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Embracing the Most Important Attitude

A couple of major online applications recently released user interface changes. Some of the changes are major and some are minor, but the bottom line is that the familiar software interface changed.

I don’t have to tell you what applications they are. Whenever you read this article, such change will be happening.

I get frustrated when this type of change happens…

…but not for the reasons you might think.

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My “genetic disposition”

I am almost genetically predisposed to be annoyed with chronic complainers.

I try not to do that. I try to give everyone a fair and objective shake, but honestly, when incoming questions are 95% complaining and 5% actual question, I have a very hard time motivating myself to take on the issue.

I know, I know — I picked the wrong industry to work in. With the exception of politics, no other industry gets more vocal and active complaints than technology.

Particularly when things change.

I just see it every single day and it makes me very sad and frustrated.


Because it doesn’t have to be this way if folks approached technology — and for that matter, life itself — a little differently.

Change is comingSome people HATE change

I read somewhere that there are people who use push-button telephones only because rotary dial phones are no longer available.

You may laugh, but it’s more accurate than we might like to believe.

Some people who simply hate change. I hear from these people often. And “hate,” as ugly a word as it is, is not strong enough in some cases.

In my opinion, being change-averse puts you at a serious disadvantage when it comes to technology.

Like it or not, change happens

The world keeps changing, and it’s not going to stop. Period.

No matter how uncomfortable it may make you, or how much you complain and rail against it, things are going to change.

The only thing that will never, ever change is the fact that things keep changing.

Given that change is absolutely, totally, and completely unavoidable, you have exactly two choices:

  • Get angry and bitter and convince yourself that the change-makers are responsible for all sorts of assorted evils in the world.1
  • Accept change. Embrace it. Learn from it. Exploit it. See how it’s made the world a much better place. Enjoy it, even.

Now, given those two possibilities, which will lead to a happier, more positive experience?

Which will you choose? (And have no doubt about this: it is a choice.)

Why embrace change?

"... the more frustrated and resistant you are to the changes you’re facing, the harder you’re making it on yourself. "Besides making you happier, there’s a very practical reason for embracing (or at least accepting) change.

In the nearly 15 years I’ve been doing this, it’s become very clear to me that given the same computer, situation, and problem, the person who is frustrated by the changes that he or she sees as being foisted upon them has a much more difficult time using their machines and resolving problems. The only difference is that attitude they bring to the table.

Let me put it more clearly: if you hate change, you will have a more difficult time with the exact same issues than a person who accepts it.

People who use technology the most effectively are the folks who not only accept change, but even look forward to it. These are people who are curious. They are interested in learning what more technology can do for them and how they can best leverage the latest and greatest to make their lives more effective, efficient, and fun.

On the other hand, the more frustrated and resistant you are to the changes you face, the harder you make it on yourself. By choosing to be upset, you choose to make your experience more difficult.

Change is accepted elsewhere

I find it puzzling2 that many who complain about changing technologies quietly accept major changes in their motor vehicle from year to year, model to model, and between brands.

If the radio controls are completely different in your new car, why aren’t you as upset about that as you are about various user interface changes in an operating system update? It’s arguable that the controls on your radio present a much more significant safety issue as you fumble to change a station while you barrel down the freeway.

The radio is just one example. The changes we easily accept in motor vehicles and many other aspects of our lives are often much greater than what we find when we upgrade our software — yet there’s little or no outrage in comparison.

Find where the new knobs are, change the station, and move on with your life.

Like you do in your car.

Change isn’t made with malicious intent

I often hear from folks who are utterly convinced that whatever change they encounter is created for the express purpose of angering them3, or for some other dark, conspiratorial intent.

Folks, pissing off your customers is just bad business …

… and don’t doubt for one second that this is all about business.

Hardware and software vendors are in a constant competitive battle, and you don’t stay competitive by standing still. In fact, halting innovation and change is a fast track to failure.

Companies remain competitive by continually striving to make their product better: better than the previous version and better than the competition.

And that means making changes.

Newer isn’t always better

You’ll get no argument from me that frequently the changes made in pursuit of “better” are anything but.

That doesn’t mean that all change is bad. It simply means that change wasn’t useful.

The companies that produce these products constantly research and test and come up with ways that they truly believe make their product better.

Sometimes, the idea turns out to be wrong. Sometimes, the execution of a good idea fails.

And yet for every change that failed, more changes — significantly more — have improved the products we use every day and come to take for granted.

Change isn’t just about you

One of the common claims I get is, “Everyone hates this change.”

No. Just… no.

Maybe many people you talk to do, and certainly all the people who join you in the “complain about this product” discussion forum do, but that’s hardly a representative sample of “everyone.” People who aren’t experiencing a problem don’t flock to the same places you do.

It’s true that “You can’t please everyone,” and nowhere is that truer than when it comes to technological change.

Perhaps it was simply your turn not to be pleased.

Perhaps the testing performed on the product indicated that the majority of people liked that change that you and your friends hate.

Once again, you get to choose your response: get angry and bitter — or accept that the change exists and decide how to move forward. And, yes, your response absolutely could involve a change of your own: choose a completely different product that  meets your needs and desires better.

Which leads me to the point I want you to walk away with.

Change? No!You can’t control change, but you can choose your response

Change is inevitable in life, particularly when it comes to computers and technology.

So, when faced with an unexpected change of some sort — be it in your formerly-favorite application or the operating system you’ve used for years — what are you going to do?

Get grumpy and annoyed?

Or accept that change is a necessary part of the innovation that has led to this amazing world we live in? And in that acceptance, decide whether it’s change you can learn from, change you can live with, change you need to avoid and work around, or change you can’t accept and must walk away from.

Even if you choose the latter, extreme solution, if you do it out of a rational evaluation rather than an angry reaction, you’ll end up in a significantly better place.

Give change a chance. You don’t need to accept every change, but if you can accept its inevitability, you’ll have a much better time of it.

In fact, you might even have fun.

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Footnotes & References

1: You might be tempted to dismiss this as hyperbole, but in fact, I do hear from people who take this approach to its extreme.

2: And by “puzzling,” I probably mean “frustrating.”

3: Again, sounds like hyperbole, but sadly is not.

173 comments on “Embracing the Most Important Attitude”

  1. I REALLY enjoyed this article as I do most articles by Leo. But this time it really hit home for me! I had to agree 100% whole heartily about the attitude thing. I personally am surrounded on a daily basis with the “stuck in the muds” that are the totally resistant to change types. It could have to do with the fact that I am a senior citizen and most all my friends are S.C.’s
    I on the other hand have adopted the new computerization of the planet, “full fold” in so doing it has given me “endless” learning opportunities on a daily basis which keeps my mind alert and full of much enjoyment upon learning how to access the things that I am interested in, by utilizing the power of the “WWW”!. I truly find it all quite amazing!

    • I cannot but wholeheartedly agree with the sentiments expressed. Your comments have been passed on to people who simply hate change.

  2. I was recently “forced” to upgrade my laptop from Windows 7 to Windows 8. (Well, more of “it was more cost effective to upgrade to Win8 than to try repairing the crashed Win7, which decided to fail the ‘is this genuine?’ test after restoring a backup to a new hard drive” than “forced”.)

    And, while I spent some time in the “this is a laptop, not a tablet” mindset, I decided instead to focus on some of the actual improvements (even if the UI to get there is “new”) in the system, and actually find some of them useful.

    What I still find amazing is that, after 20+ years of adding “chrome” to the UI, they have gone back to the Windows 3.1 “everything is flat, monochrome, and square” look and feel.

  3. I also agree with your article 110% :-)
    Alas I am an OAP or a SC in your country and my budget does not allow me to change as often as I would like. Albeit that I tested my Vista OS against a brand new Windows 8 OS 2 days ago and easily beat it in speed. Just wish that all this technology scenario had occurred when I was working. Even still I do love change and feel a little frustrated that I am not able to take full advantage of it.
    Keep up the good work and congrats.

  4. Another good OT piece Leo.

    It reminds me of when the kids were younger and I always worked hard to remain positive and happy because there was no doubt “that if Mom is happy, everyone is happy”.

    Approaching change with the right attitude just makes life so much more pleasant than railing about things we cannot effect.

    But having said that they will have to pry my books out of my cold dead hands before I will read digital books, so maybe I do have work to do on my attitude :-)

  5. Leo, you’re a good Buddhist! The essence of the universe is change: Can’t step into the same river twice and all that.

    Computers are part of that universe and have changed more than anyone could imagine since I first wrote programs for MIT’s IBM 704 in 1961.

    I think the complaint is not that things change but rather whether a change is an improvement or merely a marketing ploy. Yes, Microsoft needed to devise a tablet-based operating system. To do so is good marketing based on the increasing base of ‘amateurs’ who merely want a machine to look at photos or to connect to the web.

    It would have done no harm, however, to provide a more traditional GUI option for the massive numbers of users who are already trained in that mode of computer use. That Microsoft didn’t do that seems almost like a slap in the face of their historical user base.

    Windows Vista and Windows 7 were tricked up for the glamor user, visual effects to amaze the rubes. I found, however, that with a small amount of effort I could recreate something in Vista and Windows 7 very close to an XP interface and dispense with the glitz and glitter. Once I had done that, I found that Vista and Windows 7 functioned better than XP (well, Windows 7 did anyway).

    Unless the corporate world is going Mac or Linux, what will the hundreds of millions of Windows corporate users do with a touchscreen GUI?

    As to the home user, how can you use a touchscreen interface and eat pizza or nachos, the international diet of computer users? You’ll have to keep a large bottle of Windex on hand as well as an endless supply of paper towels!

  6. When we went from points and condenser to electronic ignition on our cars many mechanics hated the change simply because they did not understand it. But it increased sparkplug life and time between tune ups. Then came fuel injection and with it you didn’t have to pull the choke out and pump the gas to get a car to start and now you can use a remote starter from inside your house. I relish change.

  7. Nope! Change is not the problem!!
    You got it right the last time … its communication!!
    Language … English really!!!

    I just bought a new laptop … Windows 8 … ahem … even while checking out I am thinking … wait a minute … maybe I should backoff … it was too good a deal to give up … so went thru with it … parking lot … call a buddy of mine … who incidentally was out for the same deal … he got the deal but with windows 7 … encourages me to return mine and go to a different store which will get me a windows 7 with same deal.

    Almost did it!!!

    Glad I did not!! I decided to fire it up and take a look-see … I had by then formed a prejudicial contempt for windows 8 … so all I was planning to do was diss M$ after finding out for myself that how badly Windows 8 S…ks”

    Instead … I was floored … I did NOT return my laptop … I was hooked from GAME ON to Windows 8 … now I have done my fair share of M$ bashing … but WOW … “they took My Breath Away” ….

    To clarify … I am a USER … Tech Savvy and all … I have 2 Android phones and an iPhone and I love them … but … but …

    ‘Neways … Try it before you diss it !!

    I was NOT expecting at all to Fall in Love ALL over again!!!!

    Its Deja Vu all over again … KISS … its Communication PERIOD!!

    Thanks Leo!

  8. Well said again, Leo…. somethings never change.
    Absolutely love your newsletters!
    Happy Holidays and best in the New Year.

  9. As a retired IT pro of nearly 40 years in the business, I fully endorse what you say, & empathise with some who respond in the way you outline.
    Very often in IT, the change is sudden & unannounced & doesn’t work! So you had a useful tool that all of a sudden is broken. Because of the nature of the web & the speed with which change can occur this gets to a lot more end users who are affected. If the authors are quick reacting & responsive the problem is sorted. If they’re not, and the leaders (Google, Apple, Microsoft etc) have been guilty of this sort of thing in the recent past, then they have to be held to account by their user base.
    I think making a comparison with auto products & other areas is not really the same thing. If you were driving down the road & discovered something in the use of the vehicle had changed which meant you couldn’t use it, you’d maybe at risk of causing an accident. The auto industry long ago learned the value of testing their products fully.
    Same should go for IT but it sometimes doesn’t seem to be the case as much these days. Whatever happened to unit testing, linked unit testing & full systems tests? I really don’t think that some of the change we see has gone through rigorous tests.
    I’m fortunate. Recently a major service supplier, who use a tool in their product from a major software giant experienced major problems (stopping the product working in effect) – I have sufficient skills to overcome these issues but 6 months later I’m still using my work arounds. This is not isolated.
    This industry still has a long way to go before it gets to the reliability of the auto industry. It has got better, and I expect to see it improve, but it still got a way to go.

