I’m a hard headed SOB. Too stubborn for my own good. I know this. I admit it. Guilty, as charged.
What brings on this admission of personal failing? My adventures this past week with technology, or rather, my misadventures with technology, along with Pastor Jeff Edward’s Lenten blog posting, which has inspired me to be a bit more introspective regarding my experience. Had it not been for Jeff, I’d more likely be venting my frustrations with the various imperfections of the technologies that I experienced than reflecting on my own reaction to those imperfections.
The journey began several weeks ago when I purchased a Sony Daily Edition eBook Reader. One of the first books I knew I wanted to purchase for the eBook was the Bible, so I went out to the Sony store and found a copy of the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) of the Bible from Harper Collins, in two volumes, one the New Testament, and the other was supposed to be the Old Testament and Apocrypha. When I downloaded the second volume to the eBook, I found it was, instead, another copy of the New Testament. After some back and forth with Sony, I went to the Harper Collins website, found and purchased the Old Testament from the publisher directly (one of the advantages of the Sony device over Amazon’s Kindle). I then had to get the downloaded book from my Linux laptop to the Sony eBook. This is where my real troubles began.
I was an early adopter of Linux, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is my notorious, um… let’s just say frugality. About ten years ago I calculated that it costs about $1200 per year in hardware and software to keep up with the Microsoft software channel on one PC. I doubt that number has gone down much since. Linux, on the other hand, while not truly free (the operating system is free, but I’ve not yet seen a free PC) probably costs about a third of the Microsoft option, though I’ve never actually worked out those costs. The problem, of course, is that so many things are not compatible with Linux, including my Sony eBook.
There is, however, an open source (i.e. free) software program for Linux that will communicate with the Sony eBook, called Calibre. Calibre, however, wouldn’t install on the version of Linux I was running (Ubuntu 8.04). No problem, I thought, I’ll just upgrade. As I was watching the new version of Linux download onto my computer, I thought to myself “you really should have made a backup of your data first”, and I had that sinking feeling in my stomach. Needless to say, the upgrade did not go as planned, and I have spent the past week trying to recover my old data and restore my laptop to health, cursing my stupidity with great regularity in the process.
At this point I could launch into a tirade on how manufacturers make their hardware and software too proprietary, how software is overpriced, overprotected, too incompatible with other software/hardware. But that neglects my own role in this mishap. I made a choice, and it is up to me to accept the various consequences of that choice. By choosing to use Linux, I am aware of the fact that many devices and most software is incompatible. When I rant and rage as things go badly I am neglecting to acknowledge my own choices. My self-imposed journey through the computer wilderness has caused me to reflect on what my expectations are, and whether they are reasonable. If I choose to take the “path less taken” in technology, can I reasonably expect to enjoy the benefits of compatibility that accrue to taking the “path of least resistance”? More importantly, what benefit does my anger and rage serve? None.
I have lost a week and some of my precious data, but did eventually get the Old Testament onto my eReader, and I did get most of my data back and my laptop is now using the latest version of Linux. I should be satisfied with that.