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Saturday, May 26, 2018

I Don’t Do Windows® by Kait Carson

Back when the earth was cooling in the early 1980s, computers became “desktop,” and I learned my trade as a market consultant for an accounting firm. I learned DOS (disc operating system). It had a handy dandy little directory tree that served me well over the years both as a market consultant and as a word processor when the building boom went bust and demand existed only in the administrative support world. If you could run a MAG card, IBM Selectric, and a DOS based computer, it didn’t matter if you had three undergrad degrees and two masters. You could still earn a living. Yes, times were tough in the 1980s, but life was fun.

Enter the 1990s. Suddenly a little company named Microsoft decided it was time to take flight. They gave birth to Windows®. By now I was writing, selling, and working as a legal secretary/paralegal. I remember one of my best friends, a legal secretary of a certain age turning in her notice. When I asked her why she responded, “Honey,” (this was the south) “I don’t do Windows®.” Sage advice, even if I didn’t recognize it for 30 years. Windows®, is the curtain behind which DOS still hides but is rarely seen. Poor DOS. Not gone but forgotten.

Why this eulogy to DOS? Events of this past month saw me mourning that simple little directory tree. Suddenly, it seems, we no longer control anything. Not our apps (despite plunking down our hard-earned cash) not our data (despite spending hours polishing those sentences) not even where our stories reside. Instead it’s a Windows® kind of world without the transparency of glass.

Last month on my blog day, I disappeared. I managed to get one comment reply session and then faded from view. My computer had frozen during a Windows® update and everything disappeared. Toolbar, taskbar, tiles, start button, everything. I finally managed to catch a Chrome® icon that flashed on the screen and thus scored a single reply session. After that, all I had was the photo of the login screen and nothing more. The details are unimportant but they involved two new laptops, four trips to Best Buy for set up and data transfers, wi-fi issues and finally, the discovery that all of my existing data had been put into something called “My PC” by the Geek Squad.

Undeterred, I very carefully moved all of the “My PC” data back to my “C” drive where my data has lived since DOS days unmolested. You see, I’ve always been careful to NOT have data on the “Cloud” (or any of the multiple feel good names it is known by). Mission accomplished, data moved, happy as a clam I am, I opened Word and it can’t find a danged thing. Helpfully, I pointed it to my C drive where it opened the file as read only. No worries, I clicked save as. Up popped the box: You do not have authorization – I teach the laptop new words – it doesn’t care – I teach it new words in French – it still doesn’t care, so I move on to new words in Italian – it still doesn’t care, so I move on to new words in Spanish. Guess what – it’s multilingual. I called Best Buy – They don’t do software data issues, but the Geek took pity on me. It’s My PC in Windowsland or nothing.

My PC. Cloud access permitted. Microsoft, or Santa Claus or whomever now has access to…my computer life. It’s either that, or no computer. Ladies and gentlemen. Really?!? [1]

I’m angry. Identity theft is rampant and yet, there is no option but to put my personal accounting program in the “cloud”? Every author I speak with, myself included, has books filling pirate site shelves, and I am expected to have my drafts and finished products in the “cloud”? Some data causes no concern, but other data puts sensitive information at risk.

The choice I made is to store some data only on my external drive. Other data, data that if it is compromised will be an irritation but not a disaster is on My PC. All of this took me nearly a month of essentially no computer usage to figure out how to implement. It cost me a month of writing time, communication time. Social time.

I wish I had followed my friend 30 years ago and said, “I don’t do Windows® either!”

How do you feel about living life in the Cloud? Do you think it’s a boon or a bust?

[1] Update – Jim Jackson, a fellow blogger on Writers Who Kill, has instructed me how to turn off the One Drive setting. Thank you, Jim, I have followed your instructions and with fingers crossed am waiting for the next update to see if it stays off—I have noticed that Windows updates will often turn unwanted settings back on, but for now, I’m breathing easier.


Annette said...

Fascinating (and somewhat terrifying) post, Kait.

These are scary times for sure. Convenience versus security. And it feels like the more we fight to maintain identity and data security, the less secure any of it is. Thankfully, I'm blissfully ignorant of most of it. I use DropBox and Carbonite, both of which have saved my skin (and my work!) numerous times during hard-drive meltdowns and files on external storage devices becoming corrupted.

Meanwhile, I pay big bucks for security systems for my computer and for my home to try to keep both the physical and cyber bad guys at bay. I guess we all do the best we can and hope for the best.

Kait said...

Hi Annette,

Yep, I use Mozy. They just merged with Carbonite. I thought I was safe, but I discovered that they only backed up the My PC stuff from my former computer. I had never thought to check because I had pointed the backup to where I had wanted it to go and checked a few times when the former computer was new and all was well. Then complacency set in. Seems it was repointed somehow over time and quite useless. My bad for not having checked, I know.

Security systems are great, but I don't think they can save you from cyber problems on independent servers. Just on your own. I cherish every cyber warning I get from mine, and back away from the computer--fingers off the keyboard!

It is super convenient to have some documents available on cloud-based servers. I prefer to be the one to make the choice as to which documents are out there and which remain resident at home under my sole control. So far, Jim's solution is working beautifully!

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Kait, I understand about half of this. Thanks for the information.

KM Rockwood said...

I gave up trying to keep up with computer problems a few word processing systems ago (I really liked Word Perfect) and other than paying for a virus protection plan, I haven't been able to figure out how to either shield my info from theft or reliably store info. I have a couple of uncompleted manuscripts I can't find on my computer (but I know they are there somewhere--every once in a while I stumble on one) and I send myself an email with my current working manuscript attached every time I work on it.

Kait said...

Margaret, unfortunately, me too. I think that is why I find it so frustrating. I am completely out of my depth!

Kait said...

KM, it sounds like we are on the same page.

I am accustomed to a feeling of competence in so much of what I do that when I have a complete lack of it, it's disorienting. It's funny, because the Geek on the phone used the analogy about my calling him being exactly what I should do, and he compared it to what I would do if my lawnmower broke. I laughed and told him I was raised by boys. If my mower broke, I'd just pop the hood and root around until I found the problem! Computers, on the other hand, strike fear in my heart. And I am always afraid that whatever I do will be broadcast to the immediate world!

Gloria Alden said...

Kait, I bought a new computer almost a year ago, but I couldn't get Windows 7 which I really like. Instead I had to get Windows 10 and it's more difficult. When I went to post my blog on Wednesday, I couldn't get the blogger to download the pictures I had. Even though I sent the name of the folder they were in, they kept saying they couldn't find them, but when I went to my documents there was the file waiting. Finally, by opening my blog without showing any documents and only a long, long, long list of everything on it, I found one little icon that was the right one and was able to download the pictures I wanted to download. I wasted hours trying to get that done. I have stories and poems that I can't find, too. A lot of it I blame on Spectrum our internet server who bought out Time Warner, because it's not just me. So many people who have Spectrum complain about them, too. I'm glad I'm not the only one who has these problems. I got to thinking I'm too tech unsavy which is probably true, too.

Kait said...

Oh, Gloria, don't blame yourself! Windows 10 seems to be an entirely different ballgame to Windows 7. I'm with you, I loved Windows 7. It was a great platform. Ran in the background, just chugged along and didn't get in the way. Windows 10 is a juggernaut! The strongman of platforms. Has it's fingers in every pie and action - They had to pry Win 7 from my cold, dead, laptop, and I still have the laptop in case it miraculously comes back to life.

Annette said...

I still have Windows 7 on my laptop. I wept when my desktop with 7 on it died.