Friday, January 8, 2010

New and Improved

Even though this country is now suffering through record unemployment since the Great Depression, I suspect that way too many “Marketing” people still hold their jobs in major corporations. Their job is to keep their jobs by convincing management that their product or service, whatever it is, needs to be “improved”.

Gone are the days when a product, that works perfectly, remains intact over time. No, everything, no matter how good it is, needs to be “improved”. Marketing people do not understand the concept of, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. They can’t – they have to “new and improve” everything.

My wife’s favorite shampoo now makes her head break out. My once preferred deodorant now reeks of some perfume additive. The shower cleaner we previously used, which stank to high Heaven but still worked, no longer stinks and no longer works. The list goes on.

Of course software is among the worst offenders of continual and unnecessary upgrading. There are way too many software engineers working today. They need to all find part time jobs at Starbucks. Yes, we all have shared this problem of software upgrades. I just installed Windows XP on my machine two years ago. Since then the disastrous Windows Vista has come and gone, replaced by Windows 7. Of course, to upgrade to Windows 7 I would need to upgrade my computer also.

I have an old DOS program called Reflex. I have used it for over a decade to balance my checkbook. I have that many years of records of my checking activity. It is simple and easy and I can bring it up and use it in minutes. It is long since obsolete and the company that made it out of business. But it works… at least it did work. When I copied it to my latest computer, it is incompatible with my processor. It won’t work. On my next upgrade I am going to have to find something else.

Of course computer engineers love to upgrade applications. They put so many features in a word processing program that most people will never use. All people want is the ability to write, correct, edit and spell-check. I would guess that 98% of the features in most word processing programs nobody knows about, let alone ever uses. I paste text from MS Word into Notepad to strip out all the formatting and crap so I can re-paste it into this blog. Guess what, Mr. Software Engineer, that is MORE work for me, not less.

I am so thankful that the auto industry did not go the route of the computer industry. Had it done so we would need to buy new cars as the gasoline is upgraded, buy tires specific to our make and model of car (Toyota Camry brand tires). Our cars would shut down twice a day and we would need to reinstall the engine. We would have to go to driver training for every new car we bought because all the controls would be different.

Engineers need to think about refusing to improve things that don’t need improvement – Except for medical technology. I want that little hand held gizmo that Dr. McCoy had on Star Trek. Wave something over me to diagnose my ailments. I am supposed to call to get scheduled for a Colonoscopy soon.


Charlie said...

A tip on Word and Blogger. When you're finished writing in Word, choose "Select All" from the Edit menu and then hit Copy. In Blogger, go to the HTML tab—NOT Compose—clck the right button on your mouse, and Paste. None of the Word formatting will be there. (I use Word 2003.)

I too often wonder how you can improve on something that has been touted as the BEST for years.

GutsyWriter said...

I agree 100% with you. My son installed Windows XP on my computer, yes I know, I'm way behind, but I'm having so many problems with other non-functioning stuff, that I now use my laptop. Unfortunately, I cannot think logically to fix everything myself. I always need HELP and that pisses me off. Great post. I am surprised that the ingredients change in shampoo etc. though.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Charlie Great tip! I will try that. I am fairly conversant in HTML so it should be a great short cut. Thanks.

GutsyWriter Oh yes, shampoo and all kinds of products that one would think would never change. Subtle changes are often in additives to change or enhance properties of products. My wife has had different reactions to products she has used for years after the manufacturers make "improvements". Others just don't work as well any more.

kara said...

I'm a PC, and Windows 7 was my idea.

Robert the Skeptic said...

Kara That does it, you have been watching too much cable TV.