The IT Department Has Been Busy…Again

There is a phrase I dread hearing at work.  It’s not the scariest one, but it’s never good news either.

“The folks down in IT have a new upgrade to install.”

No one but IT themselves is ever aware that an upgrade’s needed in the first place.  Oftentimes, they don’t bother letting anyone know it’s even coming.  I plod along doing my jobs oblivious that there’s something wrong.  Then I walk into work on Tuesday, all set to do what I did on Monday, turn on the pc and Bam!

While I was sleeping, those techy gnomes came in and changed everything!  The little icon-boxes I’d so neatly organized on my screen weren’t where I’d left them.  The home webpage which I never really liked has been replaced by a new one, which I like even less.  As unsightly and dysfunctional as the old one was, I have to admit to growing comfortable with it, and now it’s gone forever.  The replacement version is awkward, cryptic and unsightly.  Sign-in boxes vanished to different pages and links don’t link like they used to.  Great…just great.

Don't let the white beard fool you.  Techy gnomes are usually quite young.  A closer inspection of the beard will reveal it's actually cotton candy from the carnival.  (Image from nymetroparents.com)
Don’t let the white beard fool you. Techy gnomes are usually quite young. A closer inspection of the beard will reveal it’s actually cotton candy they bought at the carnival. (Image from nymetroparents.com)

There’s no use complaining to my boss about the changes, she’s too busy rifling through her file cabinet looking for the scrap of paper that she wrote all of her passwords on.  The IT staff are more invisible than ever.  My colleagues were in a lather, as they gradually realized that it wasn’t just their computer which was now disorganized and foreign.

We struggled through a couple of days, gradually figuring out how to find things and get our documentation done.  The always-rare glimpses of IT staff were fewer still as they seem to have hunkered down under bridges and toadstools to weather the storm of frustrated employees who were just about to take up pitchforks and torches.

At home, tired and ready to unwind, I opened my laptop to visit WordPress and bond with the intellectual set.  I kicked off my shoes and was ready to engulf myself in the creative genius of others.  I clicked to open the site, but it looked slightly different.  After my trials at work, I thought perhaps it was my imagination.  I found no comments, likes or new followers, which wasn’t surprising, but it’s my habit to check.  I clicked “Freshly Pressed” to see the chosen few who had achieved being featured on the showcase page of WordPress.  My creeping suspicions were confirmed;  WordPress had snuck in an update of their own!  The Freshly Pressed page was totally different.  Gone was the old FP page, with its thumbnail sized offerings of 8 or 10 posts, replaced by one giant post, which required users to scroll and scroll to find the next one.  Gone too was the ability to hit the option beneath my name to return to my dashboard.  In fact, the only way to get off this page was to either click the back button on my browser, or leave the site altogether and sign back in.  The Freshly Pressed page had become a dead-end site page.

The old FP page was great.  The multiple offerings were spread out like magazines on a really nice waiting-room coffee table.  It was easy to scan the titles, photos and topics and pick up whichever one struck my fancy.  I longed for the day when one of my posts would make the cut and be there among the glossy covers and great reads.

Now the coffee table is more like the one at the eye doctor in the room where I’m told to sit after having those goofy dilation drops.  My tweaked vision requires picking up a magazine and staring at it for a minute at arm’s length before seeing what it actually is.  Embarrassed to realize that I’m a middle-aged man looking at a withered copy of “Modern Bride”, I drop the magazine and pray no one saw me.  I grab another one and hope like hell it’s not “Pedophilia Monthly“.  The only saving grace is that everyone else in the room has had the same drops and they’re all sitting there looking like those paintings of big-eyed children which graced the walls of cheap motels back in the 70’s.  After a few futile attempts, we all just realize that looking through magazines is a wasted effort, so we don’t bother.

Middle-Age: All the dilation of the 70's without any of the buzz.  I'm going to rise above my inclination to write something else about the subject matter of this painting, though I'm mighty tempted.  (Image from pinterest.com)
Middle-Age: All the dilation of the 70’s without any of the buzz. I’m going to rise above my inclination to write something else about the subject matter of this painting, though I’m mighty tempted. (Image from pinterest.com)

I’ve written about the IT department at WordPress screwing up perfectly fine pages before, so this exercise is not as much fun as it should be.  As I hit the publish button, which is blissfully right where it was before, I’ll say a silent prayer that my loyal readers will be able to find this latest rant.

My dreams of one day being Freshly Pressed have been tempered by the fact that in it’s current state, no one will see my stuff even if I do get there, thanks to IT.

You grab a torch, I’ll bring my pitchfork.

Delete is such a strong word

I have to admit that, for the most part, I enjoy WordPress.

Blogging has given me a forum for my thoughts and has fueled my delusions of someday actually making money writing.  One of the cool things about it has been the ability to leave comments on the posts of writers whose work makes mine look pathetic, and then being tickled when they actually respond.

