a future without doorknobs

In the latest news of Everything Must Always Be Connected, Adobe’s decided to nuke the Creative Suite line and replace it with something that is almost identical except that you have to subscribe and it validates itself monthly by checking in with an online server. It’s got the oh so trendy “cloud” bit in its title. And the icons are hideous.

Naturally, the Design World is all “what the shit is this?”

There’s a staple of sci-fi shows that I always wonder about: doors without handles. You know what I mean. Character approaches door. Character waves at it, or presses a button in the wall, or says the password, and door opens. Character walks through. Door closes. Door may or may not express happiness at performing its one function of opening and closing for a person.

I always wonder the same thing: “What do they do when the power goes out?” Do they sit around twiddling their thumbs in hallways and bathrooms until the power is back on? Are these doors hermetically sealed? Can you die of asphyxiation stuck in a broom closet of the future? I can’t remember that I’ve ever seen that addressed — and I watch far too much scifi for my own good — that the whole ship/satellite/complex has a power failure and everyone is stuck in inconvenient places while She Who Saves The Day spends a ridiculous amount of time in service tunnels, with a flashlight clenched between her teeth. The power never goes out, ever. It’s unthinkable.

For a Floridian, that right there is the most improbable part of something involving space-time continuums, metaphysical forces, alien parasites, and all manner of creatures that look like people with rubber bits stuck to their faces.

(One thing I noticed about Firefly right off: the doors had handles. I loved that. BSG too.)

Living in the lightning-strike capital of the US as I do (not the world; that’s Rwanda I believe), I have had to deal with the power going out. A lot. It’s not as bad as it used to be, with the power companies and telcos bettering their infrastructure, but it still happens. When I hear thunder, I make sure all my gizmos are on the charger, just in case. It’s as much a reflex as the stingray shuffle; I doubt I can unlearn it, at this point. It’s an inconvenient fact of life: electricity is not one hundred percent reliable.

Back to Adobe. This new stupid bit of DRM assumes that everyone has one hundred percent reliable power and internet access, at all times. That strikes me as naive, if not outright stupid, because I’m accustomed to a place where you don’t, and I know too well that law which states the software will try to revalidate itself at the most inconvenient possible moment, and then shut down completely, requiring three days’ worth of telephone calls (because you can never get anything done like that with email and webforms) and meanwhile your project, whatever it is, has gone right down the shitter.

It’s like they live in the sci-fi world without doorknobs, and I’m over here in reality where things not only don’t work that way, but can’t.

Ask me about that time I fried three network cards in one summer. I’d go to the parts store and they’d give me this look, again? But that was back when we had copper wire, not fiber-optic, which I am assured works just fine underwater, and which I know for a fact will still transmit even if it’s absorbed by the root mass of a cabbage palm. The future marches on, but it still has handles on automatic doors. Just in case.