Family ties to technology

I didn’t have a good weekend. It rained all day Saturday and we were running around all day Sunday because it was Mother’s Day. Of course the daughter decided that Sunday would be a day she would grind against the grain of everyone else and, as much as I love her, single-handedly ruined an otherwise good day with family. I’m starting to notice a pattern though and will be putting in some strict restrictions on the use of anything that contains a screen and run on electricity. She lost her iPhone for 4 weeks because of her last quarter grades. We both noticed a marked improvement in her attitude and behavior that regressed literally an hour or two after she got it back. The girl is hopelessly addicted to all things screen and her typical “I’m not stopping until I want to” attitude always gets in the way. My wife doesn’t help matters either as she is just as addicted to her mobile as well and it’s been a struggle to hold a conversation with her that wasn’t disconnected and unintelligible. I’ve since refused to talk with her when her attention is on the phone screen as I already know, you can’t multi-task with an electronic device, it just isn’t possible. Anyone out there who thinks they can multi-task; verbal conversation and use their phone, they’re just fooling themselves and doing two things barely mediocre.

My level of frustration the last few weeks has unfortunately gone up. My wife tells the daughter to stop yelling at her, yet my wife yells at her to stop yelling. It really is counter-productive in my opinion. I, on the other hand, have manged to keep my tone and outward display of anger to a minimum (for the most part) as it tends to get better results. Our daughter is old enough to know and understand the impact of what she says and how she says certain things, so there really is no excuse for downright disrespect for the sake of exercising control despite her losing the privileged of what she’s trying to control. The whole thing is just counter-productive and doesn’t really make any sense to me. The daughter refuses to do anything when she’s on her phone, playing what I consider real stupid time-suck games, and only listens to either of us once we’ve taken the phone away. Then of course its a fight to get her to do what we’re asking because now she’s angry she lost her phone as a result of her own actions; but it’s our fault, always.

The evaluation of technology in my life is taking a very dark and negative turn, to the point where I get frustrated with anyone using a device near me when I’m trying to say or do something. I’ve respected them by putting my phone, laptop, etc. down but rarely get that in return. The old adage “lead by example” just doesn’t seem to fit when technology is involved. I’m not even going to the “do unto others” space right now. My wife has conveniently forgotten, consistently, that I deleted Facebook and has conversations with me based on Facebook information. When I say I’m not on Facebook anymore, she’s reminded that I abandoned the platform and just stops talking; the subject doesn’t change, she just stops and returns to the screen. I just don’t get it. Technology is supposed to make our lives easier, at least that’s what we’ve been told for years, but all I ever see is the negative side of it. People who can’t hold a conversation unless it’s in text form. Social gatherings consist of an entire table of people on their phones. Parents hold up iPads at recitals to “record” their children without a seconds thought of the 9.4″ of blocking capability the iPad produces for the people behind them. Having a conversation with someone under the age of 30 consists of “so”, “like” and “uhm” being practically every fourth word. Call me crazy, but I don’t say any of those words when holding conversation with people. Hearing them tossed at me just derails my train of thought and makes it difficult to actually listen.

There are days that I wish someone would set off an electro-magnetic pulse bomb rendering anything electronic essentially a brick. Our civilization would literally fall apart in the span of a few days though, so it’s not a wish rooted in logic. It’s a wish rooted in frustration, as in “See, technology doesn’t make anything better, none of you can actually hold a conversation to literally save your lives.” Our futures in this world are in jeopardy if we can’t learn to ride the fine line between technology assistance and technology addiction. The Internet was commercially available around 1992, anyone born after that date has never lived without it. What ever happened to learning the hard way first in order to appreciate the easy way second?

Tech only a President could love

I bet with a new Monday/Thursday schedule, and the touted “inauguration to end all inaugurations” now over, the first Monday post I make would be about that.  Well, I’m a geek, and an introvert, so I need time to process the circus from this past weekend.

Given that all the attention has been on the inauguration, I was extremely happy to see an article published on the Presidents use of his smartphone late last week.  Trump currently uses a commercially available Android device that became a massive national security threat once he became President.  Any device the President uses that is connected to the Internet and not behind the government’s network firewalls is an opportunity for information to leak into the world and undermine his and most likely our countries security.

