I have long ago accepted that the advances in technology, particularly computer technology, have outstripped my ability to understand them. Still, I see myself as a reasonably intelligent person who tries his best to keep up.  With this in mind recently I have tried to upgrade to Windows 10. I am not usually in a hurry to upgrade my operating systems.  I like to wait until there is enough feedback from real users to justify it. I had a bad experience with Windows Vista in the past and so I avoided Windows 8 like the plague. Both the reviews and the hype promised Windows 10 was a system with promisingly new capabilities.  The cherry on top was that the upgrade would be free since I was a loyal Windows 7 user.  In due course my free upgrade was made available to me and I have spent the last two weeks trying to install it.

While hardly an expert there are many people less technological  than I am and those who wonder at even my low level of technological prowess. As a Renaissance scholar once said “in the land of the blind the one eye man is king.” My experience with computers has taught me that if something works the first time it is an anomaly that should be accepted and not questioned.  It is not a verification of your expertise, but a fortunate coincidence that should be quietly understood as a gift from the computer gods who were apparently too busy to mess with you that day. So with some trepidation I proceeded to try the upgrade. The first installation attempt of course failed.  After looking up online the failures of others I erased files, unplugged various USB accessories and tried a few more times.  I got a little further in the installation each time before it crashed thus fueling further attempts. As B.F. Skinner the behavioral psychologist found intermittent reinforcement keeps the behavior going. Quite helpfully the installation program kept returning me to my old operating system so I could keep on going.

I have some sympathy for Microsoft.  Unlike Apple which controls the hardware on which its software runs Microsoft has to write software that will work on may thousands (if not millions) of different hardware configurations. I use a PC custom built by my son that Microsoft is hard-pressed to anticipate. So some difficulty with the installation was to be expected. Eventually my repeated attempts to install and my erasure of files that might be potentially blocking the installation, broke Windows update on my machine and my free copy of Windows 10 evaporated. I could still go online and I found a few people in the Microsoft community discussion group who were having the same problems as I. Unfortunately they didn’t have a fix either.

At the end of my tether I finally called in my own IT staff, that is, my son, to help. Arthur C. Clarke the science fiction writer famously wrote  “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” I realize that he meant “to the uninitiated” and that the esoteric priesthood of the technologically savvy abhors this characterization of what they do as magic. My son is only a lower level of the priesthood, but knows enough to know that all computer problems have some technological solution and your job is just to find it. With his command line voodoo, his poking around on the internet,  and his “failure is not an option” relentlessness we finally got that “upgrade” installed. I had to buy a new hard drive (by the way the price of storage has fallen dramatically) so that we could do what is know as a clean install. We put my old Windows 7 (for which I still had the installation disks from 2009) on it, then installed gigabytes of upgrades (much changes in 6 years), found a hacker’s way of installing Windows 10, and finally installed the sucker with only minor bumps along the way.

The new Windows 10 is beautiful however and although the web has concerns about its privacy issues it has published ways of getting around them as much as possible. I continue to explore its functionalities but I am happy so far. I will keep you posted if the honeymoon ends.


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