Tonight, I finally decided to stop being lazy and updated the SYNC system in my Ford Taurus. I don’t mind telling you that I love my SYNC system. I don’t have the fancy version with built in navigation and news, etc, but mine does allow for hands free phone use and just as important, streaming music from my iPhone through Bluetooth.
Which brings me to an interesting note.
Before I get to that however, please note that Microsoft, Windows, Apple, the iPhone, and anything else mentioned is trademarked by and all that by the appropriate companies etc, etc.
My interesting note is this. SYNC is a Microsoft and Ford creation. The good thing about the SYNC system is that it is upgradeable. You use a USB drive, download updates, then upload them to your car. I would like to say this is an easy task. For me? It is. But I will tell you that if my parents ever owned a Ford Car with Sync, it would NEVER EVER get updated, unless I did it. Why? Because like most things Microsoft does, it’s creepy complicated.
First, you have to plug in the USB drive and choose your update from the SYNC web site. Then you have to try and convince the web site to actually install the update on your USB Drive. Sometimes, or often, or almost always, it doesn’t want to corporate. But, if you keep with it, you can get your update.
Once you do that, you take the USB Drive to your car, plug it into your USB port in the car, and then… then you have to go though about 48749292749403 steps in your menu system to get the update to INSTALL. When it’s installed, the car is nice enough to inform you that the installation is complete. BUT WAIT. It hasn’t completed. Honest. The 573937493739 steps in the instructions make SURE YOU UNDERSTAND THIS. You then have to wait. And Wait. You wait anywhere from 8 to 20 minutes for the car to ONCE AGAIN TELL YOU THE INSTALLATION IS COMPLETE. Because obviously, this makes TOTAL SENSE.
Then, you once again plug the USB drive into the computer and try to “report successful installation”. This means the web site must communicate with your USB Drive. Of course, as I’m sure you guessed, almost never works. This is so you can erase everything on the USB Drive, download the VERSION Checker, and run THAT in your car. This design is obviously done on purpose, by some nerd who thinks this is funny.
Funny thing is, I find this no different than Windows on my computer.
Now don’t get me wrong. I like Windows. Mostly because when I entered the work force (a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away), everything ran on DOS. For you young whipper snappers, that is also a Microsoft operating system. One that required that you TYPE in everything. If you were smart, you could build a shell program that with the press of a button would launch programs for you. Then, windows came around and made things easier. Meaning you could use a mouse to double click on icons which would start a program. This is, I’m sure, what you are all familiar with. Of course, Windows crashed a lot. Got lots of updates. And was genuinely a pain in the rear. This is because Bill Gates and his employees are all Nerds of highest sort, who think that everyone needs to be as smart as them to run a computer.
At one time, there was some slight completion to Microsoft. It was Apple. But for some reason, Apple didn’t take off as quickly as the board thought it should so they kicked the man who invented Apple out of the company. I’m talking about Steve Jobs. However, because they couldn’t do a better job of taking over the world like Bill Gates and his Nerds did, they brought him back into the fold. Steve Jobs them started quickly slamming the Nerds and brow beat them into FUNCTIONALITY over all, along with EASE OF USE. That’s when the iPod came out, and pretty much changed the world as we know it. Soon, there were millions of people walking around with those trade mark white ear phones in, listening to music.
Now Microsoft, not to be outdone, already had a media player that would allow you to rip music, and also transfer it to a music playing device. Trouble was, it was so difficult to use, no one wanted to use it.
I leaned this when I got my daughter an iPod for Christmas. I downloaded iTunes, plugged the iPod in and was simply… amazed. It was so easy to use that even I could do it, and that is saying something. With the release of the iPhone, and then the iPad, that simplicity hasn’t changed. Sure, it has it’s problems now and then, but even where there is one, it’s really really easy to recover from.
So all this got me thinking. What would it be like if Microsoft or Apple ran your life?
Wake up. Got to bathroom. Push buttons on toilet until you get to the right menu option to flush. When it crashes and hangs, call a plumber (technical support).
Get in your car. Try to sort through various menu options to get car to start. Car won’t start so you call your mechanic (technical support). Or, the car starts, and you drive to work, trying frantically to keep up with pushing various buttons to sort through menus to use blinkers, etc. Hope the car doesn’t experience a system crash. If you happen to make it to work, hope that the car cuts off, instead of “hanging”, causing you once again to call your mechanic (technical support).
Work all day at the office, hoping your computer doesn’t give you any trouble, making you call IT (technical support). If it does have trouble, you don’t get any work done. However, the computer will helpfully display a message advising you to check the Microsoft Knowledge base for help, but you can’t connect to the internet, because your computer is not working.
Drive home. Hope the car, once again, gets you there without having to call your mechanic (technical support).
Try to fix dinner. Scroll through various menus to make the stove work, hoping like mad nothing goes wrong and causes the house to fill with gas, causing an explodion when the stove lighter works at random times. But this time, there is an update for your stove, which you have to install before cooking dinner. Unfortunately, the update won’t download, so you have to call a repair man (technical support) and you go to bed hungry.
Just so you know, all technical support is handled by someone in another country, who has an accent so think you can’t understand what they are trying to tell you, and apparently has trouble understanding you as well. They will seem more interested in updating your “information”, such as address, e-mail, and phone number, than anything else.
You wake up, go to the bathroom. Push a button to flush. If it doesn’t work, it recovers automatically with one push of a button and off you go to eat breakfast.
You get in your car, push a button and your car starts. If it doesn’t another push of the same button recovers everything and the car starts. As you drive, there is only one button to push to use everything like blinkers, etc. As you drive, you notice an update is available. You push the button and the update installs while you are driving. Oh and the car plays your favorite tunes, or allows you to talk on the phone while you drive.
You get to work and use your computer, slightly irritated by the fact the mouse only has one button, but at least you meet your deadline. The plus side is, you can listen your favorite tunes while you work.
You get in your car and drive home, while listening to your favorite tunes.
You get home and cook dinner on the stove, which also has one button that somehow knows exactly WHAT you are cooking and works like a charm. Oh, and the stove helpfully plays your favorite tunes while you eat.
Boy I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Though I still use Windows, this is how it seems the world would be. Now, I think I will go download some music from the iTunes store, and push a button and watch it install on my iPhone… with ease.