DOS and Windows 3.1 were great operating systems. DOS was possibly the best, since everything was intuitive and everything was in its place, but if you really require a visual setup, then I guess Windows 3.1 was the answer. It was organized and manageable without being cartoony or impossible to follow.

Windows XP… it’s fine. But it’s got nothing on those older systems and is demonstrably worse in all ways not relating to processor speed or some underlying aspect of the hardware running it (which, frankly, has nothing to do with operating system). But you can’t run Windows 3.1 or DOS on a modern machine and expect it to run today’s software. Because instead of making sure Windows 3.1 was compatible with web browsing, they just replaced it with lousier versions of the system, so-called “upgrades”, culminating in the colossal disaster known as Vista.

I have often railed against CD’s, which are infinitely inferior to tapes. While CD’s are pretty much falling by the wayside in the face of pocket-sized infinite MP3 players, I maintain that the loss of sides of an album is one of the great failings of our modern musical world. It’s hard to argue with the infinite-players, I guess, but it certainly seems like a mix loses even more luster than it did when it became sideless by being marginalized to a “playlist”. It just doesn’t reflect the same craftsmanship.

Microsoft Works was always better than Microsoft Word – the view of the screen made infinitely more sense and a work one was writing could actually fill the whole screen. The toolbar was more intuitive. And I could go on and on. (Don’t even get me started on cell phones vs. landlines and the collapse of the telephone conversation – that’s a whole dissertation topic in itself and of course something with which I do not play ball.) The larger point is that in feeling a need to “upgrade” things, people most often screw them up. Whether they are too beholden to overpaid consultants or just feel like something isn’t fresh enough unless they keep tweaking it, they just futz with things until the charm that made them enjoyable in the first place is wholly eradicated.

If you’re wondering what all this is really about, I “upgraded” my WordPress account today. While the needling little exhortation to upgrade had been gracing my screen from about the third week after my initial installation (October 2007, as you may recall – hard to believe it’s only been two years in this format), I had found nothing compelling about the request until I read a nasty little article about worms today. WP basically tried to make the case that my blog would be overrun with malware and garbage if I failed to upgrade, then drew all these weird analogies to vitamins and surgery. It being almost 3 in the morning and me not having yet settled into my writing groove (I have a streak of over a week going, but tonight may break it), I was particularly susceptible to the idea of not having to mortgage days of my writing life salvaging 800 days worth of posts. I gave in.

I was an idiot. I should have known how much I would hate the new WP “upgrade” system, because I’ve already seen it at The Mep Report, the other place I blog from time to time. The look and feel of the interface is all wrong, too antiseptic, too institutional. It’s like blogging on a hospital wall. And now it’s what I’m doing. Right now. Blech.

I mean, it’s not like the old WP system was the greatest thing ever, but it at least had some color and contrast and an intuitive layout. This looks like an unending billboard for the random people who design add-ons to WordPress. In a hospital. A poorly designed hospital.

And there’s a running word count. Not a fan. I make a point of only checking my word counts on fiction after I’ve wrapped up for the night. The running count is like being forced to look at one’s watch every second of a passing class. It’s just too much awareness of exactly what’s going on. It breeds self-consciousness and competitiveness and even potentially bad writing because one is focused on the number and not the content. Yargh.

I’m sure I’ll get used to it eventually, all of it, even the stupid word counter. But it’s a bad sign when all I want to do with the rest of my waking overnight hours is figure out how to find a theme editor for the freaking blog-posting format of the blog. That’s not only a bad sign, it’s a meta-bad-sign. In a poorly designed hospital with billboards.

It’s almost enough to make me want to go back to manually editing my blog in Notepad. Almost.