I finally broke down and bought a new computer a few weeks ago. I was reluctant to give up my old laptop. I’ve had it since 2007 and it was as familiar as an old friend. But it was starting to be a bit unreliable.
It was incredibly slow to start up. I would hit the power button and go get a cup of coffee while I waited for it to boot up. Then I would have to click again to get on the Internet— and find something else to do for a minute while it thought about logging on. The battery on the old Dell was dead, so it had to be plugged into power at all times. It was frustrating to have a laptop without the freedom of being able to move around. And at least once a week the power cord would accidentally disconnect, right in the middle of something important. I’d have to reconnect the cord, hit the power button…and go get a cup of coffee.
So after months and months of agonizing over what type of computer I should buy, how much memory it should have, how big a monitor I need, and so on, I took the leap and ordered a new laptop. And now I have a whole new set of computer problems.
I made the terrible mistake of saying “Sure” when asked if I wanted the Windows 8 operating system. I was warned by folks like Jim Boyd at Higher Ed not to sign on for the new system. I was cautioned to wait until the bugs had been worked out. But I was skeptical.
I use an Apple computer at work and I have a smartphone that I’m getting the hang of, so I thought I could easily handle a new operating system. I thought to myself, how different can it be?
I now think I should have listened to those wiser than me about computers. The learning curve has been steep. Accidental opening and closing of windows occurs constantly as I move the mouse. The photo viewing program is so different now that the only way I can figure out to view pictures is in a slideshow mode. And the folders that hold my documents have an entirely different—and confusing—layout.
The new computer does have its advantages. The laptop itself is much lighter and easier to carry around. The battery not only works so I have freedom to move around, but it lasts for hours. The computer works well with the websites and blogs I update. And, it starts up lightning fast and logs onto the Internet quickly. So I shouldn’t complain too much about the operational difficulties.
But I can’t help think about the supercomputer designed by scientists that was asked by its inventors, “What are humans for?” The computer’s answer? “To provide power for computers.”
The story makes me wonder, just who is controlling whom? Maybe Windows 8 is the latest gambit in a computer plot to turn us into zombies— searching for hidden icons to find our Word files or desperately downloading “apps” to get our photos to open properly.
Maybe I should stop now in case there is a smidgen of truth to that theory. I don’t want to make my computer angry. I think I’ll just go get a cup of coffee…
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Computers make it easier to do a lot of things, but most of the things they make it easier to do don’t need to be done.