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Here we go again

As anyone of a certain seniority will testify, modern life is constantly evolving – sometimes for the better, sometime not so – and wrestling with it all is part of the human condition. At my stage of life I’m always on red alert to avoid being pigeon-holed as a dog-in-the-manger-style moaner harking back to the ‘good old days’, mostly because (when one actually takes time out to think of the realities) generally-speaking they weren’t quite as good as one remembers them.

That said, it’s a natural phenomenon to be sceptical about ‘changes’ to the way we’ve been living and operating. It all begins with the ‘If it ain’t broke, why fix it?’ maxim.

I mean, seriously – why do it?

Take this morning as an example. I fired up my computer and went to my standard email account.

Horror of horrors, I was confronted with a cheery upbeat message from my service provider announcing that they made some changes and improvements and would I like to take some time to go round it and check what they all were?

No, I bloody well wouldn’t. I just wanted to go through my inbox and perhaps reply to some of the emails I had received since I’d last been in, thank you very much.

Like I do every day.

In any event, things are now pretty different. The entire set-up and look of my email account has changed – and not for the better.

Dear reader, by no stretch of anyone’s imagination (and I don’t have one) could it be said to be an improvement. To put no fine a point upon it, it looked better as it was previously. It was also easier to navigate, easier to understand and use – just generally far more user-friendly than it is now is its ‘new’ incarnation.

Here are three early ‘cock ups’ I’ve noticed about the new version:

Firstly, with the previous set-up, when you chose to Reply to an email, the Reply box appeared above that email – thus you could refer from one to the other and check that you’d covered every subject and/or replied to every point made in the original.

Now, with the new set-up, when the Reply box comes up, although a message comes up above it reminding you ‘The original email will be attached to your Reply when you send it’, the original email itself is nowhere to be seen, nor is it accessible. Thus the only way you can now answer an email point by point is by either committing the whole email to memory and/or carefully noting everything in it down on a pad before beginning your reply to it.


(But why change the previous system which worked well?).

Secondly– with the previous version – one could select ‘Move’ from the options above an email and thereby ‘move’ it for safe keeping to a correspondence folder that you have set up in order to keep all email relating to that subject in the same place.

Now – with the new system – when I did that this morning, and a list of my folders appeared from which I could choose the one to which I wished to send the email, several of my previously-established folders were inexplicably missing from the list of options.

In other words, with the very first email I wished to place in such a folder this morning, I wasn’t able to do this because said folder didn’t appear as one of the options available!

frustrationWhat possible element of ‘road testing’ the new system had the service provider done before they ‘went live’ with their new system?

And indeed why didn’t they warn users in advance that they were about to introduce a new system and/or (even better) give oldies like me the option not to have to switch to the new system, especially when the old system was working fine?

Thirdly, with the old system, when I chose to write a new email, a box would appear on the left listing the six or seven people I most regularly send emails to – so, for the most part, it was the work of a moment to choose which one (or ones) I wanted to contact … and then proceed to compose my email to them.

Under the new system, however, when I ask for my options to address a new email to – a box appears listing all my contacts in alphabetical order, starting with ‘A’ (of course). As a result, sometimes I have to spend fifteen or twenty seconds finding the name of the person I wish to choose.

Again, why make that change??!!!

It’s absurd and very frustrating that a geek – or bunch of geeks – supposedly blessed with a far greater intelligence than I possess (sitting in some ivory tower somewhere, dreaming up how to take their email service forward) would then proceed to devise something that actually makes things more complicated and slower than what existed previously.

Anyway, that’s my message for today.

I know I’m bleating into a gale force wind and am bound to be dismissed as a dementia-ridden old fogey by anyone under the age of thirty, but really!

When will the modern world wake up and smell the coffee?

Not every change is an advance!

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About Arthur Nelson

Looking forward to his retirement in 2015, Arthur has written poetry since childhood and regularly takes part in poetry workshops and ‘open mike’ evenings. More Posts