Tuesday, June 3, 2014

What is this Win8 of Which You Speak?

By; Julie L. Cleveland

If I go way back, I will talk to you of crayons and lined paper in kindergarten, but instead, I am going to be equally proud of my age and grumble about the passage of time in terms of technology. 

I don't know where you fall on the technology time line, but I go back to COBAL and BASIC in 70s college courses. I learned rudimentary programing, and I worked for a bank in the data department where they housed the computers. The computer was the size of a single car garage, and the temperature was moderated to maintain a cool environment. You put a sweater on to go in the room, and the darn thing read punch cards faster than a Vegas dealer dealing Black Jack. 

Beyond that, most people didn't interact with computers, and it wasn't until I entered the automotive industry in the early 80s that I really worked with computers in the same room. Enter the CRT and those clunky keyboards like a scene from War Games with Matthew Broderick, which for some odd reason, is one of my favorite movies. Maybe it's because I can see my PC asking me if I want to play a game in that haunting H.A.L.esque voice. I worked with the large floppy disks, and the first time I used a 1.44 disk, I thought the world had shifted off its axis. It was SO little! My first laptop had Windows 3.1with large icons, basic colors and tree menus. I will say this, and I will mean it, it was a lot simpler then!

I recently switched laptops from my WinXP of 2000 to Win8, and I am not that excited about it. I will admit that the oos and ahhs that escaped my lips as I first powered it up in the store were because it was SO PRETTY! All those glorious colors and shiny new keyboard letters! I have worn the letters off my old keyboard. Literally. If you don’t know where the letters are, you can’t use my laptop.


My old laptop - not to be confused with my desk tower built for graphics - was to keep me amused while I was on a flight. It was a basic INSPIRON that I bought through Dell because I could get WinXP on it. At that point, all the stores were toting the new and improved and grossly dysfunctional Vista. I would have none of that. I even paid a little extra for the option to add XP. As it turned out, the laptop was too big for the plane seats, and once I swallowed a couple Xanax, I didn't know I was on a plane anyway. The laptop became my little workhorse as I used it to type all my articles. Thousands of words have passed through those poor old keys.

My new laptop has touch screen, which I am afraid to touch. I remember screens shattering and becoming discolored, and now you want me to touch it? I did learn to scroll it from the side with a swipe of my finger, which seems to be a lot like magic. I only did it to find the rest of my icons that were way off over the side. I do like being able to poke the icon and the program opens. Course, now I have poke marks on my clean screen! 

I like shiny and new, but I am really not sold on the Win8 for a number of reasons:

• I don't like not being able to shut my machine down unless I go hunting for the Charm menu. What the heck is a Charm menu? Is this to appeal to 8 year old girls? Just let me shut it down by going to my Start menu.
• I don't like the way it won't play nice with my software from the 90s. Okay, I am not kidding. I have Adobe programs that I use that I bought a long time ago, and I am not going to go and buy an entire $2,500 suite of programs again because Win8 doesn't like them. I am not going to a Mac, either.
• I don't like to swipe the screen. I want to see all my programs on a Windows 3.1 tree. It's like playing 52 pickup with icons. There appears to be no rhyme or reason as to where they are or why they are there.
• I don't like the introduction screens if I want to look at a photo. When I click a photo, I want to see it, not wait from a screen with a strange icon to open and select a program for me. Click the photo, see the photo, not wander around the inside of my computer on a tour. 

I am fairly certain that I can find a million other things I don't like about Win8. Like the fact that it won't recognize me as the Administrator in order for me to upgrade to Win8.1. Seriously, I need to call someone? The Microsoft help boards are filled with moderators that say things like "You can't use that program with Win8. You must upgrade to Office 2010 at the least in order to use that." followed by a user who says, "No, you don't. All you have to do is load the program using the compatibility mode, and it will work fine." Seriously, does anyone really know?

Like WinXp, which I grumbled all the way to the install screen, I will adjust to the idiosyncrasies of Win8 and learn to use it to my advantage. It is still just a tool, and in order to get the most out of your tools, you must learn to use them as intended and then modify them to fit your needs. While I don't much care for the hassles and the need to update my software, as my son is so quick to tell me, "You can't use Windows 95 anymore, Mom." He means that, and I will adjust to this new format. 

The colors are very pretty!

Julie and Blu