Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

Hell, I Only Paid For The Damn Thing


Yesterday, for yet one more time in an interminable number of times, I was betrayed by my computer. Well, maybe betrayed isn’t quite the right word (synonyms are deceived, deluded, double-crossed, duped—and those are just the d’s). Whatever you choose to call it, what happened was simply this: I wanted the computer to do something one way and it did it another way. I asked for my way and I got the cliché—the highway.


In this case. it was how I wanted my DVD drive to behave on Autoplay. I set my preference, and I got, instead, an action I not only hadn’t asked for, but one I distinctly did not want. No big deal, you say? Hell, it isn’t. Because, this kind of thing—as I said before—happens all the time. For another common example, I’ll set my sound levels and some damn program resets them. Naturally, without asking me. And then I have to take my time and reset them back to where I had them in the first place.


Hell, I only own the machine. Not only did I pay for it, but I pay regularly with my time to maintain it. And I have no say in how things are to be done? What is the point of setting my preferences on my machine when the Microsoft Windows Operating System allows other programs to change those preferences? An Operating System I also paid for. I mean, would you put up with a car that chose its own speed? Or one that braked when it felt like it? Or changed the presets on your radio? I doubt any such carmaker would stay in business ten minutes. Yet here we are with computers that act like our preferences don’t count.


Of course we put up with this nonsense because we have no practical options. I realize I can’t speak for other incidental PCs (Apple is well below 10% of the market), but I truly doubt there’s any significant difference. Nor can I speak to other operating systems for this kind of PC (known as x86), but I do plan to investigate all the freeware options. But this post in not about specifics but rather an industry-wide trend.


That trend is visible is many more ways than just the fact that our computers ignore our preferences. Hell, look at the programs (nearly all) that not only expect you to be connected to the Internet, they don’t even bother to check to see if you are in fact connected! For another example, look at all the actions being taken to push us to the Cloud. Every inept piece of software you install on your machine is an implication that life would be better in the Cloud. The only useful fact about the Cloud is that it’s clouding our minds, trying to make us believe that giving up more control is somehow better for us.


In the end, this is a struggle for control. I see no reason why I should not expect a computer I buy to behave as I wish. I realize the computer industry doesn’t give a crap about what I think, but I don’t see why we should keep bending over and taking it up the bum. And if that’s what it comes to, then what I want to know is, Who do I have to [insert obscene act here] to get what I paid for?

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