The more you get—the more you need

Posted: 10.13.10

Watching SD after living with HD is like drinking Yellow Tail after having Pauillac Bordeaux. We adapt, it’s our design, and once we do we learn—and you can’t go back—why the hell would you want to? Want black-and-white TV? Want a three-speed straight six car with a suspension system like sponge cake?

So now what do we do? How do we get the good stuff—the right stuff? And when do we have enough? I’m not talking about the ridiculous consumerism of the late 2000s that helped plunge the world into its worst economic disaster in memory, I’m limiting my observations and questions to our main obsession—the PC.

You see I just figured out what’s wrong with computers.

OK, I readily admit most people are smarter than me and get it sooner, but I just got it and want to share it.

It all started when I wanted to listen to NPR on the computer.

Getting NPR radio to play used to be simple—go to the web site, click on “Listen now” and bam there it was—not now. Now I had to download a new codec (it couldn’t sense I already had it), and I had to download a new version of Flash (it couldn’t sense I already had that too) and then I had to go through four security checks asking me if I was me and if I really, really, truly wanted to download this—all that was lacking was the criticism—why do you want to do that you shmuck?

Sure, there’s a lot that can go wrong with your computer but sometimes it’s the protection that’s the problem.

I was sufficiently pissed off and distracted that I forgot why I was doing this, and when I remembered I got even more irritated—that’s when I had the epiphany—I’m trying to do a media thing and all the big brothers are worried about my data, my personal stuff. I got this epiphany thinking about the TV, it doesn’t (yet) make me go through all this—it doesn’t care about my data—no one in TV land is trying to steal it—ohhh steal my favorite channel guide—oooh.

So there is the problem, our PCs are too good—they can do everything. They can let us be productive and use spreadsheets and databases, they can let us explore the universe through the web, and they can be our media players and entertainment box. That’s great, but it’s too much because servicing all those masters makes our poor little PC a slave to them all, and they all have different agendas, needs, and precautions.

Intel, HP, Apple, and others, lots of others, want us to buy more PCs. By more I mean additional. When the netbooks came out they were positioned as the second (or third) PC, but not one’s main PC (although too many people tried to use it for that purpose and were sadly disappointed).

The problem with that concept is a netbook might be a third or fourth PC, but not the second.

The first PC should be the one we use for the stuff we have to do—the stuff that generates the money that pays the bills and allows us to buy a second PC.

The second PC should be used for entertainment. This may (will) vary by user. Entertainment may be music for one, video for another, photos, for still others, and heavy duty game playing for us more evolved types. And yes, we may want to mix some or all of those functions. But, and this is my main point, we shouldn’t try and use our mission-critical revenue generating PC as our entertainment PC. It’s not that this PC can’t handle it, of course it can. It’s the OS that can’t deal with it intelligently.

So I’ll put up with the inane and distracting interruptions to my productivity caused by the security questions. (Do you honestly want to do that, Fool?) But I don’t want to jump through those hoops when it’s time to play.

And while I don’t want to go back to black and white TV, or drink cheap wine ever again, I sure would like to go back to a simpler PC life and not have to be a slave to a paranoid operating system that is too stupid to know who I am, what do, what I have, and what I’m doing.

I need more—more intelligence from my PC. Please?