We often look at people who believe in "conspiracy theories" as though they are a little -- or more often, a lot -- crazy.

People believe that government, society, business, and/or aliens (among other entities) have agreed to work against them to cause harm, loss of property or in some cases, death.

This is one of those columns about a conspiracy theory in which I believe.

But unlike those crazy people, I have evidence.

This is my theory: Engineers of mechanical equipment and electronics have conspired to make sure they have job security.

Two of our three cars did not start today. That's not a conspiracy; that's the weather.

But here is the plot of wickedness: If you were to look under the hoods of two of my cars, you would not see a battery.

That's because at around the turn of the millennium, the engineers at General Motors decided that the logical place to put a battery is under the back seat.

I know, I know: That seems absurdly crazy -- until you look for yourself.

I remember looking under the hood, then consulting the owners manual to see if they had disguised the battery as, oh, I don't know, an alternator or windshield washer fluid reservoir.


"We put your battery under the back seat," wrote the engineers, with that same tone your older sibling used when hiding your favorite toy. I could almost hear the "Na-na-na-na!" in their tone.

In place of the battery's positive and negative posts (used of course, for jump-starting) the GM engineers put a positive post where the battery used to be and tell you to put the negative post on part of the car's metal frame.

This, as you may imagine, does not work as well as placing jumper cables directly where jumper cables were created to go.

GM is not the only car company to do illogical things in an effort to make life more complicated for customers (and more profitable for itself). My old 1979 two-door Mercury Grand Marquis had perhaps the largest passenger doors in automotive history, yet they attached the glass of the window with: Plastic. And when the plastic broke, I bought a replacement part which was a piece of strong metal -- although the Ford Motor Company designed the passenger doors with metal bars that blocked access to that part of the window assembly.

* * * *

Those engineers have moved on, now. If you have a GM car, your battery is most likely where it should be (and where batteries have always been). And I assume that Ford uses metal for its windows, as no windows have malfunctioned that way on any of my other Ford vehicles.

Have you ever wondered where those creative pests have gone?

I can now clearly explain. I have evidence. They went on to Microsoft, where they employed the same "battery under the back seat" strategy in creating Windows 8.

When you turned on your W7 computer for the first time, you saw a desktop that clearly shows you a variety of options.

When I turned on my W8 laptop for the first time, I saw: A blue screen.

This of course, led to hours of manual-consulting, and Googling "Windows 8" from a computer with W7.

I did find enough information to find/create my own work space, which mostly functions like a W7 desktop (although you have to use something the W8 engineers call "Desktop Assist."

Most people believe that the more advanced a system is, the better it is supposed to work.

Nonsense. W8 proves this to be false.

W8 is the work of computer technicians, programmers and other IT professionals who realize that advances in technology -- and the fact that virtually all of our devices, from our phones to our cars are now run by computers -- means that we have forgotten how important the work of computer engineers really is.

So to keep themselves employed (and to keep our appreciation) they deliberately make things more complicated than necessary.

That's why, with W7, when I want to watch a movie on Netflix, I can.

But when I try that on W8, it tells me I can't until I download the app from the Windows Store.

And yes, the Windows store is as complicated, convoluted and generally useless as that initial W8 blue screen.

So, after you read this column, please send a deeply sincere thank-you note to your computer company, praising their engineers.

If we don’t thank them now, we will regret it when they reveal Windows 9.

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Comments (1)

While I have many issues with windows 8 (attempting to comment on this article darkened my screen and nothing else - you know where the Refresh Button is in IE? NOWHERE!) the store is the least aggravating. Partly it's because there's so little of anything useful in it, but Netflix was a pretty straightforward thing. Quicken, on the other hand, is quite the exercise in frustration on an extended display in W8.
By: Anthony Bopp on January 7th 4:20pm

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