I've got a new netbook, which is very lovely and cute and won't replace my old laptop but has the advantage of not sounding like a squadron of World War II bombers - an impersonation which must take a lot of energy to achieve because the poor thing only has a battery life of about six seconds. The new one lasts eight hours. I can stay in bed to work ALL DAY. But I wouldn't be telling you about my new purchace unless there was some aspect of it to rant about, because that's what this blog is for. I don't like being badgered and coerced and damn well lied to, and especially not by a tool which I bought to make my life easier.
Firstly there's the fact that this device - specifically purchased for its fast booting and lack of distractions - came pre-installed with an aggressive marketing campaign from Norton, which screams at me every 30 mins or so that I need to BUY THIS NOW OR WE'RE ALL DOOMED THIS IS THE ONLY SOLUTION BUY IT BUY IT BUY IT YOU STUPID LITTLE PERSON YOU. This is like having cold calls pre-recorded as part of your voicemail service, or a small pink Vanish lady who lives in your washing machine and forces you to watch her remove tough stains from a kid's favourite t-shirt before you're allowed to do your own washing.
And then there's Microsoft themselves. Now, the man in the shop tried very hard to convince me that Open Office would unleash an eleventh biblical plague of compatibility issues upon my academic life, even though it was clear from his expression that he uses it too. The only issue I have ever had with Open Office is Microsoft throwing a tantrum over it. The other day, when trying to download a .doc I got this entirely inaccurate pop-up:
This is a downright lie. The thing they are telling me I need to purchase is not "necessary" to open the file. I have a way of opening it, and I know it works because that's what I wrote the file with in the first place. I only saved it as a .doc for the benefit of people who are restricted by less open-minded word processing software. If that's supposed to be a helpful box of information, it should give me an option to choose a different program to use. If it's an advert, it has no damn business being on my computer.
It also does this when I'm reckless enough to want to look at a .pdf, which strikes me as more than a little paranoid:
Again, this is a tool which I bought to be useful to me. I did not intend it to be yet another way for companies to ambush me every bloody minute of the day and waste my time attempting to part me from the money I am trying to concentrate on earning. As many people have pointed out about computers, we simply wouldn't put up with this from any other household appliance. Can you imagine having a fridge that played adverts for a certain supermarket every third time you opened the door, that delayed you from removing things from other shops until it had told you how they 'can be harmful' to you, and which sometimes spat out products altogether and told you it was 'necessary' to buy a far more expensive brand? Let's all hope and pray that Microsoft don't start selling groceries.