The question of what phone a president carries — and what he or she does with it — is a serious matter of national security.

Take a president who likes to make policy announcements on Twitter at three in the morning and the matter becomes even more urgent.

After all, when Donald Trump tweets, the stock market shifts. If someone were to read what he was preparing to tweet by breaking into his smartphone and using keylogging software, even with just a 30-second head start, it could make some people very rich and potentially cause serious damage to the national economy.

SOURCE:  For the sake of national security, Donald Trump needs to trade in his cellphone

Considering that my current phone is encrypted, requires a pin to even boot the phone before the system is unencrypted AND requires both a pin and fingerprint to unlock, I consider my device to be relatively secure.  If this same phone were in the hands of Trump right now, and a state sponsored attacker knew what it was, they could most likely crack through all that security relatively quickly.  There is hardware in the phone that I don’t have control over and therefore, is vulnerable to an attack that I’d never knew happened until it was too late.

Despite having access to some of the best technology out there, President Barack Obama still uses a Blackberry.

According to the New York Times, Obama “carries a specially modified, highly secure” Blackberry, despite the fact that many White House aides now use iPhones.

SOURCE:  Obama Still Uses a Blackberry

I’m sorry, but there is something wrong with the most powerful person in the United States still using a Blackberry.  It’s irrelevant that it’s a specially modified version that is highly secure.  Don’t take my displeasure as negative though, I loved my Blackberry and if they were still a relevant company, I’d still be carrying one.  The technology being used at the White House should be the best in the world in my opinion and there is no excuse for it not to be.

Trump, 70, rarely uses a computer and sifts through stacks of newspapers, magazines and printed articles to read the news. He panned candidates’ reliance on data and technology in presidential campaigns, preferring to make decisions in part based on the reaction from audiences at his rallies. While Trump’s tweetstorms are already legendary, he utters some of his messages out loud and leaves the actual typing to aides.

SOURCE:  Obama boosted White House technology; Trump sees risks

No offense to the older generation out there reading this, because you’re reading this from a computer and already light years ahead of Trump in the use of technology.  I actually respect that you do a lot more than I can ever put into words.  I don’t see how Trump, not using a computer, will be able to continue his tweetstorms when his smart phone is locked down like Obama’s was.  Trump doesn’t have a choice here as, by law, he has to accept the technology and protection given to him by Secret Service, White House Communications, and Dept of Homeland Security.  To continue using Twitter, it will have to be with a laptop/desktop until a suitable compromise can potentially be made.  As much as I like to see his ranting at 3am being done from the gold toilet he no doubt brought with him to the White House, as President, there is a certain level of individual composure expected from the world stage.

Sean Spicer, named the White House Press Secretary on Dec 22nd and White House Communications Director on Dec 24th, has his hands full with President Trump.  Who knows, with an unorthodox President, there may be some radical changes to how the Office is handled going forward.  Trump’s lean towards anti-technology in favor of human couriers doesn’t give this geek a warm fuzzy feeling on the inside.  I’ve discovered that the loudest and strongest supporters of technology (and the Internet) are usually the ones that have never used and therefore don’t understand.  I see that as sort of screaming about climate change and having a coal fired furnace in your house, a bit of an oxymoronic hypocrite.

We’re only in the third day of the next four years.  What happens is literally in the head of Trump, cooking, ready to be served to the American people.  Should we close our eyes while going over the first drop on the roller coaster or throw our hands up in the air and scream?

Self-imposed technology limits

I know I’m spending too much time writing and reading.  Having been here before in the past, I know that things like work, life and relationships start suffering in favor of writing and spending time reading articles.  With that said, I’ve decided to put some restrictions on myself to help alleviate any problems before they’re actually problems.

Post Limits

Starting this Thursday, I’m going to publish a post every Monday and Thursday.  Thursday’s post will be the regular Three Things Thursday and Monday’s post will be something related to whatever fired me up or I found interesting from the week before.  I can take a few hours on the weekend to concentrate the post instead of having 3-5 posts only partially done at any given time.

