Dr. Jayne Adapts to New IT (and Lives to Tell the Tale)
Sometimes it’s important for those of us in healthcare IT to eat our own proverbial dog food. This week was one of those times, when I decided to buy a new laptop before heading out on a locum tenens gig. Although I did plenty of research and thought about it for several months before I took the plunge, I had some unexpected surprises. Much like EHRs, it had plenty of “undocumented functionality” to keep me guessing.
At my previous employer, we had three choices for end-user devices: standardized desktop PC, standardized laptop, or standardized convertible tablet PC. Regardless of which you selected, the desktop images were pretty much the same. I’ve always opted for the latter because it worked well for me in clinical settings. I liked to use it basically as a touch-screen laptop, so I could free text easily while navigating through EHR screens. Our hardware refresh cycle was typically 4+ years, so it had been a while since I had anything new. Additionally, we were still using Windows 7 and I had not yet had the adventure that is Windows 8.
While shopping for my new hardware, I worried that I had become out of touch with consumer electronics because I had been insulated in the IT silo of Big Health System. That became a reality when it finally arrived on Friday afternoon. I have to say, Dell does a snazzy job with their packaging. The new laptop came in a glossy box with full-color photographic images on it. I was worried that my new device was heavier than anticipated, but discovered that a good chunk of the weight was the decorator-quality box. The real shock, though, came when I tried to start setting it up.
First, I guess you can’t do anything anymore without being online. Despite having purchased full versions of several applications along with the PC, it wanted me to go online to download updates before I could do anything. I had heard a lot about the Windows 8 interface so I was prepared to not have my familiar landmarks. I was not prepared, though for how clicky it is just to navigate to items that previously lived in the start menu. Rumor has it that Microsoft is bringing back the start menu with Windows 10, and I daresay I’ll probably be looking forward to it.
I spent a good hour downloading non-Internet Explorer browsers and configuring links and bookmarks just the way I like them, not to mention the general appearance and settings items. The new keyboard has a totally different feel than what I am used to and I knew there would be a learning curve, so I decided to start slowly with some online shopping. Running skirts on sale, y’all. Get ‘em while they’re hot! I placed my order and felt I was doing well getting used to the new touchpad when I had a big surprise – apparently this model is now touch screen! When I originally researched it a few months ago, they offered it in two versions – with and without. Now, apparently, they only offer it with the touch screen and I didn’t notice when I bought it since it was the same price as what I had researched before.
Although cool, it made me wonder whether the privacy filter I purchased would work with it. Especially now that I travel a fair amount, I don’t need people reading my work on the plane. I wanted to get things organized before I had to leave town, so I left that as a project for another day. I started moving files over from my old machine. I was feeling pretty good on the new keyboard and only typing gibberish now and then, so decided to do some real work. I’ve been working on a textbook chapter for a couple of months and emailing back and forth with a collaborator. We’ve had some bad experiences with Google Docs (which everyone and their cousin seems to use for collaboration), so we do our revisions old-school, emailing them back and forth after each update. I couldn’t open the most recent document from my partner and the laptop threw some ridiculous out of memory error at me despite the fact that Chrome was the only thing running.
I ended up having to download the document on another laptop and move it via USB, so I was already aggravated and distracted. Then, while I was trying to write, I kept getting emails from Gmail alerting me that my various accounts had been signed into from new IP addresses and new browsers. I plowed through some edits then got ready to save. Unfortunately, it stuck my draft not in the good old Documents folder as I had specified, but in some AppData/Roaming folder, which apparently is a hidden folder in file explorer. Not cool.
The last straw was when I got the email from Dropbox announcing that it had somehow (and seemingly without my permission) mated with Microsoft Office Online. Seriously? By this point I was ready to go online to my local school district and start looking for community education courses to help me navigate this mess. I’m really a pretty basic user at home – word processing, email, Internet, accounting software, spreadsheets, Twitter, and the occasional Facebook. I don’t do any multimedia or gaming and don’t like storing data in the cloud unless I really have to, hence the Dropbox account. (Yes, I’m a bit of a curmudgeon that way.)
But here I was with my applications melding in a way I didn’t understand or know how to control without doing a bunch of research or calling the teenager across the street. I decided to give up on the textbook and start writing Curbside Consult. Mind you, I’ve had this computer less than 72 hours and have barely used it. I was looking forward to some straightforward word processing and what happens next? The “I” key decides to stick. The screen instantly fills with the letter I and I’m prying it up with my fingernails to get it to stop. I tried for a good 15 minutes to get it to work right and no luck. Apparently the key has three modes: stick and type a thousand letters, stick and type nothing, or depress and type nothing.
By this point I was ready to throw in the towel and returned to my lowly HP with 2 GB of RAM that I bought in 2009. It’s slow and cantankerous, but has all its vowels and consonants in fine order. As for the new one, it’ll have to wait until I get back in town and am ready to deal with it. If nothing else though, I have a new appreciation for what physicians feel like when we throw new hardware or a new operating system at them without adequate orientation and training.
What’s your take on Windows 8? Email me.
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