    At least when I was there testing, in its various forms, formed a major, if not THE major, expense of a product release. It’s also the biggest reason that fixes can’t be produced as fast as people demand – the ramifications of releasing an untested fix are enormous, and it takes time – calendar time – to test things thoroughly. Does it catch everything? Of course not. But that’s not unique to software. Even the auto industry has recalls and other forms of fault repair.

    • I was about to take the same tack as Harry and he beat me to it.

      It’s not change that bothers me. After all, I did testing at Intel. I needed to change constantly as the next gen of whatever was handed to me with test procedures, both of which likely to be new. But what really bothers me is the plethora of ways one can configure a UI to do the same thing, resulting confusion lost productivity et al when having to move between even the same provider. When MS introduced Excel, they introduce an amazing, but logical concept: the majority of hot keys for a specific function other software provided invoked the same response in Excel. That one factor I suspect went a long way in convincing folks to buy in.

      For my own part, I download a trial of a particular software first and run through the UI. Photo editing for instance. What are the commands? How difficult/find is it to use the unique functions provided? It doesn’t take long to know the software is a dud or a keeper, then I can go on to determine whether it does the job it’s supposed to. I’ll tolerate idiosyncrasies to a point, but not too far.

      I believe a major part of software testing is the UI, even as the final release is going to incorporate a more detailed version. If as a user, I cannot efficiently test the software, then I insist the designers take it into consideration as the overall testing program suffers if the UI is getting in the way.

      Change, yes. Test it in battle, No!

      • Before I started using MS office 6, I was a very happy user of Word Perfect. Then when I tried Word 6, I found they had a Word Perfect compatibility option where all of the Word Perfect shortcuts worked in Word. This was a stroke of genius. Backwards compatibility on the UI. I often wondered why they didn’t keep this legacy UI policy up. Probably one reason was that with Word 6, they were competing with another product. When upgrading, they didn’t feel it was worth the extra expense. I got used to the ribbon interface in Office 7 very quickly, but I shuddered to think of how many millions of dollars businesses must have lost in having to train their workers on the new interface.

  10. You are so very right! Although humans aren’t quite as simple as you make out. For instance, while I love change in my computer and phone technology (and in my cars as well) I abhor change in my home surroundings – which explains why I am still living in the same place 30 years after I finally retired from work.

  11. Hi Leo, I could not agree more. Attitude is the key to life. I’ve seen, as I’m sure you have, people who are wealthy and miserable, and people who have virtually nothing, and are happy. Attitude is the key. I started in working on computers when I got out of the US Navy in 1969. Went to work for NCR as a Tech Service Rep. I was trained on mag tape encoders. Which had actual hard core memory on two very large circuit boards. Got into several of our main frame computer centers. When I got laid of in ’73 I was certain we had gone as far as we could in computers. Wow, we had not even touched the surface. And today almost forty years later I believe the same is true that we have not even scratched the surface of computing. I would love to be able to live to see the next forty years. I think it will be amazing. And, as you say, the key to it all is attitude.

  12. I agree with the article, but there is one thing that can be very frustrating, even to people who are open to change. Hardware compatibility with newer versions of Windows can be costly. Sometimes a not so old printer or scanner can be rendered useless on a new OS. For example, a few months before Vista came out, I bought a new scanner. It worked fine, but when Vista came out, I got a new computer and gave my old one away. The scanner no longer worked on my Vista machine and I had to get a new one and give the scanner away. Progress is great, but backwards compatibility should be built into an OS or program.
    I’m happy with Windows 8. I installed ClassicShell, and most of the time I don’t even know I’m using Windows 8. But if I don’t like something, I have the ability to change it.
    It seems to me, Microsoft could have avoided a lot of complaints simply by including a legacy Start Button. I can see where Microsoft is going with this, more automation. But by adding more automation and taking away some user control, they are alienating a lot of people needlessly.

  13. Leo: I agree 100% that attitude is the key to success. In fact I tried a little experiment on myself the other day. I was a little down for a number of reasons (age, aches & pains, weather, etc.) but instead of complaining as I usually do, I decided to smile no matter what. In about 1/2 hour my attitude changed completely although everything else remained the same. Received a number of compliments from my neighbors and my daughter about how good I looked.

  14. A lad of 70, I downloaded Windows 8 the first hour it was available. Different, yes. But with a minor tweak (ClassicShell—something similar to which, I think, should have been a part of Windows 8) I didn’t miss a beat and am enjoying the advantages of Windows 8. I think I understand well what Windows 8 is all about, but really, should Microsoft expect a desktop PC user to get a touchscreen monitor and wave his arm all over the place in front of a monitor when he or she could, instead, use a mouse and move only his or her hand in a circle about an inch in diameter? The old adage that says that in life taxes and death are inevitable should have included a third element—change. I remember my first computer—a Tandy with 4 MB of RAM, a 20 MB (yes!) hard drive, and programs launched from DOS. With what I enjoy today, all I can say is, “Thank God for change!”

  15. Great article, Leo. But what did you do with all the antagonistic comments you were expecting?

    Actually I’ve been very pleasantly surprised by the lack thereof… Smile

    • Wonderfully true Leo – you hit it on the head! As for negative responses to this article I doubt there will be many – simply because people who suffer from metathesiophobia (fear of change) or cainophobia (fear of new things) will not read this article. They will be totally annoyed and delete it from their inbox and sulk in a corner somewhere or run and sook on some whinge forum! Like attract like.
      2014 – may it be a wonderful year for all and may those who don’t cope with change find a way to absorb Leo’s words and grasp the inevitable with welcoming arms. Cheers!

    By Charles Swindoll
    The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. … The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. … We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. … I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.

  17. I think ‘hate’ for the new comes from fear rooted in ignorance. Many may recall the introduction of PCs into the office. To some they were ‘stupid’ and they kept their Selectrics as long as they could before they reluctantly surrendered to the PC. The secretary (remember those?) or A/P clerk feared breaking the new machine by hitting the wrong key. Therefore the thing was ‘stupid’.
    Parents (grandparents nowadays) wonder why their kids are so adept with computers. Because kids have no fear. I watch my grandson bang away at AngryBirds for hours. When he tires of that he goes looking for some other game or music or whatever. No fear.

  18. Great article Leo,

    Looking back the most frustrating customers I had as a technician were those afraid of and resistant to change. It blocked their ability to move on, learn something new and better their job status.

  19. Leo, great article. I am another one of those older kids … quickly approaching 70. I do not fear change. The only thing that keeps more “change” happening in my house is the “dollar.” I have always enjoyed learning new things. People are always saying, “You know so much about so many things.” True! I always try to learn something about anything that touches my life.

    Are you ready for change? Leo, you wrote, “Or will you instead accept and understand that change is a necessary part of the decades of innovation that have lead us to this amazing world we live in?” The word “lead” should be spelled “led.” I have seen you make this common error before. It is time for “change.” lol

  20. Leo: Thank you for BOTH articles. From a slightly different perspective: It is said in the sailing community ‘You cannot change the wind, You can change the angle of your sails’.

    Sail on in life.

  21. When I first registered for the address I’m using to post this comment, all I wanted was email and a place to post some photos. Then it changed and started adding ‘social’ features.

    I have been through some nasty attacks on the email system at another site, lackluster support by two others that pioneered ‘peer support’, i.e. let the customers answer their own questions and All I really needed was email and a place to put my pictures without my own domain.

    I suspect that is what many others wanted early on. To a certain extent change has been good.

    What I believe the problems have been are:

    1. Everything must be ‘social’, because social is good and faultless.

    2. Bad, hasty changes tested in ‘the wild’…so the ‘wisened’ set, with barely 10-15 years of experience online can tend to perceive them as that time frame has indeed been a ‘lifetime’.

    3. Not everybody is willing to embrace the ‘mobile’ lifestyle. It’s also not a Luddite notion that life and computers do not need to be involved hand in hand for EVERYTHING. There is a separation that should be there that allows you to just enjoy living and co-existing with your fellow humans and nature. While the addition of electronic aids has been a great help to living in many cases there are those who lament the lack of peace and freedom posed by frequent interruptions by it.

    4. Cellphones are great for making a phonecall and messaging. When mobile devices become more of a videogame to amuse and occupy the youngsters instead of bicycles and physical play it does begin to make one wonder.

    I myself do not own a mobile device as they are too expensive for me. I have a lower income and many other interests (music, vintage audio, classic bicycles) and I like to build my own computers from used parts if I can. Lately I have just accepted older computers as is and upgraded them all I could want to. This means I am still using 2003-2008 technologies for the most part and the Windows XP that tends to come on the computers’ hard drives. I used 2000 Professional up until maybe 4 years ago because I have a disc for it. When someone gives me a computer with a newer operating system I will adopt it and I hardly see anything that works reasonably well as ‘obsolete’ if I can protect myself online well enough and use the resources available there with it.

    Yes, sometimes I can roll my eyes and grumble under my breath but then, I’ve used computers since 1979 (TRS-80 Model I 8k and cassette loaded, no hard drive of any kind), my first PC at home in 1992 (386, 66MHz), online in 1997 and I was in on the ‘ground floor’ as a webcasting user (Woodstock ’99) and early VOIP user (I gave up on it when mom couldn’t read me well-delay maybe-and they wanted money I didn’t want to invest).

    I’m also sorry it took so long to finish this post as I had to feed my cats and the US Mail arrived. It’s good to have pets, they expect you to have a routine that includes interaction with the outside world.

    If I’ve learned anything since I was 13 and first used a computer, that would be the most important.

  22. Great article. Agree, entirely. I am 70 but still love technology and “knowing stuff”. Our technology is such a boon and I continue to marvel at how much is essentially free.

    So true about the “everyone agrees with me” comment. If you lived in a Dr’s waiting room you would think everyone was sick!

    Thanks for your great newsletter, Leo, and a happy New Year to you and your family from a NZ reader.

  23. Leo – what an editorial!!! I should print it out & show to my contemporaries (I am 82) who refuse to get a computer because they think it is too confusing & they would not be able to learn. I LOVE technology although it is whizzing past me way too fast for me to keep up with all that is out there!
    But still I learn what I need to in order to do what I want on the computer. If I were a good bit younger, I would be neck deep in computer technology. I am so amazed at what I see can be done on a computer. I have a friend my age that asked me to come visit her (about 4 hours away by car/interstate) & “teach me all the lovely things you do on your computer”. What a compliment!! Especially since I consider what I can do as the very simplest of the simple. I am not afraid to learn something new as often as possible because of a positive nature which is the basis of learning.
    I thank you for your newsletters that have taught me a lot. I read every one even though most of them are ‘way over my head & understanding. But, still, I might find a nugget in any one that will teach me something more.
    Keep thinking about us Seniors because I’m sure there are a lot out there just like me.

  24. Sorry Leo, but change for the sake of change is not helpful and when you force it on me, I hate it. Our industry is rife with this, and it’s not just an accident. It’s an intentional business model and it is not consumer oriented. The shame is that a large percentage of the technology being thrown at us today can be characterized as “solutions desperately seeking a problem.” If you don’t believe that, just watch the ads for the newest products. One ad tells us we can play the piano on their tablets. Woo Hoo. Now there’s a problem people have been losing sleep over. Another shows us we can transfer a video by touching our phones together. Yeah, I’ve wanted to do that about a dozen times a day, haven’t we all? The manufacturers can’t even come up with actual useful features to advertise, so this is what we get? These products are toys in everything but price.

    Life will go on if our refrigerators do NOT talk to our computers, period, and just because I say that doesn’t prove I have an attitude problem. In fact, some of us have recognized the potential for negative impacts on our society and have refused to participate for that reason. Newer research is starting to validate those concerns. Was that an attitude problem too? For me, I’ve been in the computer business for a long time now and I don’t want to acquire any more gadgets that come with 300 page poorly written user guides. And for the record, the solution to that last comment is not to stop including a user guide and then claim that customers have an attitude problem. The solution is to make a better product in the first place.

