Whatever happened to the old days when everything was “Plug and Play?”  You got some new technology; you plugged it in and started using it.

If anyone has gone through a computer meltdown, and I recently did, you will realize how fragile and interconnected everything is now.  Nothing is plug-and-play anymore.  It is more like plug-and-pray.

For computers, everything was either Windows or Mac OS for us middle of the road users.  The standardization had an advantage, even if there issues with each operating system and idiosyncrasies to adjust to.  Now it is a free-for-all.

When my old gaming laptop computer fried its graphics card and I was faced with making lots of choices.  These were made even tougher by the fact my three and a half year old Blackberry phone was huffing and puffing and having issues.  Up until this time, my productivity was fine and everything was working.

First for a computer, I had choices of Apple or PC.  Since much of the software I use is PC based, I was stuck with a new Windows 7 system.  I learned to speak Spanish faster that adjusting to all the changes in Windows 7 from my old Windows XP system.  Since I was coming from Windows XP, I had never gone through the pain of Vista and I ended up thrown into the deep end.

Now my old business software had to be updated and I launched into a steep learning curve with the new Office Suite with new look Word, Excel and others.

There were a lot of differences to accommodate and the disorientation was frustrating.  It was like entering a new culture without knowing the language.  ¿Dondé está el archivo?  What???  Where can I find the properties on this file?  How do I change the format of the cell in Excel?  How come I can’t find FreeCell?

But the real horror waiting for me was Outlook 2010…  BAM!  My old Outlook file became corrupted.

Now I have no contacts, no calendar.  Who am I?  What am I supposed to be doing?  It is as if half my brain got vacuumed into space.

While I struggled to learn new software and reinstall stuff that wasn’t in the Windows 7, Microsoft Office array, things like Adobe, Quark, Accounting software, iTunes, Skype, and so on, Outlook 2010 remained a dead question.  Finally we had to address it.

Figuring it was easier to synch up a new phone with the new software, off I went to get one of the new Google Android phones.  The phones are so cool.  They are faster, have infinite features.  Touch screens, GPS, music, flip out keyboards for texting, games, voice activation.  La, la, la, la, la.

Stupid rabbit!  After three days of wrestling with the hardware and software we came to the realization that the new Android phones are not compatible with Windows 7 (64 bit version)!

Slick these phones may might be, but they would not play with my new computer.  State-of-the-art on all fronts in a state-of-war.

Back to the old phone, huffing and puffing as it may be, and we will have to try to cripple through with it.  But already four days written off to tredding water with technology and fiddling about.  And still no synching of contacts and calendars.

I guess the culture shock came from going from Windows XP to Windows 7, or from Microsoft 2000 to 2010.  A great leap forward.  If the Chinese could do it, why can’t I?  Bring on the open standards.  But remember I have all my file baggage to bring with me.

Apparently Outlook is the hardest program to backup, hardest to recover from errors and most incompatible with other systems.

Maybe I should use that fancy backpack that came with my gaming laptop and use it to carry around copies of the weighty white and yellow pages.  If I can find a copy of the white and yellow pages.  But then telephone books are useless to get mobile phone numbers or email addresses.

I have to buy a calendar book for my wife each year and everyone makes fun of her old fashioned ways.  That’s because handwriting is a lost art for anyone under 25.  Throw that into the backpack with the telephone books.

All of this has shown me how much we have become reliant on the house of cards that technology shows itself to be from time to time.  And how disorienting it can be when one becomes disconnected.

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