Thursday, October 24, 2013

Behind the scenes: NEO strikes!

Software updates are painful. I updated my iPhone and for weeks I couldn't find my apps. I'd rather be stabbed with an ice pick than update my computer's operating system. Well, stabbed with a toothpick,  anyway...

Deloitte & Touche, that august computer consulting company, is much in the news these days with their over budget and nonfunctional systems. I imagine they are overjoyed at the problems of the Affordable Care Act web site... taking spotlight off D&T's egregious rollout of unemployment web site for the state of Massachusetts. It replaced a phone system on which callers spent hours waiting only to be cut off, with a web site that seems to have virtually the same functionality.

We've been having our own little drama here at Jungle Red over the rollout (though perhaps "roll" is too kind a verb) of Yahoo's NEO.

Of course it's all about redesigning to generate more ad revenue (like this ad on today's login page -- the turtle seems a bit ironic given how problematic the site has been). Because why else would they roll out out something in which NOTHING worked, to replace a system which more or less did what you needed it to. Most of the time.

Since we started out blog, we've used Yahoo! files to stage group blogs (like this one.) Right now I am writing this blog stem in NEO and it seems at long last to be working. We are not clapping for Yahoo!, but rather breathing a sigh of relief. Because the only thing worse than living through an "upgrade" is having to start over with a new system.

So now I'm going to save this file and hope it works. And invite my fellow Reds to pile on. Have we been having fun or what?

RHYS BOWEN: One of the most dreaded words in the English language for me is UPDATE. When my iPhone tells me that updates are available for my apps or worse still, for the operating system, I find myself with palpitations and dry mouth. It seems every app I update suddenly loses everything I've done with it, notes I've stored, even the fish in my virtual aquarium (okay, yes, I have a virtual aquarium and I do feed the fish. Nobody's perfect). (The photo is from

I have to confess to being a coward in this recent Yahoo fiasco. I let someone else try to post, edit a file first and when they come back with **!!#%!** I stay away until someone else claims it is working now.  And it does..... seem..... to..... be working.....  now  (she said very cautiously)

ROSEMARY HARRIS: Ugh. I am a late adapter to most things remotely techy. (I am, after all, the one who still writes with a pencil.) Updates? Every time I've been foolish enough to click on one it's been hell.

Yesterday I clicked on one and it was some outfit PRETENDING to be from Google Chrome. They had a similar logo - what did I know?  Thank goodness computer id'ed it as Malacious.

Then - also yesterday - I tried to catch up on the few remaining episodes of Breaking Bad - which I came late to and absolutely am addicted to. On the website, there's something that says DOWNLOAD. Guess what - it's an ad.

So, I'm gun shy of new things. Oh wait...this was about Yahoo. Doesn't play nice with AOL browser. So I can't see what my JR sisters are yakking about unless I use Chrome, which better not need to be updated soon because I'll probably be too scared to do it.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: Maybe we should have asked my dear hubby to join in:-)

He could tell you more than you ever wanted to know about software updates rolled out before they're ready, and we NEVER use the first version of anything! At the moment, Windows 8 is a very bad word around our house...

I feel for all of you with your nightmare iPhone updates. Dear hubby has an iPad so he's had to deal with those, too.  I, on the other hand, am your Android poster girl, and so far phone updates have been a breeze. (Knock wood. Fingers crossed.)

In the meantime, I'm so happy NEO is living up to it's Keanu Reeves incarnation. I hope.

We are very late adapters at our house, so much so that we all still have dumb phones (although to be fair, it's mostly the thought of paying for data plans for FIVE people that's kept me away from upgrading.) I understand the need to fix and tweak and patch and make things run smoother. (Everyone who's been following the rollout of the ACA can understand that.)

What drives me batty are the changes that seem to have been engineered for no other purpose than to keep programmers busy - like the Yahoo NEO. Or, to take another program that's been burned by too much updating, Word. MS Word circa '97 and 2000 were wonderfully functional workhorses. Word 2003 was possibly the best writer's tool ever - it had just what you needed, arranged in a logical way, without a lot of useless bells and whistles cluttering up the interface. MS could have stopped there, but apparently Word is some sort of full employment act for software designers.

