(A reminder first to my self-publishing colleagues: Beginner Lesson #1 is now available at http://marckuhn.com. Just follow the front page link to the self-publishing section of the website, then look for the link to Lesson #1)
I spend more time in front of my two side-by-side computers than I do anything else in my life. I am a certified desk chair potato. Life in this setting can be incredibly rewarding…and just as incredibly unrewarding. There has been nothing ever invented by man/womankind that has more impact than the computer. Well, maybe the automobile and certainly indoor plumbing is a favorite.
Okay, where am I going with all this? Nuts, probably. I have a problem with modern day computers because they are constantly updating themselves. You are programmed to believe that updating is a good thing and that new and better functions will come to your little thinking machine that will make it easier and faster to use. Not! Most updates change things, things you have spent considerable time mastering and becoming reliant on. But the update has moved your functions to other locations, under different names, never to follow the same procedures you learned and never to be found again…all in the name of progress.
I always use Microsoft Word as the classic example of update-itis. I have been using Word since the late 1980s. Before Word the rage was a product called Word Perfect, which was so imperfect you could take a crayon and toilet paper and compose a letter more quickly and efficiently. Word changed all that. It made sense and, more or less, made things appear on the monitor pretty much as they did on a piece of paper you had in a typewriter. With time it even got better, especially as the user became more familiar with how it worked. Then, Microsoft could not leave it alone. Their brainiacs kept tinkering with it. They found new functions to add to it and implemented new processes replacing the old ones that had become second nature to most users. I often say, “just give me Word 2005 and I’ll be very happy with no further updates.” But no, I have to move along with progress, which means I spend up to a half-hour trying to do something in Word that was previously accomplished by hitting control+whatever and then move on.
I recently updated my Norton protection software. It was my choice, but only after being propagandized for several months. It was a time-consuming update with many moving parts, including the installation of “LifeLock” a mechanism that supposedly thwarts attempts by those jerks who dare steal your identity. Then, being the big spender that I am, I had purchased the version that allows you to download the same program on up to ten other computers in your household. I have five total. If I had ten I would kill myself or at least volunteer admission into a padded room.
(Here’s a sidenote relative to the point I am making with this posting: in the middle of writing all this—right now, at this very moment—my iMac has decided to give the cursor the day off. It has totally disappeared off the page. I can see it moving around when I move the mouse, but when you want to place it somewhere on the page, it does not show up when you click the mouse. It’s there, but it is invisible. So I am sorta guessing where it is.)
So where was I? Oh yeah, Norton. In the midst of all the downloading and filling out the same information multiple times (weren’t computers supposed to be smart enough to know this stuff once you enter it?), I forgot two very important pieces of information…how much was all this new Norton stuff gonna cost me and when? Now, in the old days, you’d simply look down at the contract you just signed and that information would be clearly stated somewhere on the document. So it goes with saying, today you go to your computer, open the Norton website and look for it….and look for it….and look for it. I spent almost an hour chasing around “my account” and “my subscription” on the Norton website and kept finding myself suveying the same pages over and over again in search of my subscription expiration date and fee. Finally, I gave up and I decided I would call Norton and ask a human. But wait! Norton does not want to talk to me. Why? Because I spent another twenty minutes looking for their phone number on their website. There are plenty of mentions of “Contact Us” but those links just send you pecking around their FAQ pages because you are sure to find the answer you are looking for…Not!
To make a very long story a bit longer, I Googled the phone number, picked #4 on the menu selection which was for “Subscriptions and Renewals” but the young lady at #4 put me on hold looking for my answer only to eventually tell she would have to transfer me to another department for the information I wanted–y’know, my subscription date and how much it costs–two very difficult questions that the #4 lady at “Subscriptions and Renewals” was not able to answer.
Okay, enough. I am sure you have similar stories. My inquiring mind, however, still wants to know why these ultimate, state-of-the-art machines that epitimize “logic” can be so frustratingly illogical at times. The answer, my biased brain tells me, is that all these entities are owned and operated by big companies who do not want us to know anything about the negative elements (i.e., price) of the services and products they so willingly advertise and brainwash us into purchasing. Once they have our money and can auto-renew it’s transfer from your thin wallet into their deep pockets every year, they could give a rat’s butt about being open and honest with their customers. Do you sense an attitude here on my part? Well, I don’t have time to deal with it. I have to go spend probably the rest of the day looking for my lost curser because typing without it is a royal pain. So have a nice day and, oh yeah, your case number for reading today’s posting is 392038d363337430763836202733y3449237612. Better write it down. I suggest you use pencil and paper.