Tuesday, September 15, 2020

There’s always something new to learn, but is it worth it?

I’m going to begin this week’s post with the software we here at Type M have to use in order to give our readers something to see. Since nothing says “we’re a happening website” like giving an application a new look, we’re dealing with a Blogger software update — or at least I am.

My main computer is now considered “vintage.” There is nothing wrong with it. In fact, it works rather well. As with all computers, having the latest and greatest software updates means that eventually the operating system won’t handle them. Part of this is because of advances in the heart of any computer: the processor.

I once put a question to a computer scientist, to wit: “Why are changes made to operating systems because of new processors that cause a lot of other programs to suddenly need updating too? Couldn’t it be engineered so that older programs would still work?”

He was silent for a moment and said, “Well, to be honest, then software developers wouldn’t sell nearly as many updates.”

I understand business, so I can see the sense in that, but it still left me very annoyed and feeling…sort of ripped off.

Getting back to my main computer, I can no longer use it to write my posts, and it’s a huge pain in the patootie. Fortunately, I bought a MacBook Air so I’d have something more portable, and that does have the latest and greatest software — at least for the browser app I use — but I’d rather be using my mainstay.

I got into the book-writing business back when computers still used floppy discs. There was not much internet and social messaging had not yet appeared. Things were more simple. Writers wrote book, publishers bought them, and promoted them, with the author chipping where helpful (interviews, appearances and the like).

Then applications like Facebook appeared. Twitter came along. All of a sudden publishers realized the didn’t need to do quite so much promotion. Heaven knows, everyone is happy to save money.

So a lot of the heavy promotional lifting fell on the shoulders of the poor author — and man, did we have a lot to learn! I’m certainly no Luddite when it comes to computers, but dealing with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram, etc, etc, take up massive amounts of time — and most of the time, it’s not much fun. But all of us had to learn how to self-promote, so we learned how to use all these tools. It was clear that if we didn’t, our publishers would lose interest in a big hurry.

Progress is a good thing. I’m not disputing that, but sometimes it would be nice if progress wasn’t always tied to the almighty dollar. The “new look” blogger dashboard is no better than the old one, except that it looks different. Google (who owns Blogger) decided that, in order to save a bit of money, they would no longer support older browsers. To continue here, if I didn’t have my second computer, I would be forced to go out and buy a new one, or resign from Type M.

I’m fortunate, but how many others are not — and is that fair?

Guess I am a bit of a Luddite after all.


Anna said...

Don't resign, Rick, don't resign!

For the second time in ten years, I have just endured the death of a computer after it collapsed under the weight of all those mandatory updates (planned obsolescence, anyone?), followed by the purchase of still another replacement, followed by looking up the most recent local ordinances on the approved disposal of electronic waste (but only after I ensure security by removing the hard drive and kill it dead with a hammer on the stone walkway).

Diehard technopeasant here,

Judy Penz Sheluk said...

I hear you and feel your pain. I always tell writers working on their first book: savour this moment because you don't have to do anything but write. Keep on blogging!

Anonymous said...

I had to replace my mainstay as well two months ago. Every single one of my books were written on that computer so there's a lot reluctance to let it go. But I'd used it so much that the letters had been nearly worn off most of the keys.

Tanya said...

Rick, your patience with the upgrade process is amazing. I'm always furious when some large tech giant decides that whatever I'm using is obsolete, and I have to spend money to upgrade even though my current set-up is working just fine. I had to buy a new laptop in 2014 when Microsoft would no longer support the version of Windows I was using. Since then I bought a certified used MacBook Pro to have a backup for the current laptop and because I didn't want to use Windows 10. At some point I'm going to have to decide if I'm going all Apple or not. Do you have an opinion on Mac vs. PC?

Each time a forced upgrade happens, we lose so much productive time messing around with hardware and software just to get back to the functionality we had before we had to upgrade. I believe the only people who think upgrades are a good thing are the tech companies that profit from it and young computer nerds with large wallets and short attention spans. Good luck!