Outburst of an unhinged technophobe
It is probably appropriate to start by reminding all readers the meaning of the title PPI Blogger – Partial, Prejudiced and Ignorant.
I find our modern technological society very useful, of course, but also very frustrating. Please excuse the following outburst, not unrelated to the experience of the past week.
- The great problem with all computers is that the user cannot answer back. If a human being makes a comment or demand that is incomprehensible or indeed rude, one can say, “Excuse me, you’ve lost me there”, or, less politely, “What do you mean by that?” But faced with computer gibberish or non-cooperation, there is no appropriate button to press saying “Explain yourself, you stupid machine,” or “I want to speak to the manager.” Don’t get me started on Help buttons. I think I’ve once in my life found one of them helpful.
- A particular occasion when an “EY,YSM” button would be useful is when computers lie. Considering that they are machines, computers lie surprisingly often and unimaginatively. In the past, the most common untruth was “this programme has committed an illegal action”, but now the most frequent are “you are not connected to the internet” and “this programme is locked by another user.” Explain Yourself, You Stupid Machine; there is no other user in the house.
- Although we pay for hardware and we pay for software, and the service we use doesn’t change from day to day – nor do we wish it to – computer programmes show a strange insistence on updating, upgrading and configuring themselves. Why this is necessary, and usually compulsory, we are never told. Do you want to do this now or later? (No.) Configuring Windows – do not turn off your computer. (“But I want to go to bed, and you’re supposed to be my property, not my boss.”) Why does Windows continually need to upgrade? Self-improvement is a virtue, but no improvement ever actually results. The problems always reported with a so-called upgrade (faugh!) have certainly ruined the word for any positive meaning for the foreseeable future.
- You have probably guessed by now that this little rant was inspired by a week when Windows crashed without warning or cause. There were several days effectively without Office, and thus almost without sensible work; but eventually order was restored after someone, not me, spent many hours laboriously backing-up, saving, rebooting, rebooting again, reloading and wondering where the machine had put the supposedly reloaded stuff. There is no apology, no explanation, no compensation for wasted time or lost work, and no reason to suppose this will not happen again. Yet Microsoft is supposed to be a wealthy and reputable organisation. Why won’t it take responsibility for its shoddy workmanship? Why don’t we make it?
- One reason why we don’t/can’t, is the cunning way large companies have with their Contact page. It is often quite difficult to find a simple email address to which you can send your complaint in your own time. What you find is an inbuilt email system of which you won’t have a record afterwards, or a Frequently Asked Questions page. “Why don’t you explain yourself, you stupid machine?” is not one of the FAQ. In my more reasonable moments, I accept that Bill Gates doesn’t want the whole world to know his private email address, but it is the skill of Windows to enrage me so that I am far from reasonable.
- Finally, for the time being… everyone knows we should use less energy for the sake of the planet. We know that travelling by plane uses energy, as does eating meat, driving a car and buying single-use plastic. But how often do we count the carbon footprint of our clicks on Wikipedia or Google maps? Do any sites assist us in doing this? (I’m really as guilty as anyone here, or if I’m not, it’s not for want of will.)
Perhaps I should try one or both of the methods employed in “The Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy”: “Computer,” said Zaphod… “if you don’t open that exit hatch this moment I shall zap straight off to your major data banks and reprogram you with a very large axe, got that?”
Ford carried on counting quietly. This is about the most aggressive thing you can do to a computer, the equivalent of going up to a human being and saying, ‘Blood…blood…blood…blood.'”
We aren’t told which of these methods worked, but the exit hatch opened.
Love from the PPI Blogger
PS Someone, who shall be nameless, is doubtless going to tell me that I would have none of these problems with an Apple Mac.