions when I click on links. Once in a while a glitch will come along but otherwise I have no complaints. Thanks for your suggestions.

Jaime said...

It does seem strange that in this day and age, so many things can go wrong, when things should be getting less complicated as they refine this technology. I get nervous every time something asks me to upgrade, because so many times, it has downgraded itself!
I so feel your pain.
The next computer I get is definitely going to be a Mac.

polona said...

i agree, these upgrades are so annoying, and more often thank not worse than the previous versions...

but compatibility can become a problem... but i'm not at all eager to move to vista... i'll avoid it as long as i can

mouse (aka kimy) said...

with the exception of firefox updates I avoid all others. several years ago I learned my lesson and updated when prompted to and it messed up EVERYTHING.... best of luck with getting back to the old system... that's what we had to do and oh what a pain that was!

Phyllis Hunt McGowan said...

Jaime, I always say that: this is 2008. We ought to be better than this but we're going backwards. I thought this line was perfect:
"I get nervous every time something asks me to upgrade, because so many times, it has downgraded itself!" You are so right :)

Polona, I'll avoid too- we won't give in easily. We'll do what we can to not upgrade and do what they want us to do. After all, I don't think it will make my life any easier. They'll only ask me to do the same next year, and the years after that. It never ends, that's the real trouble.

Kimy, Exactly- we trust them, and think that they are guiding us to have more efficient machines. Well only if the machines are designed to annoy us. Then they're very efficient indeed.

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