August 5th 2004 Technology: Great When It Works, Horrible When It Doesn’t

As an employee of Bucknell’s tech support division, many people assume that I’m majoring in Computer Sciences during college. They even go so far as to assume that I like computers—and the truth is, I do, to a certain extent. I suppose I have a sort of “love-hate” relationship with them, in that I love them when they actually work, and I hate them when they don’t. Of course, I have no plans on studying CS during college, namely because I don’t have a very strong math background, and I can’t imagine working intimately with computers for the rest of my life.

Don’t get me wrong—I don’t despise computers. In fact, my Apple iBook is one of my most cherished possessions. I love the machine. But lately, I’ve found that I have to break off my relationship a bit, particularly because my iBook never seems to be there for me. It’s a great computer, but it’s spent a lot of time being repaired in the past year, and I can’t fathom why. I’ve been very good to that computer. I don’t abuse it. I keep it clean. I even bought it a wireless networking card and an additional 512MB of RAM. But how does it repay me? Its power inverter fails. Its logic board fails. Its trackpad goes a little crazy. Its hard drive fails. Clearly my computer has a bit of personality.

The power inverter wasn’t a big deal. So the thing wouldn’t go to sleep when I closed the lid—no big deal. I got it fixed anyway—for free. Then the logic board failed. That was a big deal, but I got that fixed for free, too. Then the trackpad started acting funny—the cursor sometimes skips all over the screen, or jumps to a corner and gets stuck. No problem—I can deal with that.

The hard drive, though—now, that’s a problem. My computer can barely start up now. The hard drive sounds like a chainsaw (albeit a very small, quiet one) when it tries to do anything. Luckily I’ve rescued my data off the drive, but now it looks like it’s going to cost me at least $99 plus shipping and handling to replace, and I also have to take the whole thing apart to replace the drive. Have you ever taken an iBook apart and put it back together? It’s not fun at all.

The fun with technology continues at work, where I have to update a whole website using a program called “FileNET” (internally, it’s affectionately referred to as “EasyWeb” although the moniker is a bit false). EasyWeb is great in that it allows an entire site to look pretty much the same, but the greatness of EasyWeb pretty much ends there. First of all, it’s a very slow program written in JavaScript. Perhaps that’s its primary fault. Whoever wrote the software must’ve been thinking, “Instead of having the web developers copy files over to the server using the OS, why don’t we just have them use a slow, ugly JavaScript interface instead?” Thus, EasyWeb was born. Somehow that brilliant guy managed to market it to otherwise fine institutions such as Bucknell, who then forced their poor web developers to use the (probably pretty expensive) software (in order to justify the cost, no doubt).

Technology is certainly supposed to make life simpler and more productive, and it does that very well—when it’s working correctly. However, more often than not, technology is broken, or (in the case of EasyWeb) poorly implemented, and then it just makes life more complicated. Specifically, it makes my life more complicated.

Anyhoo, I’m going to go copy my web pages over via JavaScript and search for a new hard drive for my year-and-a-half-old laptop. Until next time, take care!