Thursday, November 08, 2007

Pure and Simple

My husband has been obsessing for several days now about his new computer. He's changing the operating system, installing new software and trying to get it to work with a new keyboard, monitor, mouse and his old laser printer. Most of the problems have been solved but it's taken several sleepless nights and the support of several other techno-wizzards. Not the sort of thing any of us ordinary, techno-deficient types could come close to doing.

I related his struggles to some friends. One replied that he'd worked six months to rid his new computer of unwanted software and it's still not quite right. Another friend replied that it certainly is frustrating to spend so much time fooling around with unwanted complexities when there are so many other constructive things we'd rather be doing.

A few months ago, I bought a small laptop for traveling, and wanted it to be synchronized with an older, larger laptop --- same manufacturer, same brand. But it turned out that I'd unwittingly purchased a computer with a new operating system and it proved to be impossible to go backward and install an older (but proven and widely used) operating system on the new computer. So even if I cave in and buy all new software, it won't necessarily work with both operating systems, nor will all the peripherals works with both laptops. I'm resigned to going back and forth between the two with the help of a back-up iPod and files copied to DVDs.

The PC guy I hired to try to synchronize the two computers also cleaned up my old computer (it was taking ten minutes to boot!) by deleting lots of junk, particularly the security software which he claimed was grossly bloated. Instead he installed some security free-ware and a low-cost counter-spy program. The old computer works so much better now.

Why do we put up with all this larding and incompatibility? Why not offer a machine that has a basic operating system, simple Internet access and that includes the option of a certain number of software packages, chosen by the purchaser. No ads, no 30-day trials, no Lite versions of fuller packages --- unless the purchaser wants them.

Mozilla has been outstanding in offering a clean Internet browser (Firefox) and email manager (Thunderbird). Since Mozilla is open-source software, many add-ons have been written and are available free --- if the user wants them. Google, too, is doing a fairly good job of keeping things simple, though I think their g-mail interface is confusing. Some manufacturer is soon going to tumble to the fact they can cop a huge share of the market by producing a computer that's pure and simple.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you ever considered moving over to Linux? -- from the friend who remarked that there are so many constructive things we'd rather be doing.

10:55 AM  

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