I’ve been spoiled by circumstance: by being broke for so long, I haven’t bought any computer components of any kind in well over a year. So I was happily rolling along when I needed to replace my DSL modem.
No problem, I got that and a new hard drive. Six hours later, neither of them work. I’m online (to look up support docs) on the old, erratically-working setup while the gleaming new D-Link modem sits and looks annoyed… and I’ve rebooted I don’t even know how many times trying to get the hard drive recognized… it may be DOA, but it shows up as a new device…. sometimes. And then not in Disk Management which — joy of joys — is really difficult to use… Reboot, BIOS, reboot, windows, repeat.
I’ve been writing a lot about this in the book I’m working on — looking back at the sci-fi visions of how computers worked, one of the things that always annoys me is that they’re all slick and perfectly integrated. Re-reading Neuromancer, I wanted to cheer when Case has to find an adapter for his deck’s cable. Not that it’s particularly realistic. But that’s one of the things I love about cyberpunk: the starship Enterprise doesn’t ever have an untraceable bug that may or may not cause the control consoles to lock up when under severe display loads… but they should. Because it’s a good 15 years (!) since I first plugged an ethernet cable into something, and over twenty (!) since I first got my hands on a hard drive, but you still can’t plug and play them consistently.
What reason is there to believe that in 2030 we’re all going to be using seemlessly integrated, bugless portable devices that connect to an entirely orderly world data sharing network?