Future Shock

“Hands up! Gimme all your money!”

We are common diners at the Bombay Grill–best Indian cuisine in Texas–so when we walked in, all of us in masks . . . How could we not say it?

The owner/manager/head waiter just laughed. “Oh you want all my credit card receipts?”

Which made me think. When was the last time I’d paid for anything over $20 in cash?

And that’s been the easy part of the future to adjust to.



How many times have you thrown your hands up in the air and said . . .

“If they improve this one more time, it’ll be completely useless!”

“I hate setting up a new computer!”

“So I have to re train to use a replacement phone? Because they don’t make my old phone anymore and couldn’t possibly use the same controls and procedures millions of customers already know? Couldn’t even put the D****d icons in the same place? Added two more steps for common actions?”



The original “Future Shock” espoused the idea of too much change too fast causing stress, disorientation, and disassociation with the world.

But it looks to me like Future Shock is turning into Future Exasperation.


Those dreaded words :

Downloading updates. Do not turn off your computer.     

As of 04/01/2020 this version will no longer be supported.

Please enter your 18 digit serial number and PIN.

“If this is an emergency, hang up and dial 911. Push one for English, two for Spanish. If you are a doctor or hospital push three. If you want to make an appointment, push four. If you . . . “


And because you just spent all day getting your new phone set up, you do not throw it against the wall.


Well, it’s 2020. Of course my computer died. And my new(ish) lap top. And I discovered my online backup hadn’t been.

And my perfectly good old flip Phone? Nope, obsolete, here’s your free newly refurbished phone, have fun!

And my first CT scan (and this being 2020, followed by second and third) wasn’t future shock, it was Future Cool! Well, definitely could have done without the kidney stones! But the tech wasn’t a horrible adjustment.

And the election? Dude, that’s been creeping up on us for decades. It’s disgusting and infuriating, not shocking. I mean, even I’ve written about election fraud and violence.

And that’s probably the biggest reason so little in the future has come as a shock.

We’ve already read all about it, The ramifications, the solutions. Picking up afterwards.

Is that why we have fragile Snowflakes? No real world experience and no fictional exposure to adverse situations? Insufficient reading, maybe. But what about all the TV and movies? Are those not immersive enough to make a watcher a bit more able to deal with set backs? Or more to the point, leaps forward?

Well. I won’t say the future hasn’t surprised me now and then. Probably will again. But I chug along learning as I go. I dunno, maybe writers live a bit disassociated from the world, so we aren’t as affected as a “normal” person “ought” to be.

So how about you? Is there any major tech or social advance that you have truly not been able to deal with? Psychologically? That has shocked you?

How about some Space Pirates?

93 comments

  1. you forgot one…

    “Please enter your 18 digit serial number and PIN.”

    should be followed with “copy and paste functionality is not supported in this form’

    (cf: FedEx new password entry form)

  2. So sorry to hear about the joyful and glorious kidney stones
    probably the most pain I’ve been in in my life was that same situation. Morphine barely dulled it, the hydrocodone was a bit better and had the benefit of making me sleepy.
    Been lucky since in that only one other time was it enough to take the hydrocodone and then just a day of work missed, and the other times have been just “drink A LOT! now!” and I’ve gotten them to pass fast enough.

  3. Bought a backup keyboard a while back. Finally got around to checking it out only to find that it did not have a USB port to plug a mouse into. Asked my techie nephew WTF and he said that’s standard these days. Everyone just runs a USB hub and everything plugs into that, except of course for all the new devices that are Bluetooth wireless. News to me, and not at all well received.

    1. yeah, its kinda been the standard for awhile.. like, a decade. Most mainstream PCs haven’t had DIN ports on them for KB and mouse for longer than that, workstations kept them for a little bit longer.

      1. Get a Raspberry Pi – the Canakit version (complete in a box) comes with a cute little red and white case, mouse and keyboard – very pretty! AND, the keyboard has TWO USB ports (as well as being a USB keyboard, itself).
        Linux is the way (My recent laptop was a PC type, but that’s only because I had software that would only run on Mac or PC. And I was dumping my MacBook. In fact, I just this week gifted it to my daughter whose Mac fried when she had a drink malfunction).

        1. I’ve run Linux for more than 20 years. But… “if systemd is the solution, I want my problem back.” At the very least, it’s a festering security hole.

          1. I’ve been on various flavors of *nix since the mid 1980s, so I’m comfortable running Slackware. It lets me keep my ignorance of systemd complete. Conversion routines that let me convert rpm and deb to the preferred slackware format lets me stray outside of the SlackBuild universe, too.

