Bill Gates, Mr. Swirly and Interior Design


There's something wrong with this computer.


Even under the best of circumstances I wouldn’t consider myself a mellow person.  I’m not one to sit back and take what comes.  My flow just doesn’t go wherever flow is supposed to go.  In fact, whoever is in charge of these things dealt me far too much ebb and practically no flow whatsoever.  This means I’m more likely to push against the tide or shunt off to the side to explore all the nooks and crannies that most laid-back people never take the time to see.  Oh, sure, I can be spontaneous, but only if I’ve got a couple months to plan out the precise details, a couple more to rehearse my act, and then a couple more to find a spot in my schedule.




By now, you may have jumped to the conclusion I’m uptight or perhaps even a control freak.  In my defense, I wish to point out these are highly underrated qualities!  In fact, if you were to gaze at the world from my standpoint, you might wonder how others get along.  Have they never heard of planning—not just plan A, but also B, C, and D?  And how do they manage to act so carefree when it comes to matters potentially affecting life and limb, not to mention lunch?


If The Suit Fits


The fact is my personality makes me well-suited for my job as a computer analyst.  Unlike most people I know, the computers I use at work do exactly what I tell them.  I like that, or at least, I do to a point.  You see, there’s a certain, pleasing power in controlling outcomes, and as programs are little more than a logical sequence of events and commands, all it really takes is a little thought and the proper attention to detail to predict an outcome with a good chance of success.


Large To Small


Not all computers are the same.  My experience as a programmer is on a “mainframe” working in the corporate world.  Mainframes used to fill entire rooms, but with all the technological advances over the years are now small enough to fit on a desktop.  However, these should not be confused with PC’s which also fit on a desktop and are much less powerful.


Behind The Scenes


Of course, the type of computer I really want to talk about here is not a mainframe at all.  It’s my personal laptop.  More specifically, I want to talk about the system that runs my laptop.  Some people call this system “Windows”, implying, I presume, that it somehow opens up our world to programs and the internet as if one were to view them through a window.  Yes, it’s a lovely thought, but I believe the word “Curtains” is a more apt description, especially as it seems that half the time my window on the world is dark, dysfunctional or all shuttered up.


Change For The Sake Of It


Copyright 2011 Javabird LLC.  All rights reserved.Far too often, the Curtains on my laptop end up pushing all my buttons. Without warning, a little message will pop up to inform me I need a new interior designer (i.e. that I need to install an upgrade).  You see, for some reason, the company Bill Gates created apparently doesn’t believe in creating Curtains good enough to last even a few years.  Actions do speak louder than words, and thus, the makers of Curtains pretty consistently admit through their never-ending, so-called improvements to the Curtains Operating System, the best they can do is promise more near-term obsolescence.   FYI – Curtains, is now up to version 7 and has had any number of “system pack” versions that didn’t qualify as a new model, but are still required to keep my machine up to date and run as pitifully as ever.


Choice Words


Sometimes, my little Curtains driven laptop drives me to the brink of despair. Without warning, some new quirk in its performance will send my blood pressure skyrocketing and reduce my vocabulary to four letter words—words like grrr, rats, drat, pooh and gahh (not to mention a few others I save for special occasions).   It’s even got so bad it takes all my self control to not hurl the stupid computer across the room. Alas, I know tossing it would feel wonderful, but the feeling would only last for a few seconds and I’d probably scare hubby and dog in the process.  If only there were some other way to get my computer or the people who make Curtains to understand how frustrated their product makes me feel.  Oh, wait…maybe I’ll write a post about it!


I’m Not Asking A Lot


I use my laptop at home for mundane tasks—checking email, looking at Facebook, searching for garage sales on Craig’s List, playing Spider Solitaire, and occasionally drafting a post.  My laptop runs the latest version of Curtains, including all the up-to-the-minute upgrades, and was purchased last year so still ought to have plenty of punch.  In other words, as I’m not doing anything that complicated, the tasks I ask it to perform should run without a hitch.  Yet, inevitably, the computer will slow up to a snail’s pace—to the point it feels like I’m moving backwards in time.