They kept 'updating' and 'improving' it until it has become the horror that is Word 2010. I hung on to Word 2003 as long as I could; when it couldn't be crowbarred into my OS updates anymore, I switched to Open Office, which I highly recommend to you all.

Don't even get me started on Windows 8,
which I got because I was in such a tearing hurry to replace my broken laptop I didn't take time to shop around for someone who would sell me bootleg XP. Ugh. I installed Classic Shell and pretend it's 2003. I listen to a lot of Matchbox Twenty and 3 Doors Down.

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I have no idea what any of you guys are talking about. I am howling with laughter reading this!

I too never change anything or sync anything and I'm sure someday my computer is gong to blow up as a result. However--I got a new cover for my iPhone, waterproof and etc. and then--I had to buy ALL NEW CHARGERS because the plugs from the unsafe phone would not fit into the safe phone. That is just--nasty. It would have been just as easy to keep the chargers the same. But why do that, when you can force customers to spend money?

HALLIE: Is your computer torturing you, too. Misery loves company so please, share.


  1. I'm sorry I couldn't add to this topic--I was afraid one of my devices would see it and get ideas about updates and changes.

    Hank, I will say I think that plug/cord change thing for the new iPhone is downright mean.

  2. Whoever was responsible for the changes to Yahoo Groups--burn in hell.

    That's all I have to say about that.

  3. Can't disagree with that, Ramona.

    Though I guess it's fair to ask: What do we expect? After all, it's free. They've certainly felt no need to mount a charm offensive.

  4. Yes, but Hallie they must be making pots of money with advertising. If the traffic doesn't flow, the money doesn't either...

  5. Okay, I have spent the last hour caught in some Windows update purgatory and have finally gotten my laptop to work. Although I am totally clueless regarding this Yahoo NEO you are taking about, I categorically hate, hate, hate updates and downloads and anything else that someone has dreamed up to mess up my computer or my phone [which I have finally learned to take the battery out of when it gets messed up] . . . .

  6. Like Hank, I avoid upgrading. Unfortuately, on my iPad (first incarnation) that means that one by one apps have stopped working entirely. Good thing I use it mostly for reading ebooks and blogs and checking email. I had to upgrade Windows and Word on my pc last year but there is a way to set Word to create doc (1997-2003) rather than docx files that has been a godsend. I dread the next time I'm forced into a "new and improved" version of anything.


  7. I have to update my phone? Who knew? It's an Android smart phone but I use no apps except the Square reader, and gmail and facebook when I'm traveling. Otherwise it's my phone. (Yes, I know it's a computer...)

  8. Take out the battery, Joan Emerson! Who knew? Writing it down. But where IS the battery? I knew where it was on my flip phone but not on my iPhone.

    And while we're griping can I just say a kind word about Apple support and the Apple stores? They exist! These people now a thing or two and they really do HELP!!

  9. I have no idea what NEO means, so I suppose that means I don't need to know. From what I've read here, I'm very glad! Last February I got a "new" (that means "used" where I work) computer at work. My OLD old one had a much kinder version of Word, and I miss it so, so much! At home I have the same version that I have at work, and I've hated it from the first day. Among other things, the settings change themselves when I'm in the middle of typing, and refuse to go back to the default setting no matter what I do. When I received the computer I'm now using at work the person who set it up told me not to tell anyone in my department about my updated version of Word "because they'll ALL want it." I was already all too familiar with it from home and thought she was joking! I refrained from saying "WHY? Who would WANT this devil installed in their computer?"

  10. I had to order my latest laptop online to AVOID Windows 8 because I knew that i did not want to spend the rest of this year relearning the basic stuff. feed your virtual fish?

  11. I'm going to be daring and represent the other side of the coin here, just a little. *deep breath*

    I work at a software company (nothing you all have any contact with), and I know the frustration of user complaints about problems that are fixed in an updated version. The first question the support team asks when people call in for help is "are you on the latest version?" That said, we're a software that costs a bunch of money, not one that's given away for free, for whatever that's worth.

    So as someone in the tech world, I don't hate updates. Well, honestly, I do for the first three days, but I try not to complain, because I know about myself that I'll get used to it. And updates are the way of the world, in a sense. If no one ever updated a program, we likely wouldn't think much of them.

    That said, I'm all for waiting for the first service pack of a brand new version of something. That's a good tip right there. And also, communication could always be better. As a lifelong technical writer in IT departments, I'm keenly aware of the values of communicating before, during, and after impending updates.