        2. You and others might be interested in the Raspberry Pi 400 keyboard PC. As I understand it, all you need is a monitor/TV and you have a full-blown (moderately powerful) PC.

          1. And an ARM CPU without a top-notch GPU probably wouldn’t be a good candidate for such software, even if it did run on Linux. This Raspberry Pi I’m using in my living room is fine for web browsing and I’m looking forward to putting it through its paces, but I don’t anticipate CAD, GIS, or 3d graphics being a great fit for it, given what I’ve read.

    2. Don’t get me started. I have to use a full-size Das Keyboard, and the new Mac laptops don’t have standard USB ports, just the little Apple micro ones. I have to use an adapter, but after two hours, it gets very hot and I have to stop. I can’t use my CD/DVD drive, because the micro doesn’t emit enough power. Some days, it won’t recognize the back-up hard drive.

      1. You need a powered hub. And then you’ll find that due to corner-cutting firmware, some USB devices won’t be recognized when the hub is between them and the computer…

        You have a higher likelihood of things working if you use a “name brand” USB 3.1 hub, even if it costs five times as much as the cheap ones.

      2. Apple is one of the best cults ever created. Because they get the kids young in school for the most part, they condition the kids to think that the Mac is a massively superior platform than a Windows PC (it would help it Microsoft wasn’t full of litigious weasels, as well). So, they buy the new things from Cupertino and that they have been very careful to migrate to the new sets of ports that they offer…and, God help you if you backed up anything important onto a CD-R or Flash drive or card…

        Why? Apple believes that we’ll all be doing everything online, in the cloud, in subscription services in their perfectly walled garden. Just like everybody else is going to have their walled garden. And, in all of those walled gardens, they’ll have AI-driven search engines designed to find you playing with your naked son in the bathtub and flag you for the FBI and ensure that you pay your RIAA fees for your bad in-the-shower version of “Billy Jean.”

        It’s why I quit using Adobe products. They’ll all Internet-based apps these days, and I’ve been at a few places where I wanted to work on something for a project and the Internet sucked diseased moose cock. Explaining this to an Adobe rep that is asking why you’re canceling your subscription (yes, subscription-for what I needed, I was paying about $260/year in 2018 prices) is an interesting exercise in futility.

        The day when we have a “talk” about these things, I just want to be there with a hammer and three nails for everybody there, except for the inventors of “live services” as a production idea. For those witty fellows, I just want a cross and three lengths of rope.

          1. The last time I took a class on Adobe, the teacher was insistent that we all needed a Mac, because you couldn’t run Adobe Photoshop on a PC. Why? Because there wasn’t a version of Adobe Photoshop for PC.

            If it wasn’t for the fact that class was the only one on the subject I could fit into my schedule…

                1. thats just a teacher who is wrong, then… just like the people that think that Macs are used for animation.

        1. Google Chromebooks are now the most purchased device for the education market, at least in the USA, at least through middle school. Price, attached keyboards and the ability to easily use multiple accounts on the same device simply make them a better choice for school systems. Integration to Google Classroom probably doesn’t hurt, either. Dunno if they’re exactly dominating the market at this point, but I think they’re well on their way to doing just that.

          FWIW, there’s a chance Apple may actually fall to # 3 in the education market with the advent of cheap Surface tablets with keyboards. They already trail Microsoft, or at any rate Windows devices, when it comes to new purchases.

          Quite a change from the old days, when Apple dominated in schools, isn’t it? Apple seems too concerned with making $1,200 phones as thin as potato chips (and every bit as durable) than they are anything else these days.

          1. Apple has fallen into the “devices as services” trap that a lot of companies get into. Sell ’em something that they can pay for in just enough time to sell them the next generation of stuff. That, and they’re also trying to make sure their garden is very well walled off with Apple-specific ports.

        2. All the kids now get ChromeBooks and we are locked into G00gleEverything. As you say, a virtual, invisible walled garden. (In fact, Day Job’s systems do not play well with Apple at all.)

