Saturday, January 14, 2012


Things should me made as simple as possible, but not any simpler 
                                 - Albert Einstein

I'm not the stupidest guy around. I used to feel like I was, but nowadays I feel I can hold my own on a lot of topics, but I am hardly an "expert" on anything.

Especially when it comes to technology. Technology vexes me. Greatly.

It's the 21st Century. I've already given up on the promises made last century by those "in the know" that by now we'd have flying cars, light-speed travel, and transporter machines. Now my hopes and requirements are much simpler. For now I'd just like to have a toaster that doesn't burn crumpets.

It seems to me, though, in my simplicity, that "technology" is not all that it's cracked up to be. The oft used example is that if fridges ran like computers consumers would be up in arms about the inefficiency. But, of course, it's not just limited to computers.
Here is a list of things technical that have vexed me greatly in the last week or two (starting with a computer thing tho), and is by no means an exhaustive list:

MY laptop randomly turns off. Seems to be over heating.
My brand new Motorola Defy simply stopped checking emails for about a week. Then resumed.
The PS3 wouldn't communicate with the TV. Then, it just did.
The Wii regularly stops communicating with the controllers, and vice-versa.
My printer is flashing a message that it doesn't like the magenta cartridge. It's not empty - just simply "cannot recognise" it.
My car has a strange knocking noise - it knocks once when I take off. Just once. it's not a continual noise. Sometimes it doesn't make the noise.
I plugged my expensive camera into my aforementioned laptop and I was told to "check" the device (after a heartstopping few moments, it apparently liked my camera again and all was fine).
My internet connection regularly disconnects (like 5-20 times a day). Then it reconnects automatically and everything's fine. Until it dies again.
Facebook seems to make daily changes to the way it works and I find it hard to keep up.
Google now asks for my cell phone number when I log in.
I have a million cords for a million electronic devices. They get tangled just by looking at them.
When I copy photos to CD, some clients can see them fine, others cannot see them at all.
I have five sets of rechargeable batteries on rotation for my camera flashes and three batteries for my cameras on rotation. We need batteries for Wii controllers, the Wii Skylanders portal, the TV, MySky, DVD remotes (three sets of each in this house)
The radio/CD player lost all the pre-programmed radio stations and I cant figure out how to reprogramme them so I am stuck on RadioLive. At least my phone still plays music (so far).
My "whiteboard cleaner" doesn't clean my whiteboard.
Our clothes dryer has a mind of it's own. Sometimes we have to turn it on again every few minutes, sometimes it runs for ages before we have to turn it on again.
The MySky randomly "clashes" and programmes are not recorded.
My Defy cannot speed-dial text someone (but my older phones could). And you can't set different notification sounds for email (when it checks them) texts, tweets, and Facebook messages. A rather simple function I would have thought.
We rented Time Crisis 4 for PS3 and were promised the guns would just plug in and go. Yeah right. We returned them.
Our can opener steadfastly refuses to cut that last half-millimetre of lid, so we're left with a hair-width piece holding the lid to the can.

Technology is so far behind the human brain it's ridiculous. It's like Scotty in Star Trek 39 (or whatever) when he went back in time and tried to talk to an old computer. Couldn't figure out why the stupid machine wasn't listening. Then was told to use the "mouse" so he spoke into that! Computers in the movies have been speaking to us, and us to them, for nearly 50 years. I wonder if computers have a secret society where they get together (digitally of course) and mock the stupid human beings.

It bothers me that my laptop takes a couple of minutes to "load". WTF? You turn the TV on, and there it is. Instantly. You start the car and drive off. You turn on a light and electricity comes from the other end of the country and you get instant illumination. You dial a phone number anywhere in the world, and somebody answers in real time. Turn on the radio and instant melody (or in my case instant Talkback). So why does it take a computer what seems (in these instantaneous times) like an age to kick into gear?

It seems to me that things are not as simple as they could be (a la Albert Einstein). What I've listed above is only a drop in the ocean of technological stupidity. Who doesn't daily think WTF's up with that (insert ridiculously inefficient gadget here)?

Aldous Huxley said "Technologial progress has merely provided us with more efficient means for going backwards." Which I think refers to my premise above that technology is still so far behind the human imagination that it is effectively going backwards. Why don't we have transporters or light-speed travel? Or why don't we even have decent voice recognition. Have you tried to programme you phone to take voice commands? Who gave up after 30 seconds?

For all it's promises, technology is making us stupid. I have my wife's mobile phone on speed-dial, but ask me what her mobile phone number is and I couldn't give it to save my life. Or hers. I have a million passwords online, but struggle each time I have to key one in when the site or application for whatever reason doesn't have it "remembered" for me.

Which only goes to show the precarious position I am in should I lose my phone or have to customise a new computer (which I will probably have to do soon because this old relic - it's an ancient two years old - is on its way out). I've said before that we should be very afraid because for all our intelligence, if computers and machines ever get a realistic chance of taking over some of our vital functions - as in Wargames, Terminator, or I, Robot - we truly are fucked. Because "it is only when they go wrong that machines remind you how powerful they are" (Clive James).


Tracey Edwardes said...

OOOOH you have hit the ON button on the head this time. SIGHHHH of relief sooo glad its not just me. And there are no poltegiests in my components. You are so right...why the glitches al the time? and what is it with dryers? Two of my car windows have ceased to work, Now if they were still the wind up kind, I wouldn't be sweltering..
Interesting... my brand new, multi-functioning TV takes a wee while to "turn on" ... great help if there's breaking news. My Apple Iphone Sticks for ages sometimes...if it does that in a big earthquake..I'm sueing! BLOGALISCIOUS ...thank you...hope they don't invent a blog machine!

Anonymous said...

I'm sure there is one already

Anonymous said...

OMG - You are so right.
There is a saying "Technology is our Friend". I dont know who ever coined that phrase, but I could quite cheerfully kick this person from ' here to kingdome come and back again'!
Yet again you have written a masterpiece. It is so accurate about today's existence. We cant live without technology anymore, we have almost lost the capability to do so.
I love gadgets, yet get so damn frustrated when I cant make them work, so have to wonder why I love em. You talk about your cell phone... I cant work out how to make mine ring longer, so I can damn well answer it before it goes to message..not even nokia or where I bought it can help.
For a couple of weeks, I havent been able to connect my laptop to the internet.. I take it into the shop in pure frustration yesterday, to find out I needed to actually to press a switch.. I left the shop very red faced and embarrased that I had been caught out on something so trivially easy and I had been making it harder than it
I could go on, but it would only be identifying with all your glitches!!
I can say, since the earthquakes.. I now have one hardwired phone that doesnt crap out when the power goes out like it did last week. I also now have a radio/torch/cell phone charger that operates on a dynamo function.. ie wind the shite out of this handle and its all good to go and lasts 4 - 5 hours, thanks to my sister who gave it to me for my birthday. I have a BBQ that can operate on gas and or charcoal. Plus a lot of candles and a good ole box of matches. Am I regressing backwards?????
You made mention of Passwords.. without divulging how, but that is one problem I dont have.. and no it isnt the cats names, or my birthdate or anything like that.
The only problem is.. when I come to post this, copy in the word and choose an identity it all goes crazy. I have a google account but should I use that I lose everything I have just typed. Then I cant be bothered typing it all again. So no doubt, I will come up anonymous yet again!
Told you so.. it kicked me out. luckily I had done it in word.. I will not be beaten...sometimes.
I feel you should submit this one to the Press, Thursday lift out..good living. I would be surprised if it wasnt accepted. right, lets see if it posts again.. anonymously... Gail