Monday, 2 July 2007

Computer: Let Me Be!

One irritant that I have not yet tackled is the hassle with computers which seem to think they know what I want better than I do myself. They are not my servant, rather they are like an annoying salesman camped out on my doorstep, who, whenever I happen to open my front door or even look out of my window bombard me with the latest products. Even in my house, they keep changing the channel on my TV and the decor on my walls, with the arrogant attitude that they know better.

Stopping with the analogy. Every time I switch on a computer, and on average, due to my work, I use three different machines in the average week, I have to wait for all the updates from the various companies to load in, plus the ones my own company feels I need. This means it can be 2-3 minutes before I can even start work. I cannot believe that there is that much new stuff every week that they have to take over my machine to load it in. Of course if I was not firewalled then there would be all the spam and the spyware and the adware and so on. In order of priority for access to my machine, I come last. As if this was not enough, when I come to close it down I have to wait sometimes fifteen minutes for it to do all the uploads. With a PC I walk away but with a laptop I have to keep it internet connected otherwise there will be twice as much stuff to wade through. If I happen not to use a computer for a couple of weeks, then it is 30 minutes plus. Why? Surely it is inefficient if each day I am losing 15 minutes' work watching a bar move across the screen.

On my home PC somehow I got an Adobe photo album tester. I have no idea how, but now I cannot rid my machine of it. Every time I log on it asks me if I want to buy it, I say no, but it still proceeds trying to search out photos on my machine and telling me my digital camera battery is low (I do not even have a digital camera) and so on. It tries again later too. For me, no means no, why can it not understand. My house mate's son who is almost 6 and can read a little, gets bewildered when midway through a game of 'Shrek' or 'Finding Nemo' the machine starts binging at him and sending up pop-ups even when he is logged in as his own identity. What is the point of asking him if he wants to upgrade the DVD player, he cannot even understand the words?

It does not stop when you are not even connected to the internet, software is just as bad. I write a lot, and yet even when I have corrected the spelling and grammar checker from US to UK spelling it still keeps interfering, putting in bullet points when I do not need them, telling me effectively that 'which' is not a proper word and you just try typing 'fora' as in the plural of 'forum' (for those of us who use proper plurals)! If I try to write a letter, it says do I need help - no I have been writing letters longer than even Microsoft has been in existence! It tries to put 'yours truly' at the end of the letter, even though in the UK that is a sarcastic phrase and 'yours faithfully' or 'yours sincerely' which it never offers me, are the correct ones. Every machine I have go through disabling all of these interruptions.

I understand that people often need help, but as in the classroom you should be able to ask for it when you need it. I hate my computer patronising me and trying to force words and a culture on me which I do not want. A computer should be about granting you freedom to compose and to explore as you choose, but instead we are driven to behave identically to each other, and coming from a non-US culture, in a way which jars with what I know and is correct for my 'locale'. Give me a computer that treats me like an adult.

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