    3. I’m running a MinisForum microbox, fanless, about the size of 2 packs of Marlboro. 3 USBs, SIM card port, HDMI, and VGA, Win tin tin (but I need that for work), 4 gb. That plus a USB bus was about 125 USD. I got a file drawer of mouses and keyboards, picked up a $50 brand new in the box 25″ ‘monitor’ (It was calling itself a TeeVee at microcenter, but you can’t fool me!). Just ordered a DVD drive so I could upload some of her documentaries (full length 1 hour Spanish Language versions of her series in 3 parts). It can run in the background so far as I’m concerned while I reformat it into something YouTube will accept. She’s a bit less computer savvy. Oh yeah, I was happy enough with my setup that I got her one pretty much like it.
      Fanless is the way to go on hardware, if you ask me. Undeterred by cigarette smoke and cat hair. And SSD. Half a terabyte is pretty cheap nowadays, cheap enough that I’m thinking about going for a RAID

      1. ZFS is pretty easy to set up nowadays, but it’s more of a religion than a filesystem if you go much past “click to install.”

      2. Rasp. Pi 4GB Cana Kit, bargain basement keyboard mouse combo, HDMI capable monitor from Salvation Army – ready to rock device for FRN 120. Not for gaming, stumbles a bit sometimes on streaming, but built-in Libre Office suite and browser does everything I really need. Happy camper.

  4. Is that why we have fragile Snowflakes? No real world experience and no fictional exposure to adverse situations?

    No, I just realized– they’re fictionally trained that philosophy trumps fact.

    Look, I’ll take the low hanging fruit of someone who can actually tell a story, but still screws things up because Philosophy Says– Joss Whedon. Repeatedly, he’ll start a really good show, characters click, it’s great…and then, because his world-view says this or that PC thing must be, a violate-the-characters thing happens. Usually with a vicious jab at those who thought otherwise.

      1. That’s the thing, they are– in so much as they are violating the good character/good story/human essence because their philosophy demands it.
        Not in that they are actually even a little heroic.

        1. my point is, they’re not…. they’re totally the Alliance, complete with demand for lock-step obedience to their cultural and societal expectations and the willingness to force everyone else to follow their rules.

          1. Except that the protagonists in his stuff do always end up making the Mandatory Approved Choices, with plot-armor. It only fails when they do the “wrong” thing, or it’s Someone Else’s Fault.

            Which is what matters, as far as the training goes; it’s like if someone was doing Christian stories and the very idea of being a non-picturesque martyr was evidence of not being good enough.

      2. I think I once noted in a rare comment on Sarah Hoyt’s site that since Firefly is a space western with most western tropes intact, then the Independents are the Confederacy, the Alliance is the Union, and the browncoats stand in for gray.

        I’m not saying it’s a perfect mapping, of course. Just that this is the narrative structure Whedon went with. Outlaw Josey Wales in Space.

        At any rate, the brief glimpses we have of Tamara Taylor’s class in Alliance grade school is enough to tell me the Alliance is progressives.

    1. There was a time when Joss and his crew were actually pretty good. “Firefly” was a big one, so was the per-University “Buffy” and quite a bit of “Angel” had it’s good points. Hell, he turned what could have been an unwatchable mess in the form of the first MCU team movie (“The Avengers”) into a wonderful joy ride.

      But, “Dollhouse” (you have this kind of mad science and there aren’t federal agencies crawling out of people’s butts)? Quite a few of the other movies and things he’s done? Yea, there’s a lot of philosophy trumping facts there.

      1. Lucas Syndrome.

        Some folks *really* need good editors.

        Just with Joss, it’s to stop him from making obvious Act Of Author, usually with added vicious.

  5. Is there any major tech or social advance that you have truly not been able to deal with? Psychologically? That has shocked you?

    How incredibly bad the memory of the loudest folks really is.
    Not just in the “they’re getting old” way– some of these folks are only a little older than I am, and while I’m tempted to make a joke here, I’ll stay serious and say that yeah, memory issues happen with everyone– the power of the derp!– but the sheer viciousness in defense of something where they remembered wrong, even when it’s trivially easy to find out they misremembered, and it’s understandable how they did, and all the other polite ways of saying it’s totally understandable and not a big deal.

    These are frequently the same ones that talk about how horrible social media is, too.

    1. Many people are just f-ing rude these days, in person or not. And they always bring up Trump for some reason, this or that thing that Trump is guilty of. Nothing to do with the conversation, they blurt it out like they’ve got Tourette’s syndrome.

      Lately I just look at them and wait for the spasm to pass. Not worth the effort, and the look apparently communicates that nicely.

      1. I’ve started raising my right arm in the Bellamy salute and proclaiming, “All Hail the God-Emperor Trump!”

        For some reason they’ve always shut up so far. Perhaps my shoulder holster prints when I do that.

