Monday, August 4, 2008
“Progress is man's ability to complicate simplicity.”
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:
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.
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.
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?
Posted by Phyllis Hunt McGowan at 12:56 PM