A couple of days ago, I spent a couple of hours in the morning helping my wife get her computer to do her bidding, and a couple in the afternoon building a new top for the wooden tank on the antique orchard sprayer I am restoring. The computer problem was somewhat typical. In the past, she was able to scan text to her computer from her printer, save it as a word document, and then edit it — the miracle of OCR. Then the system quit working. The scanner denied that it was connected to the computer (after insultingly telling us that we should check to make sure the USB connector was plugged in —we know that much—and to load an up-to-date driver for the printer). But if it was working in the past, why not now? Obviously because someone was screwing with the software to “improve” it. Before I did that, I tried a few other things. Her system scanned jpeg documents okay and transferred them to the computer. Why not text in an editable form?
I could not make sense out of it, so I downloaded the latest driver for the printer, but that still did not solve the problem. So I phoned an IT friend, and he couldn’t make sense out of the problem on the phone, so he dropped by for a personal inspection. After what I considered a number of wizardly moves, he found some code in the machine that allowed my wife to scan the text and transfer it to the computer in the form of rich text, which could then be converted to Word and edited. Two hours of frustration, and my wife was back where she had been in the past. But that did not include hours of frustration for her before she asked me for help.
Switch to making a top for my wooden tank. The photo shows the result. About the same amount of time was required to build it as I blew away on the computer problem, with pleasure from the process and pride when I was done. The difference? I used a table saw, a radial arm saw, and an electric drill to drill holes and sink screws. My grandfather taught me to use a table saw when I was eight or nine years old, and they have changed little since then. I encountered my first radial arm saw in a junior high school wood shop course, and had used an electric drill for many years before then. True, use of electricity to sink screws was rare then, but the principle can be easily extrapolated from using a screwdriver. My point is, that the tools did not constantly need upgrading. It was possible to learn to use them, and then set about accomplishing things with them—not spending time becoming comfortable with the latest release. And certainly not having the tools lose ability they once had. Such things as computers and printers are tools.
I quit using Firefox a couple of years ago when it seemed that a new version was coming out every couple of weeks. The Firefox people seem to have calmed down now, so I am back using it because it is a good browser (assuming they quit telling me that cat videos are a new form of communication —not among my friends!). I am feeling the same about many aspects of computers. I have a computer-sophisticated friend who is still using Windows XP. He knows the system cold, and it does everything he wants it to. I am still using Apple OSX version 10.6.8 for the same reason, as I am holding onto applications I have used for years, and will until I am forced to move, at which time I will resent the time and effort I will need to acquire equal facility with the new and “improved”. Tools that do the work should hold still and let us develop and use our expertise with them. Think of the hammer!