Failings of the Computer/Internet Industry

I sometimes can’t believe how utterly messed up the entire computer/internet industry is.  There is no industry in the world that has such an immense disparity between the amount of profit and the quality of the product.

I constantly have something screwing up.  If it’s not my personal computer, then it’s my internet service provider.  If it’s not my internet service provider, then it’s my web browser.  If it’s not my web browser, then it’s a website or some other service I’m using.  It’s always something.  Hardly a day goes by when I don’t lose something I’m working on or looking at.  This has been true of every computer I’ve owned.  And after a year or two a computer has so many bugs that it becomes almost inoperable or else simply it becomes so irritating that I want to throw it out the window.

I have a very respectable anti-virus program and yet I suspect I’m constantly picking crap up just from normal browsing of the web.  Even my anti-virus was acting screwy once.  It turned out that Google Chrome was incompatible with McAfee.  Both Google and McAfee knew of this problem for months and yet no one thought to tell me the customer.  I mean who gives a fuck about the customer?  Why should Google warn me that by downloading Google Chrome my entire security will go down?  And why should McAfee protect my computer from security failure?

The internet feels like the Wild West.  If normal life were like the internet, you’d be robbed or catch some weird disease every time you walked outside of your door.  In normal life, I see cop cars drive by all of the time and I feel safe.  On the internet, I don’t get the sense that anyone is looking out for the little guy.  You have to pay someone to protect you.  Imagine if you had to pay someone to protect you when you went out everyday… to go to work, to shop, whatever… and imagine this person who protects you was invisible or always in hiding and you just had to trust that he was there to intervene when someone scary attacked you.

The online world is like a Mad Max version of Randian Libertarianism where money rules the game… or, considering all of the hackers, maybe it’s more like Social Darwinism.  All of your info is just there for the picking.  Your identity and your money is but a few key strokes away from all of the worlds criminals.  If someone hacks your email, then they can cause complete havoc to your entire existence that could take years to sort out.

If any other business had this low level of reliability and customer satisfaction, it would go out of business.  You can buy a tv and it works straight out of the box.  You buy a car and you can drive it home without trying to figure it or worry if it will work correctly.  Why does the entire computer/internet industry seem to be designed by idiot savants?  I love the internet, but I suspect the techies that design it all are a bit disconnected from reality.

There are several reasons for all of this.

There is a lack of regulation and of coordination between different sectors.  Computers and programs are barely standardized to work together at a minimal level.  You download a program and it might work or it might not.  If it doesn’t work, you might be able to figure out why or you might not.  If you figure out what is wrong, you might be able to fix it or not.  If you’re not able to fix it, you might figure out how to get it back off of your system.  And something that worked for months or even years can simply mysteriously stop working.  Or something might be incompatible with something else and you’re lucky just to be able to make an intelligent guess as what the problem might be.

You could try to avoid downloading new things entirely, but that is almost impossible.  You need a few basic programs to run your computer and browse the internet, and all of those basic programs are continuously being updated.  There are an infinite number of ways problems can happen.

Anyways, the computer industry doesn’t design technology to last.  Anyone who is extremely interested in technology, just buys a new computer every so often or rebuilds it as needed.  The common person who’d like to keep a computer for an extended period of time is simply out of luck.

As for the internet itself, choices are limited.  In this town, there are only two internet service providers which is hardly what I call competition.  There is plenty of business for both companies and they don’t have to do much to gain customers.

The Wild West of the internet has led to some wonderful innovation and I’m thankful for it, but for the most part I don’t care about continuous innovation.  The bugs are barely worked out of some program and they have a new version already available with new bugs.  There is never a finished product.  I just want a computer that works.  I just want a reliable connection to the internet.  Is that too much to ask?

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