COPING WITH YOUR COMPUTER II: The Upgrade Charade

                               “Men have become the tools of their tools.”
                                                    Henry David Thoreau

                        “Man is still the most extraordinary computer of all.”
                                                John Fitzgerald Kennedy

Another sequel! You need to look back before you can look ahead.  Unlike many computer manuals, this sequel won’t begin in the middle.  It is assumed that you missed, “Coping with your computer”, and a brief review is in order.  Relax, read on....
In “Part 1”, the many kinds of computer frustration were identified. The salient feature was that the advantages of computers-- enabling people to obtain the information they want quickly and efficiently-- are often mitigated by the various forms of internal computer conflict, expressed as cryptic error messages or unintelligible commands that prevent programs from operating correctly. This underlying computer hostility seems to belie the term, “user-friendly”…and can lead to a lot of temper tantrums and language which you can only imagine.
These internal conflicts that impede the smooth flow of information, led to the need for a software program, “The Computer Psychologist.” A highly skilled, empathic yet directive software program (identified in Windows by an icon of a computer lying on a couch talking to a little guy across the room), it could resolve the various internal problems that prevent computer programs from operating. No longer would you be subjected to the in-fighting and back-biting occurring among the various components inside that box. The Computer Psychologist would eliminate interruption; stop corruption. And get all your computer parts to cooperate and operate. And now…
                                                                Part Two
Education is an ongoing process. Technological changes bring new frustrations, and new challenges for “The Computer Psychologist.”
A recent addition to the computer vernacular, “upgrading”, is one such example. The term, Upgrade, once limited to a steep climb, now implies some kind of improvement. But caution is advised. Upgrading is also another term for confusion and hence, stress. New computers should come with a warning on the side of the box which reads, “Caution! Contents may cause severe headache and possible loss of mind!”
Although improved technology also includes a broader spectrum of resources (such as the Internet, a computer “Twilight Zone”), the psychology of upgrading is simply the belief that newer equipment will enable someone to achieve an outcome even more quickly and with less actual effort.
Effort. You have to laugh when you think about this. How much effort were you expending when using your “older” computer? Remember typewriters? If the term seems unfamiliar, visit a local museum.
However, the price of upgrading, literally and otherwise, is quite high. There exists a “double-bind” which only reveals itself once you have upgraded: Improve your “hardware” (avant garde for computer, screen a/k/a “desktop” and printer) and your favorite software may no longer operate. Reason: The newer instrumentation does not support it!
And that’s considered good!  Progress.  Moreover, if and when your software is revised, so is the hardware. Then the cycle repeats. Once you enter this race, you lose. And trying to catch your breath, you are left feeling stressed, frustrated, and wondering if people felt like this during the Industrial Revolution.
Upgrading can be as addictive as a Las Vegas slot machine: Once you start, you’re hooked! Improve the hardware, improve the software--how do you go back?  Your “486” computer, nine-bit dot matrix printer and 2400 baud modem by today’s standards seem like running a small telegraph office!  Anyone seen my visor?
In essence, as computer technology is upgraded, there is less for you to do. The computer does it. Or does it? There is still that nagging feeling that nothing is as self-assuring as self-control. And you lose some of that to the extent that the computer makes “decisions” such as whether or not a preferred software program is necessary and will operate. Even pumping up the volume is out of your hands. Remember “volume knobs?” They’ve given way to software which controls volume…but only for advanced programs. For older programs, you may have to place your ear on a tin cup against the screen!
Thus, as long as computer technology evolves, reaping havoc and stress upon the computer illiterates, “The Computer Psychologist” must keep up and be revised, too!. This revision, in addition to resolving the various inner conflicts, must also “train” the newer hardware to respect it’s elders: Cherished ancient software.
In order to resolve the impasse which arises when trying to run your favorite older programs on cutting-edge computer equipment, The Upgraded Computer Psychologist program must now equip that equipment with a new set of “beliefs” about older “understandings.”
Essentially, this would be accomplished through a kind of computer hypnosis.  Just install the upgraded program and it would convince a computer to run like a much earlier model.  Just for a little while.  Imagine your computer receiving a sequence of “age regression” messages which would return it’s mother board to a kinder, gentler time when it was capable of running slower, less complex things. Even (dust off the cobwebs)... DOS!