Saturday, August 25, 2012

Why People Hate Windows

People buy computers for a lot of different reasons.  Some like to blog, others tweet, most surf, many use computers to do their work.  Very few people buy computers solely to maintain Microsoft Windows.

But Microsoft hasn't grasped this yet.  In Microsoft's view, we buy Windows to enjoy installing Windows... because you never, ever actually finish installing Windows.

Now, I use my Windows 7 machine once every few weeks.  I turn it on, I want to get a few things done in the hour I have available and I want to move on.  This is impossible with Windows.

First off, without fail, Windows announces there are updates available.  Fine.  Do the updates.  Go away; I've got work to do, kid.

In a sane world, Windows would update everything, finish and pop up a screen that says, "When you're done, please shut down your computer so we can finish the updates."  Rational, brief, sane.

But instead, Microsoft pops a screen to tell me that it's loading a new Keyboard/Mouse sofware.  "Please Wait" the dialog box asks politely.  So instead of continuing what I'm doing while MS installs in the "background", I should instead stop everything and turn my full attention to watching a program *I didn't even ask for* to *DO NOTHING*.    "Please wait." it says.

It doesn't stop there.  I finally push that steaming pile into the backround and the inevitable comes, right on schedule:

"Please shut down what you're doing so we can reboot!"

You can't escape this one.  You fell for the every 10 minute nagging to update your software.  The rest of your work plans are shit now because everything you have open must be stopped, saved, rebooted and restarted.  Every 10 minutes: STOP WHAT YOUR DOING AND DO OUR STUFF.

Unfortunately, it's not just Microsoft.  My workplace has an automated backup system that runs every day.  Its starts whether you want it or not.  Fine.  Backups are a Good Thing.  Leave me alone.  What drives me insane is backup software's driving need to become a Tomogachi pet.  I'm working away on one screen, trying to figure out how to solve some problem or another and the keyboard stops working.  The mouse pointer disappears.  Great!  The freaking network/computer/something has hung/stopped working.  I put down what I'm doing, start searching around for ways I can get things going again.  What's this? There's a dialog box on the other screen:

Backup was successful!

WHAT THE FUCKING HELL?!?!?  It's bad enough that you've competely wrecked my train of thought and made me believe the computer hung (again) but you've done this in order to force me to acknowledge that you DID YOUR FUCKING JOB AND EVERYHING IS OK??  They've turned an almost-decent OS into a freaking cat!  Click me and I'll go away until this time tomorrow!  PURRRR!

This batshit reasoning infects the offerings of dozens of big software houses.  Take Semantec/Computer Associates/whatever they're calling themselves this week.  Semantec believes that you bought your computer in order to run their anti-virus software, and maybe squeeze in a few installations of whatever extra garbage software they're hawking this week.  Installing any of their products means the speed of your computer will immediately cut in half.  Then throw in their constant scans, updates, false virus detections and virus dictionary updates and you may never get to use your computer again.   When is the last time you've gone a week without another fucking update to Adobe Flash?

Tragically, this same line of reasoning that also brought us flashing text, spinning icons, dancing babies and popup windows is also invading the mobile-devices internet.  Every webpage on the 'net detects if you're using a mobile device and completely blocks a screen demanding that you download their iPhone app.  Are we to give up and browsers and experience each site on the internet as a separate app?   Follow this link, download the app, install it on your phone and run it so we can display a 404 message saying the information you want isn't here.

Please: stop this.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Is Capitalism Working Itself Out of a Job?

Years ago, a guy that worked on the Apollo program said, "Then finally, after all that work, we put a man on the moon. Then what happened? They fired us all. Yep, all that effort and we just worked ourselves out of a job."

Our current economy has decided that it no longer needs ~25% of our country's population. (Lazy bastards!) That is in addition to the (I'm guessing here) approx 10% of (300+M) that never had employment. What we have left over has been outsourced to China/India or "insourced" from Mexico.

Meanwhile, the relentless march to "reduce labor costs" marches on. Google and others are working hard to create driverless cars. Airports are just starting "self-check" kiosks where the only person you interact with is at the TSA patdown. Retail stores are continuing to push "self checkout" (see any grocery store or Home Depot checkout line). We've long-since replaced our TV news anchors with robots, now computers are generating the copy, much like the CEOs of Fox and MSNBC.

Once automated car technology hits taxis and 18-wheelers, tens of thousands will be unemployed. These folks are going to just grab a degree and join a biotech startup as a reseach scientist either. We are transitioning to a "service" economy, yet we're rapidly approaching a point where we'll only be servicing robots. The job market for that role will probably be as large as the current one for elevator service people.

So, my previous question on this topic was: "What does a society do with 200M people for whom there is not only little work, but little work that needs to be done? Once the house-cleaning robot is invented, even the Mexican immigrants will be screwed (again). People that wish to dismiss the question fall back on vague promises of the future (i.e. "We'll innovate") How many Silicon Valley tech firms do you know of that are working to create technology that requires *more people*?

So here is my question: Will Capitalism eventually be so successful that it works itself out of job? 200M people (that's just in the US) aren't going to just return peacefully to dust without a *lot* of help.

"Help" could be the traditional approach (war, mass killings, etc.) or the "Star Trek" approach... known amongst conservative types as "Socialism". The anti-socialist members of society will continue to get more and more agitated as more and more tax money goes to social programs. Do we tell these uber-capitalists to stop bitching, get a haircut and "Go make a job"? Likely we'll continue on the same course we have been.

We've entered into an historic time. I believe we have entered into the next stage of human social evolution: the period of No Work to be Had. What say ye?