    • Hi Jeff,
      Happy New Year! Your comment “when you force it on me” amused me – the Amish have lived without technology for some time now. I truly wish to convey that I love the “bump” app and use it when I need to – actually it was the only way to transfer a much needed photo for a funeral a few weeks ago – it’s free and simple.
      I actually do play the piano – that being the traditional instrument in my house – but I also love to plug in my earphones and fiddle with Smule Piano. It helps me with timing, learning new pieces and for the simply pure joy of making music without disturbing the rest of the family when I come home from work late. A game? No. A toy? Perhaps; but who cares? It brings me a relaxation and calm that I otherwise would not achieve and I get to “play” music that I love. I await a flute version.
      As for refrigerators talking to computers – have you checked out Corning smart glass? Wow! Now THAT is something I look forward to. You can see what I mean via YouTube – A Day Made of Glass by Corning.
      It is wonderful to see what is happening in my generation and marvel at the wonders that will occur in my grandchildren’s lives.
      I remember my grandmother being terrified as a child when her house was wired for electricity, then her refusal to stop putting large ice blocks into the new refrigerator my grandfather bought for her – haha, he had to arrange for the iceman to stop going to the house!
      As for “making better products in the first place”, bravo to those pioneering IT personnel for their courage to launch such wonderful systems to make our lives more enjoyable. There will always be glitches – that’s why they provide feedback.
      As for me, I love my computerised washing machine and dryer, I love my computerised car, I love my iPad, my Windows 8 touch screen Envy, I love microwave ovens, I love refrigeration. Just think what our grandchildren will have – if I could live in a world of Corning glass – wow! Bring it on IT inventors – I’m waiting!

  25. Leo, your philosophical side is a fine surprise.
    This article about attitudes is the best of 2012!
    I am 84 years old and am still interested in “learning”.
    I wish your readers find the same joy when finding something new to learn.

  26. Great article again Leo, blends in with the language one. We all need reminding just how we behave sometimes, what ever our age or experience.

  27. I agree with you in your basic premise but not entirely. I started real estate when people were still using DOS; the only way I could get the VA & HUD repo listings each week was on DOS. Then Windows came along and I hurried to the only library at the time to have the Internet for patrons in WA State – Woodinville . I learned everything I could at workshops to integrate this fabulous new technology with my work. Now, it is amazing what and all is done online re: buying and selling property. But nobody will ever convince me Win 7 is a positive change. Filing is a nightmare. Many more steps are required. I don’t mind change, but it at least has to be better than what we had previously. Win 7 wastes my time.

  28. Leo, you are amazing!
    You are not only a computer wizard.
    You are now teaching CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy).
    Kudos to you and thank you so much for one of the most interesting and helpful newsletters around!

  29. I have a life. I also have four computers in the house that I paid good money for including all the “apps” you spoke of. Now, if I get a “new” computer, it comes with a totally new operating system that forces me to purchase shinny new apps that work with the computer. And, It won’t even let me install my old hardware. Wants me to purchase that new also. No, I’ll keep my grumpy attitude about the changes that don’t “help” me and only costs more money to use. You young people also want the shinny new stuff and never seem to appreciate stuff that just keeps working…..they don’t make stuff or people like they used to.

  30. Great article Leo, you have impressed me many times with your writings. Keep it up. I guess Christine Hayes did not pay a close attention on the paragraph “Newer isn’t always better” and “Change isn’t just about you”. Even those that make a wrong change, pay a huge prize,they also learn how not to do things. One lesson for the change drivers: “Toad like water, but not when it is too hot”. There should be a control to the rate of change. One more thing for every one who dislikes change is that” anything that is not updated will soon become outdated and thrown away” Go with the flow, select what is best for you. Thanks. Special permission to make reference to your articles.Leo.

  31. Leo – as you know I am one of your fans. But the point you are making is only valid if the return on the investment in change is positive. A bit of background – I am a director of two companies, one fairly new, the other has survived 161 years. I have been in business myself for over 40 years. In both my businesses we have embraced new technology but when I stand back and look at where we are today it’s harder to make a profit and the technology isn’t helping our bottom line at all. Why? It’s because we constantly have to spend money on equipment (none of which lasts very long) and re-training, and the benefits we get seem to become more and more marginal as the years have gone by. I can understand why technological change is a great thing for people like you who earn their living from it, or the industrialists who can re-equip with robots and fire most of their people, but for people like me who earn our living providing ordinary goods and services the cost of technological change seems to be on the cusp of becoming greater than the benefits it provides. The last upgrade of equipment and systems I implemented cost nearly a month’s profits and despite careful planning it was disruptive so we lost some sales. So far we cannot discern any improvement in sales or margins resulting from the upgrade. Therefore in my businesses I and my colleagues are becoming very worried about technological change, not because we hate change itself but because we think it is on the verge of becoming prejudicial to our profitability. This is no different to the private individual who has to spend money upgrading because their previous technology has become obsolete, then they have to spend precious time learning how to make the new technology work, and after all that they probably aren’t any more productive than they were before. I have a sneaking suspicion that for an ordinary (non technology) business the profits one can earn from technological investment seem to have hit a peak a few years back. It is for that reason that I have become suspicious of change.

  32. While I tend to agree with Leo’s thesis here, that a lot of aversion to change is down to attitude, I believe there’s another factor – fear. I don’t mean the apprehension of the merely unfamiliar – I mean the fear of doing something that gets one into a situation one doesn’t know how to get out of.

    There are people who, no matter how many times they are told they can’t damage the computer by hitting the keys or mouse buttons, nevertheless have difficulty believing it. This is a very difficult attitude to overcome, as I have discovered from personal experience.

    What’s more it gets worse as you get older, and I speak as one of your oldest correspondents; though I flatter myself I don’t suffer badly from it myself, I do nevertheless feel it, and I’ve been, or at least thought of myself as, a programmer since I wrote my first program 54 years ago.

    And as so many others have said, much change is for purely marketing purposes. I’m still using Office 97!

    As for social media – I keep a very low profile on Facebook, and am somewhat disgusted with much of the stuff I see some of my grandchildren putting there.

  33. A very good read-and i agree with others valid comments..however with me now batting at 81 years,while at work and computers emerged,i was scared to death,yes i hit a button while entering information,and my computer went Phut.
    called the company computer engineer out,fixed in 5 minuites but no explanation,just “Bullshite”
    it assured his freelance job,and cost the company
    a lot of monies Hotel food i became
    very frightened.but undetered went for lessons,and regained some confidence..
    what i object to now is not the changes taking place,i am all for improvements,but there is no prior notification of the changes,things dissapear,
    systems alter,the innovators without saying it
    “put up and shut up” there is something to be said for a car plain simple-a phone with a dial
    mechanism-and a computer an old model but with
    more inbuilt quality.. it costs an arm and a leg,
    to have your car examied with computer control.
    hand held gizmos 2/3 times a year.not everyone
    wants things with all the bells and whistles.
    I just want a plain and simple computer that will
    do what i want it to do

  34. As usual, a good article and to the point. In my experience the inability (unwillingness?) to accept change in computers is the biggest block to using them especially amongst older people (I’m one). Why is it that otherwise flexible, intelligent people, throw up their hands in horror, scream and reach for the tablets if the log on button is changed from left to right on the page? How about an article on how to deal with this attitude?

  35. I believe the ‘frustration’ with ‘change’ ala Microsoft OS’s e.g., is the unnecessary change in name, location, etc., of titles and utility tools that cause many wasted man hours and aggravation.

  36. I don’t own a business, just have a laptop. If not for a friend who has helped me through buying 3 computers and navigating various computer problems, some of which took him a few days to solve, who can do my backups, load my Ipod, I’m afraid i would be stuck in the “dark ages”. I’ve learned to solve some problems thru google and Ask Leo. But lots of them would have had me tearing my hair, spending lots of $$$ and maybe giving up and going computer-less. Thank goodness for a computer savy friend who has donated hours so that I can “keep up”. I am a single older woman who cannot put a price tag on the kindness of friends so that change and seemingly insurmountable computer problems are not scary or a huge budget item. Today, the printer doesn’t work and it’s new! So here we go again. It’s always something. Thanks for reading

  37. I am retired now but when I was working, I was what could be described as “in charge of change”. I analyzed existing systems, and created new systems that met current and projected needs of the organization. I encountered everything from fear of change to great anticipation of change and those who wondered why the changes were necessary as “things” seemed to be working fine.

    I question the stampede to smart phones as from what I see, they do many things but don’t do many of them very well. The phone part isn’t as good as a dedicated phone in audio quality as they used to be. The included cameras are not very good even if the pixel count would say otherwise. As for the games, I don’t play games much and when I do I use a game console. To top it off the touch screens don’t react to my touch about 25% of the time so smart phones and tablets just don’t work for me even though I know how to use them. I even have to avoid ATM’s as they are just as problematic. I don’t hate these devices, I just don’t use them as they are not reliable for me to use.

    When I started using computers, DOS was the operating system and setting up a computer was not for the faint of heart. Most peripherals would not work “out of the box” and required editing of the drivers. Sometimes the driver had to be edited for each program used. PnP sure was nice to see. Multi-tasking of computers was another breakthrough that was a giant leap forward but was rejected for a long time by many. Now it is taken forgranted and is essential.

    It will be interesting to see where the computing world will go in the next few years. I will take advantage of what I can and live with or ignore what I can’t take advantage of.

  38. Typical engineer mentality. Thinks that people can change behavior like changing a bit in a register. “It’s simple,just be open to change.” Stick to hardware and software issues Leo. You have no clue on human behavior.

  39. Leo: You are absolutely right on with this one. I (have to) provide computer (and other) technical support to a number of families who are actually frightened of and totally resistant to change. What bothers me the most about them is that they make no effort to LEARN, so I’ve come to describe them as “learning disabled”. No matter how many times you show them how to do something, it doesn’t stick. Many want to write the steps down on a post-it and stick it on the monitor, and I have one person whose monitor frame is totally covered with post-its. I try to tell them to stop doing that; to understand conceptually what the steps are doing, so you won’t need the post-it. Never works. And what is REALLY puzzling. . . some of these people are engineering college graduates!!! I.e., technically oriented. . . but cannot grasp anything about how a computer works. Can anyone explain that to me?

  40. Years ago i met a man from a Middle Eastern country who told me how much his people feared and hated change. I smugly assumed my fellow Americans were different.. How wrong I was! Americans are no different!
    A whole culture of fear and negativity has gripped us..and this is far more than just fear of the latest Operating system from Microsoft…As you point out, it’s a whole attitude toward life itself ..and it has really surprised me.

  41. Leo, I understand the thrust of your editorial (technology), and generally agree, but not totally. I have an HP 1012 Laset Jet printer which works perfectly in the XP world but struggles in the Win7 world. I have to use it with the 1015 driver which works for the most part, but problems do occur which can be infuriating (depending on my day). Why should I have to buy a new printer because I upgraded my OS? It is a perfectly good laser printer for Pete’s sake!! Well – OK – I haven’t ‘had’ to buy a new printer but I do have to live with the frustration when it doesn’t print correctly. This aspect of ‘change’ is certainly not welcome to me.

  42. Leo – Fine to talk about change at your age but at 70 years old I’ve been with computers since before DOS. Yea, I couldn’t wait for changes back then and they were all good. Now it seems like all they’re doing is rearranging the keys on a keyboard and calling it new and improved. We’re still doing the same things but now we have to change because some 15 year old kid thinks it’s more intuitive.
    I’m stuck on XP, I see absolutely no need to change, support or no support (in fact I’d pay Microsoft a yearly fee for support). By the way, your article on English was perfect.

  43. While happy acceptance of change on first sight seems a rational attitude, in my opinion there is an important choice that you left out: dismiss pointless change.

    It’s not just between hating change and embracing it. In many cases, change is totally useless for the average user. My attitude is to simply ignore it. The price I pay is that I get “behind the times”. Well, so be it. The new times may not be so great as they seem.

