Monday, April 03, 2006

Technology Whoas

There has been a slight problem with my blog system. Luckily I have not lost any entries, although I do take periodic backups.

I have been using MS Word for creating my blogs and with the help of the word-to-blog extension I could simply publish right from Word. This has now failed, I cannot auto-login to my account.

The resulting frustration has caused me to hunt down the problem. But I still haven't found the solution, at least not yet. Of course there is no support for these free tools so I am left to my own devices. Damned near destroyed my blogs in the process of troubleshooting.

So I am writing this entry tonight, using the piss-ant interface supplied with the blogger dashboard. I shouldn't complain really, it's the first major error I've encountered since beginning this exercise back in August.

I am somewhat amazed at how easy, but simultaneously difficult, web tools can be. I am no slouch at computers; I do have a bachelor’s degree in computer sciences after all. Yet I am sometimes stumped at the designs of certain tools. This blog system is an example.

Everything is geared towards making things easy for the user. It's so easy in fact that I actually have no idea how anything works, and hence my troubleshooting problems. Everything is hidden behind so-called easy-to-use interfaces: install such-and-such and it works... sometimes.

It really is a new experience for me. I understand computers and programs, inherently. Yet when faced with these plug-and-play tools, I feel computer illiterate.

My first stumble was several years ago, back when I was a Unix guru. I was a senior systems administrator and by general admission, I was very, very good - not my words. Yet, as soon as I was coerced in using a Mac - Macintosh personal computer - I'd feel like a newborn with it’s hands and feet bound.

Now, Unix is one bitch of a system. There is a steep learning curve to it, vocabulary to learn, and a complexity to even the simplest task that is daunting at best. However, it is inescapably logical. Always. A vast amount of knowledge may be required to accomplish a task, but this knowledge will be consistent throughout the system. An added bonus, the man pages - on-line manual - for Unix is amazingly well laid out and complete, if cryptic, but then, no more so than any help pages from Microsoft.

On the Mac, if you want to eject your diskette from the computer chassis, you have to drag it into the desktop garbage can…

My first thought would be: if I put it in the trash, it’ll get nuked! My files will be “trashed”. Makes sense? No, it doesn’t make any sense. It’s not supposed to: It’s supposed to be easy to use, so making sense, thereby, goes out the window.

Nevertheless, for the non-expert, the Mac is by far the easier solution to use.

So I am now stuck in a world of hidden logic: where you need an MSN MySpace to define your existence in order to chat on-line with people that you contact with Messenger, through a Hotmail account linked to a .Net Passport user-id, but only if you need to use other MS services.

It’s all very easy! #$%*&!

You can change your message font to make it unreadable, get automatic notification that you’ve got useless mail, get news flashed piles-o-stuff about which you don’t care.

But god help you if you try change your profile information.

Again, it’s a question of having done it once, or rather someone else walking you through it. Neither of which appeals to a computer geek like me.

Worse, and what if it fails?

You only have one option: reinstall. If this doesn’t work, you are truly screwed. Maybe that’s why they charge some 15 grand for a Microsoft certified engineering course?

Anyway, I’ve already tried reinstalling the word-to-blog tool, to no avail. Obviously there is something wrong at my end. I’ve proven this by creating a whole separate account and blog.

So I’m eyeing Word with a malicious intent. I’ll probably have to reinstall that too in order to fix this. The problem is that I have a mess of templates and settings I really don’t want to lose...

Alternately, I could just cut and paste, but that’s just soooo lame.


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