Monday, July 27, 2009

Sick? Nah, just old

Ah, yes. The cool sun moves slowly across a painfully blue sky, a light breeze brings the scent of wood smoke from chimneys, the sound of busy birds going about their daily business, the hush of waves on the shore and the spasmodic hiccups of the computer...

Just another glorious day on the coast.

Back up a minute, the what-ups of the... uh,oh; this can't be good.

This desktop unit is five years old. Yep, and some parts are even older. I'm guessing the Microsoft updates aren't compatible any longer and the computer is struggling to keep up or match what's happening out there in techno-land.

But what do you do with hardware that still works as it is, even though it's nearly an antique compared to what's on the market these days? I'm not a fan of replacing something just because it's old.

We had, until a couple of years ago, a waffle-maker bought in Germany when my Dad was based in England. It was thirty-plus years old before it turned up its toes and failed. The Kenwood mixer - bought at the same time - is still in use and shows no sign of stopping.

It's a sad comment that, in today's society, products don't last as long, nor does the technology when something newer and shinier comes along. How many people actually understand, let alone use, everything their mobile phone, pda, DVDR, cable set-top box does?

I recall being part of a test group used by my former government department, to decide which software package was the best for the staff: the new WordPerfect or current Microsoft Word? As a desktop publisher and journo, I duly put both through their paces and followed up with questions to staff.

The result? Seventy-five percent of people would use less than 25% of WordPerfect's capabilities and Microsoft came in at about 50-50. My results mattered not a jot. WordPerfect was the one they chose because it was newer and had a more attractive interface.

Then the IT complaints came in about staff not using WordPerfect to its full potential and how... different... it was to use. The Department then had to spend lotsa money training staff.

If they'd stuck with Microsoft Word and just updated it, money and time would have been saved.

But back to the computer. It's old and not getting any younger. I also have a laptop. It's loaded with Vista which sucks, so I sometimes avoid it.

The bottom line is I love my desktop unit, XP platform and all. I'm comfortable with it, physical size and all. I don't want anything else when I sit down to work. It isn't broke so there's no need to fix it. (Out and about, fine, I'll take the laptop - at home, I want to sit at my desk.)

Yet, I'll have to upgrade to a faster, shinier, newer unit. Again. A week without its comforting idiosyncrasies; it's humming and occasional beep, it's red flashing light and skip when I play cds.

With all the hiccups and pauses and odd noises, I don't think it's Swine Flu, nor a bad case of dementia; chances are, the next thing I see is The Blue Screen of DEATH. That's what happened last time and I lost a complete manuscript in the change-over.

Upgrade it is. Sigh. Maybe a new system will write what I mean, not what I've keyed in... something to think about, techno-geeks.

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