SCOUNDRELS AND PISS-ANTS. Posting has been annulled account the Christmas holiday and an unusual occurrence. Cold Spring Shops are undergoing a computer upgrade that, while planned (in order to provide additional hard disk capacity and in anticipation of component failure) is uncovering disquieting things about the technology business.

First, if we can send a man to the moon or flip a cruise missile into Osama's cave, we ought to be able to build hard drives and motherboards with a service life of more than five years. My initial plan was to replace the hard drive on the existing machine and continue with the existing operating system, but when capacitors are starting to pop, that is not a cost-effective repair. Perhaps for some people a new machine every other year is desirable, and there is no profit in providing a more durable basic computer for householders not necessarily seeking the latest gadgetry that frequently. Note that the Superintendent still keeps track of due bills on a TRS-80 Model 100 (oh, the looks he got, when he'd board an Amcoach, stake out one of the few seats with an AC outlet, provided in those days for the coach cleaners, and fire up the computer: now each seat has an outlet at just below the window) that is tied to a disk drive and an old black and white TV. The Model 100 does not run CadRail or Internet Explorer.

Second, I'm not sure how software developers react to the creation of new operating systems, in this instance Windows 7. On the one hand, they have to rewrite their creations. On the other hand, they get to sell their rewritten creations. Imagine buying a new range and having to purchase a new set of pots and pans and a different kind of chicken to make dinner. There are some help files for running Windows XP applications, but is it really necessary to make recreational consumers go to all this trouble? (Think of new techniques to use your existing knives to cut the new kind of chicken and you get the picture). Then some genius decided to package the new operating system without Outlook Express, or any other kind of electronic mail program. It's a free download, and that probably mollifies most people, but imagine taking a free voucher to the store to get handles for the knives.

Third, the vendor that provided my computer struck out. I'd previously dealt successfully with Sycamore's TBC, which is why I entrusted them with the upgrade. (On previous upgrades, the data transfer to the new computer and the adjustments to the new operating system ran without a hitch. Not this time.) The company failed to install the virus, spybot, and malware protection. Strike one. (Freeware. The Shops can handle that.) The company failed to transfer all data from the old computer to the new computer. In particular, none of the Outlook Express .dbx files transferred. Strike two. (The Superintendent maintains backups, and the files are available on a portable hard drive once the Shops tackle configuring the Windows Mail.) The company also did something that caused Windows NT on my existing machine to require activation when I fired up the existing machine to compare its data with the backup data. Strike three.

Perhaps the next time Cold Spring Shops gets a computer, something that seems to happen at five to six year intervals, the Superintendent will prepare a full backup on a portable hard drive and purchase a naked machine from a reputable discounter. Account TBC's failures and Microsoft's fantasies, that's where things stand anyway.

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