Elevate the Ether

August 29, 2009

In the last few months, Gail Collins of the New York Times has become one my most-favorite pundits, making clear, concise points with a keen sense of humor.
This morning she looks at those insufferable computer upgrade notices that are seemingly always there, and always ready, willing and able to promise a more-wonderful life in the ether.

It’s depressing to realize that my computer is more bent on self-improvement than I am. At home, my laptop is so ready to update that it can barely be constrained.
The other day, I found three different pleas floating around on the screen. The “Dell Support Center Automatic Upgrade” was the most tempting since it sounded as if the computer wanted to give me a really good seat on a plane.

There was a time when I would have responded, but nothing good ever seemed to come of that. The updated computers were never any better at doing the things I wanted to do than the old ones. And there’s always the possibility that I could trigger an inadvertent disaster.

(Illustration found here).

The reason Collins’ commentary so struck me, forcing me to respond is that the “Upgrade” bullshit on my laptop is always striking without warning — although there are still those little floating notices, the real bitch is when they ‘Upgrade’ without saying a damn thing.
The last two days, when I turned on the laptop, went through the opening stages and tried to log on to Mozilla Firefox and out into the InterWeb, some bad shit would seemingly appear — white screen, the little circling indicator bubbling over with enthusiasm — that would scare the techno-shit out of me.
I couldn’t move, nothing happened — the little circling indicator would keep bubbling along.
After manually shutting off the computer a couple of times, a little box would appear and tell me that the guts of this machine was in the process of upgrading with “One of three updates complete: Do Not Turn Off Computer.”

Technology can be dangerous to the ignorant.

After recalling how her Blackberry wouldn’t do anything other than re-dial the telephone number of a racist former US senator, Collins allows a mechanical conspiracy:

My darkest suspicion is that my computers are preparing to join their comrades in overthrowing humanity so machines can rule the earth.
I have seen quite a few movies on this theme, and really, the signs are everywhere.
The other day, Jim Dwyer reported in The Times about a man in Brooklyn whose oven broiler turns on every time the cellphone rings.
Experts think this is caused by electromagnetic interference.
However, I believe the oven is ticked off because its owners, in typical New York fashion, use it for storage rather than for actual cooking.
And it is in cahoots with the cellphone, which probably is resentful because it is not allowed to spend its time doing the things cellphones really enjoy, like talking to Trent Lott.

Read Collins’ entire post here.

This brings us to the conclusion that… Shit! Gotta upgrade or die…

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