Never Let It Rest

Hacking my way through the 947-step process required to set up my new laptop, I come face-to-screen with a failure to communicate, caused, perversely, by a commitment to continual improvement.

I’m setting up my Recovery Environment on my new laptop. My data has been backed-up online for a while, so this is about backing-up my software.

“Wow,” I hear you thinking, “you must be pretty knowledgeable about computers.”

Actually, I’m just doing what my laptop told me to do when I poked some obscure icon. Although I hate taking directions from a machine, I figure it knows more than I do.

Between my laptop’s brains and my hands, we’re doing pretty well, although every task takes longer than it should. I struggle with the unfamiliar user interfaces, from the new Windows operating system to a slightly different keyboard configuration that sees the “backspace” key where the “delete” key used to be (and still is, as far as my muscle memory is concerned).

But then it happens: I have to use my brain, not the laptop’s, to make a choice. The laptop does its best to give me a clue: With an option highlighted, pulsing gently at the top of my screen, the right choice for the next step seems eminently clear. Even to, you know, me.

Best Option

And even if I had missed the visual cues, its label would have given it away.

Somewhere in the depths of Microsoft, someone wanted to make this super simple. Simple enough for a non-programmer. Maybe even simple enough for, you know, me. Yeah!

I’m about to click on Best Option, when something just below it catches my eye.

Better Option

Dagnab it. How can something be better than best? But if it is better, how can I not choose that? How can I not want that?

I know my new laptop will never respect me if I give up, so I take it from the top again, literally. What am I missing here?

Best Option: Use an external hard drive.
Better Option: Use multiple recordable discs.

Bewildered? Check. Bothered? You bet. Bewitched? Not so much. And that’s when the third option on the screen, down at the bottom, catches my eye.

Good Option: No, we sure won’t tell you how to execute it. You’re not even considering this, are you?

Oh, for goodness sake.

Somewhere in the depths of Microsoft, someone had a bright idea. “Let’s lay it out as ‘good, better, best.’ That will be clear enough even for, you know, Isabel.”

And someone else chimed in, “Yeah! And let’s put the ‘Best Option’ at the top of her screen! That will be even clearer!”

Or not.

But faster than I can say “continual improvement,” or, maybe, “Leave things well enough alone, dagnab it,” the bright-ideas crew has made it so:



Guys? There’s a reason it goes in that, umm, you know, other order.

Good, better, best: Never let it rest,
‘Til the good is better and the better is best.

Well, maybe you could give it just a little rest. Please?


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8 Responses to Never Let It Rest

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    For years, I had a cartoon pinned to the bulletin board directly behind, and above, my computer screen. You remember those instructions which said, “Strike any key”? The cartoon showed a user (portrayed, for some reason, as a penguin) swinging a very large sledgehammer, preparing to strike any (and all) keys.
    Computer programmers, I’m convinced, have neurons that fire in a different sequence from all the rest of us, who just have little grey cells.

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Jim T – Yes, I remember that cartoon, or one just like it. I find it hard not to take it personally and get frustrated, but I do try to remember that there are people’s minds behind everything the software does. Regrettably, just not necessarily my kind of mind, whatever that is. (As for the penguin, I guess, Why not? Penguins are good.)

  2. My fav clipped cartoon (now very yellowed) is still on my 1-inch-foam which covers all the walls of my little bathroom wall ready to pin up such things:
    By Bizzaro — Tech Support Made Easy
    Man sits at computer with phone up to his ear, ready to take tech advice.
    Tech says over phone, “Go to the Preferences File, click on the pull-down menu, find the option that says, ‘Nothing Works Right’ and Uncheck it.”

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Barbara – Hah! Now – what exactly is the file path to that box? And don’t we wish we had one for our bodies?

      • Just like magicians, techies will NEVER tell. As for our bodies, I kinda found one for headaches, muscles, aches and all kinds of pains — Hemp oil in a spray, called Head2Toe. Call me. 😀

        • Isabel Gibson says:

          Barbara – Do you have to inhale the oil vapours? No, no, I see that there’s no THC content . . .

  3. Alison Uhrbach says:

    I’ve always been pretty good at following written directions – but – I find it frightening to make decisions on the computer which are based on clicking on the “pulsing” choice. Is it the RIGHT choice?? I’m never sure??

    • Isabel Gibson says:

      Alison – I have to remember to slow down. It drives the laptop crazy (all those human-processing delays, experienced in computer time), but that’s its problem!

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