Saturday, August 03, 2019

The Bad Future is Here -- I Hate New Technology

Cineplex ticket counter. Computerized kiosks sit in five spaces
where actual human beings used to work.
I am a standard issue North American suburbanite.  Buying things used to be fun.  My first CD player, first DVD player, the tank of a desktop computer in 2004 that I still own, the Apple Mac Classic from 1991, which I still have in my office (and booted up when I turned it on in 2016).

The last laptop I purchased was a run-of-the-mill Windows machine in 2013.  Soon after it arrived, I installed an SSD and the thing just hummed along as I used it to write half a dozen plays, dozens of articles, a few screenplays, worked with Photoshop, and even tried creating a graphic novel.  It was only when I recently had need to edit video on a level beyond Windows Moviemaker, that it was time to expand beyond my old reliable.

After buying a Ford Escape in 2013, I realized the world had passed me by.  With all the attention now placed on "distracted driving" what did Ford put right in the middle of the dashboard?  A video console.  No longer do I have radio buttons that I can feel and know which preprogrammed station will come on.  Now, I must look at the flat screen and press buttons on an interface created by a committee in which not a single soul had usability training.  Yes, the car is equipped with voice command capability.  I do not have time to teach my voice and my worldview to my vehicle.

The Ford Escape will not allow me to close my own trunk door.  I must push a button to have the vehicle do this for me.  The car beeps when I back up.  The beeping grows more urgent and harried if there is something behind me.  There must have been high fives all around among the Ford Motor Company brain trust when that feature was implemented.  Think of all the grateful garbage cans and light posts and fire hydrants.  "Won't anyone think of the fence post?!!!!"  I can almost hear one of the geniuses exclaim with emasculated ebullience.

So, I recently purchased a new Windows laptop.  Reluctantly.  Apprehensively.  Out of necessity.  Still, I hoped there might be a semblance of the old excitement of getting a new machine.  There wasn't.  You see, technology makers are now convinced they know better how I will use their product than I do.  They are wrong, of course.  But like all people with a bad idea, they run like Jim Brown with it.

Within seconds of turning the new machine on and beginning the arduous, needlessly complicated and convoluted set-up process, I was forced to create a Microsoft account.  I have no use for a Microsoft account.  I have tried in the past to create Microsoft accounts after they purchased Skype.  I couldn't figure it out.  It sounds ludicrous, but the manner in which Microsoft insists people create accounts is so confusing that -- in the case of Skype -- I couldn't complete the process.  There was no getting past this step with my new laptop.  That moment soured the entire experience.  I muddled through, gave Microsoft information I didn't want to give to it, and created one of their execrable accounts.

When I had finally hurdled enough hurdles and jumped through enough hoops, my laptop's screen went dark and suddenly a single word appeared in the center of it: "Hi".  I wanted to throw up.

Then the laptop proceeded with its own internal set-up process.  Read: the installation of boatloads of bloatware and bullshit that I would spend the next few days uninstalling.

McAfee Anti-Virus was on the machine.  Really?  I mean, fucking really?  First off, Windows 10 comes with Windows Defender Security Center, which is said to be (in my research) an effective and comprehensive anti-virus program.  So, why put McAfee on, in addition to this?  I can only guess that mega-billion-dollar Microsoft was paid a few more dollars to add this crimp to its customers.

McAfee is the syphillus of software.  I have never had a machine even remotely run well with McAfee on it.  McAfee is not meant for computers.  I don't know what it's meant for.  Maybe it was intended for toaster ovens or certain mid-90s electric sex toys.  Who knows.  Whatever.  McAfee should not be anywhere near a computer, and there it was in the bowels of my new laptop.  It was the first thing I uninstalled.

My new keyboard has LED backlighting.  I love it.

The mouse trackpad buttons are part of the live trackpad, so I am endlessly clicking the wrong buttons, folders, drives and links on my computer.  I'm continusouly, unintentionally enlarging web pages by using the trackpad as I have since 2003 when I purchased my first laptop.

The speakers and/or my headphones don't work with any regularity.  I have to continuously go online to troubleshoot both.  Yesterday, neither worked.  I got the speakers working after watching a few YouTube videos.  Today -- the computer won't recognize that there are headphones plugged in.  My old laptop?  Plug in headphones, music played through the headphones.  Never in my computer-using life have I had to delve so often and so far into arcane settings deep within the machine in order to simply make it work the way it should, out of the box.

UPDATE: Fixed headphone issue after going to the Dell forum about headphones jack not working.  Found the fix, but still pissed that I have to dig so far into this wretched machine to make it work like is should.

There are endless notifications popping up as I try and use my new laptop.  I turn off and deactivate the notifications as quickly as they arise, but it's almost like a full-time job beating back this computer's continuous badgering.

Windows Updates are now whole day events, like Armistice Day and Columbus Day, like the SARS concert.  I succumbed to an update this morning and it took hours to complete.  I just received notice that another update is on deck, sighing loudly and shuffling its feet, like an impatient guy behind me in line at the grocery store.  Fuck you, Windows!  I am a human being!  We will update when I say we update!

The most maddening of these maddening glitches, bugs and pains in the ass is the Lock Screen and Login.  My laptop's set-up process forced me to create a login for my personal laptop.  Which means, when I restart my computer, it comes to a "lock screen" where the boot-up process comes to a complete halt until I login. Meaning, I must wait that much longer to actually use my machine.  My laptop is for home use.  I do not want a login.  There is no reason for it.  I'm willing to assume the responsibility that if my laptop were to fall into the wrong hands, that wrongdoers could access everything on it.  It's my stuff.  I'm willing to take that risk.  But Microsoft will not allow me.  Microsoft thinks it knows better.  It does not know better.

And if you decide to actually telephone Microsoft, their automated phone debacle simply directs you back its useless online resources (which led me to call, in the first place).  The Circle of Microsoft!

Somewhere in the early 2000s, technology bounced off the wall and has become increasingly less useful, less user-friendly.  The makers of technology think their customers are idiots who need the jaunty greeting of "Hi" from their new laptop as bloatware and bullshitware are installed behind the scenes.

The only consolation is that Built-in Obsolescence, shitty workmanship and the general engineering of the early demise of products, just as their warranties expire...

Wait.  There is no consolation.

That brief window where new technology was actually interesting and exciting is gone -- just like the ticket sellers at the cineplex.  Now, it seems, Rube Goldberg has gotten a hold of applets and dynamic link libraries.