I enjoy the boardwalk as much as the next person. The thrill of the roller coaster, the view from the ferris wheel, the dizzying speed of the Tilt-a-Whirl. But I can only take so much before I want to steady my feet and sit down on a bench looking out at the ocean.
Life as a perpetual amusement park is as good a description of any as contemporary culture, but this week upped the ante as the stop button on the Tilt-a-Whirl malfunctioned and the two-minute ride keeps going and going. I’m dizzy, nauseous and longing for the pace of my own two feet strolling.
What’s going on? I was punished for my faithful allegiance to my old laptop. It was heavy to carry, slow to work, way behind on software updates and refused to accept certain files, but hey! it mostly did what I needed to do and it worked. Until it didn’t. And then seven years of being content with what I had came back at me with a vengeance. Not only did I literally pay the price of recovering a month’s lost data (no, I don’t back up every day!) and then the price of a new computer, but now I’m being punished further as the simple act of transferring files from the old to the new is complicated by all the old versions of things I was using.
In short, my 1,000 person mailing list on Filemaker Pro 6 cannot be read by the new Filemaker Pro 13 nor be used as it was on my new MacBook Pro. With some help, I got it recovered to Version11 for a 30-day trial and then, that will be $350 for the new version, thank you very much. The new Sibelius is laughing at my Sibelius 3 and it’s not clear yet whether it will ever accept the 100 or so scores I wrote out meticulously note-by-note. The new Pages ap is different enough from Microsoft Word that the instant font conversion that was so effortless as I posted these blogs is now compromised.
And on it goes. The updated Skype format is completely different and harder to navigate (for me), the i-Photo and i-Tunes remain to be seen—or may not be seen, or heard, as the case may be. People in India are huddling around trying to figure out how to download AOL (yes, here again, I remain stubbornly faithful) so I can access my address book. In short, everything I was accustomed to, familiar with, clear how to use and happy with its dependable look, is up in the air, either to land in a new format or require more money or make me re-do hundreds of hours of work. All because I resisted the culture of planned obsolecense. (a word that I know I just misspelled and can’t find the dang Spell check!)
High predictability means low anxiety, low predictability means high anxiety and that’s where I am now. I know as a teacher that the art of a teaching is negotiating the delicate territory between the comforting familiarity of the known with the exciting novelty of the unknown. The ratio has to be just right, familiar enough that the learner feels secure, interesting enough that they’re willing to take the next step into the unknown. But when the unknown requires 20 new steps in different looks and formats, the fun stops.
I know I’m smart enough to finally figure it out (with a little help from my friends and the paid-for Apple Support) and things will settle down and I’ll get used to these new formats (until they change again in six months). But right now I’m not a happy camper. And don’t have time to figure out how to restore this font on the blog to the more friendly size it was. (Well, the guy at the Apple Store showed me one way which required re-doing every paragraph once it's posted. I did it this time, but I need to find another way.)
May I vent just once more about this First-World Problem?