Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Technology is not always a time saver

I know that I probably shouldn't say this as a computer programmer, but sometimes computers infuriate me, and I long for the simpler times from my youth. instead of making life easier, it just feels like the job of the computer is to add unnecessary discomfort to those things which used to be so much easier.

As an example, I compare my old music listening habits to the debacle that happened this morning.
A long time ago, when I was much younger than I am today (because, they tell me, that's how the aging process works) I would get up in the morning and decide that there was a specific album that I wanted to listen to that day. I would rush over to my cassette real, grab the album from the alphabetised holder, put the tape into my Walkman (actually it wasn't a Walkman, it was a cheap knock off from one of those Japanese companies that nobody's ever heard of like Tech Tac Toe or something), strap on the headphones and I was good to go.

Compare that to this mornings effort of setting up my iPod. First, I had to get my laptop out. Having a UK laptop but living in Australia meant that I also had to find one of the few adapter cables that I have in the house. Adapter found, and cable plugged in, the laptop start booting. It's a Windows 7 laptop, seemingly designed to allow me to make a cup of tea in the time it takes to boot, but I've had my full already this morning. I walked over to my router and switched on the hard drive that's attached to it that stores all of the music and movies that we have.

When I returned to my laptop, there was a popup message informing me that the once brilliant but now spamtastic Real Player wanted me to read some advertisements. Short of time, I cleared the message, making a mental note to switch off Internet access on that application later.

Next, I needed to setup the network drive so I could find the music that I wanted on my hard drive. I don't keep the connection stored as I don't leave the hard drive on all the time, and it doesn't take more than five seconds to set up. Usually! However, in the time it had taken for my laptop to boot up, the hard drive had got bored and decided to go into standby. As yet, I have not figured out why the hard drive does this when it is connected to the modem. Nor have I figured out how to wake it up through the router. The only way I have figured out to bring it back to life is to walk over to the router, and unplug then replug the hard drive.

Finally, I have access, to the hard drive. Now to open iTunes. I clicked the button to start the programme and after about 15 seconds or so of my laptop whirring away, the screen flickered and iTunes appeared. A few seconds later, a popup appeared saying that iTunes needed to update (even though I updated it less than a week ago!). No way, I don't have time. Cancel. Yes, I'm sure. Yes, you can remind me later. Leave me alone, damnit!
Finally, it's time to plug in the iPod. Now where's that cable? I plugged the iPod in, let iTunes detect it and now I am ready to start copying the music over. This should just be a drag and drop onto the iPod area of the iTunes window. I start dragging, but once I get to dropping the music into iTunes, the program begins to hang, leaving me with a slightly grey screen and a tooltip next to where my mouse used to be that says "link". From experience, I know it is best to just leave the mouse where it is for at least a few seconds, otherwise the original folder window will reappear, the drop will happen, and the copied music will be duplicated into the original folder.

Eventually, iTunes woke up, and started copying the music over to the hard drive. By this time, I was really running out of time, having spent the best part of half an hour trying to copy the music.

At last, I have the music on the iPod, and can head out to work. The irony is that, by this time, I had no desire to listen to the nice, quiet music that I had copied over anymore. I was now in the mood for something a little more angry, which I already have on there!

Technology exists to simplify our lives. I can't help thinking that sometimes it doesn't work!