Friday, October 16, 2009

612 If It Ain't Broke

612 If It Ain't Broke

What ever happened to if "it ain't broke, don't fix it"? New Improved this and All New that. It's everywhere. Again. You thought we got over that stuff in the 1960s or 70s? Think again.

These posts and scripts are written on Google Documents, a fine way to draft, correct and then post. Plus the stuff is already backed up, assuming Google doesn't crash -- which it has been known to do, although only short term.

But the Google folks can't stop adding bells and whistles to their already fine service. So where a day ago you could just cruise and then file an item, it now takes additional steps. And the steps they SHOULD take (like adding macros,) they don't. New and Improved, alright.

Microsoft made some changes to Word for 2007, including a whole new extension on titles. Instead of *.doc, they're now *.docx. The systems are compatible only if you jump through the appropriate number of hoops.

And who do we have to thank for these kinds of complications? One of the patron saints of corporate America, Alfred Sloan. Sloan headed General Motors back in the day and he came to realize that if you change the look of your product -- whatever it is -- people will trade "up" for something newer. In those days, cars and trucks only changed to reflect technical improvement. Since Sloan, they have become a fashion statement.

Right now, that's not working too well for his company, which has become OUR company.

Yes, planned obsolescence keeps the wheels of industry turning, people working, people getting paid, and all that. But sometimes an improvement is not an improvement. Like with Google Docs or Word 2007.

We sheep go along with it, anyway, sometimes because we have no alternative. Example: You have Word Perfect or WordStar or one of the oce-popular computer writing programs and you want to send a document to someone else? Mr. or Ms. Else won't be able to read it properly without a translation program he or she might or might not have. Or they might not be able to open what you've written at all. So everyone now has Word, but not everyone has Word 2007.

Word's earlier versions worked just fine. So did Google Docs. And so did the 1952 Pontiac.


Shrapnel:

--The Social Security folks strike again. Earlier, they said no cost of living increase for us old folkies. Now, for whatever reason, they've confirmed it, "making it official," to harness a too oft used news cliche.

--Speaking of news, Bloomberg News is buying Business Week Magazine from McGraw Hill for next to nothing. Which, these days is about what it's worth. By the time those magazines see print, the news in them is old and you've already read it on the internet.

--And speaking of buying stuff, there's this: The investor group that wants to buy that Missouri NFL team has decided in can do better without having Rush Limbaugh on board. So could we all.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2009

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