Technological Spite

Let me be the first to encourage you to stay away from computers.

I write that in a post on a blog many know to cover a lot of computer technology stuff. It’s not a bad hobby, so long as you don’t take yourself too seriously. As a field of employment, it can really suck. It’s like anything else: If you don’t need it, it’s nothing more than a toy. If you do need it, you’ll probably never know as much about it as you should and could.

We are witnessing a cultural shift, but it’s not here yet. The vast majority of what drives computer technology is still profit. Just because there’s a profit motive doesn’t mean there is no spite involved when it comes to abusing the end user of the product. It takes a certain amount of contempt for humans to adhere to a profit motive in the first place.

Every time I walk through a fresh install or re-install of Windows Vista or later, it’s the same creepy experience with the Borg mentality. You don’t install Windows; you sacrifice your computer on the altar to Big Technology profits. It’s not just Microsoft, but the entire ecosystem that they have created. We talk about how Intel has been so nice to Open Source developers and helping write the code to run all their hardware, but when it comes to Windows, they are just a evil as Microsoft, Google, Apple and everyone else. Have you seen their supposedly generic chipset detection tool, the thing you can install to identify missing drivers in Windows? Once that thing starts running, you lose all control of the process. It’s happened on several machines I’ve tried to fix.

Yes, there is button in the interface that you can click to cancel, but it will ignore you for at least the next 5-10 minutes on most machines. Want to uninstall their nifty little tool? You’ll get your computer back tomorrow. Why? Because they simply must use the latest version of .NET technology for this job, the slowest, fattest toolset ever created for a computer. You can write simple commandline scripts (“batch” files in Windows Land) and get it all done in less than a tenth of the time, and it won’t take nearly as long to download it. And it would make more sense to the user, because that stupid detection tool tends to disappear from the screen while it consumes every shred of computing resource on the machine while offering not a clue as to what the status is. Batch scripts at least tend to say something you might recognize when that CMD window opens.

There are other examples, but this one is the most recent irritations I’ve faced. That, plus the fact that nearly every service call I’ve had in the past year was a matter of a botched update on Windows. As I have previously noted, it was seldom this bad back through Windows XP, but since that time I face constant borking from Microsoft’s ham-fisted attempts to patch something entirely too complicated for anyone’s benefit. Windows Update is so shaky and fragile that you can never guess what’s going to cause it to destroy the system.

And if you try to ask their best technicians, no one has a clue. The error codes don’t mean a damned thing in terms of diagnosing what went wrong.

I’ve also warned that Open Source isn’t any more user-friendly than commercial software development, but it’s seldom that convoluted when it comes to fixing things. Given that the whole point of commercial development is getting you to surrender your privacy to snooping so that marketers can more effectively manipulate you, a significant factor in the process is making it incredibly difficult to understand. Otherwise you’ll turn stuff off that certainly isn’t helping you any. At least with Open Source, the only problem we have is that way too many developers have zero interest in what ordinary people want or need from a computer. But what they produce to please themselves does at least sometimes give us something useful and it’s always possible to adjust how it behaves because they also have no interest in hiding anything.

What infuriates me about all this is not how much of a hassle I face for myself, but that I have great compassion for the lost sheep who are totally helpless when Big Technology treats them with such contempt.

About Ed Hurst

Disabled Veteran, prophet of God's Laws, Bible History teacher, wannabe writer, volunteer computer technician, cyclist, Social Science researcher
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