One more turn of the tide

Amidst an ever-advancing barrage of app updates, software upgrades, and new products, how can one cope — or refuse to cope?

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( eriksvoboda /Big Stock Photo)

First it was my ToDo app. An update check brought me a dire message: ToDo’s newest version refused to stoop to my iPhone’s antiquated operating system. If I chose to continue to live in the wrong generation, frozen at ToDo 6, I would do so without hope of succor or support.

I have since lived in fear that one day I will tap the blue checkmark icon and nothing will appear. My starred tasks, my focus list, my errands list, my annual holiday preparations list, my housework list, my choir board management list, my cape cottage list — all will have vanished into internet vapor. I would have to go to bed for the duration or move to Canada and take up a new identity, as I wouldn’t have a clue what to do in my Wallingford, Pa., life. So I regularly print out my task list, to the great annoyance of my daughter, who founded her school’s sustainability club.

Next it was iBank, the personal financial management program I had to learn to use when Quicken temporarily snubbed Mac operating systems and wouldn’t let me upgrade.  Now iBank wouldn’t let me upgrade to its next version — awkwardly renamed Banktivity — because of my MacBook Pro’s outdated operating system.

I have since lived in fear that one day I will click the iconic white-columned edifice with the gold coins pouring out of its doors to discover that my decades of bank and credit card statements, tax reports, investment analyses, and net worth graphs will have been sucked down into the black hole of oblivion, leaving a blank computer screen. So I continue to get paper statements, to the annoyance of my banks (which charge me for the privilege), my credit card companies, and, again, my daughter.

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Then Microsoft got involved. I couldn’t log on to Skype. A pop-up window instructed me to install the latest version — which I did four times to no avail, forcing me to “chat” with a support rep. The keeper of the keyboard sitting up in some Microsoft cloud informed me that Skype for Mac would now be available only to those running OS 10.9 or higher. I got a bit huffy in my response, suggesting that Microsoft might have communicated this in advance rather than let me download and reinstall the new version four times only to have it refuse to have anything to do with my OS 10.7 every time.

The chat box went silent, but I didn’t care. I could always use FaceTime instead of Skype. Take that, Microsoft!

As if to prove that the folks in Redmond, Washington, had heard and heeded my suggestion about giving advance notice, but also to punish me for having the idea, a month later up popped a message: Microsoft would no longer support my 2011 version of Office after Oct. 10, 2017. The message included a link to purchase the newest version, one much more advanced than I needed, accompanied by a complicated pricing grid. It is now well past October, and here I am still using my antiquated Office suite, again tempting fate and living in fear.

I am aware of the recurring motif in my various tales of woe: I don’t update or upgrade my various Mac devices when I should, or even at all. Updates and upgrades bring their own form of terror with them.  (Will my iPhone restart? Will Sierra corrupt my files?) But I have chalked up all this discomfort and dismay to just dealing with newfangled gadgets that have existed only recently. They are not old friends.

And then this news: Wisk laundry detergent is no more.

Yes, Wisk, launched by Lever Brothers in 1956 as the first liquid laundry detergent. Just three years younger than I am. Famous for tackling ring around the collar. Poor Wisk. It was dumped by Unilever when that company sold off its North American brands. Picked up by Sun Products, it was pronounced dead by Henkel, which had bought Sun in 2016 and wiped out Wisk in 2017. Dead. Done. Defunct.

Henkel replaced it with Persil. Persil! That doesn’t even sound like anything related to laundry rooms or cleaning agents. It sounds like some character that would appear in an Oscar Wilde play, Lord Persil Pemberley Pettigrew — or even a mispronounced frilly little umbrella carried around in the same play.

I will not submit to Henkel’s push of Persil. No, I am turning to Tide. Powdered Tide has been around since 1946. It will be the most old-fangled product in the house. Even more old-fangled than I am.

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