Reading Hours

Feeling that reading blogs has started to take more and more of my free time, I’m scheduling 1-hour blocks on various days through the week to read and comment on blogs.  It will be a fundamental shift in what I’ve been doing the last several months and comments will be made only when I have something substantive to add; otherwise a simple “Like” will be made after reading something.

Daily/Weekly Digests

Most of the blogs I follow email me as posts are published.  It was fine when I only followed 10-20 blogs, but now I’m following almost 100 of them and it takes a large amount of time to work through 200 emails in my inbox sometimes.  Starting this weekend, I’m going to be switching to daily/weekly digest emails so that all posts from an author are consolidated in one email per day or week depending on frequencies.  What this means is that “Likes” and comments will come in groups rather than trickle in as they have been.

Twitter

Since deleting my Facebook account, my Twitter use has increased steadily over the last several weeks.  I still have not decided how I’m going to limit my use of Twitter as I’ve been using it more and more as a news aggregator and following publications rather than people.  I may decide that it doesn’t require limits, just simply turning off the notification on my phone/desktop app may be all that is required.  More thought on this is needed.

Suggestions

I’m open to suggestions that might help and open to hearing what has worked or not worked for you.  I know I’m not the only one that has had this issue and been forced to make some changes to their technology consumption.  Thankfully I’ve caught it in time as it hasn’t affected anything too serious yet.

One word theme for 2017

Post Inspriation: One Word 2017: When The Words Don’t Seem Right, What Do You Do? by The Spectacled Bean

This was an interesting idea that I had to steal. I’m not a resolutions supporter as I wrote here, but this idea of a one word theme was intriguing. Taking a single word and using it to drive all decisions and actions for an entire year, it’s genius. I highly encourage you to read through the post that inspired me to write this one. I spent some time thinking about the one word I would select, which ended up being something that has been driving me for a few months.

LEARN

Yup, that’s my one word for 2017 and is a continuation of what I’d been doing the latter half of 2016. Learning in several key areas over the last few months:

  • Family
  • Introversion
  • Minimalism
  • Technology
  • Politics

Additional key areas added for 2017:

  • Consolidation/Purging

I wrote about these already as my problem areas that I have been consistently working on for a few months to a few years. What I failed to understand is what is common among all of them: Learning new ways of thinking and doing. The first three are essentially in the same group and are inter-related. Technology in the spirit of living with it as an assistant to life instead of it controlling my life. Politics as I still have a ton to learn after discovering that the world I thought existed was figuratively a dream. Consolidation and purging is a natural progression of minimalism.

So, there, my one word for 2017 and my living theme is “learn”.

What’s yours?

Technology and geek unite

My wife let me buy a new television on Thursday. Not just any television, but a 4k UHD television that clocks in at just under 55″. It was a snug fit into the stand we have with only an inch or so to spare all around, to the point I had to push it in by the feet as my fingers wouldn’t fit on the side. It was surprisingly affordable and of course, the coupon queen my wife is, made me use her eBates account to get it from BestBuy (more on that shortly). It was also my daughters actual birthday yesterday and we went to the local restaurant that gives her a free dessert for her birthday. As is the case with all the other rare moments in my life where I’m allowed to make a large purchase of technological awesomeness, I was impatient, but collected. We finished dinner in a normal pace and waited for our daughter to finish as she eats as fast a sloth. Once she was done I was itching to get going before my wife changed her mind.

I had purchased online in advance of us going to dinner, so it was a matter of going in and just grabbing it from the pickup desk. My wife wanted to visually see it and thankfully was on display as I’ve had experience with her not seeing something in person and changing her mind. It was sharp, clear, and bright, as I would expect an in-store television to be as they jack up all the settings on purpose. I’d done my research, wanted something that didn’t need to be replaced in a few years when technology got better, so went higher end than usual. The Vizio brand has opted to remove all the television “smarts” and instead opted for a smart phone interface over your own homes wi-fi connection, it’s pretty cool. She didn’t get it, and when learning that Vizio was the only brand doing this, she was skeptical of my choice. Anticipating this, my justification was that the television didn’t suffer from app-gap when the manufacturer decided to discontinue the television, rather, it only had to keep up the OS of the television as the apps utilized are on our smartphones and then “cast” to the television.

