Nobody Asked Me

Worried woman looking at computer screenBy Kim Fernandez

My nearly nine-year-old, much beloved iMac computer is starting to get old-lady kind of loopy (I feel her pain if we’re all being honest). She hesitates before launching something new, she thinks longer than she used to before opening or closing or saving, her files are a little convoluted, and sometimes she plops down right there to catch her electronic breath whether I have time to wait or not.

Just get a new one! The new models have clearer monitors, more processing power, squeaky clean systems, and the prices are running pretty good for Apple, especially with the double-top-secret college parent discount a friend clued me into the other day. I’ve hovered over that “add to cart” button a few times but haven’t actually hit it, for one and only one reason: Moving my email folders to a new machine is inordinately complicated. It’s a multi-step process that, from what I can tell, has to be exact and may or may not require special cables or magic spells. And I am neither a programmer nor a relative of Harry Potter.

My email folders house years of knowledge. Layers and layers of research, tips, notes, searchable signatures (who was that guy from X company again?), photos, and records. I can move everything else with a simple drag and drop to and from an external drive, but there is no such option for email. In my layperson’s view, there’s a disconnect between how developers think and what end users want; what’s simple to them seems to require either a PhD or wizardry to me. And that can be the difference between embracing shiny/better/new and coaxing the old way along past its time. I suspect I’m not the only end user feeling this way, either.

Eventually I’ll brave-up enough to buy a new machine, set aside a Saturday, cross my fingers, chant, sprinkle imaginary magic dust, try these overwhelming instructions, say “please” a lot, leap into the great, new unknown, and hope it works. Maybe by the time I need to do this again, it’ll be simpler.

Kim Fernandez is IPMI’s director of publications.