Thursday, 2 January 2020

Once bittern, twice shrike.

Boom boom. That is all.

Nearly 7 years ago, with the chutzpah of a fairly sprightly (at the time) recent-notcher-up of the big 60, I wrote this:
I had a difference of opinion with MrsK the other day. We were in the seventh circle of la città dolente, or PC World as it is more commonly known, looking for a new laptop. In defence of one I pointed out that it did not have Windows 8 (which to me made it preferable). She wanted to know why this was an advantage, and I said that with any new operating system there's more to go wrong; tried and trusted software is no longer supported. 
This was further evidence of my defeatism, she said. Why expect things to go wrong? She asked a passing school-leaver if there were any known support issues with application software (I'm paraphrasing here, you understand) and the answer was, surprisingly enough, that everything was hotsy-totsy with Windows 8. 
Well, twenty years of working with software engineers (actually, 19¾ - HP took the penny-pinching precaution of shafting me 3 months before they would have had to fork out for a 20-year award) has taught me that if anything can go wrong with new software it will. This was true of Windows 95, and with everything since. Working in 'Support', which I did for many years, involved me almost daily in fixes and workarounds and you-just-can't-do-that-any-more when people tried to get existing application software to play nice with a new operating system. 
So everything, I feared, was not hotsy-totsy. To quote Ogden  Nash it was coldsy-toldsy (and Google, incidentally, has just asked me whether I mean 'cold toddy'). New operating systems are great when all the dependencies work, but with each new operating system there are more dependencies; there's more to go wrong. I hold no candle for Windows 7; give me Windows NT 4.1 any day. But for me it's preferable to Windows 8 (just as Windows 8 will be preferable to - saints preserve us - Windows 9).
My fear in the last line was ill-founded. For reasons best known to the Microsoft marketing department, 'Windows 9' is The Operating System that Never Was. I wonder why... It's not as if it were Windows 13, or Windows 666 (due in some future century, perhaps)..

But earlier in 2019, Microsoft decided to pull the plug on Windows 7 (the home, at the moment, of Knowles family computing – although there are outposts of more recent operating systems on various less benighted devices). On some date in mid-January 2020 support will be withdrawn. This could be relatively painless, if things just stop being fixed. I suppose Anti-Virus software could be a problem. But, realistically, what are the odds against  hackers bothering with a ten-year-old system? We revert to the old tried and tested system: Security-by-Obscurity – as they used to say in the world of VMS.
Not that that was the whole story. OpenVMS was a much more robust system than some I could name, and not a prey to nearly as many viruses as we have become inured to in the M$ world. But the fact remains that being surrounded by lower-hanging fruit, malware-wise, is a fairly good guarantee against infection.

A less benign outcome seems possible though, in the light of the behaviour of tech firms in recent years, punishing users who are content with things as they are. For the TEMERITY of not upgrading, they are deprived of even what they had; that'll teach them not to genuflect at the altar of Perpetual Upgrades. Per me si va nella città d' aggiornamenti perpetui (which is the way I imagine Dante might have said perpetual upgrades).
Hmm. What a charming way Italian has with the word for 'upgrade': aggiornare. Think of giorno. A bit like the Creation, in Haydn's version: And there was [wait for it] light.

Still. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof. Perhaps everything will be hotsy-totsy, as St Matthew might have put it.  And I have two weeks to find out.

I'll sign off with something that came to me recently. It may have been the most middle-class of cracker jokes, remembered from Christmas 2018, or it may be original (not to say meaningless to most):
Q. What sort of hair conditioner does Santa Claus use?
A. Ho-ho-ho-ba. [Bou-boum and indeed tsh].
Like I said, meaningless to users of the – possibly more common,  – /ʤә'ʤәʊbә/ version (which is fine by me if that's what fleauts your beaut  – I'm not going to kick off the new year by laying down the law about talking proper (although  I haven't found a dictionary that recognizes the /ʤ/ version – just saying).

Frohes thingummy.


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