Anyway, the store. I’m usually loathe to purchase anything from BestBuy, but their prices are actually on par or cheaper than even Amazon in some cases for the same things. We had purchased all of our new appliances there as well and had some of the best service we’ve ever had. I also purchased my most recent laptop (what I’m using now) there as well. The last three trips we’ve done our research online, purchased online, and then went to the store for pickup. Our experience was that of pure customer service without the requirements for questions or having to rely on the salesperson. Also helps that with purchases on the BestBuy credit card (one of the few we still have active) over $399 qualify for 18 months no interest. The only better choice would be all cash, which at this time of year isn’t a possibility, but is the only time that awesome sales are plentiful. Using credit was a judgement call and one that I made with reservations.

After jamming it in the back of our horrible Dodge Journey, and braving the 14F and 30 MPH winds, we finally got it home. I wasted no time getting all the old stuff unhooked and off the shelf. While I unpacked the new piece of tech, my wife cleaned the spots that you don’t ever clear unless, well, you get a new television. I took my time hooking up all the wires to make sure you couldn’t see them hanging down in the back because another 4 years of hearing “I can see the wires” wasn’t in my future. Wires were tucked and routed, invisible to the observer watching from across the room! I turned it on, and after a brief buzz, the screen lit up and it was awesome. After a brief setup, I went to switch the inputs and ….. update, it needed an update. These things always need updates. My laptop needed one, my daughter’s Xbox One needed one (so did the controllers), so naturally the television needed one as well. 15 minutes later…..

I switched it to the Roku (because I don’t have cable) and pulled up Hulu to watch some shows before bed. Now, keep in mind, that Hulu broadcasts in 1080p and I wasn’t expecting a better picture than what we had on the 40″ prior, just bigger. My wife, on the other hand, mesmerized by the display at the store said to me in a rather flat tone “I thought it would be sharper.” A simple statement that was directed at something we had just put a decent amount of money on and brought into the house. Not what I had expected at all. Well, challenge accepted, I started fiddling. Made a setting change, asked if it was better. Continued this for about 15 minutes all the while the show, I wanted to watch, was causing a distraction to my concentrated thinking of making the television “sharper” for my wife. She was the queen of watching shows 2-3 times because her phone interrupted her while watching, so much so that I changed her notifications tones to someone saying “Shiny” because that’s what it’s like when the thing goes off. I ended up giving up, because a 1080p picture on a 55″ is always going to look “less sharp” than a 1080p picture on a 40″. Only 4K content, which is hard to find, will showcase how this television is superior to our 40″, which isn’t 4K. It’s a Blu-ray movie tonight 🙂

This is unfortunately how every item that falls into the “technology” category is viewed by my wife. I get a new laptop, with specs out the wazoo, and she says “It’s thinner than your old one.” I get a new mobile phone a few years ago and she says “Hmm, it’s not as light as I expected.” I install a new wi-fi router, with two networks (one for us, one for guests) that has both the 2.4GHz and 5GHz bands and she says “You’re going to leave it there?” I’ve reserved myself to the idea that technology is lost on my wife and I’m going to have to work (not hard) to be a geek for both of us. Just once I’d like her to tell me that something is cool and actually impresses her. Just once….

Love to hate smartphones

This isn’t a new subject for me as I’ve written several times on both sides of the debate. I’m now, after switching to my cheap Lumia (Windows 10 Mobile) and then switching back to my equally cheap Galaxy Express (Android 6), at the point of ditching smartphones all together. These devices, with their screens bathing our peepers in blue light, are taking over every aspect of our lives to where we are actually crippled when we don’t have use of them even for a few hours. A pervasive piece of technology that has invaded, without our knowledge, and conquered our lives right under our noses without us even giving up a fight. In many ways, you can take any classic alien movie, replace the aliens with smartphones, and the story would most likely hold up. I’d watch the movie titled “Invasion of the Brain Snatchers” that chronicled our plight against the invading smartphone intelligence trying to take over the world.

Here is the debate raging in my head right now regarding the next smart phone I’m considering to purchase sometime early next year, which will be an unlocked version regardless of my decision, if I buy one at all.