  6. > receipts

    I was chatting with the owner of a local restaurant, who was working the register at the time. “You *do* accept cash, right?” He laughed, then said that 90 to 95% of his sales were by card. He wasn’t set up for phone payments yet. My insurance agent has to send someone to the bank to make change; they don’t even keep a cash box at the office now.

    I use a card for online purchases, because that’s the only means of payment in most cases, but in meatspace I’m 100% cash, having had a look behind the curtain of how checks and EFT work nowadays.

    1. Oh, and a few years ago I bought a house. For cash. As in, stacks of $100 bills laid out on the desk. The realtor was unfazed; “Yes, lots of people do that.”

      1. The realtor (or somebody) then turned around and reported you to Uncle Sam on Form 8300. And you got a nice entry in the IRS FinCen database for your troubles. Form 8300 noncompliance is one of those things nobody messes with.

        1. It’s a house sale.

          The sale price, the location, the buyer and the seller are already registered left, right and center; that is one of the ways they figure out that someone is laundering money by routinely not filing the over-ten-thousand-dollars-cash document.

    2. I’m withdrawing some money this week, and using it to buy some VISA cards in $100-$250 denominations. I want anonymity in some of my purchases (Prepper stuff).

      1. Um. Sweetie honey baby um. Please check the federal structuring laws on how many gift cards you can buy in what amounts or combinations of amounts in 24 hours or a week. Then expect to have to back off at least two hundred dollars less than a round number, if you don’t want to have to fill out a form openly, or have the cashier fill out a form behind your back.

        I believe the formal limit is 1000 dollars a day, combined purchase of gift cards. But don’t show up the next day and buy more; and don’t buy 900 dollars a day, either.

        Also, I believe that states differ on whether you can buy gift cards with cash, or if you have to use a credit card.

        1. Des Moines area is $200 cash on a card a day, but you can go back in and add more.

          A lot of the cash-card companies just require that you go activate it online, at which point you have to enter your tax payer information. (Patriot act.)

  7. “So how about you? Is there any major tech or social advance that you have truly not been able to deal with? Psychologically? That has shocked you?”

    This one made me think a little bit. I’ve been a tech weenie for a long time, so I’ve generally welcomed any change or “advance” in tech as a good thing. But there is one change that has taken place in the last 10 years that I’ve not been able to accept:

    Software as service.

    This is the new industry standard, where you don’t -buy- the thing, you really only rent it. It is more of a legality than a reality, in that the thing itself, be it a car, a computer, phone or widget, is physically in your possession. But functionally, it isn’t yours. As a -functional- device that does something useful, to a large degree it still belongs to the manufacturer and they CHANGE it at their whim.

    That’s where those “downloading updates” and “version not supported” things come from. That’s the Boss changing your shit because Tuesday is “Annoy The Peasants Day.” You will take what is served to you, and you will be grateful.

    One of the latest and most in-your-face examples of this was Apple, when their permissions server died the other day. It died in a way where it still reported it was alive when Macs would phone home, but it was actually dead and not doing what it was supposed to do. Consequently, every Mac in the world that was attached to the internet couldn’t open an application. Because Macs PHONE HOME every single time they open any ap if they have an internet connection. Oh yes, they do.

    Thus, we had a situation where the only way to get Word open on your Macbook was to disconnect from the web. Because of a server crash.

    What if you NEED that ap? What if it is doing something important? That happens, right? Well, you’re screwed. That’s what.

    So what we’ve been given lately is a PC that isn’t really a “Personal Computer.” It’s a glorified dumb terminal for a cloud server/mainframe sort of thing. If the cloud part takes a dump then your PC part is a boat anchor.

    To me, that’s shockingly stupid. If I need the computer because it is doing something important for me, like running my security system or recording measurements from a sensor, running a camera, whatever, then I NEED IT. I can’t be having some guy in Silicon Valley decide it is time for a forced operating system update, which then dies and brings my system down with it.

    I’m also not excited about the notion that there’s a file on a server somewhere that contains a list of every time I turn on my Mac, where it was, when it turned on, and what aps were run. I don’t think I need to have other people know that.

    But they think they do. And if I make arrangements to deny them that information, they’ll just shut down the ap, or even the operating system. Making my Mac a chunk of expensive scrap.

    Likewise, an internet outage of any length will brick your computer. It can’t phone home, so it will pout and stop working. Apple, Microsoft or Android, they all do it. Modern vehicles do it too. Tesla is famous for not working when there’s no cell service, but the same problem is present in modern farm equipment and big trucks too. They choke when they can’t phone home.