    I’ll give an example.

    Text editors are what I use most on the computer. I write my texts in a plain ascii editor, specifically the one that comes with my most valuable file managing tool, Xplorer2. It’s called Editor2: a simple and practical piece of functionality. It allows me to write my stuff in a concentrated manner, and doesn’t distract my attention in *any* way.

    This little tool is not ever going to change, for I can simply put it in any directory in any Windows environment, and it will always work. If the supplier introduces a fancy new version that I don’t like, I can keep using the present one and not suffer any consequences.

    When I’m done writing, I often copy my text into Open Office Writer, to make it look good. Now this editor has a great number of functions, of which I use perhaps 30%. They all work like a treat, and I know how to activate them, as I spent several days finding out the more sophisticated among them. This way I’ve written three books, two of them over 600 pages each, with several levels of text formatting, tables, indexes and so on.

    Now every time Open Office presents a new release, some features change. Most of these are irrelevant for me, as they concern functions I never use. Sometimes the changes fix errors in the software, errors that I have encountered and found workarounds for. These changes I welcome in principle. Yet I don’t like to install the new release, as it *always* gives me extra work. The spelling dictionaries are new. The makers pretend these new dictionaries are better. They are not. I usually write in Dutch, my native language. The old Dutch dictionaries in the version I use, contained errors, and were lacking many words I need. Over a number of years, I have added thousands of words, and removed hundreds that were erroneous.
    My reasons for simply *refusing* to “upgrade” to a new release of Open Office are:
    – it won’t solve any problems, for I don’t have any
    – it doesn’t give me new functions, for I have everything I need
    – it inevitably brings changes in the menu structure, which I would have to check out
    – it destroys my “dictionary capital” in which I have invested weeks of painstaking work.
    In my daily backup I include the OO Writer dictionaries (hidden away in some far corner of Windoze). No change is welcome there, unless it is a new word I personally add for my own convenience.

    “Upgrading” to a new version of the operating system is much more consequential. I remember welcoming W95, as it solved many problems I encountered daily with W3.1. Next came W98, which was unstable. Then came W2k, not exactly better. So I used W95 until XP arrived, the first really good product M$ ever made. Vista was a disaster M$ could only sell wit a “downgrade” option to XP! W7 did not convince me at all, and now W8 looks like an iPhone full of apps. No, thanks, I’ll skip again. When my good old laptop dies, I’ll have a friend install some recent version of Windoze that will service all the new hardware, and install a virtual machine in it with XP.

    I don’t want to spend *weeks* trying to find the functions I need in a new environment. It reminds me of Alice and the Queen of Hearts, in Through the Looking Glass, where they have to run all they can just to stay in the same place.

    I encounter the same thing with Skype. I’ve used it for many years, and it was a wonderful product. Until Micro$oft bought it and changed it for their own good: suddenly it got integrated with their products, I was required to sign in with M$N, they bothered me with messages they kept pushing on me. So, I now use Skype from my Linux Ubuntu webbook, where it still has an interface as simple and straightforward as it used to be and should be. (Then I was stupid enough to “upgrade” Ubuntu, so now I’m stuck with an “apps” interface and lost a number of features I used daily; this ends my use of Ubuntu for I refuse to spend days finding out how this damn stuff works. Oh, the poor Queen of Bleeding Hearts!)

    I’ll tell you about my mobile phone, and then conclude. The things mobile phones can do these days are incredible. I’ve admired the phones my friends demonstrated for me. But in the end all I want to do is make calls and do a bit of sms. This works fine on my Motorola F3 phone, which provides just these functions: make calls and do sms. Cost me $30. When I realised it would soon disappear from the market, I quickly bought another one, that waits on the shelf patiently until its turn arrives.

    In conclusion, I agree that one has to accept change in a general sense, as for the individual there’s no way to stop it. But in a practical sense, I simply refuse to embrace it for that reason. I refuse to do senseless upgrading of essential things I use daily.

    Some comments on a few of your statements:

    1. The choice between hating or embracing change is a fallacy: there are more options. My choice is to ignore the irrelevant changes as much as I can.

    2. “People who use technology the most effectively and are the least hindered by it are the folks who not only accept change, but even look forward to it.”
    These are also the folks who spend days and weeks or even half their lives keeping up with all the fashionable nonsense that gets pushed our way continuously.

    3. “These are people who are curious, who are interested in learning what more technology can do for them”[…]. But most of the changes don’t do anything *for* *me*: I simply don’t need them.

    4. The argument about the changes in cars misses an important point. You are correct that many of these changes are about safety, and I welcome these. But what I see in “upgrades” of software is more like replacing the steering wheel with game buttons and switching the gas and brake pedals.

    5. “Change isn’t made with malicious intent.” Maybe not, but many changes are not made in the user’s interest either. Some manufacturers bring new models to the market every year, as a large proportion of the consumers like to show off with the “latest of the latest”. The functionality does not change, but the interface does. For people like me, who don’t give a damn about fashion and trends, these “new” products are the same thing in a new, impracticable jacket.

    6. “You remain competitive by continually striving to make your product better.” Sure. But when the product if perfect, like email already was many years ago, they keep changing it, *pretending* this makes it better. And the mass of consumers who have no clue believe it and buy the stuff. And then the people who know better have to follow, so as not to “stay behind”. I call this *imagined* *progress*. Like you say, “Newer isn’t always better.”

    7. “Change isn’t just about you.” Exactly. It’s mostly about business and making a buck.

    8. “You can’t control change but you can choose your response.” Yep. I ignore it as much as I can.

    9. “…something that you simply can’t accept and must walk away from…”: I remember a dear, militant feminist friend who had a sticker on her diary, saying, “A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle”. Maybe you recall Steve Jobs claiming that the bicycle is the most efficient means of transport in all of nature, and declaring that computers are “bicycles for the mind”. This is a very powerful simile. But what do shining, colourful app interfaces flashing on your spokes have to do with it? Don’t tell me I need to replace my spoke wheels with carbon fiber ones to do my daily shopping…!

    Btw, thanks for all your informative newsletters. I never skip one!
    And a Very Happy New Year for everybody!

  44. Off the top, I must pick up on your reference to car radios.

    Personally, the biggest challenge to using any rental car is how to get the !@#%!$$ radio to work the way I want – without having an accident whilst trying…. :-)

    However, I agree that folks who resist change just for the sake of resisting change are misguided BUT some changes themselves are also made ‘just for the for the sake of change’ or, for the sake of marketing. The computer world is particularly guilty of this behaviour.

    I was involved with computers when the word ‘microprocessor’ came into common parlance. Suddenly the simplest of devices became “microprocessor controlled!!” (marketing emphasis) but often all that was really required was a uni-junction transistor and few other components. (My home designed enlarger timer worked fine, thank you)

    KISS should take priority guys!

    I have a tablet, just great for keeping in touch and not carrying technical manuals whilst traveling. I like some of the touch screen features but when it came to typing (particularly ‘touch typing’) a Bluetooth keyboard became an essential accessory.

    All that being said, do keep up with these little ‘homilies” of yours.


  45. Way back in the early seventies I worked for IBM in materials control – a young whiz kid was assigned to me to show me the computer skills I would need.
    His intoduction went something thus :-“I will tell you everything ONCE -you can either write it down or
    remember it – but dont ask me about something that i have already told you about.”
    I learnt more from him than from anybody else in my career

  46. Hans’ comment says it all! Bravo!

    I’ve learned from “Ask Leo!” as long as I can remember. First PC in 1999 was kept alive, updated, upgraded and smooth running,
    doing all I needed ’til this past summer when my newest upgrade, secondary internal hard drive, fried.
    My guys at Staples who took me through the the many adventures & opportunities in learning with my first machine where there in force to inform me about the options of the day that would best serve my individual needs. After assuring me that my peripherals would not necessarily become obsolete (if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!) I took a deep breath & began my journey into the 21st century of PC technology.
    After many phone calls (new PC’s don’t come with manuals and you can’t find & download it until you figure out how to turn the machine “on”!) and visits to the shop including tutorials (they let me hang out & learn while they were setting up the new PC and dealing with my initial bumps in the road) I am at peace with my new machine that took some time getting to know, understand and trust. Could not have done it without my tech team. They always respected my need to stick with what works and not throw away what is still useful. I still drive my “85 Honda Civic” which is in mint condition and still gets 32mpg around town. Wouldn’t have a clue how to operate the newer cars with push button everything. To each his own.
    Thank you, Leo, for all the lessons, info and sparks for curiosity over the years.

  47. Many years ago, a friend gave me a very useful bit of advice. He said, “No matter what you do, you ALWAYS have 2 choices; you can do it and like it, or you can do it and not like it. You may have other choices, but you’re guaranteed to have those two, and you’re the one who gets to choose.”

  48. I’m more or less with Hans and one or two others on this one. I wrote my first computer program in 1966, when it was converted into punched tape by lady “computer operators”, processed in a machine the size of a family house, and the results delivered in printed and punched-tape forms. I recall the first hand-held calculator, and an HP machine which was the only calculator in a major areospace company.

    Change can be beneficial, neutral, or needless *to me*. If it’s beneficial to you, but not to me, I should be free to ignore it while you embrace it. And one of the reasons that change may be beneficial is that some functions are instinctive, and it’s not easy to change an instinct. There is always the possibility of disaster if the instinctive reaction leads the wrong way.

    Example 1:
    I have a Canon LiDE scanner, bought quite some time ago, which worked fine on XP, but a HDD failure and problems with sourcing an IDE replacement led me into the arms of Acer and a Win7 machine, only to find that my slim, convenient USB-powered scanner that fitted neatly into my study wouldn’t (scan, that is). I now have a Canon 4400F, which is bigger, clumsier, needs a separate PSU, but a least it was free on Freeserve! Am I happy to accept this change? Not really.

    Example 2, following from your car analogy:
    My car is getting on for 11 years old, but it does everything I need, including fitting into a limited space on the drive. The annual maintenance costs are considerably less than the depreciation on a current version of the same model. Do I need to change? No.

    Ditto with Windoze and software. If it ain’t broke I see no need to fix it, and I rightly feel annoyed if change that creates difficulties for me is forced on me.

    But then, I’m ancient, so outside the demographic of interest to business.

  49. What I’ve learned over the years is that change brings stress, much of it because of less efficiency. But take moving from one place to another or loss of a family member. It’s change and it’s distressing. Expect the temporary mood swing and move on.

  50. Your comments on “the most important attitude” is like our politicians in Washington, D.C., either
    blind, deceived or some of both. You do have the best newsletter.

  51. Bravo! Leo, you’ve nailed it with these thoughts – and not just about computers, but about how to approach life in general. Thank you!

  52. I know that at 49 I’d like to think I’ve learned it all. The birth of the net and much more. Truth, I learn every day. I am familiar with soooooooo many programs and software. I’m getting old. Learning is a good thing, don’t stop.

  53. You go, David T! I just wasted three times the effort trying to edit a Word 2010 document as I would have spent on Word 2003. Why hide buttons????? I don’t need formatting buttons as big as my hand but I’d appreciate a Print button somewhere. BTW my Ford Ranger is 12 years old this month. No bells and whistles on it. It gets me from point A to point B. ‘Nuf said.

  54. I seem to be a youngster since today is my 64th birthday. But I still remember how folks were green with envy when I upgraded my Nascom computer from the factory-supplied 1 kilobyte to 17 kB using the very latest DRAM chips (and they cost a fortune!).
    But I have a couple of comments which may be relevant.
    On cars: it seems auto designers want change all the time: if the light switch used to be on the left, it’s now on the right. If it used to be “up” to start the wipers, it’s now “down”. And I’m repeatedly glad that I don’t have to think “which pedal is the brake on this model?”
    On interfaces and functionality: Just before I retired my company upgraded from Office 2003 to 2007. As the local Word expert I got plenty of calls, and I discovered that very little had changed: all the same menus and dialogs were still there, just in a different place. I don’t believe that a logical interface exists; if it does it is probably one menu “File” with one submenu “Document” and then 500 items in random order: Adjust Left Margin, Set Font Color, Enable Widowing, and so on.
    I am not convinced that the very latest version of Word (and many other programs) gives more functionality for 99% of users than Word 6.0, back in the nineties.

