Help, I Want My Software Back

everything i used to know about using software has disappeared, also i am old now

I’m trying to fit my head around the absurdly sudden realization that tech and software and the internet mostly don’t exist for me anymore. They exist for developers, and they exist for people that use a lot of Facebook/Google/Twitter/Apple, but they don’t exist for me, user with a Windows desktop machine and a willingness to fiddle with settings and install bits of software to do individual things, but not to install five package managers and three development environments just to get a tool running; an entire market sector seems weirdly gone, and I don’t know what to do with this discovery.

I’m probably hitting middle age a wee bit early. Is this how people feel before they have that mid-life crisis? Like everything they used to know is gone now, and nothing that remains quite makes sense?

You get apps, or you get cloud services, or you get IoT devices, or you get tools made by developers for developers. There is very little else. Why? I can see how we got to this place, via App Stores, and walled gardens, and Silicon Valley-style venture capitalism. Either you want everyone as your end-user/product, thus narrowing your design and UX choices, and your capabilities, or you want to be able to assume that the end-user will just make their own crap or cobble together a twelve-step workflow if they can’t get yours to work properly. Was this inevitable? Is this the way things should be? Why isn’t there any middle ground? Why do I keep feeling the need to yell at these kids to get off my lawn?

There are 4-5 standalone RSS readers for Windows. Maybe one or two are being currently updated, the rest have had their development abandoned. The ones that exist don’t really do what I want them to, or are annoying to use. I can sign up for an online RSS aggregator, or install my own on a server, or use a browser plugin so I will have to figure this out all over again the next time I switch browsers. None of these things are exactly what I want. It’s so weird to not be able to find exactly what I want. I need to think about my wants and needs again.

I’m starting to think I may be old and crotchety.

I set out to make this static website, and the only tools I could find for this were developer-oriented. Hugo was the only one that didn’t require me to install a full-on development environment, although I still needed to install git (a version control system) to easily download themes for it. Dreamweaver still exists, but it’s an Adobe Creative Cloud subscription app now. You can only buy the very basic set of Microsoft Office applications as a one-time purchase. Everything else is subscription-based. All of this was coming, I heard people yelling about it ten or more years ago, but it didn’t seem to apply to me then, and I didn’t think it would really turn out this way. The height of hubris, really, for me to assume that software and the internet would continue to exist in ways that I enjoyed and found useful while I waltzed off to poke around in the shiny new ecosystems that were springing up.

Now, as I want to pull back into more individualized options from the larger internet ecosystems that have taken over so much, as I want to feel like I own my own systems of working again, those options are disappearing. Or have been disappearing for the last decade. I feel like I should be in mourning, but I’ve still not really convinced myself that that’s reasonable or sane.

At least PC games have never really gone away. Escapism is vital.