“Dear Mr. Hamill, I think you write real good, and you’re books r kewl. I know your busy being famous and righting another best seller. I just wanted to say Hi”
(Photo from nyu.edu)

I’ve never actually sat down and written fan mail to David Sedaris, Pete Hamill, or any of the other authors whose work I’ve enjoyed.  Maybe they would have written me back, but I tend to think they’d be too busy living in mansions and working on their next incredible book.

Anyway, back to WordPress.  They’ve recently upgraded their website and making comments now has strings attached.  I would always get an email telling me if an author had replied to one of my comments.  I also received notification anytime anyone commented on one of my posts, which I loved.  The other day, after the latest alterations to the site, that all changed.  Now, if I have commented on someone’s post, I started getting emails anytime anyone commented on that post.

This may seem like a minor change in how the site works, but consider this; some of the people whose work I admire can easily get 60 or 70 comments to a post.  If I read the posts early in their published state, and write a witty comment, my email box will blow up with the torrent of comments from other readers still to come.  If I commented on 4 or 5 author’s pieces, my incoming email grows exponentially by the end of the day.  Between those comment emails, ads for low cost E.D. pills, and great new recipe ideas for family-fun dinners from the Food Network, I barely have time to sift through my emails for electronic coupons from the Liquor and Wine SuperStore.

I decided to click the box on the bottom of the email to manage my subscriptions.  It was a simple process;  to avoid having my email box over-flow with other people’s comments about my favorite authors, I just needed to hit the “delete” icon below the author’s name.  “Delete”?!!  These are writers who I have “followed”.  I’ve “liked” their work on numerous occasions.  Would hitting “delete” be anything less than an obvious betrayal of my loyalty?  These hard-working, creative geniuses had earned my love and admiration.  Was I expected to delete them just because of my whiney complaints of having a full email box?

You don’t really mean that, do you?

Well…yeah.

I mean it’s really inconvenient to check my not-so-smart phone all day for emails, only to find that OkeydokeyDonkey220 has written a typo-riddled comment about The Byronic Man’s latest masterpiece.  I gritted my teeth and hit the dreaded delete button.  Almost immediately, the incessant chirping of my phone slowed to the pace of a poorly made metronome.  I closed my email then raced back to WordPress.  I wanted to hurry and refollow Byronic before he discovered what I’d done.  I was already cooking up lame excuses in my head to explain to him how I had accidentally hit the button in a tequila-addled state.  Perhaps I’d go with having my dog excitedly jump onto my lap upon hearing my laughter and hitting the key with her paw (Byronic doesn’t have know the cold truth about my dog’s disability).  Maybe I would blame it on the DEA, and tie it in with Byronic’s recent funny post – no Dave – don’t try to ride the coat-tails of someone else’s creativity – you’re (slightly) better than that.

I got to WordPress and clicked on Blogs I Follow.  There he was, still high on my list.  I didn’t understand, I’d hit delete.  My computer dictionary says that “delete” and “unfollow” are two different things, but my inner voice tells me otherwise.  I hit refresh a couple of times just to be sure.  The Byronic Man was still there, right where I’d left him.

Apparently, the people who run WordPress, a blogging site for literary wannabees with varying levels of talent, chose to use the word “delete” when perhaps a different word may have been more apropos. Was it too much to expect that the people at a website dedicated to the expression of the written word could have chosen a more suitable phrase or single word for us to click to keep from getting emails?  They could have chosen any number of alternates.  Some of the candidates which come to mind are:

“terminate”

“You deserve better than me”

“fuggetta-bow”

“neglect”

“We’ve grown apart”

“screw”

or my personal favorite,

“discontinue receiving comments on this post via email”

Obviously, WordPress has the same problem as almost every other business in the world.  They have idea guys, worker bees, and somewhere, in a room with a special key and way cooler office chairs than everyone else, they have the I.T. department: those tech savvy guys and gals with the names you may or may not have trouble pronouncing.  Like most I.T. departments, they feel the need to run massive, complicated upgrades to the site every so often.  The sleek new look of the site and “increased fluidity of the browser-main frame interface” will accomplish two significant things:

1)  It will frustrate the daily users of the site, who’ve become accustomed to finding their way around without being stranded or hopelessly lost

2)  It will give the I.T. staff plenty to do developing the next site upgrade/facelift

Luckily, bloggers like me can feel free to write any kind of criticism we care to about the I.T. types as they don’t generally bother spending much time on the actual content of the site, preferring to stand behind the curtain of the Great and Imperial Oz.  These tech-heads just wreck it for the rest of us, making life difficult while creating work for themselves to feed off the corporate teat a little longer.  I’m not afraid of some I.T. dopes.  What are they going to do to me?

In any case, I’m glad that when they said delete, they didn’t really mean it.