  55. Great newsletter – I am 76, love using the computer, get frustrated, but continue trying to adapt to change. Difficult sometimes, but go away, have a cuppa, and come back for more.

  56. Old chinese curse –
    “May you live in interesting times”
    I find reading about, learning about and buying (much) of new technology very interesting. Sometimes want to scream – but it’s interesting.

  57. … but too much change that we see in computer program interfaces is just “change for the sake of change”, and if the UX is NOT improved and is just changing so it is different, then yes, it is BAD: Broken As Designed.

  58. I love the phrase and I say it to people often lately….Embrace Change. I am an 87 year old woman and have had a computer for close to 20 yrs… it lives because I live on ground level and throwing it out the window would not kill it..yes it gets me to hate it for about 10 seconds..and I spend a tremendous amount of time trying to solve problems and when I succeed, I am joyous. If I fail, I give it up to the pros. It’s worth it… it comes back healthy. I now have a new PC, custom, Windows 7, Office 2010. It’s backed up by online service Backblaze (Leo convinced me that backup is a Must!!). I just treated myself to a new IPod Touch 5th Generation. I am very slow in learning and retaining what that amazing teensy device can do but what fun in the process. I love it. The keys are tiny and i make typos… so i correct them. In the process, I learn how to hold my fingers correctly.
    The technology has snowballed, changes have been made and like Leo said, some not so successfully but change is steady and inevitable. Would you want your kids, who seem to be born with it all implanted, to be told on their jobs by management that they must keep doing the same product with no variations, no exciting experiments, no new design ideas to make it different even if it ends up not being necessarily better??? The brain doesn’t work that way… it needs food for expansion, to stay healthy. I used to know more than I do… as change happens at a faster pace, I seem to get slower but I try to jump up on the ever-growing snowball and ride with it as far as i can. I was born too soon… if I were a kid today, I would create change as I embrace it and I would dye my hair purple.

  59. A mere 73. I agree with much that you say. For a while I bored folk with the phrase, “if you don’t embrace change, change will not embrace you”.
    Where would we be without changes in medicine for example? I for one would be dead. Cars are safer and so on.
    Not all change is good but the issue is about our attitudes. One cannot know what is good or bad, or just unfamiliar unless tried and tested.

  60. Leo, I don’t mind change if it actually improves things in some way, and as long as it doesn’t screw things up in some other way due to unforeseen (ie un-thought about) consequences. EG Yahoo email has just replaced an admittedly somewhat messy layout for a new dropdown list. In principle this is a good thing, however they have shoved the list far over to the right of the screen. That seems fine to them, because they are probably all youngish folk with OK eyesight and what’s it matter where the thing is? The difficulty is that for someone who has to enlarge the screen image (Ctrl and +) in order to read it, it shoves it off the page and makes it a zillion times more difficult to use. And that’s just one little thing of a zillion others…. So for some it’s often not so much a question of “embracing” change as being forced into “coping” with it. (And this isn’t “grumbling”, btw, it’s just mentioning).

  61. Change is good! But change that takes away options for the public by arbitrary removal of a good product by withdrawing support – eg Windows XP – verges on abuse of dominance! I am always happy to move to later versions of software, but not if I am prematurely forced so to do.

    Good thought-provoking article!

  62. Change for the sake of change is NOT good! Like Maxadolf, I use the version of Windows (XP) that I am comfortable with. I’ve had it on this computer since I bought it in 2007. Why upgrade as long as it does what I want? The same thing for cars — why should I have a “touch screen” when all I want to do is turn on the car and drive it? I don’t need a screen to control things, and I CERTAINLY don’t want to talk to it! Leo, you say EMBRACE change! Is talking to an automated voice on the phone that does not give you a “push this number” option a good thing? Half the time the “voice” doesn’t understand me! It ends up frustrating me and wasting my time. Here’s another example of technology that I didn’t ask for (and WON’T embrace): I used to be able to watch CNN.COM live on my computer — I could check my email and listen to CNN at the same time. Now, I must “log on” with my TV provider (in my case, Dish.) I tried and the log on box doesn’t work. It turns out that Dish has made it a requirement that I purchase an HD-DVR package to be able to watch CNN (and TBS, and many others) live. Embracing technology for technology’s sake is NOT what I want to do. I want to use technology, without it being ever more complex. And I’ve used technology since 1982. I am not new to this. I just don’t like the direction that we are heading — name your poison: nano-technology (RFIDs in your car tires, micro-beads in your soap,) snooping by the government, drones in the air soon (anyone can be a spy,) stores that “recognize” you by the signals from your smartphone. All of this makes me want to retreat to an isolated mountain top. But Google Earth can see me there …

  63. Jeff Burns had the best comment of all (page 3): just MAKE TECH WORK. Don’t throw it in our faces and expect us to adapt. Good example — Yahoo! mail, once again, has changed its interface. Why? Yahoo! has made the lettering “grayer,” thereby making it harder for us to read. Why? Because Yahoo! decided it was best for us.

  64. Like Michael on Page 4, I have a small business that has ONE computer, and it runs Windows 2000. I have tried my hardest to keep it running (computer purchased by my business partner in 2003.) I can no longer update Flash, Firefox, or much other software. NoScript updates however! Giorgio Maone has decided to not update his software using VC++ 2010 libraries, so I can still run it. I HAVE to have this version of Windows running, because of the machinery for my business that is attached to it. It runs well on W2K, but would not run on a newer version of Windows. I could update the hardware and the software that runs it, but that would cost over $20,000, which our business does not have! Like Michael, I don’t mind change, but why does it have to hammer us?

  65. One man’s change is often another man’s living. Keep people employed. I think Leo said it best in his previous article. If you are unhappy, “Dig Deeper.”

  66. I was first employed in the computer industry in 1971 about the time that mini-computers were introduced. Drum memory, punch paper tape for media. Chip level repair of circuit boards. So I saw many changes and embraced them because it was exciting. Years later while employed with a large tech company, every employee was given a book to read because of the evolving field of computers. It was “Who moved my cheese”. Even some people working in the tech field had trouble excepting change.
    Your article is right on the money.

  67. I love change (when it comes to technology). What change I hate is the Death and Taxes kind. Those are always creeping up – never down. In technology – even ‘changing’ back to the old can be fun. I worked on an ERP system for a few years, and then we switched to a newer faster ERP system (and after I got it working, they didn’t need me any more), so got a job with another company that used the slower older ERP system, and found out even that ‘change’ was a good one, because I learned things on the newer system that I could use on the older system to even make that better. If nothing changed, life would be boring!

  68. I’m going to print this one out Leo and keep a copy to pass on to a friend. I’ve been struggling to teach him about his new computer – his very first – over the last couple of years and he continually asks me why the computer doesn’t do things ‘his’ way (seriously). He also whines and moans when something changes and eventually I end up doing some of his computer based work for him as it’s often easier than listening to his complaints. He abhors any change whatsoever and stresses out whenever a program or operating system alters the way things were done before. Hopefully, your words of wisdom may go some way towards relieving his anxiety and helping him just get on with his life and expend energy in more constructive ways.

  69. Techies do not understand the problems of absolute novices. We are trying to get the concept of Quantum Physics without ever having taken basic arithmatic. I bought a computer 3 years ago and have worked very hard to catch up. I did not even know how to turn it on. Sony Vaio laptop. Just now discovered built in instructions, which by the way only are 1/2 helpful since 1/2 the stuff does not apply to this computer and I have to figure out what does and does not. Just bought a Samsung Note smart phone. No instructions, told to go to internet. Went there-instructions for Samsung Note running Gingerbread, my phone runs Icecream Sandwich. Again only 1/2 of stuff applies. I again have to figure out what applies and what doesn’t. 90% of tech stuff comes out with no explanation of what the *#!! it does or is or will do. Gingerbread, Icecream Sandwhich, Jellybeen, Google, Google Chrome, Vista, windows 7-8-9, Adobe Reader, Scope, Spotify, PDF, Jpeg, Mpeg, Mp3 Mp4.

    I found your blog and clamped on to try and learn. 5% I understood but kept with it. Now maybe 65% understand. Still trying hard. Big pet peeve is others thinking we don’t want to learn. Give us better, (basic info) to learn from. If we don’t even know what the software is for or is supposed to do how can we use it. Could go on forever but will stop here.

  70. Along with M$’s apparent desire to emulate Apple in designing closed system software & hardware as well as coercing their customers to accept “Beneficial Changes” with every PC replacement, I look forward to M$’s entry into auto manufacture.
    Can’t wait to purchase a car with touch-windscreen controls instead of steering wheel, brake pedal, switches etc.

  71. Leo, you are absolutely correct that it is very difficult to make changes to complex software. In the 1960’s I worked on an IBM S/360 computer, that in those days was considered a “mainframe” computer. Fred Brooks, the lead project manager for its operating system development wrote in his famous book, The Mythical Man-month, that implementing changes to computer software had the probability of introducing up to 50% new software errors. (While you fix two errors you introduce a new one.) He was in good position to know because according to him his programming team created two inches of written programming code changes to the operating system each week.
    Back in the 60’s the famous quote from IBM support staff was “will be fixed in the next release” when referring to programming errors. We could hardly wait for the next release because we knew there were going to be many new errors in the software.

  72. To Embrace Change doesn’t require one to give up Judgment. Not all change needs to be embraced… our arms would be too long for such an embrace. And sure, if the car is functioning really well at 150,000 miles of use, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But have it checked often!!
    Embracing Change to me at my age means to observe, to judge, to be curious enough to want badly to see what’s happening out there, what our kids are going to be learning (or have already learned), and enjoy the novelty of those things that are intriguing and worth embracing. An example… the Golden Oldies? The Big Band Era? Wonderful… still important. But The Beatles are now the Golden Oldies and they’re great. And even Rap has some fun and movement… but no, I don’t embrace the brutality, sexism, and amoral content of much of it.
    Nuff said. except to say Happy New Year Everyone.

  73. To Nick on page 7 re Yahoo! Mail
    You should still be able to choose Classic Mail and go back to the more familiar page you are used to.
    Click on options in the top right area of the email page and I believe that is where the option is.

  74. Fascinating article, Leo! Makes me think about the quantity of mail you must get that amounts to nothing more than complaining about changes in computers, software, and gadgets! :-)

    People have always been complaining about changes and technology advances. In the 1930s, people complained about the newfangled “automatic spark control” (vacuum timing advance) on their cars. But if it wasn’t for small, sometimes annoying changes, there would be no progress ever!

  75. Great pep-talk, Leo. I have to confess that I absolutely did not want a computer, and my husband MADE me get one around 7 years ago. Not only did my reluctance put my kids at an extreme disadvantage educationally (I did not realize it at the time–I thought computers were just plain evil), but I found that I was really missing out on life. I now have this all-consuming hobby that is computer based and brings me the greatest joy in my life (next to my husband and family). It would not be possible without the WWW. So thanks for the reminder that attitude is just everything. This article will be logged into my thankfulness journal today:)

  76. Thanks for the challenge, Leo, and I’ll try not to get so frustrated by changes. My problem is that, unlike buying a new car, which I can test-drive and which comes with a handbook, changes to the computer just happen without any explanation or advice. How can I find out how upgrades work, other than by trial and error?

  77. While I deprecate changes in automotive controls, (I think we all should be running magnetos), I WISH I could afford a new PC every 2 years. My boss sees no reason to upgrade from Office 97 and Outlook Express, even though many web sites no longer function with IE6. My point is, we like what we like, and we hate what we hate. Being open about what we hate just ain’t in the cards!

  78. I have just read your excellent article about attitudes toward change. I absolutely agree with everything you say. I just do not understand attitudes that say but “we have always done things this way, why do we have to change?” So many industries no longer exist because people resisted change. Dockers resisting containers, Press unions resisting computerised type setting and printing, Retailers who resist having a web-site etc etc etc etc even some journalists and authors insisting on using their trusty typwriter. Give me a word processor any day. I am a 69 year old amputee, for me the www is a marvelous facility that has transformed my life and I’m sure many others like me. So bring on the change. Millions have benefited from the technology explosion in recent years, and will continue to do so. What do we expect the moaners and groaners to do? Well, they will moan and groan while the rest of us get changed.