Apple (iOS)

As if, these devices are electronic versions of Hell. They’re locked down, impossible to tinker with and Siri will speak to you in a condescending tone if you attempt to make any changes. I’m not an Apple fan, never have been, never will be. They’re expensive and once you’re in that ecosystem, it’s extremely hard to get back out of it. I’ve helped more friends than I can recall get away from Apple in favor of Android. In one case, I had to literally burn all their music to CDR’s, then rip them back to a non-protected, non-Apple, MP3 format. A total waste of time, but at least he has a sleeve of 50 CDR’s as a backup.

Android

This has potential, but Google has completely fubar’d the ecosystem so far. One of the most fragmented systems known to man in terms of the number of versions still being used and extremely vulnerable. A lot of the features from Marshmallow and soon, Nougat, will go unused because Android developers need to make apps available that are backward compatible. There are 10 versions of Android that currently make the graphic below from Froyo (2.2) to Marshmallow (6.0).

shareofandroidversions

SOURCE: Statista

The fact that malware is actively targeting all version of Android older than 6.0 means that 81% of all Android phones are at risk or already infected. How can you call a phone that runs Android a smart phone with those kinds of issues? If Google can rope in all these fragmented OS versions and exercise some control over their ecosystem, I think they have a chance of actually continuing their success.

Blackberry (Android)

I’m not discounting these guys out just yet. They just announced a huge deal with TCL China, a phone manufacturer, to continue building devices with the Blackberry name and running a secure version of Android. They already had marginal success with the Priv, and are announcing unlocked phones that will be sold worldwide in early 2017. I would certainly snag myself an Android Blackberry with a physical keyboard if the price was right. They have certainly kept up with regular updates on the Priv and there is a possibility that these phones will get Nougat as well.

Microsoft (Windows 10 Mobile)

This is a real disappointment. They had a really good phone OS that started with 7.x that was different from all other mobile phone systems and just worked. The apps were a real pain but there were some really good developers that created third-party apps that often worked better than the native apps for iOS and Android. The first mistake was forcing everyone on 7.x to purchase new hardware to be able and run 8.x. Again, they had a really good phone OS that got better, and with a decent selection of hardware, Microsoft was on a good track to get some traction, then, then, nothing. Windows 10 Mobile was announced and once the upgrade phone list came out, a lot of top end hardware was left behind. What few die-hard fans were left just got the shaft, again, and essentially wrote off the entire thing. I was with them from 7.x, got a new phone to get 8.x, and was left with hardware that wasn’t getting Windows 10 Mobile. See ya Microsoft, I’m out. Chances are slim that I would purchase another, unless the rumors of a mobile phone being released that can run desktop applications actually comes true. Then I have a mobile phone replacement for my laptop.

Decisions…

To be honest, the whole idea of a smart phone has been lost on me. It’s a necessary evil at this time that is a constant distraction for me and everyone around me. My wife is utterly addicted and will often be glued to the screen and barely answer “Uh huh” or “Ok” when consumed by the screens content. She often complains of having trouble going to sleep, except on the nights that she doesn’t use the phone before bed. I’d agree with her if the observations didn’t tell me otherwise, case in point “Q&A: Why Is Blue Light before Bedtime Bad for Sleep?”

I may just say f**k it and get a flip phone to keep the people who need to get in touch with me (in case of that elusive emergency) happy. We’ve lived on this planet much longer without smartphones than we have lived with them, how quickly we forget…..

Three Things Thursday 8/4/2016

three-things-thursday-badge

Inspired by Nerd in the Brain – *three things that make me smile: an exercise in gratitude – feel free to steal this idea with wild abandon and fill your blog with the happy*

Working from home

I know, this is a repeat.  It’s one of my TTT this week for another reason.  I had meticulously selected several pieces  of wall hanging items since my last WFH and over lunch, decided to hang them up in my office.  I forgot to take a picture of my beautifully decorated minimalist inspired office so as to share the awesomeness.  I selected a splatter paint picture that I had a winning bid on to support a past 4th grade class at my daughters school, a framed 50 State Quarters map that took me 6 years to complete, and a picture of the daughter dressed up like Dr. Who.  Made for a better afternoon than morning and inspired me to not be my usual procrastinating self.

