Posted by: Dahni | February 21, 2008

How Much Technology?

How much technology do we need? Technology is supposed to keep us all better informed and provide us with more opportunities to become successful and give us more free time for leisure or the pursuit of out individual passions. How is all that working for you?

My wife Susan and I took a road trip recently to visit some friends in another state. We loaded the car and our iPod was all set with play lists of our personal choice. Hours of music without commercials and the no-repeat of a single song is an incredible thing and all on a device not much larger than a credit card. There were only two problems. We do not have the latest model of vehicle which has an accessory port to plug in the iPod. No, we are still using an FM transmitter, which works fine most of the time. But there were times when we had to change FM channels or through the mountains, we could not get a signal at all. I can’t wait until we upgrade vehicles because technology has already solved this problem. Yay’ technology!

The other problem encountered with the iPod or should I say with are cell phones was sound itself. Both Susan and I repeatedly thought our individual phones were ringing while listening to music. Apparently many of the songs have similar sounds as the ring tone on our phones. This was driving me crazy, so now I’m looking for a ring tone for my cell phone that sounds like a telephone ringing. I know that sounds weird and may even be weirder to you when I find and download the right tone. You might even scratch your head if you are around when it rings and would wonder what the sound is.

GPS (global positioning satellite), WOW I want this! It will be great to know where you are, where you are going, and how to get there. It must be great for guys that ordinarily would just drive around for hours without asking directions because they could find where they were going. It must be great for women that used to have to be in the same vehicles as these guys. It is curious that the automatic voice heard from these devices, telling you where to turn etc., is often a woman’s voice. I do think these devices should be designed and sold to be gender specific or have the option of going back and forth, depending on who is driving at the time. Just admit it, men and women think differently. I guy is looking for street or road names etc. O woman often gives and receives directions based on landscapes. For the ladies the GPS voice should say something like this: “Turn left past the Blue house and then take a right past the purple flowers. Drive until you see the Fashion Bug and take another right.

Coming soon, GPS will enable us to know where other vehicles are on the road in relationship to where we are. We will know if we are going to hit them before we do. If they have the same ability, they will know we are going to hit them before we do. I don’t know maybe this is silly, but wouldn’t it just be better if we didn’t drive if we can’t see? I don’t know about you, but I would rather not know that I am going to hit something or someone before I do.

While still thinking about cell phones, we can use our voice mail which we also have available on our landline phone. Personally I prefer to see the blinking lights or hear the bleep of our answering machine when we return home or to the office. I have to call voice mail to see if I have any messages or if I want to return the calls because I know you or want to talk to you. The answering machine at least tell me I have messages and how many there are. The features of phones are really kind of neat like call waiting, excuse me, I have to put you hold to see if the other call is more important to me than you are. How rude. Call forwarding and conference calls are nice. Caller ID is useful, but how come I still answer unknown calls or calls from callers that block their numbers? I am curios of just stupid I guess. Why not prevent the calls from going through in the first place until they let you know who they are? Yep we are on the do not call registry both nationally and in our state, but we still get calls, a lot of them. Now wouldn’t you think that with all this technology and I get a call from out of state the phone would know to first dial a ‘1′? That doesn’t happen so what is the point of automatic re-dial if I have to write down the long number that I couldn’t otherwise remember and then plug in each digit of the number? And why if the caller does NOT actually leave a message does my answering machine show I have a message?

We have a subscription to a local newspaper, but I can’t tell you the last time I read one. We make the recycling people happy I guess with all the newspapers and blue plastic covers. It is not that I do not like to read, but there are just so many ways to get the news. Television, radio and the Internet all vie for my attention and probably yours as well. This is still the information age and information is well, all over the place and available 24 hours a day and seven days a week. Information is only a mouse click away, but how come we have stuff like Apparently we don’t or can’t trust all this information available to us. I wonder if most people know that the very popular online encyclopedia is not always accurate. Anybody can write stuff and share it on Wikipedia and yes, make up stuff. Who checks for the accuracy of information? Who checks the checkers? You can always do a search with a search engine to check, cross-check and compare information. Have you every tried to look for an image of a tree and found pictures of a rabbit? I am not sure how a rabbit is associated with a tree, but apparently the search engines think they are. Who checks the search engines?