  79. I am open to change only if the benefit exceeds the cost. You mentioned cars; changes in advanced technology that enhance safety aspects are great.

    However, breathalyzer features preventing drunk drivers from starting a car are increasing the cost of automobiles for everyone; including me. I do not drink and drive.

    Irresponsible drunks will find a way around this device while costs are increased for everyone.

    Instead, an add-on device to cars should be mandatory for anyone convicted of a DUI violation. This can be effectively enforced by strict sentences for repeat offenders.

    Bottom line – Sensible changes in any field are welcome and we should adapt to it!

  80. Leo my boy, I think you hit the ol’ proverbial nail on the head. The changes are coming on fast and furious, particularly in the healthcare industry. A whole lot of effort going into “tweaking” old software into doing more. Adding new hardware that has to communicate effectively with the old systems. You gotta love it.
    BTW: Enjoy yourself, where ever you may roam, while your on sabbatical.

  81. My problem with change is change for change’s sake. Microsoft rolls out a new OS while still “fixing” the previous one. Firefox is the same. I was a week away from my computer due to my mother’s death, and when I got home it took several hours to “update” my desktop. New updates that “hide” tools behind menus that are themselves hidden. I’m a happy camper with good change, I abandoned my 35mm SLR cameras for Digital cameras and never looked back. But back to computers, I have two relatively new display monitors and a wonderful backlit translucent keyboard. Windows 8 may be the best thing since sliced beer, but I’m not going to change all my computer habits for a “new and improved” interface. I have an android touchscreen phone and tablet, they’re alright for what they do.

    But to extend the car radio anology, if the biggest car manufacter in the country decided to move the gas pedal to the middle of the driver’s floorboard and hid the brake pedal behind the parking brake and hood release, would you be all-fired excited about embracing change? Because that’s what some of this change seems like to me.

  82. There is a very good Third Way between rejecting and embracing change and that is to follow those people on the bleeding edge whose opinion you trust. You are one of those people for me.

  83. I wonder how many of those complaining about change and “newness” had a bad first date and stopped there because it was easier to stay single. Or had a great first date and ended up marrying, only to get a divorce later.
    Thanks for a well written article. Keep up the good work!

  84. I run my own access control company. If you dont mind I will have a little moan. This week I have had to tell 4 customers that because Windows XP is coming to the end of its updates by Microsoft the computers they have now put Windows 7 on won’t now work with their software, their ID card printers, their normal printers, the dongle plugs which worked with XP but now will not with Win7 and a host of other stuff. Please don’t harp on about not embracing change.
    I dont mind change as long as its backwards compatible with everything else that has passed. All to often we get all the stuff from hell dropped on us and we have to go off and buy new software and hardware because someone at Microsoft or a dozen other companies decided it would be nice to zip an icon across the screen with your finger.

    Yes, we like updates but not when it means shelling out hard earned cash ( remember that ?) every year to satisfy the programmers.

  85. I agree with another commenter–the car comparison is false, (unless one buys a new car monthly!) I subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” school, which is my frequent complaint. And I agree with another that the products that come out are so poorly pre-tested, and the early adopters are the guinea pigs. (I now try NOT to be an early adopter.)

    Too often the changes are “change for the SAKE of change” i.e., more money spent.

    I have tasks and projects I like to address via my computers. But I find now that too much time is spent simply keeping up the changes, and sometimes I lose track of what I was trying to address in the first place!

    Even the terminology is a challenge! VERY few products (I can think of only two at the moment) bother defining their terms so that the non-geek can understand them. The undefined acronyms abound, and when I have to “google” these just to understand an installation instruction, it is indeed frustrating.

    In fact, it penalizes senior citizens more than younger folks precisely because we seniors can remember when LOL meant “little old lady” and NOT “Laugh out loud.”

    Not unrelated are the cost-cutting measures in making instructions on products so small in print size that some of us need to use a magnifying glass to read them!! Try really understanding something through a magnifying class.

  86. Change; embrace it, run with it, roll with it, live with it and accept it (or not)—but it will come. If I don’t at least keep up, I feel as though I’ll be left out.

  87. I think your flat out nuts. I’m scrolling down reading your article and my scroll bar disappears now. So when I go to click my mouse to go down a page nothing happens. To get my scroll bar back I have to move the mouse over to the left, click again and then move the mouse back onto the scroll bar and click again. We are being clicked to death. There are thousands of examples of making things worse. Someone should start from the DOS system and rewrite the whole system.

  88. Change is the only constant in this world. I wouldn’t expect Model T tires to fit a 2013 Ford Lincoln but it is frustrating and expensive to have to change hardware that is up to date specification-wise but isn’t compatible with a new computer because of operating system changes or interface connections. Scanners are notorious for this and to some extent cameras.

    For some reason, Touch Screens don’t work reliably for me. Sometimes they work and sometimes they don’t. They react to my touch like a worn out mouse or a mouse with a battery that needs to be changed. So, I can’t use most smart phones, or tablets.

    I like change that shows a clear advancement/advantage but do not like cosmetic changes for the sake of feeling that a change has to be made and today, it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell if the changes are functional or cosmetic without buying the product.

  89. My original comment on 29 December 2012 is still pretty much how I feel today.

    It’s one thing to change a platform, another to just leave thousands hanging with no real instructions, frustrated, expected to rely on the knowledge of those that VOLUNTEERED to answer tech questions, who are probably grasping the same as they are and who often are seemingly more interested in netiquette and overwhelmed by those who are understandably upset and don’t have days or even weeks to decipher the work of ubergeeks that leaves few clues. Software that never finishes a task, doesn’t work on X OS/browser whether IE or Opera/Firefox etc. It can tale a long time for the site’s IT staff to figure these things out and users never seem to get any cntact from the site people, it just eventually either magically works again or people split.

    Lately a site or two have been trying to make all their properties work together and compliment each other, even use a single account and all it’s done is confuse a lot of people who have used some of these new properties since they were independent and fairly new.

    Making a better viewer or improving user interactivity is great to a certain point but when it exceeds the understanding of many users by a mile and with the attitude that they will learn to use it…my rocket scientist days are over in my late 40s, I have other interests, my pets, repairing and using stereo/recording gear, vintage bikes and while I love finding useful information for my hobbies, my hobby of posting VIDEOS to be vaguely specific is really dragged down to unpleasantness of late and it leaves me weary. I lost a parent and a grandparent and nearly died myself in the last two years and incidentally have agonized over government games and my future for so long…do you see why it matters so much now? Everyone is beaten down and tired from dozens of things in all directions.

    They ARE making a bunch of change for changes’ sake now. We don’t need so many things and it’s a huge distraction to using the Internet in general.

    An EDSEL.

  90. Each person can either complain about everything, find fault with everything & everyone, moan, groan & be grumpy – or – not. It’s as easy as that. Attitude, baby, attitude.

  91. I don’t mind change when it is for the better and has a real purpose. All too often in technology (especially software), the purpose of the change is to make what you have outdated so you will be compelled to buy more. All too often the new version is broken and the consumer is used as a beta tester who actually paid for that broken software and priveledge. I think this practice is criminal and developers should be held accountable.

  92. Your article is very good, and the reprint is well timed.

    Something else, though, is a person’s perspective.

    What one person may see as an improvement, someone else will see as a hindrance. Some people like having drop-down menus, while others prefer icons on a task bar. Some people like having to shift gears in their cars, and others like not having to. Still others don’t really care either way – they just adapt to the new way of doing things.

    Also, many people seem to be blaming the wrong companies for their problems. I often read where people complain about an OS because some peripheral device quits working (usually printers and scanners). However, the blame is really with the product manufacture’s failure to provide new drivers. It isn’t the OS developer that wants people to buy new equipment. It’s the product manufacturer who won’t provide updated drivers so their customers will have to buy a new product – hoping it will be from them.

  93. Hi Leo,

    You are correct regarding change, but I think one of the BIG issues with change in technology and computers is the fact that the computers, tools, whatever we wish to call the actual equipment, are designed by computer techs…. people who have repeatedly demonstrated how smart they are with technology but sadly lacking in real world applications. By this I mean systems are changed without any real thought towards the end users it seems…. whom without there would be no point in designing and making the new technology anyway.

    Where is the instruction manual teaching and showing how new functions work, how on earth the average person is supposed to remember any but the basic shortcuts on computers when life is even busier than was only a few years ago. I have a reasonable grasp of computers but when I first got Windows 8 I inadvertently ended up locking my screen across 2 screens – only problem was I didn’t have 2 screens! It took nearly a day looking up articles online to find out how to resolve this simple issue….. Maybe Microsoft and Apple could have better FAQ systems and databases for customers or something similar?

    I have found Windows 8 to be a really frustrating operating system especially in the sense of the “wanky” things it does – drag mouse to the corner of screen to bring up new screens or directories, the change to apps is messy and not simple to use… a lot of the time I sit there just thinking – “really, why do we this wanky stuff”? Consistency doesn’t mean anti-change per say, but change and working with existing systems and users would in my opinion solve a lot of the frustrations and “hate” with regards to new technology.

    As a computer engineer friend of mine once said – “who cares about the consumer… look what I can do!!!” – He said it tongue in cheek but it seems fairly accurate these days….

    Keep up the excellent service Leo, you are a lifeboat on a very stormy sea!!!


  94. My, what a can of worms this article brought out. Generally I am in favour of change, as my job was to make it happen. But a couple of experiences in the computer area show the frustration that can happen. One was a change from Microsoft Work for DOS to for Windows. We spent a week trying to get the macros we were using in Works for DOS to work in Works for Windows. When we finally rang Microsoft to find out what we were doing wrong, they just said Works for Windows doesn’t support macros. No warning of this before the upgrade, and a week of wasted time.
    Much more recently, after my being made redundant from the company (yes more change) I heard they changed their enterprise software to SAP, and they couldn’t ship anything from their warehouse for a week. I don’t know what went wrong, but can only imagine what damage it did to the company. The company is now a much smaller firm, and has had to lay off more staff. I can’t imagine that they are celebrating the change.

  95. Change is ok but change for the sake of change is not. I am old fashioned and still prefer my 1980 Buick to a new car. Have no use for intelligent phones, will take my messages back home at the time I feel like. I don’t need a GPS I know how to read a road map and always get to my destination. When I call a company I want to talk to a real person and not listen to all the options to end up after a couple of minutes at somebody’s voice mail or listen to music for what feels like hours. I like service and I do find that electronics are updated and changed too frequently, in my books this is bad service. I want to have a choice to use something I am used to and not be forced to try a new version just because the manufacturer wants to make more money, please leave me my choice and service your products until they become useless. Maybe I am a complainer but so be it, I feel like a very normal and happy person.

  96. My first computer was a SCELBI-8H with an Intel 8008 processor, 1k of RAM, no keyboard, no monitor, toggle switches for input, and orange LED’s for output. I went through innumerable machines and OS’s. I wrote a simple OS for an Imlac PDS-1 (8k of 16 bit core). On and on. My first MSDOS was about version 2. DOS 6.32(?) was pretty good. My first Windows was 3.11 and I ran through them all, up to XP. So, anyway, I know about change, and have never complained about change itself when it is a step up.

    I agree what Hans, above, wrote in Dec, 2012, so won’t repeat that. The main point there is that change should be well-considered by the designer before they do it. Change for the sake of change is one of the most frustratingly stupid features of any technology. And, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

    Anyway, the happiest change I ever made with regard to computer OS’s is when I changed away from Microsoft completely and went to Linux. I use debian ( ) and find it to be amazingly stable and understandable. I do not have problems finding help if I need it. The changes are well thought out, and software updates slip in without difficulty. Plus, everything is completely free – no cost, and free to modify.

