Computers, software & technology & why I hate ’em

  • Date:
  • Posted by kindle

For this column, I thought I would take the space and talk about one of the bane’s of my existence: computers.

I know some of you just love computers and what they do. I get it. I do. Because I used to be that way. I used to source my own parts and build my own desktops for the house. They were faster, better, did exactly what I wanted, had enough storage and memory and I had the satisfaction of putting it all together and making it work. Then I customized everything to just the way I liked.

Well, that’s all gone now. If I could, I would take them all out to the back yard, and fire countless rounds of ammunition into them until there was nothing left but little pieces, then I would rake all those little pieces into a pile, dowse that pile with gasoline or some other suitable accelerant and light it on fire and watch it burn and dance around the fire with happy joyful dance steps. Then, after the fire burned out, I would take the ashes and stomp on them to be sure that all the computer demons had been exorcised, then I would bury the ashes on some holy ground somewhere so I could rest assured they could not come back to haunt me.

So what could have created this total animosity towards computers and electronics you ask? I will tell you. Manufacturers.

Yes, the manufacturers of computers, components, software, cell phones, apps, and all the associated accessories such as cases, charging cords, monitors, connecting cables and all the associated ilk. They can all go straight to you know where and I will tell you why.

When I get something that works for me I want to keep it. I mean if it’s not broken, why try to fix it? I find that as I get older, and hopefully more mature, that this could be the way with everything. If you take care of things, they last.

Well guess what, manufacturers have a totally different take on it. You know what that is? Profit. They have decided that it’s more important to make a profit, than to make anything that lasts. So they make cheap products that are intentionally built, if not to break outright, with an purpose planned obsolescence so that after a certain point in their lifespan, they stop being an asset and may as well have just broken, for all the good they will do you.  Yup, it all comes down to sticking it to us for a buck.

You used to be able to put an operating system on your computer and it would last for a good long time. Then they decided that no, you need to buy a new one every few years and guess what? If you don’t upgrade, we will stop making yours work by not updating it so everyone else’s software stops working on your operating system. Yeah, it does that.

Then, for our next trick, we will stop selling hard copies. Yup, no more discs or CD-ROMs. So if you have to reload because of an error or a virus or something crashes, you have to download it from the internet. Then try to remember password, license numbers, answers to hint questions, and the like. Then heaven help you if your internet connections not up and running or crashes during your download.

Then, software companies started doing the same thing. When you bought software such as Photoshop, you paid a lot. I remember it was around $600 for the program a few versions ago. You actually felt like you bought an actual product. Then if you had an issue you could reload it or move it to a new PC. Then they started doing away with the discs. You had to download it.

Now, the next iteration has been foisted upon us. You have to rent it. Yes that’s correct. You can no longer buy the program. You pay a monthly licensing fee to use it. You are renting software. This helps no one except Adobe, who cashes in on these fees.

So I know your next question already. So why don’t I just stick with an older version? I will tell you why. Upgrades.

Because as new technology is created in cameras, they change how the cameras save images, and change the types of files the images are saved as, and guess what? Yup the older versions can’t read the newer files. And if that wasn’t enough, the operating system designers have upgraded everything so the older versions of your software won’t run on the newer operating systems, AND, your older hardware such as chipsets and motherboards won’t run the new operating systems and software! Tell me they aren’t all in cahoots with each other?

Microsoft has taken it and combined it. Once they obsolete the operating system you are finally comfortable with, you have to buy a new one, or programs such as Microsoft Office will stop working. Then you have to pay for the Office subscription and it has to have an internet connection to make sure that before you write a document, your subscription is valid, otherwise, you can’t write your letter. And on top of that, once you stop paying for the subscription, none of your office documents will open. I am sorry I ever stopped using WordPerfect now.

How many cell phones have you had? I know I have had at least a dozen. You know what I am doing? I am still rocking a twelve year old Galaxy. You know what I use my phone for? Phone calls. Oh and maybe some texting. Yup, that’s it. I don’t internet, zoom call, skype, shazam, take photos, tik tok, tweet, facebook, google or any of that nonsense on my phone at all. Period.

