Thursday, March 27, 2014

A Wee Rant

Computer talk coming!!! If you’re allergic to technical stuff, I suggest you skip this post and come back later. I’ll be back with my new sweater soon! Hint: love it. Debbie Double has it on right now and I want it back!

Well, I’m in a bit of a quandary these days. We have 3 computers in our house that run on Windows XP. It’s fine; it works; it’s all good. But unfortunately Grandfather Microsoft in its infinite <cough choke> wisdom has seen fit to chop poor XP’s little OS life off! Next week. Never mind that about 1/3 of the world’s businesses still run on it. Never mind that a bunch of the legacy software that I still use won’t run easily on any newer OS. And NEVER MIND that these computers (that are paid for and all and still work just fine thankyouverymuch) are so old and decrepit that they won’t run spanking new Windows 8.whatevertheheck. NO! They will pull support out from under good old XP anyhow. Curse their bones and pixels!

So I’ve been obsessed about finding out what my options are. I’ve tried to figure out how I use my computers, what software do I use all the time and what is just old unused stuff hanging about. I was happy to find out that Symantic has promised to keep my Norton security going for the foreseeable future since XP could very well become a particular target after the plug is pulled by MS. One worry down. Many more to go.

As if chopping XP off wasn’t enough, mean nasty old MS also plans to bail out on Office 2003 which of course is what I’ve been using quite happily for nearly ever. I’m angry enough at the moment to start looking for free open-source substitutes for Outlook, Word, Excel etc. I’ll have plenty of time to get used to the new stuff and integrate it into my system. I just might like it better. Who knows? Is MS aware that they are actually driving people away from their products? I can’t be the only one. Even Windows Live Writer, which is the offline blogging program that I’m using to write this post, is no longer supported. Ugh! In my research I haven’t found anything comparable in its functionality. In this case especially I think MS is missing the boat completely. They had a very good product there and foolishly let it drop.

Whatever. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be business as usual for the next while at least. Nothing is going to immediately self-destruct! However I’ve been carefully researching my options in case I have to buy a new computer in the future. For starters, my old flatbed legal-sized scanner will likely not work on a new system because it’s SCSI which needs a special connection. Yet another expense for a new one. Sigh. And there’s lots more questions that need to be answered here. Is each important piece of software immediately transferable to Win 8.1 or would it need to be upgraded - assuming an upgrade exists? Several of them haven’t been revamped in years. (I’m looking at you, Knitware!) Others I could live without I suppose. It’s kind of like cleaning out your closet. “Have you used/worn this in the last 2 years?” My crafty focus has changed somewhat in the last while so that’s a legitimate question to answer. A rather difficult one sometimes. If I get rid of it will I need it soon after? You know how it is.

It’s fascinating to me that “hobby” programs like weaving, knit charting, beading, sweater design, tabletweaving etc. are kind of one-offs, often created by a programmer husband for his crafty wife or sometimes by the crafty person themselves. The programs see a flurry of interest, maybe get an upgrade or two and then are abandoned by the programmers (and possibly the frustrated users too) even if there are no other competing options. A few have lasted over time. One example is Fiberworks PCW, my weaving software. (Thanks, Bob!) In fact I won’t put a warp on without looking at it in PCW first. I’ve been using this thing since it was a baby DOS program. Yes, that’s a long time! There is even an upgrade that I don’t have but will need before it will work with Win 8. It costs though. Again.

Obviously I don’t use computers quite the way most other users might, especially in a home environment. Apparently most people download and answer email, surf the Internet, watch videos, hang out on Facebook, Tweet and maybe write an occasional business letter, list or report. I do some of that (minus the Facebook and Tweets) but also tweak and design knitting and weaving patterns, edit photos, write up my makes, blog and read books from my public library. Among other things. I’m not what you might call a power user at all. I’ve just had a very long-time relationship – about 30 years. Ever heard of a Commodore 64. We had one of those. I learned word processing on it with no hard drive and an 8” floppy disk. So fun. Today my microwave has more brains than that thing did. Gotta start somewhere!

Anyway, I’ve spent the better part of two days futzing around with my main system. I’ve updated several programs to the latest versions. Next, I do a really careful backup of all the important stuff from both of my computers. Thom is already onto his but he has much less to deal with so he’s not nearly as flustered as I am. Only one of his computers is a PC and he doesn’t use it very much. His MacBook Air is his baby. Do not suggest I get one! I’m just not going there. Though if pressed I might consider an iPad Mini. But not while there’s life in my iTouch (5 years old) and my netbook PC (6 years old). And my desktop computer is older than either of them. Yes, I tend to take care of my things. I want them to last as long as they can.

I guess that’s the end of the rant. I digressed somewhat but hey, I’m allowed. This is my pond after all! More soon.


pao said...

Yes, tell me about it. Although you do know much more than I. I'd just rather not think about it. But you just know our old desk computer is going to go and we should be prepared. We have windows xp too and already found that different softwear and components didn't work with it. My true love got me a netbook thinking I'd like it for the size, but I never use it, it's s.o... s.l.o.w. I can't stand it. And I don't have a cell phone/camera thingy. It's all too much. He has a laptop he now uses exclusively. blah, blah, blah

Louisa said...

Interesting that your netbook is slow. Mine is at least as fast as my desktop but then I rarely run it on battery and keep it plugged in most of the time. It's an Acer AspireOne.

Oh well. Que cera, huh?

Susan said...

I finally broke down and bought a Mac (Mac Air to be exact ) and I love it.

Why didn't I do this sooner?

Just sayin'

:) Susan

Anonymous said...

I've just survived the change over from Windows XP to 8.1. Thank goodness a savvy son dealt with backups and connections etc. I use FireFox for my browser - Internet Explorer and Wordpress don't play nice. I gave up Norton several years ago after troubles. Have to do something about my Fiberworks PCW - soon! It wasn't as terrible as I had imagined, time will tell. Ha, ha I started out on a Commodor 64 as well.Good luck.

Heather said...

Microsoft is evil. Sadly, they are not alone. I just want my computer to work, I hate when Yahoo or Google decide to change things around for no good purpose. Good luck with the transition!

Louisa said...

Really, I'm not changing computers or operating systems until I'm forced to! Meanwhile I'm as ready as I can be. Backed up and all. I should be good for awhile anyhow. Maybe even a year or more if I'm lucky.