I got this far, and it's far enough for me. I can't bear to read all 166 posts, since so many are so similar (that's for the questioner to sort for his "thesis," or whatever it is).
My perspective is that I remember when I learned to drive back in 1973, my Mom fretted a bit that we didn't have a straight-drive vehicle for me to learn in, AND that driver's ed at the school didn't use them, either. Her thinking was that she learned in a straight-drive, and that if you could drive one of THOSE, you could drive anything. Eventually, several years (and cars) later, I saw a car in a sales lot I wanted that WAS straight-drive, bought it, and sort of taught myself... Never regretted it.
Although I had "some" computer exposure prior to then, I got hit big in the fall of '85 when our school newspaper bought its first computer, a Tandy 1000. At first it had only floppies and 256K of RAM (hard drive and more RAM came much later), and DOS 3.1, I think. We did EVERYTHING using MS-DOS commands and the Wordstar word processor. I didn't know there was anything else. Later, I learned about all-in-one programs, such as Microsoft Works, which preceded Microsoft Office (did all the same things as the light version does, just maybe less of them). I became an EXPERT at probably the LAST DOS version of MS-Works, and I've never been as productive on a computer BEFORE or SINCE.
Yes, I LOVE all the streaming video and the fact that I can store and manipulate all my digital photos (and I AM also a photographer) on my computer today. And like some others, I built my latest computer. But I remember WELL back when FONTS weren't an issue and we could build very simple databases and spreadsheets that it was A WHOLE LOT EASIER to get A WHOLE LOT MORE WORK done! At the time I was a free-lance writer, having just graduated from college. I'd split the screen in Works, have my notes on the bottom half (do interviews on the phone with a headset and type them right into the file), then cut and paste notes into the story-in-progress on the top half as I went. When I was finished, I'd save the completed story file, which had been saved AS a new file at the beginning of the process so the NOTES file remained "virgin."
Were I still doing interviews and writing stories today, I'd do the same in MS Word -- except WORD makes things a WHOLE LOT HARDER than Works ever did. I can remember when Word wasn't so darned complicated -- at least on the Mac (I've been through PCs, then Macs, now back to PCs again). It seems everyone has tried to make ALL PROGRAMS do EVERYTHING for EVERYONE today, making most of them WAY TOO COMPLICATED. Even Photoshop Elements can be a bit of "a bear" to master, much less the full-blown program I can't afford anyway.
So IS my experience today better than it was 25 years ago?
Yes... and NO.
Yes, like everyone else, I like all the "bells and whistles." But I really DON'T like all the complexities and junk that come with them. I don't mind having to run Security suites and firewalls and keeping Windows Update on Automatic (and even then I check behind it). What I DO mind is that even though I built a 12 GB DDR3, state-of-the-art Core i7 machine with a solid state hard drive, a 10,000 RPM Velociraptor second drive and a 2 GB DDR5 ATI 4870 graphics card less than two years ago, and keep EVERYTHING updated -- ALL DRIVERS, BIOS, EVERYTHING -- I still get "hiccups." The system STILL "hangs" sometimes (ESPECIALLY IN AOL, which I'm about to give up on), and, MOST FRUSTRATING OF ALL -- even with Windows 7 64-bit professional installed to take advantage of all that RAM, almost NONE of the vendors have released 64-bit-clean versions of their software yet, even though there's been 64-bit versions of Windows since XP!!!
So am I FRUSTRATED?!?!? What the HELL DO YOU THINK????? I have 12 GB of RAM, and I run a desktop gadget app that shows how much is being used. I think it's actually passed the 4 GB mark, only VERY BRIEFLY, maybe ONCE in the past 20 months (I bought Vista Professional 64-bit with a $10 upgrade to the Windows 7 version).
This computer business is like the biggest "racket" I've ever seen. Every 2-3 years, no matter WHAT you bought, it's obsolete... Even your OS becomes obsolete and you have to upgrade OSes or you start falling behind. Yet the faster the processors get, and the more and faster RAM, bigger and faster hard drives and video cards we put in, the SLOWER things seem to run, much of the time, because faster than we can buy or build newer, better computers, software developers are building new software that hogs even MORE resources -- not to mention all the STUFF that runs in the background, most of which we have NO CLUE as to what it does.
There was a time, back in the DOS days, when one could install the entire OS (and I don't mean early on -- I particularly like to think about DOS 5.0, a very nice version), and it consisted of just a few files... dozen or so at the most. Try right-clicking your main Windows folder even RIGHT AFTER you install Windows and do a "Properties" on it and see just HOW MANY files are in there... It'll be AT LEAST 70,000! Is there any WONDER we get "glitches" and things run slow???
Right now, including this program, I have four programs running besides a handful of TSRs along the bottom of my Desktop, such as InstantBurn, my Display control, and so forth. But if I do a check to see how many processes are running right now, it'll be around 120, and as I scroll through them I have NO CLUE what most of them are even associated with. Who does?
They've turned these lovely machines we love to chat on, put our pictures on, watch videos and news on, send email on, into incomprehensible devices intowhich even the most advanced user can only hope to have GLIMPSES into the inner workings. When I have problems -- like the other day, when I couldn't get online -- the Windows Error Code that came up? There was no clear definition or explanation of it. MOST of the major Windows Error Codes? You can even GOOGLE them and not find what you need. Anyone wonder if maybe that's BY DESIGN???
No, I'm not a conspiracy nut (maybe just a regular nut), but I certainly think our modern home computing industry is the absolute BEST example of "planned obsolescence" EVER CREATED!