It's all part of devious plot.

We are the machine. Pay attention to our needs. We are in control.


Let Me Entertain You


Ew, I hate Mr. Swirly!  You know what I talking about—that little wheel Mr. Gates and crew threw into the mix that goes round and round and round to make it seem like something is actually happening inside my machine when it’s not.  I suppose this was their attempt to entertain us while we wait, but I wish someone would write a program that would turn that wheel into useful information.  You know… if there’s no chance the computer will ever figure out what it needs to do, they might add a little squirrel chasing his tail to the wheel and then blow the whole thing to smithereens.  That way I could just hit re-boot right away instead of washing my car, scrubbing the toilets, walking the dog, flossing my teeth, painting the house, taking a bath and running out to do a year’s worth of grocery shopping as I wait to learn whether Curtains is toast.


Digital Dexterity


Quite often, as Mr. Swirly spins around, I’ll press the enter key just in case my fingers didn’t connect on the first go.  Then I’ll press it again—this time hard enough to express my displeasure.  Of course, most of the time Curtains ignores me, preferring to spin Mr. Swirly, instead.  This really drives me nuts and soon my index finger is pounding the keyboard so hard I end up breaking a nail.   Don’t know why I do that, because (a) my nails are already too short for this kind of abuse, (b) it never works, anyway, and (c) I’m clearly using the wrong finger!


Better Things To Do


Here’s what really grates: I’m a competent and fairly smart person when it comes to most things, but any computer running Curtains often makes me feel stupid. I think this has a lot to do with the fact certain people spend a good portion of their days figuring out the intricacies of Curtains and what to do when Curtains breaks (which as we know is all the time).  My trouble with all that is the time and effort involved, plus the fact I’m already up to my neck with computer related issues at work.  Now, I’m sure I could learn all about Curtains if I put my mind to it, but to me it’s like looking at the difference between a regular doctor and a surgeon.  One likes mucking around in all the guts and the other doesn’t.  I don’t like the muck, and so I never learn what I need and feel stupid as a result.


Do We Really Need All This?


In truth, as a 30 year mainframe programmer I just don’t get Curtains.  When I think back on its history it’s always had a reputation of doing certain things poorly.  A number of previous versions were prone to crash and burn on a whim, but the real issues for me now are (a) why after all these years there are still so many problems with security and/or the system as a whole, (b) why has Mr. Gates and his successor Mr. Ballmer tried to put every last feature imaginable in their programs so that they’re as bloated and inefficient as government, and (c) do we really have to have an operating system that constantly fills up my computer memory with upgrades and patches (i.e. with crap)?


I’m Not Asking For The World


I don’t store state secrets, design elaborate websites, or play online games with my computer.  I also don’t need lots of power or bells and whistles.  Why, then, should my operating system require so many updates? In my job, if I make a mistake programming it’s a big deal.  I’m expected to put out a product that works the first time around, and not one that requires upgrades on a regular basis.  Apparently, there’s no such requirement for Curtains.


Moving On


I don’t know—maybe it’s time I closed the curtains on Curtains once and for all and starting computing with fruit—I hear some good things about Apple.  Then again, Apple’s machines seem expensive to me, also require regular updates, and if I were to get one I’d have to learn a whole new operating system.  I guess my only other choice is to go back to licky stamps and snail mail, and then dig out a deck of cards to play solitaire the old way.  Hmm, now that I think of it, doing things the old way doesn’t sound half bad.


Got a pet peeve with Curtains?  Why not share it in the comments below.


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One Response to Bill Gates, Mr. Swirly and Interior Design

  • gwen duke says:

    Ha Ha! This was such a funny post! Im only laughing b’cuz I experienced it sooo many times that I jumped ship and got on the apple wagon! Best darn decision I made in a long time! All the time spent WAITING>>>>> I was able to learn the apple way! Thanks


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