Saturday, 4 August 2012

Out of Date = Out of Touch

I am the Warden!!

Let me start today's post by saying how much I love my office. While we've been in our current house two years now, the office is finally in awesome shape and provides me with a creative space to work. My entire RPG collection is arranged alphabetically to my right, there are dragon figures on all sides, printouts from assorted projects - new and old - on the wall in front of me, and a glass tray balanced on a pewter skull holding a pile of dice, including Big Red. Sometimes I like to sit at my desk, a large corner unit, and admire the space.

There is one flaw in all of it and it's rather ironic: my laptop. I have a 6-year old Macintosh iBook G4, one of the last models before they switched to Intel processors. She's served me well these many years, got me through school, and busted her ass keeping up during Killshot's various production phases. Her age is showing as she's been horribly overworked on a daily basis; the cooling fan's broken, I can't get more than 6Mb of memory available no matter how hard I try, and she freezes up at least once a week. I've known for a while now she needs to retire, it's just impossible with money being so extinct nowadays.

Despite all those technical issues, her current state is not what bothers me. It's the exclusion from nearly every computer-related activity. The processor's the biggest issue because with the new Intel chips came new coding and resulted in the old Macs like mine being incompatible with everything out there.

I'm not talking about programs, apps, and games (though it counts, but is understandable). It's even things online. Little things one would hope is universal. Google Hangout, for example, cannot run on my laptop. There goes my plan to attend CONCurrent and run Killshot as a replacement for Gen Con. Skype still works, so I'm not completely in the dark, but there are quite a few professional options eliminated just from my inability to access Google Hangout alone.

I have an iPhone supplied by my insurance company to help keep my scattered brain organized, but there's not much good hooking it up to my laptop unless I want to use it for charging. Because I can't upgrade my iTunes to a version that understands there a device called an iPhone, I can't perform some of the simple actions like swapping music, photos, and such. I've eventually been able to find third party apps to help with those issues and that's the point. I have to "cheat" in order to performs tasks the commercials proclaim as basic on their products.

This past week almost became the final straw when preparing to upload PDFs for Killshot's print copies, I noticed they required an export standard (PDFx:1/2001) only available on InDesign CS3 or later. I'm working with CS1 (and Illustrator 10). For a while, it seemed as if even PDFs were out of reach. PDFs!! That universal format of all universal formats. After some research, I found out one my CS1 export standards was equal to the requested one and had only been renamed a few years back, but it was a disturbing and frustrating moment to that point.

I hate new editions and the constant stream of updates, upgrades, and eventual exclusion in our technology-dependent era. Desktop publishing is horrible for that as Adobe alone seems to release a new CS every year. Add to that new hardware launches every year and everything gets drastically out of hand. I understand the intention of upgrades - it's technological evolution combined with a conspiracy theory of money grabbing by their owners - and I accept it in some cases. When it starts to get out of hand like it is now, I shake my head.

It's a losing argument, I know, and nearly pointless to make. Perhaps my frustration is more at my financial situation preventing me from doing anything about it mixed with the realization nothing can be done to fix the problem until next year, if everything works out for Plan G. Or maybe it's that all this upgrading crap is itself an upgrade of exclusion from when we were kids. If your parents didn't buy you the latest clothes, toys, or school accessories, you were excluded by the other kids. Now we've found a way to do it as adults.

Somewhere in the Toronto area is a woman named Wendy laughing cruelly for no reason and calling my family poor on a Google Hangout.