I’m having one of the busiest holiday weekends ever. Why? I suppose it’s because FedEx delivered a chunky Dell desktop computer on Tuesday, for my home office pleasure, and I’ve been loading it up with software I “need” ever since. So it’s no surprise that I’m thinking this week about new technology.
First there’s the question of cell phones. Faithful readers may remember that I identified myself as a “cell phone refusenik” in a prior blog post. I don’t own one, and I’m not keen on the prospect of always-on reachability (I know, I know, the things have off-switches ... but carrying a leash is carrying a leash, even if it’s loosely fastened).
In any case, I had breakfast with friends about a week ago, one of whom is a serious gadget geek (S-- programs mobile apps for a living), and conversation turned to the question of what sort of pocket device I might migrate to when when my trusty old Palm T|X gives up the ghost. It’ll probably be a phone -- PDAs are pretty much over, after all -- and S-- was showing off his Android device. He’s not interested in owning an iPhone, which we also talked about; and that led me to e-mail a friend & colleague later in the week to ask why she recently made the iPhone-to-Android switch. That exchange led to Quinn Dombrowski’s thoughtful blog post, Why I’ve walked away from Apple. When I shared Quinn’s post with S--, he forwarded a link to the most hilariously snarky video about iPhone obsession, iPhone4 vs HTC Evo, from tinywatchproductions (complete with pottymouth dialog, in a South Park vein). LYAO funny. Thanks to S-- and Quinn and tinywatchproductions, I guess I won’t be getting an iPhone anytime ..... ever.
Then there’s the new Photoshop CS5. I don’t know anybody who uses it, but Matthew Sun blogged about it last week. That’s what brought a feature tour video to my attention. The video demonstrates just how easy it is to falsify digital images with the latest tools from Adobe. Scary stuff. It makes Winston Smith’s “memory hole” seem so ... 1984.
So meet the new Google Docs interface. I’m with the complainers in this thread, hoping against all odds that Google brings back the old one. Yes, yes, the new interface & features make it far easier to collaborate on documents and spreadsheets, even in real time, as explained by Mashable.com’s Jolie O’Dell, or in the embedded Google video. But in its bid for compatibility with Microsoft's Office suite, Google Docs has mucked up one's ability to simply copy-paste into Blogger's editor. Formatting cruft everywhere.
This content-producer isn’t sold.
Which brings me to installing new software on my just-born Windows 7 desktop. So, okay, the latest Microsoft OS isn’t so bad. It’ll take some getting used to, given that I like to know where to go, fast, to tweak this or that feature ... there’s inevitably a learning curve, but c’est la vie. Technology changes. I know that.
However. With my brand spanking new computer I bought a brand spanking new copy of Microsoft Office. Office 2010.
OMG. In a word: “bloated.” In two words: “hella bloated.” This is truly an interface from Ghenna.
Now, granted, I’m a stick-in-the-mud when it comes to productivity software. I’m most at home with a 13 year old version of this suite (I’ve also used Office 2, 95, 2000, 2003, and 2008). Microsoft would have done the world a favor, or done me a favor anyway, if they’d only gone as far as ‘97. See for yourself, on the Beast from Redmond’s Word 2010 features and benefits page.
Too many bells, many too many whistles. Maybe they should have called it Cubicle 2010, because it makes the user feel boxed in and at sea, both at the same time. By the way, there are six more, equally dense “ribbons” found at the top of the other tabbed menu views.
Yet all I want to do with the document-producing part of a productivity suite is write. Produce pages of text. Get an assist every once in a while with my aweful sppeling. You’ve got to wonder whether it makes sense to buy a menu-rollback add-in. I’m thinking about it. (I’m also thinking about finally making the switch to OpenOffice, which I’ve tried in quite a few of its evolving versions over the years. Version 3.2 is looking pretty good, especially in comparison with Cubicle 2010.)
The “improvements” new software technology brings to our digital lives ... not any particular improvement, but the whole kit and kaboodle. On average, are they truly improvements?
The whingeing Luddite in me is doubtful. What do you think?