For the past two weeks, I've been hiding from the world on a Swedish farm. No broadband, negligible mobile coverage — in fact, nothing but various forms of shortwave radio to keep me connected. The experience confirms my suspicion that the Internet is a huge psychic tick that drains creativity, knowledge and motivation painlessly away. Cut off from the Web's probing mouthparts and anaesthetic saliva, I scoop nearly 50k words of lopsided fiction out of my system and into a review notebook — which subsequently looks like it's been beaten up by a mad tramp, as a glance in a mirror at the end of the sojourn shows I have become.
So, what have I missed? Free software cuts costs for schools, say schools. Nonsense, says Microsoft — you pay less if it costs more. Firefox has serious security problems — fixed in 48 hours. IE has serious security problems — not fixed in 48 hours. There are rumours that an election took place: I see little evidence of this. 'People want ID cards,' says government. 'Pardon?', say people. Software patents get ever more absurd. Wireless standards get ever more entangled in puffery and special interests. A week might be a long time in politics, but a fortnight changes nothing in this game.
However, something has changed in the office. I wrote an intemperate and bloody-minded piece before Sweden about the absurdities of Microsoft's email software, which was founded at least partially by the amount of swearing that Outlook and Exchange squeeze out of me — to the annoyance of several colleagues. The article got a few 'blimey, he's off on one again' responses from muh fellow Cnettians — but on my return, I find them too swearing much more freely at the damn thing. "Outlook really blows goats, doesn't it?" said one previously imperturbable chap.
Perhaps it's time. Perhaps the "No, not good enough" idea can spread, buoyed up on a foam of bad-tempered rudeness and irritable dissatisfaction. And it isn't good enough. If you haven't tried a Mac recently, then do. Have a Linux luvvie show off what that can do. Then sit back down at what Microsoft claims is the state of the art in software development, and prepare to swear. We've tried being reasonable, we've tried being firm — now's the time to be openly rude.
Oh, and it's my 40th birthday today. I've been nice, quiet and calm for quite long enough...