    I think, being Odd, that this is an unacceptable situation. The inherent risks do not balance with the benefits to ME, the guy who bought the thing. All the benefit goes to the manufacturer. How is this in my interests as a customer? Well, it isn’t. So I’m re-thinking my membership in the Apple/Microsoft/Google ecosystem.

    And the more I think about it, the more I realize all this ecosystem crap is being jammed down my throat whether I like it or not. Because everything is on the web these days and to be on the web means running their stuff, pretty much.

    Shockingly stupid and utterly unacceptable.

    I’m Odd, so that means I’m not alone in my assessment, I’m just early. At some point the Normies will catch on, and then there will be a wave of people looking for an alternative. A way to get -off- the internet.

    I figure if I start looking for ways to profit from that wave now, I’ll have something ready for sale when the Normies start clamoring for it. And I’m going to charge the moon and the friggin’ stars for it. >:D

    1. Yep, I’m pretty annoyed with having to subscribe regularly for certain software services rather than owning them outright, as I used to do. Not tech-savvy enough to explore workarounds, though.

      1. The engineering IT world is even worse. You should see what we have to pay Adobe, Autodesk, AVEVA, Bentley, ESRI, Hexagon, Microsoft, etc.

      2. Technically, we never *owned* the software, we owned a license for it. It’s all covered in the reams of fine print nobody ever reads on the setup page. Still, I get your drift. Once we had the program, we *had* the license for it. We could use it without always having to ask, ‘Momma, may I’.

    2. I’ve got LibreOffice on the newer laptop because of that. Although . . . the Big Sur update won’t work with anything but the newest LibreOffice version. And even then I had to strip out the old one, load new LO, then strip it out and start over three times before Big Sur would take the program. Grrrrr.

      1. LibreOffice is okay. I used it for many years when it was still Open Office, but when I started writing books it started getting balky. Large files make it sllllooooowww on my PCs for some reason.

        Word, like it or not, is the standard. So I have Word. For now. But as they crank the screw tighter, I will be going back to LibreOffice and putting up with the dorky little problems.

        1. I’m still using my old 1985 text editor. Well, it was a “word processor” back in its day. It’s limited to 500Kb plain ASCII files in text mode and runs on an OS that’s stone dead, but it still runs just fine in an emulator window on Linux.

          It was good enough to write two books, a dozen magazine articles, and who knows how much “stuff”; after 35 years it’s a direct brain-to-file interface. I’d hate to have to adapt to something else… but as long as MSDOS or 80×86 emulation is available on whatever platform I’m using, why change? The UTF-8 and CP-1252 character set bozoids can read my files if needed, not that I really care.

          1. I have a laptop running word 97. I don’t let it talk to the internet any more than I absolutely have to , because it’s so simple to make a TOC for an ebook . . . 365 and Open Office are impossible!

            1. When you have the right tool for the job, and it’s irreplaceable…

              You might want to download and install VirtualBox, set up a Windows virtual machine, and reinstall Office 97 to that. Then you can turn internet access off for the VM while still letting it share files with the host hard drive.

              I’ve had to do that with a number of tools that were chattier than I liked, or kept wanting to “update” to something I didn’t like.

              Another thing is, the virtual machine is just one big file and a couple of tiny ones; you can back it up, move it to another machine, or run more than one copy at the same time on the same machine; it doesn’t care. And if you let it connect to the internet and an update does something nasty, you just copy a backup over it and resume where you left off.

              It might sound complicated, but even if you have no clue what’s going on, I doubt it would take you more than an evening or two to become as proficient with VirtualBox as you need to be.

    3. I feel much the same way about things like books and music and videos. Yes, it’s convenient to have all of my media in a digital format where I can just call it up when I want it…but I’m all too aware that I’m “licensing” it rather than owning it. I like paperbacks and CDs and DVDs where they can’t just take it away on a whim.

      Maybe I’m over paranoid, but I have noticed that some albums I really liked have disappeared from Tidal recently…

      1. I liked to buy the CD, back in the day. Now of course you -can’t- buy the CD, it is usually stream-only or download. So I download, and keep offline backups. Because Apple can and does reach into your hard drive and delete stuff you bought on iTunes whenever they want.

        For streaming, Fraps is your friend. Record your streams and keep them on YOUR hardware. Because storage is cheap.

