There’s a man I don’t know who lives somewhere in Florida. Well, when I say I don’t know him, I’ve never met him, but through a mutual struggle with a particular piece of software, we connected on a forum, and have for a couple of months been exchanging emails on a variety of subjects. Mainly photography with a dash of philosophy thrown in, and a soupçon of literature. He’s a very funny man who has a great way with words, and his emails always make me smile. But this one beats the lot, and made me cry real tears of laughter.
He had recommended Vonnegut to me, and I returned the favour by suggesting David Sedaris, whose book “Let’s Explore Diabetes with Owls” is currently producing snorts and chuckles in our household.
Here’s what Mr Florida wrote last night, and it will resonate with anybody who has ever needed to install a piece of software and found themselves lured into a labyrinth of frustration.
“I just had a really crummy two hours and it’s ALL YOUR FAULT!
See, when I read your comment about Sedaris, I thought: “Hmm… I’ve heard that name before and I’ve gotta check that out.”
So I google Sedaris and realize that he’s not who I was thinking of–the Confederacy of Dunces guy–but he sounds really good and he is on NPR and they’re always good, let me just download this segment and give him a listen.
So–right from the taxpayer sponsored NPR website, the one George Romney hates so much it must be good–I click to download one of the Sedaris bits. And thus from such simple, trusting, naive beginnings starts my tale of woe. The Sedaris segment was a .ram file and I don’t have a player for .ram files. So, simple, trusting, naive fool that I am, I click on the “Search the internet for a .ram file-player” button.
Up pops Real Player.com. Now, I’ve had Real Player before and remember ditching it because it was full of malware and ads. But that was a while ago… a long while ago. I better check it out. And off I go, like Diogenes, searching for an honest review of Real Player. I finally find some stuff that doesn’t seem like it was planted by the Real Player folks to trick me into getting their malware-ridden program. And I was right, it hijacks your homepage and is the very devil to uninstall and just mucks things up in general. I remember now, I had to join a forum to learn how to get rid of the damn thing. And then got kicked off the forum for being insufficiently respectful of the forum-maven watchdogs.
So now I have to find some alternative for this damnable Real Player because I am bound and determined to listen to this Sedaris guy just out of spite! And lookee here, on the CNET site, an alternative to Real Player called, of all things, Real Player Alternative. Ha, problem solved. I’ll just download this and bob’s your uncle. I can listen to Sedaris and not have all the ads and malware infecting my browser and be the wiser for it.
Wrong again. CNET directs me to another spot to download the alternative and when I do, because I did not scrutinize every damn button click carefully enough, being a simple, trusting, naive sort and never suspecting that CNET, that paragon of probity and honest dealing, would direct me to an adware shill, I end up with something called AVG Secure Search or somesuch. Which is apparently designed to foil any attempts to bypass the real Real Player.
AVG now infects my browser or downloader or some damn thing so that whenever I try to run Real Player Alternative .exe, I get a warning message about corrupted files and do I want to purchase something from AVG Secure Search to de-corrupt them? What a clever scam! Under the pretext of protecting people from scams, you scam them. Why didn’t I think of that.
Well, I finally get rid of the AVG thing and get Real Player Alternative running, but by then I’d forgotten what the hell I went through all this for and had to go back through my history to figure why I wanted this in the first place. Oh, yeah, Sedaris! And you’re right he is good. I listen to a segment about Americans trying to speak French and the gender of French nouns and how he avoids the whole problem by ordering more than two of everything because it’s only the singular article that has to be in gender agreement… or something.
Well, you’re right, he is funny and it was worth all the effort. And besides, it’s raining now, I couldn’t go out and play anyway and I’ve given my file-management muscles a good workout.”