  97. Dear Leo, I have discovered you only recently and I am truly a fan. I date back to Commodore 64. I’ve lost track of how many computers I’ve had since 1982 – how many things I’ve learned and forgotten about computers and how many discoveries I’ve made – but I must say you have become one of my favorite discoveries! I love your style, candor, and simple approach. Your generosity of spirit in sharing things like the actual software you actually use, your explanation of “recommendations,” and now about your “genetic disposition” toward chronic complainers… I love it!

    Change is one of my favorite subjects! I’ve “suffered” through a few changes in my 71 years (I’m a Vietnam vet) but I’ve also “celebrated” a few changes (I have 2 sons and 2 grandsons for example). And in all of it, yours has become one of the most refreshing voices of all, ever, including your “Thoughts and Comments” at the end of this latest post (#447) about the NSA “revelations.” Right On!

    “Embracing the Most Important Attitude” (to understand and cope with change) I wonder if you can relate to this: that the way “we do” business on earth (and the way “we allow” business to be done on earth) will all have to change drastically in the not too distant future (before it’s too late). Business as usual (letting markets decide anything important) will increasingly have to give way to the “ecological requirements of earth” as opposed to the “economic requirements of any mere business.” It isn’t fair that “prevailing attitudes” (toward business as usual practices at all costs) should be allowed to get away with leaving the world such an ecological mess. I have to believe, for the sake of my sons and grandsons, we can do better.

    • Yay! A C64 fan! I myself still use (and program!) a Commodore-128 (fully backwards-compatible with the C64, as it has a native “C64” mode). Indeed, my username in many places is “C128User”. If you’d to try out some of the programs I’ve written for the C64, feel free to contact me… :)

  98. Great article, as usual. When the wheel was invented I’m sure there were people back then who said what do we need that for? After all, “we have been dragging our stuff around for years with no problem.”

  99. Bravo Leo. Methinks one of the best written arguments on the subject I’ve ever read. Thank you for a great year of helpful and enjoyable articles. Looking forward to much more of the same in the new year.

  100. I loved your article…..and I love your style. I’ve learned more from you about computers than anyone else. I’m with you on the complainers of the world. I no longer “suffer fools gladly”. If you are around negative people, you begin to feel sapped of emotional energy so I try to gently remove them from a great part of my life. Just got back from my first ever ten day cruise to the Caribbean and loved it. You wouldn’t believe the demanding, complaining attitude of some of the passengers. I honestly believe that complainers of new technologies are also complainers of everything else in their lives.

    I am in awe of the changes in technology. When I was in college in the mid seventies we had the computers that took up half the classroom. Here’s something I think about often: since mankind has been around for eons, why did it take so long to get to the age of technology and then take so little time, relatively speaking, to make such monumental leaps when there were brilliant people like you way back when?

    Thanks for all you do, Leo.

  101. I agree with most of what you say about attitude and change, however, there is one thing you fail to consider……..the age factor. The younger you are, the easier it is to accept change. It is quite hard to change the way you do things when you are 65+, especially if you’ve been doing something a certain way for several years. Sometimes, as the old saying goes, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” applies. Thanks for all of your articles, Leo, and your advice…..very helpful.

    • I beg to differ. While it might be true for some, MOST of the people who use age as an excuse are doing exactly that – using it as an excuse. They may even believe it, but believing you can’t is just a self-fulfilling prophecy. More often if you believe you can, you can and will and you’ll be happier for it.

      • I think you misunderstood what I was trying to say. I didn’t say the 65 and older people don’t or won’t change. I just said it is harder for them.

  102. Amen, Leo. Amen. Change is an unavoidable part of progress, and it is simply impossible to achieve anything in life without progression, so therefore, we should simply accept change as it is and move on. A thoroughly enjoyable article.

  103. BJC: Actually, he addressed that in the portion dealing with are all changes “better”. As a 60 something retired medical professional, computers and related issues were certainly not my forte. However, it is a new world so – let’s see what it is and what it contains.
    Leo: “We cannot change the wind; We can only adjust the sails”. Works for me.

    • Nice bit of sarcasm there David. I assume all readers realize the iPhone was invented long AFTER the rotary dial disappeared.

  104. Absolutely right on target. This is the same I have told many, many others that life is constant but change is always happening. You are right that attitude is the key. What you do with change or loss is what makes you a better person if you move forward. Thank You Leo

  105. Well said indeed, many good comments too. Actually, at 16 years into computing I no longer write in longhand script so there’s that development to be sure, very convenient, but also I enjoy the reliability of the keyboard and monitor, printer et al and I wouldn’t want to go back lest I were forced to by the turbulent volcanoes and tsunamis of the next Great Flood. With the micro versions of communicators current I wonder whether there will be a desktop for me at Sam’s Club next round of upgrade. I can’t compose on a tablet or an iphone, a Dick Tracy wristwatch or whatever comes down the pike that will assuredly break down anyway and require a new purchase of unknown variety. Hey, I’m 70 now and counting, gimme a break here, eh? Yeah, I’m Canadian too. Cheers and cheerio, mates.

  106. >If the radio controls are completely different in your new car…

    In every car I have ever owned, the radio has been located in approximately the same location, on the dashboard midway between the driver and passenger seats. Likewise the gearshift has been located either on the steering column or between the front bucket seats. Turn signals on column left, etc. On no vehicle have I ever had to go rooting through the glove box, under the seats or in the trunk looking for these controls. I can easily find where to put my keys, and turning the car off was a simple task. Microsoft, on the other hand, moves things around, seemingly at random, with each new incarnation of Windows. If Microsoft made cars (yes, we’ve all seen that joke), their choice would be to just leave the car idling when you aren’t using it.

    >Change isn’t made with malicious intent

    In the pharmaceutical industry, changes to components that do not improve the actual drug (such as changes to the binding agent) are made so that patents (and therefore profitability) can be extended. In the software industry, changes can be made to the user interface and data formats to ensure a continuous revenue stream via otherwise unnecessary upgrades. That is not to say that all change is bad. I find Windows 7 to be a much better interface than Windows XP, however, forcing users to upgrade for arbitrary reasons is just wrong.

    >Folks, pissing off your customers is just bad business

    Apparently Microsoft has yet to learn this judging by the rollout of Windows 8. Then again, I can’t see most home users switching to Linux so perhaps pissing off their customers is not a concern. I read an article recently detailing all of the government organizations in many countries that are switching from Windows to Linux so perhaps Microsoft WILL learn this valuable lesson. My former place of business (5000+ employees) is just now starting to migrate from Windows XP to Windows 7. I have been told that Windows 8.x will likely never be an option.

    >Companies that don’t innovate die

    Again, let’s make the distinction between innovation and “change for change’s sake”. New Coke was foisted upon the public solely because the manufacturer wanted to switch to cheaper ingredients. The change was made solely for profitability. Usability (flavour) was not considered and the company suffered accordingly.

    Look, I’m one of those people who complained long and loudly about Windows 8, just like I did with Vista. Unlike a lot of the complainers (Windows X sucks!!) I backed up my complaints with examples of what I felt Microsoft got wrong. I doubt that any of my concerns made it back to Steve Ballmer but apparently enough respected critics had the same concerns to at least get Microsoft to release Windows 7 and Windows 8.1.

    • Yes, Leo LaPorte contends strongly that Steve lost his job because of Win 8, I had the question almost from the beginning; “how does MS force this ah’ehm, “change” on corporate enterprise?”
      Well seems the answer now is, they don’t, that there will be a sku reorganization and the traditional start menu and desktop will be back in force, while the Metro-style will continue on in the consumer portables and home users who choose that sort of uniformity. If that happens, its an excellent example of change that was not implemented correctly at all, not that the change was bad or good.

    • Reverend Jim, you’re lucky. I’ve had the turn signals on opposite sides of the column, and on the same brand of car at that. Also the gas tank on opposite sides of the car too.

      But I simply got out of one car and drove the other quite successfully every time.

      Fully agree with Leo, as I see so much unnecessary complaining in the Help Forums.

      • Moving the turn signals to the other side of the column is one thing but the changes to Win 8 were tantamount to moving the turn signals to the trunk under the spare tire.

  107. I have no problem with the “attitude” toward change being positive but I especially like the reference to change being linked to new and new not always being better in all respects or even in the majority of respects.
    For example, there’s no doubt smart phones have taken off like an uncontrolled wildfire so there’s a ton of acceptance there. However, I’m now much more wary of riding my bicycle on any road with the knowledge that anyone coming up from behind may be paying more attention to their phone (in addition to the usual distractions) than the road and if one is an avid listener of talk radio shows, the sound quality of calls has become in the great majority, horrible.
    Those who have properly vetted change see if for what it is, change, it may be better, it may be worse, or often it is both. Call me one who cautiously embraces change; I don’t just hand the keys to anyone who comes up and asks for them, so to speak.

  108. “Accept change. Embrace it. Learn from it. Exploit it. See how it’s made the world a much, much better place. Enjoy it, even.”
    That’s exactly the “attitude” of my son, not mine.
    I will be printing this article and hand it to my bank manager and request him to kindly change his “attitude”.
    No, my son does not have a bank account, he is a university student and embraces change, “even look forward to it”.

  109. I agree “almost” completely… I actually dislike changes in the radios by brand of car. One button seems to have numerous functions (even the wipers get in on this). I do eventually figure it out, and have a good time in the car. Thanks for the positive slant on life. We need more of this kind of sermon/message. Happy New Year!

  110. I diagree totally. For example if I ran a business and depended on Google mail and was bringing in several hundered dollars per hour -would I want to stop my business and forfit $ just to learn a new gimic from Google?

    And if the gimic was really of value the free market would take notice and adopt it. But today the change is one sided -people are seldom allowed a vote on change -it’s more like MS and Google saying “we are 900 lb elephants and we know what’s best for you so use what we give you and be happy”. Leo, the computer industry of today is often much like the auto industry of 1965 -change for the sake of change not change for more quality or more utility.

  111. Hi Leo, I read and printed your entire article (story) about ‘Change’. You should publish a book on the subject – it’s great. It reminded me so much of George Jones singing his song about ‘The Choices I’ve made’.

    Also, I forwarded your article to my friend of 57 years. Hope he
    will try to read it and some of the reviews made – too many! Have
    a Great New year (2014) and keep up with the fine choices you make!
    Web Client, Marlin

  112. Great article and I do agree that change is the future. What I do not agree with, is when you are paying for a mail service, you should be able to choose a new one or keep the one you have. And, if we do not want to use the New, we go back to the Basic where you do not have any choices, we could not keep the system that we had and were paying for. Basic to New leaves us with no choices, cannot change font sizes, color, no spell check, etc it just took away all of our choices in mail.
    I also do not believe we should have to pay for a system that that I do not want to use. Leo, thank you for all your newsletters and the help you provide us with. Happy New Year!!

  113. Brilliant editorial Leo and deserves a much wider circulation than your site alone. I finally ‘got it’ a year or two ago when I was refusing to adopt the new Word ribbon. As you mention I took it as an attack on ‘me’ and saw myself as a ‘victim’ – then one day I realized that the problem WAS me and bit the bullet. There was a bit of down time as I was learning but that is inevitable and now I can’t think what a state I’d be in if I’d held on to my old attitude. Interesting, the last time I bought a new car I sat down and actually READ the handbook cover to cover, checking where all the controls were, yet I buy a laptop now and then and just expect it to work. Leo, have a fantastic New Year.

  114. Excellent article. You expressed my thoughts very well. At 66 I assist many (old) people get hooked on the web. (Facebook the exception). Don’t really see the need for all the world to be exposed to everyone’s problems but if they choose to do so I attempt to make it possible for them.
    Most of the older people don’t whine about change as much as the 30 to 50 crowd.
    Keep up the good work and thanks for the info you make available.
    Happy New Year.

  115. Happy New Year Leo..
    Just a few thoughts, I think almost everything that could be said has already appeared in the many comments, but I’d just like to add that CHANGE IS GOOD – I would hate to have to try and catch my dinner with a pointed stick and then attempt to cook it in a cave. Where change sometimes goes slightly wrong is when it is change for the sake of change and not for the sake of improvement – which unfortunately does happen. I also have no problems with Microsoft products, I tend to be quietly amazed with how well they work ( usually) considering the sheer complexity of programmes that are required to work across multiple different system configurations and types – Apple software works on Apple kit – end of story. Finally, Happy New Year again from a silver surfer.