        1. No use for streaming; where I mostly want music, there’s no signal anyway. And, frankly, my musical tastes fossilized somewhere in the early 1990s, and I already have everything I want stored and backed up.

        2. “Because Apple can and does reach into your hard drive and delete stuff you bought on iTunes whenever they want.”

          True. That’s why i don’t buy any music on iTunes. I buy it from Amazon.com and I buy the MP3 files. That way I can download it and then back it up, and play it whenever I want whether I have an internet connection or not.

          I don’t trust cloud backup services either. I have … oh, about two and a half terabytes of photographs and other files, and I back them up to portable USB hard drives. NOT thumbdrives, mind you – real fully operational spinning-platter hard drives.

          Trust no one with your data.

          1. Now tell me you just copy the files across without using some kind of “backup” software that puts them in a proprietary format and requires their “restore” software to get them back…

            “Backups are nice, but only restores count.”

    4. “This is the new industry standard, where you don’t -buy- the thing, you really only rent it.”

      It isn’t new, just explicit. It’s been a thing since Jerry Pournelle and his mad friend Maclean started ranting about it in Byte mid-to late 80s. The only difference is that they had to come seize the media; they always had the legalese backing in the terms that you didn’t own the software.

      1. I remember those BYTE stories. Chaos Manor was a must-read for me, for a long time. He was usually right.

        The legalese has morphed over the years. Used to be you owned the software you bought like you own a book you bought. You own -that- copy, and you can sell -that- copy. Which was fine, because encryption makes things like that possible.

        But government got involved, so of course things went sharply downhill. They picked the stupidest possible way to regulate software piracy, and turned it up to 11.

        Then there’s the unfortunate fact that an awful lot of software engineers are smart-assed TWERPS who think they know everything. [Yes, you know who I’m talking about.]

        Put those two things together and you get 2020.

    5. I noticed the subscriber thing back in the ’90s when one of the new CAD systems could only be “rented” by the university. It was annoying then, doubly so now.

    6. Four years ago, roughly speaking, at my previous job there was about a day or two where Adobe had a serious issue with their systems. Enough that they were knocked off-line and because of that…we couldn’t get anything done.

      Why not? Digital signatures for PDFs. We had to work under Federal rules about certain kinds of documents and the people creating them had to “own” them by generating a digital signature. The servers that went down were how you created and verified a digital signature. No server? No digital signature, no way we could submit the documents to the government agencies we worked with.

      Those two days, at a rough estimate, cost us somewhere in the $75,000+ range. Probably more.

      So, yes, I am not a fan of “live service” or “always needing an Internet connection” systems. Especially mission-critical systems…like your car. Which is why I won’t be getting a Tesla car of any sort, any time soon.

      1. “…a day or two where Adobe had a serious issue with their systems….”

        Yes. Their widget farm has an oopsie, and you can’t get any work done. “Too bad so sad, stupid customers. Get back in line!” I friggin’ hate Adobe. I use their stuff, but I hate the company.

        It is not much of a stretch to imagine the same thing happening to Microsoft, suddenly downing every Windows PC on the planet. It literally just happened to Apple.

        But now, given that the chance of it happening by accident is virtually 100% over the next 5 years or so, imagine something new. Imagine that they decide to take your shop down on purpose.

        That’s a beauty, right?

        1. The Microsoft version already happened, a couple of months back.
          Microsoft 365 subscription stuff went down, took about two days to roll out a fix to low-level subscribers

          There was some minor problems with their roll out of the new Team software, and for like two days people who were “shared” subscribers for Onedrive couldn’t add to their terabyte of included storage. Could still access the stuff, it wasn’t going to be deleted, but for at least a day a lot of the video meetings were borked.

          1. The installed version of the software on my husband’s computer was still working fine– I THINK if you had it set to automatically open the stuff from onedrive without having it locally stored, you’d need to download it and then open it.

          2. I had Office 365 once upon a time for a business venture. I found it fiddly and annoying. I also found it expensive and it broke fairly regularly. We don’t use it anymore.

            I was thinking more along the lines of every Windows computer crashing because Windows Update served a corrupted OS patch. I’m amazed that hasn’t happened yet.

            The other thing, given all that phoning home a decent data miner could zero in on probably party affiliations pretty easily. Not to mention all the other data collected by everybody all the time. It’s not hard to imagine an “update” that kills computers owned by Conservatives, based on whatever values of “conservative” the data miners dreamed up.