It’s a total cash grab – the phones last longer than any of them will admit, and cost them far less to produce than the $1,000 they charge you for them. Then on every new model, they change the charging ports and the dimensions just enough, so that none of your previous accessories work and then they gouge you extreme amounts of money for pennies worth of plastic for a case or a wire to recharge. Really, and this thievery is legal?

Why are we paying these prices for products that are made by workers who, employed by the company, live in company housing paying rent to the company, buying groceries in company stores paying the company for them, and are so happy to be doing all this and so loyal that the company has to install nets around their factory buildings to catch the workers who decide that committing suicide by jumping out the window is a better option. This entire setup reminds me of the meat packing industry that Upton Sinclair exposed in his book “The Jungle” Everything old is new again.

They get away with all this because everyone has to show off their worth and status by having the newest, biggest, best thing of the day. I had to laugh, I read an article about the people who bought the $17,000 gold apple smart watch that are now obsolete, won’t work with any new apple tech and can’t be repaired anymore. Well, good luck with that.

I used to be what the industry called an early adopter. I used to like the new tech. The new cell phone every two years, the new TV, music format, or gadget… but now I am over it. This is madness and has to stop. At some point, I won’t have a PC or cell phone. I will give them up gladly. I could dump the phone today in a heartbeat. I already resent the fact that I must carry a phone with me 24 /7 and that people get rude with me if I don’t answer on the first ring. I hate that I have to get a text form the bank before I can log in and pay my bills. I hate that the phone tracks me wherever in the country I am.

I stopped using facebook & social media on my phone a long time ago. I have long since deleted all my social media accounts on my PC. I didn’t like the fact that the microphone was listening to me, and once it heard me talk about something, I was getting ads for that very thing. Same with web browsing. When it’s legal for these companies to track your every move around the internet just so they can profit from it, it’s disgusting and you can count me out. When the product’s free, you are the product that’s being sold. I value my privacy a bit more than $1.00 off a fast food burger or 10% off at Target.

In addition I won’t have an Alexa or Google device in my home. I won’t use a Ring doorbell camera either. I don’t upload or store anything on “The Cloud” There is no such thing as a cloud, there are only other people’s computers. If it’s online, it can be hacked. The less that’s online about me, the better I like it. I can’t understand these folks that live their life on their phone. I mean, what is so important or has changed that much between red lights that you have to get right back on your phone!?!?

Well now you know some of what grinds my gears about computers, cell phones and technology. After all, I am fairly knowledgeable about tech, and what I don’t know I can look up. What really scares me is what do all the senior citizens do? My mother will call me before she clicks on anything, but there are many who don’t have anyone to help, and they get preyed upon by thieves and scammers.

Look I know I am being a bit dramatic, but remember, I grew up before all this stuff. The only thing that came out new each year were clothes and cars. Some of us could afford new clothes every school year but they had to last, and no one I knew bought a new car every year.

The phones were attached to the wall, and had one ring tone. If you missed a call, they called back. We actually had to remember phone numbers and we had phone books for the rest. If you were lucky, you had two phones! Heck, I still remember party lines. The TV had 4 channels, and when dad wanted to change the channel he made me get up and do it, there wasn’t a remote control. Now you can’t hardly by a fan that doesn’t have one.

It all sounds rustic and quaint, but you know what? We all survived and I think we were better for it. We didn’t have all this technology that we have today. To be honest, all this amazing tech that was supposed to make our lives so much easier has done just the opposite.  Remember when email was going to totally eliminate the need for paper? Well guess what, the only ones who that’s worked for are all the companies who ask me monthly if I want to have paperless statements, but then when you do, you end up printing all the statements! How’s that working out for you all?

I am not saying we need to go back to the stone age, but I do think it needs to be scaled back a bit. We don’t need a new phone every year, we don’t need to keep upgrading software every 90 days, we don’t need new TV’s bit more resolution every time we turn around and I sure don’t need every piece of technology following me around and recording everything I do.  Let’s take a break!