    Hang in there, ladies!

  12. Hallie:
    No clue about iPhones . . . I have a Samsung something or other --- the back cover pops off revealing my SD card and the battery . . . .
    Today I seem to be caught in computer snafu-land . . . most frustrating . . . .

  13. I'm still looking for a new typewriter ribbon.

  14. Upon reflection, I feel like I was entirely too rational for this hour of the morning (out west).

    Down with updates!!!!

    That's better.

  15. My phone works better when I take the battery out and replace it, too, but it's an Android. Apple has made it impossible for users to remove the batteries in iPhones; they can only be removed by Apple "genii", apparently.

    My PC is now almost four years old, but I'm not replacing it until I have to, fingers crossed. It does have a few quirks, but I'm willing to live with them for now. I would like a new portable computer, but don't want a tablet. Too hard to type on those stupid virtual keyboards, in my opinion. The Netbook I've had now for six years or so drives me INSANE. Every single time I turn it on the operating system starts updating, and it takes it over completely. I've pretty much stopped using it unless I absolutely must because of that.

    Rant over. Wow, that felt good. :-)

    Rhys, I kind of love that you nurture virtual tropical fish.

  16. I just bought a new PC laptop for writing, so I have been adapting to Windows 8. So far it is not too bad, but I think that's only because I don't use my computer for the broad purposes for which it is capable. I write and edit. I check email and the internet now and again. No fancy stuff.

    Getting new software installed was a snap, but the transfer from old laptop to new laptop of my data and Outlook 2013 (purchased just this past March, so did not wish/need to purchase it again) took many trips to the tech desk at my local Staples. Easy button? I don't think so.

    Good luck with the shift to NEO. Computer updates seem to be all about learning the virtue of patience.


  17. Jack made me laugh.

    I replaced my old laptop a few months ago and, of course, it came with Windows 8.

    I tried. I really, really tried, but I hated it.

    Took my laptop in to have whatever the answer is to make my laptop think it's running Windows 7. Well, that comes with its own set of glitches and if I could have my old laptop back I'd be happy.

    I'm one who is not fond, at all, of bells and whistles. When we shop for a new appliance (which only happens when the old one is dead and gone and beyond resuscitation) I go for plain vanilla. I want the days of plain vanilla laptops back.

  18. LOL Jack!

    We should introduce Rhys's virtual fish to Hank's imaginary dog...

  19. Uh-oh, you asked: I HATE, DETEST, and want to murder my PC! I'm so done with PCs and with Dell. Supposedly I have a firewall, which, unfortunately for me, is Microsoft Forefront. Hah! My PC is so riddled with malware, or whatever it's called, that I can barely use it at times. So, I'm done. I just haven't gotten around to buying a Mac yet.

    I'm not touching the iPhone iOS7 upgrade. Seems like every person I know has had issues.

    I don't know what "NEO" is either, but I have always wondered how you coordinate your group blog posts. Of course, I pictured you-all passing the posts back-and-forth through e-mail. :-)

  20. A new computer in January required learning Windows 8. I actually had the computer from early December, but it stayed in its box as I was NOT going to try to learn to use it over the holidays. I spent time reading about Windows 8 and in the calm of January I did not have much trouble getting accustomed to it. BUT the new version of MS Office is awful – not only are the functions I usually use “hidden,” they are all gussied up: margins and headers are not intuitive anymore, and that’s just the beginning. So if you can wait on that, you should! (Not that I expect it to get better; waiting is just a way to put off the frustration.) I think I’ll look into Open Office.

    I used to be the last person to update software for all the reasons already given. But I put iOS7 on my iPad right away; not my smartest move. I did manage to find some ways to handle battery life issue, and I do like the look of it. But somehow my antennae isn’t functioning as well as before and so now we are in the market for a stronger router.

    And I guess I’d better check the Yahoo group I run. THAT I had trouble with before …

    To quote Gilda Radner, “It’s always something.”

  21. Wasn't all this stuff supposed to make our lives easier? I feel like a slave to technology.

  22. I love my wonderful husband for many, many reasons. A big one right now is I have the best possible live in IT support. I am ever so grateful that he keeps all the techie stuff in the household working smooth and me worry free. I would be as frustrated as you ladies if I were on my own.