            1. I’m not a fan of Microsoft 365 the office programs, I have a stripped down Libre for my writing. The online storage, though, is well worth the price I paid for a family sub, and my husband likes the no-hassle swapping over with work, and my mom likes this and that feature, and it integrates well with the family setup we use to keep track of the kids’ files and stuff while we’re teaching them to adult.

              I was thinking more along the lines of every Windows computer crashing because Windows Update served a corrupted OS patch. I’m amazed that hasn’t happened yet.

              It won’t happen until Microsoft goes full stupid and non-business– they regularly have patches that cause major issues with X subset of machines. It doesn’t hit even “most” machines, because they stagger the roll-out, let people choose to use the business update (about one patch old) schedule, invite people to please please please use their shiny new test features which gives them a test bed of people who opted in that you can never manage in a walled garden, and are extremely flexible so you can run it on a wide range of systems.
              Their most recent big patch, for example, didn’t roll out on my shiny system at all until several weeks after “everyone” could get it, because something like the processor on my video card had caused an issue where the update didn’t work and people had to roll back their update.

              The other systems hit trouble really big because they make one route, one schedule, no options; Microsoft has a bunch of little problems because there’s a ton of little routes.

              They still need to fix their “no, really DO NO UPDATE RIGHT NOW I need to work” option thing better.

              1. I’m expecting them to get that stupid sooner or later.

                The “we know best, and you will be made to comply” brain fungus seems to have gotten to their colleagues at other places fairly badly. So, I’m not seeing a reason to be sure that Microsoft and Amazon will hold out.

                As it is, the 10 machine is getting fairly pissy about Edge and another thing I very much want to stay opted out of.

                1. *shrugs* If the companies change, they’ll change; right now, their business models tilt against these specific nasty changes, so I’m hopeful.

            2. The fun thing is their authority to destroy your computer with downloads is clearly illegal. The clause authorizing is blatantly is an unconscionable adhesion contract.

    7. Word to all that.
      SAAS, everything Cloud, ebooks the Amazon way, for me. I’m more than happy to pay creators and even middlepeople, but I want a physical or at least a digital ‘object’ I own and which will work without external support or access, even if it’s in addition to something on a network.

      Ideally, I want a world of both.

      Support ends, network connections falter, companies go out of business, sooner than I accidentally erase a file.

      I largely stopped gaming when Steam came out. Not that I was a big gamer by then, it was more a “Well, that’s it for me” moment.

  8. > Cool

    Modern dentistry. It had been 40 years since I last needed a dentist; the big film cartridge and X-rays aren’t a thing now. Just pop the sensor in for a moment, spit it out, and the dentist has the image up on the 48″ screen in front of the chair, pointing stuff out with his cursor.

    Unfortunately removing the impacted wisdom tooth had to be removed old-school, but it was still a vastly superior experience compared to the old days.

  9. How odd. I had a relevant experience only this morning.
    I have a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) with my bank. As with most such, I must make a payment once per month. As I like for such obligations to be over as quickly as possible, I’ve made it my practice to “overpay” — i.e., to add a “principal only” amount to the scheduled payment. The bank’s website had made this simple in the past. But this morning it was not to be.

    I logged on to the bank’s website, clicked to the “transfers / pay loans” page…and noticed that there was no longer a field for the “principal only” amount. I looked around the website, wondering where the facility might have gone. Nowhere could I find a way to transfer a “principal only” amount to the HELOC account.

    It struck me as odd that the option should be missing. Don’t banks like receiving money? Is there something objectionable about my money in particular? That seemed unlikely. Surely I’d done something thumb-fingered. So I called the bank’s help line and got a young man who gave his name as Shane.

    “Oh, they removed that option,” he told me.
    “Do you have any idea why?” I replied.
    “No, I’m afraid not.”

    I’m a retired software engineer. I used to design large simulators, with multiple user interfaces, for a living. At one time I was regarded as the best man in my specialty. And I learned — painfully — that nothing pisses off the user community like a change in a user interface. I said so to Shane.

    His reply was the oral equivalent of a shrug.

    For many years it has been my fondest hope to attend the hanging of some evil politician. As of this morning, that aspiration has taken a back seat to attending the hanging of some idiot meddler who changes UIs for the sheer pleasure of it, or because he has nothing better to do. In truth, I’d like to be the one who gets to pull the lever, but that might be too much to ask.

