Thursday, July 23, 2015

‘Taking it slowly

IMG_20150723_183953I dropped into my Leisure Centre at six, e-book and MP3 player in hand as customary.  I’m trying to wrap up a light, misogynistic  thriller so that I can get into Hatching Twitter, the personal startup story of  the one social medium I’ve never understood.

A row of signs diverted towards the gym: Blood Donations Evening.    I knew that NHSBT hosts donor events across England, much as the Red Cross does in the US.  I’ve always  given blood, initially because it earned me a free dinner at Burger King in college, but later because I knew so many friends and colleagues who benefited during their hospitalizations.  At this point, it would also be interesting to see how the process compared here in the UK.

Country to country, societies reveal their truest selves in grocery check-out lines.  The Dutch fling new goods down the belt before the previous customer has cleared the area.  The US is more polite, but asocial.  In the UK, people take it slowly, chatting with the clerk, counting out change, digging for coupons.

IMG_20150723_190900Giving blood is much the same: a stepwise process through intermediate queues, earnest polite conversations at each station.  The level of concern for my travels and possible exposure to West Nile Virus was new, and the laboratory screening tests seemed more superficial.  I  liked the space-capsule style recliners and the techs were much better at hitting a vein on the first try than their American counterparts.

But the experience is much liken  the Tesco check-out: calibrated to the slowest participant, fully satisfied before moving on to the next. It took an hour and a half to complete the donation.

Win 10A similarly slow and deliberate process accompanied my transition to Windows 10 this week.  I have hated Windows 8, the touch-tablet universal interface getting in the way of work constantly.  The new upgrade promised to be more desktop-friendly, with tiles moved to the background and the return of the start menu.

I approach these brain transplants with care.  There are always missing (video!) drivers and dropped settings during the upgrade.  I backed up everything locally and to the cloud before starting, scheduled the install to occur at 1 am, and crossed my fingers.

Happily, this was the smoothest upgrade that I’ve done.  There were no lockups and I think that everything came through unscathed.  I like the new focus on the desktop a lot, and the Start Menu is learning my habits and preferences.  Each day, more of  what I need is offered ever-more conveniently in its menus

There are some configuration adjustments (CNET and BGR have recommendations) and I’m not sold on Edge or Bing, so I set default browser / search away from them the first day.  But otherwise it seems to be a worthwhile and painless upgrade that solves a lot of usability problems.

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