Friday, August 03, 2007

Driven Ever Closer to Machinicide

My computer has been doing things to me lately. Unpredictable, irrational things that make me contemplate all sorts of machine torture. I'm sure many of you will be familiar with things like this:

1) Closing my browser with no problem and no explanation. It all starts when you get that dreaded "Send Report" window. Though your browser works fine under the error message it all gets closed. Internet Explorer, the only browser currently working on my computer, has no "session recover" function like Firefox, so I must reload all pages manually. Having a "recover" function or a "browser doesn't crash for no reason" function would require giving a care. It's not as bad as it used to be. Remember the days when your whole computer would freeze when there was some pitiful problem in Minesweeper or MSWorks? Being able to isolate the problem to individual programs on the computer has made Microsoft lazy on individual programs.

2) Internet Explorer starts out with a fast download speed, then slowly, slowly crashes like a drug addict on my front lawn. Why on earth does my download manager FlashGet recover from a performance dip, but Internet Explorer, the most popular web browser in the world, hasn't figured out how to recover. Did Microsoft think that nobody downloads large files?

3) That infernal search function in Windows XP consistently throws me off. Why is it so wordy? Why can't you just type the name of the file that you're looking for and find it? Sure, you can turn off that braindead dog and change the abysmal default settings to approximate older versions of Windows, but why does MS think the word "Preferences" should be replaced by the far-less-intuitive "change the way windows searches for files and folders?" As the future dawns will users not be allowed to work quickly at the computer anymore? Is everything going to turn into some obnoxious troubleshooting wizard? (Actually I think the wizards in Windows were modelled after Lestor, Merlin's disabled brother.)

4) Thank you, Windows, for reminding me for the umpteenth time that modifying or deleting files in my hard drive could damage the computer? Do you think that I clicked there by accident? That I'm some palsied Cro-Magnon troglodyte attempting to chew on the keyboard? Trust me with my own computer or give me an alternative who does.

I have a hundred more, but here's the crux of the problem: Microsoft seems to think that friendly and intuitive are the same thing. If icons are larger, have a cute animation when you click them, and furry animals help me to search, very well. Until I've used the computer for more than a week and want to use the stupid thing myself without all the hand-holding. I hear that the new Windows Vista is even worse.

It won't be too long until life mirrors the classic "Dilbert" comic:

Computer Salesperson: "Our computer only has one button. And we press it before it leaves the factory."

Fear for the human race.