  116. Loved the article and the comments posted. You and others have jumped started the idea of taking and tackling risks and leaving a “comfort zone”. Will diehard change opposers be changed by your article? I’ll try it out on my seriously (every aspect of life) change-challenged friend. It’s fear that paralyzes, I’m afraid. But I do have one complaint: it’s about the cat picture. My cats are forced to constantly change to my whims of schedule: residence relocation, enduring meal lateness, kicking them out of my room at night, shooing them off the dinner table. The posterboy for change adverseness should at least be a composite of a humano. So unfair to these wonderfully adapative, yet non-camplaining creatures. :-)

  117. My take on your article.

    Remember, you make a living out of helping people navigate those changes.

    Embracing it when it provides a needed better function.

    Your genetic disposition about being annoyed with “chronic” complainers,
    is a parallel to complainers getting annoyed with unnecessary changes.
    (most of them are looking for a shoulder to cry.)

    Change does happen; when truly necessary for an added good feature.

    Yes, it must be faced (not embraced, it would be almost sadistic) under truly needed circumstances.

    Change accepted elsewhere is relative. Most people don’t buy new cars, washing machines, TVs., every year. Getting laid off from your job has to be an accepted change.

    No malicious intent on “software” change; just to bringing up a new look on a Web page to keep “front end” artificially appealing or interestingly different with no added value, just programmer’s subsistence.

    New isn’t always better. But, if THEY get it wrong, there will be more change to get it right. We have to navigate through it.

    Change, most of the time, is about THEM.

    Change is good to keep one’s mind alert. Like solving a puzzle. Good for learning to “unlearn” something that worked before.

    Leo, I do loved your article.
    Wish you the very best new year. :-)

  118. Leo: I wish to add a comment or two to what I commented on last year about your article on “Change”.
    1. Not all change is good. Good for others perhaps but not for me for numerous reasons. I’m 82 now and find that I want to fill my days with what interests me. I’ve already installed the changes I need. Most of the other stuff is superfluous to me.
    2. I will continue to welcome change when I can see that it is helpful to me. However, so much that changes concerns things I don’t have and it can be difficult to sort out what would make my life more interesting and/or easier. Being on a limited budget also restricts my desire to change.
    3. I still wholeheartedly endorse your article and think you’ve stated something that needs to be said repeatedly, like at least once a year.

  119. THANK YOU: For the awesome article on accepting the new changes that keep us up to date,
    and totally in command of our own destiny in the computer world. Oh yes we all have those
    moments of frustration, but getting with the changes excites me, it keeps me fired up, to roll
    with the flow. At 79 years of age I love new changes, I correct my self made mistakes and keep
    great people like you busy. Thanks again, and keep up the good work.==FRANK

  120. You right Leo, changes come and go. But it’s up to the individual to except it or reject it. I see no problem with changes as long as we have Ask Leo to get us through the New Year 2014.

    Happy New Year Leo,

    Andy R

  121. I liked the article, and I agree with the general concept of attitude and of how the self-fulfilling prophecy works to the bad as well as the good. However, much of the changes we get by upgrading, from a previous version of MS Word for example, are changes in which I almost delight in the challenge of finding ways around them so that my Word documents continue to be created under MY absolute control.

  122. Can’t agree more Leo. Regarding change sometimes being not for the better, I’ve read in a few places online that sometimes, these software companies make changes that for whatever reason break accessibility. I guess I consider myself fortunate in that I’ve never experienced this firsthand, but I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to have a newer version of an otherwise great piece of software break accessibility in one or more areas. On a related note, my parents and I were at an Apple store in my neck of the woods last week and a Mac Book Air was purchased for me. I have been a Windows user since the mid-90’s, but I’ve thus far had no qualms about the Mac. I’m finding Voiceover–Apple’s built-in screen reader–to work quite well. I’m also finding the learning curve to be rather small, at least for now. I guess I just have a knack for computers.

  123. This is an excellent article! As an IT pro, I completely agree with you. I see everything you mention every day. I have people who try to turn down a new computer (and/or OS) because it’s “different”, and people who can’t WAIT to get one. Guess which one gets the most out of their new machine?

    I am impressed with all the technology-savvy seniors commenting on this article. My dad’s first home computer was a TRS-80, one of the first ones to be sold where he lived. I was in college then (which makes me not quite a senior…) He used to be quite dismissive of anyone who called that computer a “Trash 80” or whatever – he would simply smile and say, “Garbage in, garbage out”, implying that the problem was not the computer, but the user. He learned to program in Basic and COBOL and never looked back, though he was already retired at the time. He died in 1985, but I have no doubt that if he were still here, he would be buying the very latest devices and immersing himself in them.

    I talk to many people who make all kinds of assumptions and judgments about Windows 8, whether or not they’ve really used it. I agree that the touchscreen UI isn’t practical for most business users. But I have not found ONE application or tool that I use in my job that doesn’t work in Windows 8. Everything is there; it just may be in a different place. Once you find it, you’re good to go. In fact, I have downloaded and installed Start Menu 8, but usually use the new interface, to get myself used to it. The Windows 8 search is probably my favorite feature, but there are several things about it that I really like.

    I have always looked forward to changes in the areas of my life that I can control, and I realize some people don’t do that. But I see the difference in productivity every day between people who can’t wait to jump into something new and use new features to make their jobs easier, and people who refuse to accept any change as a matter of course.

    Thanks for all your articles and advice, Leo!

  124. Right on sir.
    Thank you for taking the time to write this timely article. It is highly appreciated.
    May the New Year 2014 bring you and your team continuous success, good health and possibly more and more inspired wisdom for us to benefit.
    Again, thank you very mucho.
    el bobb
    P.S.: Please ”do not change” your approach toward your readers.

  125. Good article Leo, quite well written, but um, apologies, I’m not buying it.

    Change is only good if the inconvenience to the user is out weighed by compelling new features that really are useful.

    Most of the interface changes we see online don’t pass this standard. More often the changes arise from young designers eager to prove their worth, change for the sake of change, change that is about the designer’s needs, and not the user’s needs.

    I would agree that hysteria also doesn’t add value to the user experience. But there is a valid level of communication that should exist between users and designers, and when designers are causing more problems than they are solving, it’s in their interest that they should hear about it.

    Pointless unhelpful change is not inevitable, nor should it be welcomed. I suggest you might redirect some of your sermon to those all over the net who, apparently like you, wish to blame everything on the user.

    PS: I’ve been designing net interfaces for a living for 20 years.

  126. Hi Leo, Your insightful article on “change” was not your usual spiel on computers and such, and the more I read, the more I felt it would have appealed to multiple audiences. For me personally, I’d like your permission to send a copy to my son who’s serving a lengthy prison sentence. “Change” on the inside and “change” on the outside are totally different, for which I would need to write an essay on how they differ. Short of an essay and in a nutshell, my son doesn’t realize how the world has changed since he was first incarcerated; what he knew then does not apply now and if he wants to be up on his game, he needs to change as well. Hearing it from a third party may have an impression.

  127. If you really want to appreciate the role of centuries-old change in our lives, you cannot do better than to read “The Discoverers” by Daniel Boorstin.

  128. Hi Leo- I’ve recently discovered your newsletter and really enjoy and appreciate the information you share answering readers questions. Especially since I’m a self taught computer user. With every new thing I learn I want to learn more. As I read your article about accepting change, I am struck by how this same advice is what is needed to move forward after infidelity in your marriage. Betrayed spouses who never accept the change in their marriage and then use this unhealed scar as an excuse to be stuck, fail to see how embracing this change is a tool for growth. It is a lesson I have finally learned in my marriage and now apply to other areas of my life. It was just an observation on my part I thought I’d share. Thanks again for your great website!

  129. In fairness to Leo I want to acknowledge that his article includes much of my comment. That’s how good and thorough and fair Leo is.

    I just want to add my spin to the discussion. My spin on the wonderful world of poor, misunderstood “change”:

    The reason change can be unpopular, have a tarnished
    reputation, be disliked and viewed with skepticism and even fear is quite simple really: not all change is an improvement. Much change is for the worse not better. Breaks things. That weren’t broken. Along with good Change rides its evil cynical twin:

    Change that is often poorly considered, poorly timed, poorly planned, poorly designed, poorly explained, and poorly implemented. Change the is Unnecessary. Stirs a stable pot needlessly. Change that is meant to address problems that are only present in the minds of the change designer and promoter and he who needs to make a car payment will take our money and break our back with his Change.

    Change is often used to make a working solution obsolete and ineffective and broken and useless and unsupported, forcing us to buy new iterations of a product using money we don’t have or would rather allocate elsewhere but are FORCED, BLACKMAILED to spend at the store of the change designer, seller and promoter.

    Change that takes away good things and features we love. Replaces it with new and “whiz bang “ changes and updates that will take hours to absorb, and hours more to troubleshoot. When we’re fully happy before the purveyor of Change darkened our doorstep and made an unwelcome and unappreciated withdrawal from our bank account, with their Change weapon revolver in our ribs.

    Change has a well deserved checkered history. Much of it is poorly designed, loaded with unintended and unconsidered and potentially avoidable negative consequences and forced on us at gunpoint since the company won’t support their own pre-Change product going forward.

    The track record of Change is quite checkered, often nakedly and shamelessly forced on us for obvious and cynical money making purposes.

    Change is lucky to have the marginal and yin yang reputation it has. Change better keep its mouth quiet. Stop bragging and crowing. Because it’s often just a Trojan horse outside the gated city called our bank account. Change is often hated. Because it is born in a cynical money oriented stew pot. And forced on us whether we like it or not, abusive snd uninterested and utterly ignorant and dismissive of our so called rights

    Stephen Cohen

  130. Hi Leo,

    Of all the computer guru’s “out there”, by far the most intelligently-wise is yourself, and, I wish you to know that I deeply appreciate your constant sage-ness, especially when it comes to these kinds of topics.

    People so easily “allow” themselves to become victims of change, to their extreme detriment. Articles such as this highlight this in an extremely literate, clear and welcoming way.

    I merely wish to offer my deepest and most sincere thanks for the extreme value — above & beyond clinical computing — that you offer. Special indeed!


  131. I hear you, Leo, I really do… but I ‘m an Aspie (i.e., I have Asperger’s Syndrome), which is on the autism spectrum; and as such, I am not wired to deal with change very well.

    I do try — as best I can — to accept change; just don’t ask (or expect!) me to like it very much. :(

  132. I’ve attending a class on Managing Change a while back. The instructor made a great point with this statement: “Things that don’t change, stay the same or get worst.” –Roger L. Kirkham.

    In other words, improvement requires change.

  133. While I agree that change is inevitable and can/should be embraced, I disagree when it is change for the simple sake of change, or ‘fixing’ what is not broken. Two instances come to mind. Microsoft Windows, and the Gnome desktop environment. Windows went from something that was absolutely fantastic (XP) to something so unusable (8 & 10) that the only way I could get any work done was to jump over to Linux. Gnome went from a beautiful, well laid out desktop to something that made your laptop look ridiculously like a giant cell phone. It was change, yes, but unnecessary, totally unnecessary. THIS is why we rant and rave. Necessary change is fine, unnecessary change is maddening. And repeated unnecessary change… well… since this is a ‘family’ type site I’ll leave off with the cussing. The other side of that is age. I like thing to be as they have been because as you get older it becomes more confusing to deal with changes in methods of doing. One horrible example here is the use of those credit/debit card keypads in stores. It appears no two are alike. I have the darnedest time using those even though I much prefer them to cash.

    • There is no such thing as change for the sake of change — at least not here. SOMEONE, somewhere, has a reason for the change. You may not agree with the reason, (or you may not be told what it is), but there absolutely is one. That means that “unnecessary, totally unnecessary” is merely a matter of opinion. While you’re certainly not alone in your opinion, I also know of many people who are of the opinion that Windows 10 is the best ever, for example.

  134. I feel if you can unequivocally accept the fact that “Change is the only constant”, you will find life much easier to adjust to no matter what your age.


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