One of the problems we technophobes have in this fast-changing world of software, hardware, clouds, portable devices and who knows what else that I’m unaware of is that when we finally get a handle on a piece of software or one of those infernal devices, it changes. I try to keep things up to date (there always seems to be a red number by my Apps icon!). Sometimes these changes are fixes or improvements. And sometimes I think they are change for the sake of change, or to be sure that those of us who are not techno-whizzes are reminded of our own inadequacy. Last week, I was trying to take a picture with my iPhone. I dropped it, but onto the carpet with no damage – except! Now it was in video mode, and all the tapping in the world was not going to let me take a still photo. I had lots of video of my feet and the carpet. I finally asked Dani, my faithful (and young) assistant, if she could help. Of course; the last update changed the “tap” to the “swoosh,” and once again I didn’t know how to use the device I thought I was mastering.
My current dilemma is not the result of updates, but the coming lack thereof. I am happy and content with my once state-of-the-art but now passé Windows XP desktop, functioning quite well with Office 2003. I know how the things I need work, and have come to understand the logic and patterns so that I can usually figure out how to do something I haven’t tried before. And now I have to give it up. It’s not as if this change came as a surprise; I have known for several months that April 8 was the end of support for my aging workhorse. I’ve been living in that lovely land called Denial, but reality is about to hit. And so I’ve started researching and shopping.
I’m fortunate that I also have a laptop, with Windows7 and Office 2010, so that these newfangled tools are not totally strange to me. Nor are they terribly different from my older versions. But I’m good at avoiding change, and the redesigned toolbars and strange icons mean that for two years, I have used the desktop whenever possible because I could get the work done faster. The laptop has been for the times I really need to work at home or am traveling. I still feel like a stranger in a strange land when using the laptop. Plus I HATE the flat keyboard; it’s too easy to hit the wrong key. I’m a pretty fast typist, but sometimes it seems that my husband’s hunt-and-peck technique is more suited to a laptop than my touch-typing (and constant backspacing!).
I’ve spent the last few weeks moving files from the desktop to the laptop, and in the process have gotten rid of many things that could have been deleted long ago. It’s been a great opportunity to get all the loose documents floating around into appropriate folders. My plan was to get a new desktop with the most current software versions, put my newly organized data on it, and move on. But wait a minute! Last week, I overheard a conversation in my shop. A (young) customer was saying, “I hate Windows8. It’s all boxes and I can’t find anything.” In my comfortable cocoon, I had assumed that Windows8 was just another enhanced version of what I am used to, and that with a short learning period I would be functioning with the latest technology and be able to coast for a while. A little research indicates it’s not going to be all that simple.
From what my limited understanding in this area can determine, Windows8 and Office 2013 are geared to touch screens and not very accommodating of keyboards and mice. It’s a whole new world with a steep learning curve. Most of my work is typing pretty straightforward documents, spreadsheets and databases. It might be nice to be able to drop a video into Word, but not something I’m likely to do. I just want a nicely formatted letter or poster or coupon. I want my inventory database easily searched and updated, not dancing book jackets across the screen. Am I the only one left who is doing routine office tasks, not trying to be the next Youtube star?
Fortunately I can still get Windows 7 and Office 2010. And thanks to the laptop, I have some time to decide. Should I keep my life as simple as possible and stick with what I know? How long will the products I understand, a least a little, be supported? Should I just jump to the newest? Do I have, or will I take, the time to learn it all, or will the new machine gather dust while I stick with what will now become the more comfortable choice? Will Windows 8 go the way of Vista, by (un)popular demand? Can somebody tell me where to get ribbons for the typewriter that’s in my attic?