Offbeat 27 May 2016
Microsoft finally managed to download Windows 10 onto my machine. It was one of those unpleasant moments. I was expecting to turn on the machine early in the morning, and do something in a bleary-eyed way. Instead I got something that looked like BSOD, the blue screen of death, and a message to wait because the new item was being configured.
The one thing I hate about programmers is that they seem to think that they can add value by adding new functionality, in spite of the fact that the old functionality somehow manages to become functional after the learning curve of the previous upgrade.
The thing that terrified me most was inability to use my beloved Freehand program, a simple and incredibly effective 2003 vector program that I use to draw charts and graphs in about a fifth of the time than the new software that is available, the stuff which comes with all the incredibly useful functionality that slows everything down and really isn’t convenient at all. Freehand is in fact so good, that the large software conglomerate that manufactures design software had to buy it out and shut it down to give their own illustrating software a chance to survive. I did the natural thing, the software trick I learned from old flight simulator games, and started hammering the keyboard with both hands open. That didn’t work, so I banged my fist on the table and went red in the face in frustration. That didn’t work either. Windows 10 survived and managed to download itself. Somewhere out there, there is a programmer, or a whole group of them, who managed to feel that their existences are justified because they changed something.
After about half an hour of trying to navigate the thing, I discovered that I can still search for files and folders even if the search field that used to be in the bottom left menu is hidden. In a moment of desperate frustration I started just typing a file name and lo and behold a search field appeared. Apparently hiding one of the most useful features yet leaving it there is some kind of convenience. One good thing did come about from the whole exercise though. The new OS does not have the solitaire games on it. They were the bane of my existence, a massive drain on my time, yet the one feature I did enjoy. They were punctuation between jobs, I suppose some kind of a virtual tea break.
Imagine playing six games of five minutes each every day. That works out to about two-and-a-half hours per week, and almost 130 hours a year, but actually something like sixteen days of eight hours each. There’s a lot of other stuff that could be done with that time, and there may be some value in Windows 10 for me, after all.
The computer, as far as I can tell was actually devised as a work station, a way to concentrate productivity in one place, making greater productivity possible with greater independence. No doubt it was conceived on the model of a well-healed, eight-hour working day. Instead it has become so much more, in much the same way that just one more drink becomes the nightmarish hangover the next morning. If time is money, then the computer is like a bad gambling habit. Based on the flimsy excuse that computing is about productivity, it is quite easy to spin out a long an interesting treatise on how modern computing actually destroys productivity, including a section on gaming, as well as things like time ripped apart by things like system and software upgrades as well as software upgrades.
Facebook, and the value of links to sites like Buzzfeed and Bored Panda can become a whole series of treatises on their own. Cute kittens, bad tattoos and embarrassing moments have a far more damaging effect on productivity than even the most drunken manager could possibly have.
One day, I will be rich, perhaps, if I can ever be productive enough. When that happens, I will divorce myself from computing. But until then, I have to try and stay productive amongst all the temptations. I’ll get to work, as soon as I have checked out this link…