Quarter Life Crisis

The world according to Sven-S. Porst

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Computers Suck

473 words

While in Bremen, my brother was quite busy doing not useless but ideally superfluous computer work. For his stay in the U.S., my dad lets him have his Powerbook, while keeping my brother's iMac. A good trade for my dad speed-wise and for my brother portability and value-wise (seeing the prices Pismo Powerbooks are still sold for these days).

This little swap means that my brother had to transfer his data (sans the mp3s that won't fit on the 10GB hard drive) onto the Powerbook while transferring my dad's documents onto the iMac. Also, it is crucial that the iMac works flawlessly for my dad afterwards as anything else is going to be very irritating for him and he'll be annoyed.

While this sounds like a trivial task, the different uses of the computers so far, meant that a couple of extra installs had to be done for the iMac. Network settings had to be adjusted, everything had to be tested &c. Very annoying and very time-consuming as well. Why isn't it enough to copy the Library, Applications and home folder? Why is there need for installers and hidden settings file in the Unix intestines? Why do we have to worry about file access permissions during that? Why is the Finder very bad at reporting what exactly went wrong when copying some files? Why can't it pinpoint – or preferably solve – the potential problems for you, asking for the necessary administrator passwords along the way?

All these tasks are trivial to do. Automating trivial tasks is what computers are for. Why aren't they automated then? Particularly as these are tasks that only exist to keep the computer running?

While Apple and maybe even Microsoft these days are capable of building software that 'just works' when you get a new computer, this seems to be the only thing that 'just works'. Everything else requires extra attention and is annoying. Frequently, deleting and re-installing your system and the software seems to be the easiest and more reliable solution – particularly on Windows systems.

And one more thing.... Networking sucks, too. I don't know why. Having two computers hooked up to an ISDN internet router, one of them running internet sharing via Airport and the third computer using that very internet connection – why can't all the local computers 'see' one another in Rendezvous? Because it's sloppily implemented and only works for a single local network, I suppose. My dad wouldn't know that. And neither of us cares. We want to connect the computers in any arbitrary fashion and we want them to work that way. I don't think that's asking too much. These kind of things used to work in AppleTalk years ago once you had LocalTalk Bridge installed. That's the standard of comfort Rendezvous has to reach before it is an acceptable replacement.

August 13, 2003, 19:25

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Comment by Anonymous: User icon

you suck

March 12, 2004, 3:33

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