Almost school time

I can’t put into words just how much I’m happy that it’s almost school time.  The schedule lately has been so erratic with bed times, etc. that it’s starting to make me nuts.  The daughter was up until 10pm last night trying to spy on us watching Arrow but doing a very poor job of it (I heard her every time).  It’s been a struggle all summer long to get her to read and do education based activities, so the first day of school will be met with my open arms and her complaining.

Technology

This is a rather broad thing and is very subjective.  My recent usage of technology has been to assist me in making my life a little easier in some areas that had consistently caused me pain and heartburn.  Paying the bills.  I converted my entire check register system (a mess) into an online system to help me save and budget properly.  The site is manual and not stored on the Internet as my security conscious self won’t allow anything other than that for protection of my personal information.  The result has been amazing as it now only takes me about an hour to pay a months worth of bills (I get paid monthly).  Used to take me over 3 hours sometimes.

Ponderance of future technology

I often find myself day dreaming about the future of computers and how this massive human experiment is going to play out over the next few decades.  I was well into my passion for technology when the Internet, as we know it today, became commercially available in 1992 and restriction-less (within open standard guidelines) in 1995.  There was a lot in those days that didn’t make sense and we were all sort of going on instinct as we explored the “shiny” that the Internet offered.  For those of you not of a technology or geeky mind, the term “shiny” is a universal term for anything that is new or interesting that we’ve never seen or used before.  I’ve had dozens of “shiny” things in my life that continue to evolve.

What does the future bring?

future_computer_geekThe future is limitless, really!  We are only hindered by the limits of our imaginations and the possibilities of current tech.  There are hundreds of examples in the last 40 years where we thought of something, saw there wasn’t technology to make it reality and literally invented something to make it happen.  The UNIX operating system is a perfect example that most people can understand.  A programming language was developed in parallel to allow the operating system to not only function, but run other applications written in “C”.  Having gone through several iterations, including C++ and C#, UNIX is a universally accepted operating system around the world.  Linux was born from UNIX and for years attempted to mirror itself to Microsoft Windows, but never garnered the popularity it needed to be anything other than a hard core only type of system.  Of course this is my opinion and my facts could be slightly biased.

A good place to see the imagination of the future is in movies.  The best example that I could think of recently is the reboot of Star Trek.  The one with Chris Pine, not William Shatner.  The thought that went into designing the fully functional (yes, functional) sets was absolutely amazing and the proof is in the authenticity the film if you’re paying attention to that.  The computers used, the way they interacted with the controls and the oddity of some of the tools all contributed to this authenticity.  IBM_8086My day dreams will reflect on what people 40 years ago were thinking when they were holding the first prototype of the IBM 8086.  I imagine they were all scratching their heads thinking “What the hell can we use this thing for?”.

Near future possibilities

We’re on the verge of a major leap in technology in regards to how we interact with it.  No longer is the keyboard and mouse going to be the go to accessories.  Instead, we’re going to be using our hands, gestures, facial expressions and our voices to interact with technology.  The fear I have is that we’re becoming so reliant on technology to do everyday tasks that we’re losing our ability to get things done without the aid of technology.  Example – A cashier punching in $200 instead of $20, seeing the mistake and going “deer in the headlights” trying to figure out how to give you change.  It’s an old persons example though……  What is this “cash” you speak of?

bad_ass_designI expect the future of computers to continue a little longer in the physical form though.  A physical keyboard and mouse is my preferred method of interaction as I have an insane requirement to be in control of my interactions with technology.  “Automatic” things being done based on behavior is the precipice of artificial intelligence; a terribly frightening thing that we as humans should be more concerned about.  Certain things should not be done “because we can” no matter how “shiny” they appear to be.  Anyone seen Terminator lately?  How about The Matrix?  Anyone read any stories related to the “grey goo”?  Yeah, scary stuff indeed.

“My phone is better than yours!”

I really miss you!

Ok, I’ll admit it.  I got really burned up at the debate I had over lunch today.  I’ve had a smartphone since before they were called smartphones.  My first was a Palm Treo 650 (a brilliant device, but that’s another story) and it was considered a personal digital assistant that also doubled as a communication device.  At that time I purchased it, people were kickin with flip phones and super slim phones, all just regular phones.

