Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Sighs for the technological wonders

Someone said that if cars worked like computers, nobody would ever buy a car that randomly crashes, do not always start, have weird unexplained problems, can get viruses and other bad things that live inside it (and I am not talking about mice chewing on things under the hood of the car), or have parts that refuses to work with each other.  But that is what we get with computers.  These days, we are all also supposed to be able to figure it out ourselves, know HTML, command line code, a billion settings and options, and be able to find buttons that are hidden or staring us straight in the face but not associated with any description or text.

I have just spent more than one hour trying to fix why our little icons for 'mail this', 'recommend this', etc., wasn't showing up on our blog. This blog.  It was added by me a few years ago to the template through the 'click this button and you get it on your blog' in the Blogger settings.  But they never showed up.  So now, a few years later, I decided to see if I could fix it.  Some googling, lots of testing with suggested html code in new places, and now finally it works. 

The Blogger Help Forum didn't solve it, I found the solution in a post on another blog that had had the same issue. Such a simple thing, and just imagine how many of us that are trying to solve similar issues in our daily lives, including our daily work. 
"Why can't I import this file?" 
"Where is that command again to fix the white balance on my photo?" 
"Why did Word do THAT?" 
"How do I get rid of that?" 
"Help, I can't sign into gmail!"
"Why do I have to sign in everyday even if I click 'remember me'?"
"Why is Firefox so slow?"
"Why isn't Netflix working (again)?"
 And on and on...   Ever heard anybody complain about their cars like this?  No, me neither.

How in H*LL is anybody that knows nothing about html supposed to be able to fix something like this by themselves?  Why aren't these things foolproof?  If computers could be insured, and cause bodily harm, like cars are and can, then I bet we would have a lot better working computers.  It is pretty amazing how sensitive and breakable this system is, and I am not talking about silly buttons at the bottom of blog posts, but in general. We are pouring our work and private lives into these machines, and they are totally non-dependable.  Sure, they work most of the time.

But if you have a broken car you take it to a mechanic and he/she fixes it.   For computers, having them fixed by an expert would mean 1) at least weekly visits to a computer mechanic, 2) immense costs, and 3) sometimes things can't be fixed because of bad hardware or software.  For a car, you can usually choose not to fix something because it would not be worth the cost, but many times for computer you simply can't fix it, you are simply not given any options. 
"Sorry, you laptop monitor is broken, can't be fixed, better get a new laptop." 
"Sorry, I can't recover your harddrive data". 
And still, we have so much invested in these undependable units - photos, memories, letters, work data (a lot in my case), finances, and so on.

So, gals and guys, here is my advice:

  • Back up your data. 
  • Keep a data backup in a different house or building (or the computing cloud)
  • Realize that everything on your computer can be gone. Anytime. 
  • See the computer as a tool, not as your life.  Your life is what is going on when you eat, breath, walk, see, think... not what is stored on the computer. 
Do I follow this advice?  Yes, partly, but not well enough.  So I need to follow my advice better too. And now, you can all e-mail, Facebook, like, or tweet this post because I fixed the buttons at the bottom. (she says smiling... ).

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