Fighting the Future

[starbox]My computer repair people advised tossing one of my computers in the trash recently. This loyal travel companion had become so “buggy” from public WiFi networks that repairing it would exceed its replacement cost. Of course, buying a replacement means buying new software and relearning to use it.
I don’t begrudge the software companies the income but I wonder how many of these changes are really product improvements and how many are just to make us buy new licenses. It reminds me of the old days when car companies did major external redesigns every year while flogging the same old mechanical parts for decades. A 1958 Chevy had the same chassis as a 1964 model; they used the same basic 6six cylinder motor fro 1929 to 1962.
My IT vendor based the “trash it” decision in part on the lack of support for the laptop’s operating system. You’d think that by the sixth or seventh year of a system they would have identified or fixed all of the bugs. Even the car companies back in the “bad old days” eventually got their products to run well without constant intervention.
There was a story once of some Silicon Valley visionary saying that if they built cars we would be getting 200 miles per gallon and paying half as much for our transportation. This was countered with a hilarious rant of your Silicon Valley car needed to be replaced every time the lines on the road got painted or needing an elaborate “re-boot” sequence at random intervals when it would just stop running for no reason.
The curmudgeon in me looks forward to the rumored “self driving” cars from the high tech start ups. In a big city like Chicago it is easy to see how traffic flow could improve if cars just got in their lane and drove home without the constant jockeying for position we suffer through today. Then I consider the possible mayhem that will result from GPS glitches and software “upgrades.” If they can’t make a trustworthy spelling and grammar checker what makes them think they are ready for the Illinois Toll Road? Anyone interested in “auto complete” sending you to the wrong address?

About Charles D. Schultz 644 Articles
Charles D. Schultz is President of Beyta Gear Service and one of Gear Technology's technical editors.

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