Thursday, August 12, 2010

Computers are bastards

There's nothing like the rage you feel at an unresponsive computer. At least if a person is being unhelpful you can explain, in words, what you want to happen - with technology it just sits there smugly opening an application you didn't ask for or deleting your tax returns. There's nothing you can do but grab the monitor and throw it out the window and even that doesn't seem to solve the problem.

I've been using a friend's old machine that has a penchant for unwanted updates. I've tinkered around and turned off all the automatic updates I can find, which on a slow PC can make or break your mood, seriously slowing down the PC's performance. However, there are still some left which I either can't find the switch for or whose makers were so malevolent that they decided the user had no right to decide whether their computer was actually usable for this session.

Right now, every five minutes, I have a pop telling me that I need to restart my computer (which on this machine will take more than five minutes and necessitate the saving of all my work in progress). It gives me two buttons. I can either do it now or wait five minutes to be given the option again.

You can tell it's designed by geeks because there's no button to say "I don't want to restart, please wait until I shut down at my convenience". As it is I have to constantly guard the damn thing and woe betide me if I go to the loo for a leisurely, cough, read.

Why is so much IT designed with the most minor 'needs' of the object taking precedence over usability and the desire of the user?

If it were a person I could just say "Oh no thanks, I'll shut down when I'm done" but as it is I'm simply given two inconvenient choices - the hassle of saving everything I'm doing and a laborious restart, or risk the computer scrapping my session while I'm making coffee and toast. I could seriously tut right now, honestly, I could.


neil h said...

It's much better with OS/X on the Mac - you get a notification and choose whether you want to download the update, and it tells you if it will need to reboot so you can postpone it until it suits you.

modernity said...

Simple solution, Jim:

Install Linux (MEPIS or PClinuxOS) on a second partition, it will rejuvenate an old PC and updates are optional.

If you were stuck, and couldn't do that use UNetbootin to build a USB stick and use that, which leaves the HD untouched.

Dougie Kinnear said...

mine does something twice a day around 12 hours apart, I've tried turning things off etc but it keeps happening, slows it down to unusable for 10-15 minutes. It's a windows service but I just can't track it down.

Cathryn said...

After 25 years battling them, I am convinced they are the spawn of satan. Macs are prettier devils, Linux is a devil for geeks, but they are all still EVIL.. Mwaaahaaahhaaa....

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