    1. I would bet that someone put their payment in the Principle Only slot and they got tired of the support calls.

      Navy Fed did something a little similar, but smarter– you put in how much you are paying (for the upcoming bill that is due), and then any amount over is listed as “additional principle payment.” If you use the automatic withdrawal, it has the automatic payment amount and you can add in to the principle.

    2. “As of this morning, that aspiration has taken a back seat to attending the hanging of some idiot meddler who changes UIs for the sheer pleasure of it, or because he has nothing better to do. ”

      Which is not uncommon these days. Offshore teams have to find something to do.

    3. If you pay down your principle, the bank doesn’t make as much interest on your outstanding balance. Can’t make that easy for you to do.

  10. Video conferencing. I remember the very first time I was able to actually SEE the person I was talking to, and how cool it was that my family was able to see my very young Dragonette even though we lived several states away. That dragonette, on the other hand, thinks that’s just the way it has always been, and she can’t imagine it being any different. As I type this I am on a call with my entire company. It’s a regular monthly call via Zoom and we all have our cameras on.

  11. The internet in general, with a special shout out to social media. I liked the internet the way it was back in, oh say, 1999. Largely text-based, some pop-ups and annoying flash, but mostly on rather disreputable websites. For the most part, you opened the articles you wanted to read, and you read them, with no videos playing in the background or the threat of a sudden blast from an unwanted sound file. Most of what my computer does on the internet isn’t getting me things I want; it’s trying to keep out the many things I don’t want.

    As for social media, I just don’t see the point. I’ve tried. I have my blog, a facebook account, and a twitter handle, but I honestly can’t think of many things I want to shout out to the world, so they largely go unused. I need to do better, especially with the blog, because I know that’s how you’re supposed to promote yourself, but like I said, I don’t see the point.

    And yes, you whippersnappers can all just get off my lawn!

  12. Just updated Firefox a few days ago, after an OS update (apparently I clicked “try tonight” instead of “remind me tomorrow” by mistake). Now trying to print from Firefox has become ridiculously slow, to the point that I’m using Safari for printing up eBay packing slips and postage.

    I’m hoping there’ll be another update to fix it before too long. OTOH, that assumes it’s a general problem, and not something peculiar to Firefox having to interact with an HP 4250n, a printer that hasn’t been made since the mid 2000’s. (It’s a workgroup printer, which means it can print up whole novels, or our paper booklist for our business, without complaining).

  13. The first time I realized there was a disconnect between real world events and the way people see the world, even people who are creative types, was September 11. Tom Clancy was on a radio show I was listening to, probably NPR or something, and he stated he couldn’t understand the mentality/motivations of someone who would crash a plane into the Twin Towers. I was like, “Dude, YOU wrote that scenario in one of your books a couple of years ago!”

    Plus, we’d seen an episode of The Lone Gunmen not long before that had a similar scenario.

    1. “I was like, “Dude, YOU wrote that scenario in one of your books a couple of years ago!””

      And if he’d said that, the flocks of legal vultures seeking a payday would have blotted out the sun. Make acknowledging reality expensive, and no one will do it.

  14. I think my problems are with the people who design and make the technology, and even more the people who hire and manage those people.

    The whole justification for having a profession of engineering is people making technical decisions that the public can trust not to stupidly screw things up. So, the one thing engineers need to do is not mess up and pointlessly kill people. Weapons design is fine; anything else is making promises to the public. Forex, ASME was famously founded because of preventable boiler explosions.

    Anyway, there are a lot of technical activities these days about which I have reservations about at the design/management/financial level. Or in some cases stupidity driven by legislative fiat.

    Some of these, it is a little unfair to be critical, because it is like blaming a 1920s aerospace engineer for a) not being equipped to design the controls for a 4th generation jet fighter b) not being able to design a practical surveillance satellite with SAR, infrared, visible and UV imaging, and a bhangmeter c) not being able to build a reliable and economic hypersonic passenger transport d) not anticipating the fatigue cracking issue that caused those passenger jet disasters. An engineer with the arts as known in 1920 or 1930, I’m pretty sure, did not have the tools to be expected to do these tasks.

    But others? The ‘we have to do that to stay in business’ or ‘it is what the law requires’ stuff?

    I have questions about the true financial underpinnings of the businesses. And the degree to which those politicians and legislative bodies are genuinely agents of the publics.

    I have been tempted to, in RL, write a proposal for 6G/7G standards development that would explicitly include features described as being to enable state surveillance, state censorship, and mass murder.

    1. Said proposal would be mainly as trolling and to point out certain issues with people having their eyestalk up their fundaments.

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