Thursday, December 12, 2013

Low-Fat: the Microsoft of Diets

You know the feeling: there's a system out there that's wildly popular, almost everybody uses it (except for some maverick non-fiction-loving nerds), and its proponents are at the top of the heap in their field. And yet the system isn't working for you. There's bloating. The help from on high isn't helpful. It takes so long to accomplish anything.

It isn't you, it's the operating system. Low-fat diets are like Microsoft products: they're everywhere, and they work well enough for some people, but for others, they're an epic fail. Over the past few days, to work around an issue that Microsoft has known about for years and years, I've had to manually resize dozens of images every time I opened a document. And I've spent the entire evening tonight figuring out why my computer was at a standstill. (It turned out the automatic updates feature in good ol' Microsoft has been running up my CPU usage to 100%, bloating it like five servings of fruits and vegetables and a bowl full of whole grains. Disabling it has brought it down to 15% and made my computer functional again. Unfortunately, it has to be enabled to even get manual updates.)

How is this like low-fat diets? If your body doesn't run well on glucose for whatever reason (GI problems as I have, wonky blood sugar, dental problems, a weight problem, hormonal issues, mental function issues, etc.), it can take everything you have just to get through the day if you're trying to do low-fat. Most people without those problems won't understand.

Like the theories behind low-fat diets (the cholesterol hypothesis, the diet-heart hypothesis, the sugar-bad-fiber-good hypothesis, the ever-changing Mediterranean diet with its French paradox, and so on), Microsoft is a moving target. Office 2010 took the tools people had used for 20 years and scattered them. Some of the tools are gone. (The quick access toolbar is fine until you have to work on someone else's computer.) Third-party vendors, like makers of extra-mild toothpaste and stomach remedies and diet pills and moisturizers, are there with software you can download to work around Microsoft's problems so you can get something done.

There has to be a better way. The paleo equivalent of modern-day software might be DOS, which I actually found easier to work with. Maybe my next computer will be a MAC; maybe I'll get a Google tablet. I'm not paying $90 for Windows 7. Microsoft may think it's untouchable because its products are entrenched. But not so long ago, people switched from manual systems to computers. They can switch from one system to another system as well--and in the interest of saving time, money and frustration, they may do so. Microsoft is being protected by the network effect (it's widely used and companies want to be compatible with one another); low-fat diets by authority (government regulations that some people are subject to and scare tactics from authority figures). But no moat is unassailable.


Angel said...

Haha, love this analogy! I just sympathized with a friend yesterday who was moaning about Windows 8.

And I have a difficult time believing that most people do well on food pyramid-like diets. I think the vast majority of people find them unsatisfying, but that may be my own miserable experience influencing my opinion there.

Lori Miller said...

I just spent almost an hour fixing paragraph numbering in a document--an hour because Microsoft's Fisher-Price word processing program is so childproof that their forced/auto numbering is hard to override. Is it just me or has this gotten worse with 2010? I wish they'd just fix the bugs in their software and provide manual overrides instead of dumbing it down.

Lowcarb team member said...

Grrrrrrr makes me mad. You can be happily doing work on the computer and then boom something happens. Of course you think "it must be me" but very often it's not.

Is modern day technology worth it?

Would we all have tons more time without it?

Not easy to answer, we are all so used to hitting the key pad and expecting things to work ok.

Well I've posted this to you - so far so good.

All the best Jan

Lori Miller said...

What makes me mad is that they change things just to be changing them so that we have to buy their new versions. They should just (1) fix the damn bugs and (2) have manual and auto settings, like those on an SLR camera.