Computers are fantastic and they are also a great source of irritation. We have three, five if you count our cell phones, which can check our email and go online and surf the Internet. We can pay bills, listen to music, go shopping, play movies, check Email, do research, contact other people, chat, do video conferences, and attend classes and seminars or webinars. We can attend church online. All of the above activities can be done almost anytime in the comfort of our home and all while still in our PJ’s. Yes, we can download, upload, upgrade, down grade, explode and implode I guess too. The last two could either be a metaphor for our mental state or physical manifestations when something goes wrong with our computers or Internet service. There is nothing much more traumatic in life than having our computers messed up is there? There are all kinds of perils, but there is technology to solve every problem? Well it all starts with backing are hard drives I guess, but what about backing up the backup? Then of course we need Internet security to protect us from viruses, span, and identity theft. Each and every one of these has great potential to further mess up our computers and slow them down. Who monitors the monitors?

Remember leisure time that technology was supposed to provides us along with opportunities? Well let’s see about that. It seems like I spend more time deleting spam than I do reading my email, which by the way is more than and in addition to the junk mail I receive. Many people are already working a 2nd, 3rd, and even a 4th part time job just to stay afloat or to get ahead. We are tired, overworked and often grouchy. We come home to what used to be our castle that our now for the most part our caves. Here we hide out until Monday or the spring thaw, whichever comes first and then we go back to our world of technology and return again to our caves of technology, shut off and away from the outside world. We are feeling separation anxiety though and the technology companies know it. and exist and are so popular because people want to connect to others, be a part of a network, some group or community. Meanwhile, right next door, we might not even know the names of the people that have possibly lived there for years.

Technology and economics, free time and leisure time, hmmm? Computers and the Internet were born out of the NASA Space program. You remember them; they put a people on the moon over 30 years ago. Now I read somewhere that in order to do that, 99.99999999% of everything had to be working properly. Translating that to the vehicle industry we would have cars, trucks etc. that would last over a 100 years. Now why can’t technology build us engines that get 500 miles per gallon of fuel? How come we have to buy a new car every 5 years or so instead of every 100?

Sam Walton if alive today would admit that Wal-Mart’s rise to the top was in part due to the use of computers, and more specifically, Dell computers. That was then and now, like others Dell makes junk, replaceable junk and junk with built in obsolesce. It’s the story of cars too. Dell and the car Industry can make quality stuff they have already proven it. But they want more money so they build it to fall apart to accomplish that. What greater way to move your technology and stuff than across the Internet.

Sorry Al, but you, Al Gore, did not invent the Internet. The scientific and military communities built it and then it was tweaked for use by everyone else. It was supposed to be free. What happened there? Everyone knows that if your business is not online you are either out of business or on your way out of business. The Internet was supposed to level the playing field so that everyone would have equal opportunity. What happened there? Well get a website. Oh did you want someone to actually find you? Pay for search engine optimization, ad words and on and on. So it comes down to what we have always known, it takes money to make money. The big dogs have the money and the rest of us pups are just stuck on the porch.

Who started all this. Well I think it was Sir Isaac Newton. One an Apple® came crashing through his Windows® and hit him on the head. Instead of his wife Unix® making a pie for the family, Newton had discovered gravity and let the Apple® rot and become infested with worms and viruses many which came through his now cracked Windows® while he pored over his journal. Newton the Explorer® was on a scientific Safari® in the Netscape® world of gravity. He was excited and let out a barbaric yawp and a loud Yahoo® while he giggled like a school boy with a nervous Google®. Now if you did not know these things it is because Sir Isaac (Mac®), Newton tried to mail his notes to colleagues IBM® and PC but caught fire. A Firefox® got loose and turned his mail into Hotmail®!
Seriously, how much technology do we really want; do we really need? 

Everything should be in moderation and in balance. I believe in part that we should all have regular and certain times when and where we really get together with real people in the real world and have real conversations. No technology is required or allowed.

Just Imagine,


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