Saturday, July 9, 2011

Technology and my discontents

Or why the great stagnation is becoming the great depression. This technological rant and why “advances” are becoming annoyances are enough to turn me into a Luddite:
  1. Bought a HP desktop a few months ago - on the low end of its “High Performance” computers - still way too loud. I hear the fan shrieking sometimes when it runs a windows update. It seems almost too much to expect that as a minimum chips should run cooler so that the agonizing whirr of the fan doesn’t come on. I also got the computer with a TV tuner but I had to get the antenna separately! Moreover, HDMI which is standard on the Kyros (see below) is not even so on a “high performance” machine. The basic monitor doesn’t have a basic height adjustment. So much for “affordable” technology - it’s almost as though they computer sellers have decided to use the airline model of “a la carte” pricing.
  2. I also got an Android knockoff - a Coby Kyros which for the price was a lot of fun. Unfortunately, a lot of Android apps assume a constant web connection. My experience has been that many Android apps store data on a website. For instance, BizCalendar tried to retrieve data from my Google calendar but since I don’t use Google Calendar, this app is practically useless to me. In general, my thought now is that any Android device is of limited use unless it comes with a data plan which I am loathe to shell out for.
  3. Constant connection - which seems to underlie Google’s approach to software and is also its overall strategy is deeply flawed. We’re planning to go to Yellowstone this summer where Internet connections will not be plentiful. How am I supposed to access my Google Docs then? Unless Internet access becomes enshrined as a basic human right and becomes a constitutional amendment, this is something I will not be buying into.
  4. I have also been looking at some solar powered solutions, e.g. a Powerfilm - but I couldn’t believe that it takes a whole day just to charge two AA batteries. Unbelievably, this is considered an achievement.
  5. And, why is it so hard to make a decent coffee maker these days? The fact that there as many good reviews as there are bad reviews tells me that not only is manufacturing and quality a problem, but so is design. Perhaps hand pressed coffee is better than anything technology can offer.
  6. (Addition 7/20) I also purchased a netbook with Windows Starter. The OS, which I can only describe as some kind of mongrel child of Microsoft, must have been a product of a battle that was won by the marketing department. Can’t change background, can’t switch user? Even with 1GB of memory? Take me back to the the dark days of the command line, please. Even a regular phone allows you to change your background!

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