I digress, anyway, I got into a sort of debate about my Windows Phone 7.5 smartphone, my co-workers iPhone 4 smartphone, and another co-workers Android smartphone.  Almost immediately they were both ganging up on me as they saw my phone as the inferior device.  I attempted to explain to them that my phone was experience-centric and not app-centric as their device were.  Where the whole “There’s an app for that” tagline that Apple has sued other companies over….

At no point did I dis their devices.  My focus on the debate was to demonstrate the point that neither of them had ever used a WP7.5 device and weren’t in a position to make a conclusion based on their own personal experiences.  I, on the other hand, have spent several hours each with an iPhone and various Android devices, and consider myself well informed and back my opinions and conclusions with fact.

What it turned into was more of a scene reminiscent of high school where it was “That’s stupid because I said so” and the “geek” was chastised for actually being smart….  It was all too close to home and I quietly removed myself from the situation.  I ended back at my desk, having taken a shorter lunch than normal, and seething inside at the shear immaturity of the entire conversation only moments before.

It really makes me mad when someone forms an opinion on something without taking the time to inform themselves of the facts or how something works.  My experience is larger than just smartphones.  I hear at least once a week “oh I don’t like that because of blah blah blah”….  where blah blah blah is what so-and-so said or they “heard” from some source.  When pressed they often don’t know the “source” they used to form their opinion.  Really?

My personal view on this, and I’ve written about this before.  Take the TIME to decide for YOURSELF what you like and don’t like about a smartphone (keeping it focused on that) before forming your opinions.  Don’t get a smartphone for ONLY one of the below reasons:

  1. You saw it advertised on television
  2. A friend purchased/told/described it to you and you HAD to get one too
  3. You spent 5 minutes with it and the in-store salesmen said “you really want that!”

Most of us have the Internet and access to the on-line reviews, consumer reviews, PCWorld, CNET, PCMag, etc. etc.  Your final decision should be based on everything you’ve read and experienced, not just because you’re friend got one too.

Half-assed Tech

I should know better by now than to trust that technology, any technology, is implemented in such a way that its actually trustworthy enough to do what you expect it to do.  It seems that the more complex and cumbersome something is to install, administer, and maintain the harder it is to have it do what you need it to do.  More often than not it fails when you need it most.

Take my foray into technology gone wrong tonight.  Long story short, rebuilt a server OS from 32-bit to 64-bit, re-attached a SAN (storage attached network) and it was blank.  I know there was almost 250GB’s of data on that drive BEFORE I did the rebuild, so you can imagine my dismay and shock when it re-appeared as blank.  No production data, don’t pass go, your ass in the fire despite it not being your fault…  you get the idea.

Panic mode set in, and I started paging and calling everyone I could to try and figure out what happened.  As I was talking to the guy that actually runs the SAN systems (Clariion if anyone is interested), the data just re-appeared.  I didn’t reboot, rescan, or do anything of a nature that would trigger the data to stop by and say “Hi” to me again.  It felt like a warm blanket got pulled over me on a cold morning where you forgot to close the windows the night before……

Regardless of whether the data came back in the end or not, there is no excuse why a billion dollar company, not being named, should have technology systems in place that are so crude.  The unfortunate thing is that this scenario is played out hundreds of times around the world for the exact same reason.  No company likes to spend money on things that suck its bottom line like a vampire for a made up number that is referred to in Accounting circles as “return on investment”.  With that said, I believe that there are three schools of thought where you spend money for two reasons:

  1. IT guy sees a cool new technology, pitches it to management and gets a green light without knowing the true cost of being bleeding edge technology leaders.
  2. IT department utilizes resources and decides the best fit for their company and makes wise purchases.
  3. Company is stuck in the mode of thinking “this is how we’ve always done it” and refuses to purchase anything other than old parts off eBay to repair aging infrastructure.

Most companies, even though they would never admit it, fall into #3 almost always.  Companies like Google fall into #2.  Small companies with younger employees generally fall into #1, until they realize its expensive and morph into #2 or #3 over time.  I don’t know where my company falls currently, as they’re so big its hard to judge.  Based on some of the health reports I’ve seen lately, I think they’re in danger of falling into the #3 pit to hell where it’ll be time for me to jump ship looking for the #2 golden opportunity.

Ok, I feel better now 🙂