As You Like It: Take My Upgrade

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Glancing at my cell phone, I noticed a tiny number attached to one of my application icons. As usual, something needed updating. If it’s an app that I’ve added, it’s not a big deal. I click on the icon, agree to everything they ask of me, including seven years of indentured servitude, and voila! I’m Madame Upgrade in five minutes.

However, if it’s an operating system upgrade, it gets a bit more complicated. For some reason my iPhone doesn’t recognize my wi-fi service. Even after I enter every password, then beg, plead and cry, it keeps insisting that it needs to get its wi-fi fix and I am not providing it.

Even though that little number bugs me as much as a warning light on my car, I usually ignore it. But Emily changed my mind. We were having lunch at the Museum of Fine Arts with her mom, Roxy, when she noticed that my phone needed updating. She was quite convincing as to the importance of upgrade maintenance, so I agreed to do it. But even though my picky phone had acknowledged the MFA wi-fi, I was still a bit reluctant since my device informed me that it would take an hour and then my battery would be kaput. “Stop worrying and just do it!” Emily ordered, and she sounded so positive that I did.

To my surprise, by the time we finished lunch my phone was done — with battery to spare. I was duly upgraded and the annoying little number had finally disappeared. So last week when another number showed up, I was ready. Especially since I had read Hiawatha Bray’s column in the Boston Globe about how much he loved the new OS7 upgrade. I was psyched.

I knew that it wouldn’t work at home so I tried it at work, but I had no luck there either. My phone refused to recognize the lowly wi-fi available there. Was I going to have to go to the MFA every time I had to update?

I decided to take dramatic action: I would go to the Lourdes of wi-fi — Starbucks. The next day I entered coffee heaven at 11 a.m., figuring that it would take me an hour and that I would actually get to work early. Silly me. I laughed out loud giddily when my phone finally connected and then settled in with a book and some coffee. What a lovely, relaxing morning.

An hour later it was not so relaxing. I kept watching two things on my screen — the line indicating how much time the download needed to finish (I think it said three weeks) and my battery icon, which was draining at an alarming rate. I had not, of course, taken my charger. I was also watching the time and realizing that I would not be early for work. I bought a sandwich and hunkered down.

Another hour passed and I was beginning to wonder if I would make it to work at all that day when suddenly my little electronic friend indicated that it had finished downloading and was now preparing itself for installation. Unfortunately, it also meant that the phone put itself into some zen mode where it couldn’t be used, so no texting anyone about how late I would be. “But how long could it possibly take?” I thought naively. There was no way that I was going to give up since I had come so far. I ordered some tea.

Another hour later, with my battery hanging on for dear life, it finally announced that it was finished and I was upgraded. It turned itself back into a working phone, and then suddenly little flashy, brightly colored, cute-as-a-button icons danced onto the screen. Whoa, brave new world with such icons in it! But that was the beginning of a downhill spiral.

In my car I plugged my phone into its charger and raced to work. That evening, when I had finished teaching, I took out my phone to call Steve when I realized that everything on my screen had changed — nothing for the better — and I couldn’t figure out how to make a phone call. I was in panic mode until I finally heard Steve’s voice.

For the next few days everything I had once known as true had turned upside down. All the previously bold lines and lettering had become pale, anemic versions of themselves so that I needed a magnifying glass to see anything. I thought a piece of dirt was a button since it was darker than the actual buttons that the phone displayed.

I’ve finally figured out how to make a phone call (there’s now a delay that wasn’t there before) and send a text, but the calendar has become a total enigma. Instead of scrolling sideways, it scrolls up and down. And when you attempt to enter a time, it becomes a Star Wars credits screen from a universe far, far away. Appointments get lost in the clouds if you didn’t scroll down far enough.

It’s been a week now. I’m cautiously getting used to this middle-ager’s nightmare. I have yet to meet someone who likes this new upgrade. Fie on you Hiawatha Bray for calling this a good thing! A plague on Apple software coders who have nothing to do but drive us crazy! And Emily, sorry, but sometimes, upgrading is not such a good thing!

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avatar Posted by on Oct 17 2013. Filed under As You Like It, Featured Content, Opinion.
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