Entry 413: If It Ain’t Broke…

Almost every day, something in my life wants to get updated.

It used to be that only my wardrobe needed an occasional update, like when my wife threw out my suede jacket with the lapels that resembled the wings on a stealth bomber.

But now just about everything is constantly wanting to be updated or winup.auto5[1]upgraded, and it’s a real downer. Java wants to update. Adobe Acrobat wants to update. iTunes wants to update. Windows has more patches than a hippie’s jeans.

WordPerfect, which I still use because it is vastly superior to Microsoft Word, wants me to upgrade to version X-something or other, although I’m pretty sure the only thing they actually change from upgrade to upgrade is the number after the “X.” Quicken wants me to upgrade, too, but I figure if I haven’t upgraded my finances, I don’t need to upgrade my finance software.

And it’s not just my computer. My phone is always telling me to install a new operating system. Even my TV–which, by the way, I just purchased a few months ago–wants me to download new software which I have no idea how to even do on a TV. Is there a channel I have to tune to?

vladimir-putin-again-eschews-a-shirt-while-hiking-along-the-siberian-khemchik-river-in-the-summer[1]It wouldn’t be so bad if the new stuff worked. But half the time, the update screws up the settings which it took you a day and a half to figure out how to set when you first got the thing; or the update on one thing forces you to update something else; or after you install the update you have to download a patch for the update because of an unforeseen compatibility issue with half the printers in the universe; or the new GPS function only speaks in Mandarin; or they’ve changed where all the touchscreen buttons are for no apparent reason; or there’s a MAJOR SECURITY HOLE which they’re scrambling to fix before someone in Russia can take control of your computer remotely and make it so it only shows videos of Vladimir Putin with his shirt off.

Back in the day, you’d buy something and it stayed the way you bought it. The only thing FrididaireAvocado[1]you ever wanted to update on your 1962 Fridgidaire was the avocado green color. Now you buy something, and six months later, it changes into something else.

Why can’t they get it right the first time?

I mean, when was the last time a week went by without an automobile recall? “Oh, that car you’ve been driving for 10 years? Don’t put too many keys on the key ring or the car may shut off while you are driving it. And, by the way, when it does shut off, try not to crash because the airbag may send small pieces of metal into your face like shrapnel and the restraint on the baby seat will contract and strangle your kid. But if you do crash, don’t use your cell phone to call for help, because the battery may combust and scorch your cheek and then the rest of your head will explode because the metal fragments from the airbag that are lodged in your face conduct the heat so well.”

The problem, obviously, is that our gadgets have gotten so complicated, even the people who design them don’t know how they work. It’s a trial-and-error thing, like when you and your spouse hang a picture. “Now?” “Down on the right.” “Now?” “Up a little.” “Now?” “Oh, God, now the picture isn’t compatible with the cell towers.”

The human body is infinitely more complex than any of our devices, yet we manage to run Jocelyn-Wildenstein-cat-lady[1]okay without annual updates to our operating systems. True, there’s that glitch which makes us interested in what the Kardashians are up to, and we sometimes try to make alterations akin to buying a new case for our cell phone, but for the most part we accept our imperfections because we know that if we try to start bettering ourselves at our age, we’ll only end up at the chiropractor or looking like one of those cat ladies.

Engineers, on the other hand, are always trying to improve things that already work perfectly well. And if they can’t make something work better, they make it do more, so that the number of features which normal people will never use increase with each generation. I do not want my phone to keep track of my health. I do not want my TV to recognize my voice. I really can get by without being able to open and close my garage door from the next state.

All I want is to be able to buy a device and have it do what I bought it to do without constantly hounding me to update it.

In other words, no, do not remind me later. Just go away.

See you soon.

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