  23. You're talking about the Programmers' and Technicians' Full Employment Plan, right?

    I couldn't comment earlier because the FIFTH AT&T (since I converted to U-verse in late March) was here, checking speed, and changing outdated things in the outside connection box that the first four hadn't bothered with. Now I get to spend a few hours on the phone with other computer techs to find out why the desktop has a speed of 4.15 while the laptop and the technician's i-pad read out at between 9 and 11. Aarrggghhh.

  24. Mo, send your husband over here, please.

    Lisa, I abandoned DELL last time I needed a new computer after lousy customer service experiences that didn't fix the computer. Switch to a MAC there's definitely a learning curve. It helps to have a youngster in the house.

  25. My wife complained bitterly about the new Yahoo mail, six times. She'd never complained before, but she really unloaded on them. They retaliated by making it harder for her to access her email account. We're seriously looking at other email providers, but we have a lot of stuff to export, and no one makes that easy either. Bah.

  26. Why does Adobe Reader try to update several times a day?
    Why did the "new" google map eliminate the ability to add another destination?

    I avoid all these things as best I can -- "tell me later" "not now" "skip this version."

  27. There's a way to turn that off, Denise Ann. I did it a while back... wish I could remember how.

  28. My sympathies. I rarely lose my temper with one exception - my computer. I'm so dependent on the d--n thing, when it doesn't work, I go bug nuts. It's embarrassing

  29. My youngest sister hasn't posted on FB in weeks, but she did, yesterday, to complain about the new yahoo mail. Her post got a lot of "likes."

  30. Yes,still frothing about the plug thing.

    I never click update when it asks. Tammy, are you saying that's a mistake??

  31. I love my iMac, iPhone, and iPad. Updates are usually easy. The upgrades to new systems and then coordinating the other devices to make everything compatible are the time-consuming (hours and hours) annoyances. Don't have to do that very often, especially if you update your apps and programs. Usually they are there to fix bugs and take just a couple of minutes.

    Hank? I'm glad I backup and sync everything. It paid off last night when our electricity burped and my computer crashed. I clicked on "recover" and it put everything back. Syncing on the cloud is automatic and will save all your important stuff.

    Ramona, I rarely try to read or post anything in Yahoo Groups. Hate them. I become dysfunctional and useless to the world on a Yahoo list or group. SinC groups and lists are all Yahoo, so it's distressing. Once in a while I check out the lists, but I absolutely cannot get into the groups. I got in once, and could never get in again.

    Hallie, you don't need to remove the iPhone battery, and is not intended to be removed by the user. I've never had to replace an iPhone battery. Just keep it charged. Shutting the phone completely down and doing a restart can solve a lot of issues. It also has the great advantage of freeing up space in available memory.

  32. Windows 8 is killing my marriage. I may name Microsoft in the divorce.

    My husband's computer died and he had to get a new one which of course has Windows 8. I can't stand to be in the room with my formerly beloved when he is on the computer. He gets insane! And then he wants me to find whatever he lost. Ha! I'm a Mac Girl (girl is term used very loosely as my girly days are over but I digress) Give me an iOS update any day over any new Word update. I thank the good Lord every day that I made the move to Mac back in '07. And the only reason I made the move was because a friend was bemoaning the loss of her Windows 2000 (or whatever it was called) when her computer died. She was stuck using whatever came on her Dell. So I thought, if I have to change and learn something new, I'd rather change to a Mac because everyone says its easier. I feel like a regular Cassandra in my house.

  33. As an Apple devotee, I have not had the frustrating experiences that my PC using friends have endured. However, after I downloaded OS7 on my iPad recently, I had difficulty switching from still shot to video with the camera function. Fortunately, my 9 year old grandson was quickly able to show me what to do.

  34. Yikes! I had no idea what NEO was, so I Googled it and now I'm more confused than ever. My heart goes out to all of you dealing with this.

    We are, and always have been, and Apple family, so my only experience with PCs, Microsoft, etc. has been when using them in public places. And my experience has not been positive.

    I'm another fortunate soul with live-in help. My husband, whom I refer to as my personal engineer, just retired last week after 33 years with Apple as a hardware engineer. Anytime anything goes wrong with my laptop, iPhone or iPad I call on him. This kind of thing is not my forte.