We live in a pretty technical world these days. For many of us, gadgets, mostly of the technological type, dominate our lives. Gadgets are tempting fodder for geeks, but not necessarily this geek. Technology and gadgets are supposed to make our lives easier by automating mundane repetitive tasks, thus freeing us to be able to do more noble things with our time.
I'm not an early adopter type. I usually suppress my "I wannas" and wait to see how the latest widget works in the real world before rushing out to buy it. I thankfully avoided buying a HD DVD player and getting Windows Vista by adopting this approach. Despite their penchant for glitchy launches, there are some examples of good useful tech gadgets. Currently I'm writing this from my mom's hospital room on my whiz-bang Dell XPS laptop, which has twice the computing power of my two-year-old, once top-ofthe-line desktop. My new Quad-Core, over-clocked and liquid-cooled double throw down desktop server has more processing power than a 10-year-old Cray supercomputer.
I need this power because I do magazine stuff, and I need processing power to work on high-resolution photos. A computer that can manipulate these items in a glitchy Windows environment without choking is essential in this business. I also need processing power because I hate computers and am pretty inept at using them properly. Thus my hard drives are fragmented, my registry is clogged, and my computer is bogged down. I don't have the time to keep my computer in tune or learn how to be an IT ace. For me, a computer is a tool not a hobby. Thus, my computer works inefficiently so I compensate with fast drives, lots of ram, and fast processors.
I'm using Verizon's remote link cellular-based broadband Internet service and the remote access site gotomypc. com so I can seamlessly get photos, illustrations, and other things needed from my home server when composing stories in the field. With my Cannon EOS digital camera in the back of my car, I'm more effective going mobile than I am tethered to my desk at the office. I'm instantly available to Scott, or my wife for that matter, 24/7 on a variety of media, which is handy at deadline time or when I'm wanted at home. I can send Scott near real-time stuff for his review while on location at the track or at a photo shoot. On an automotive-related note, I can tune an ECU, calculate ideal spring, sway bar, and damping rates for suspension, draw up some parts using the CAD program Solidworks and data log various vehicle parameters using Innovates Logworks with my laptop. Then I can send various tuning files and data to colleagues like Clark Steppler at Jim Wolf Technology, Steve Mitchell at M-Workz, or Eric Hsu at XS Engineering to get nearly instant feedback right at the dyno or trackside.
All this is smart tech. Smart tech makes me a more effective magazine editor and engineering consultant. Now onto my pet peeve: dumb tech.
Things that irritate me the most: text messaging, PDAs, instant messaging, and overly complex cell phones. These are big time wasters for me. With my clumsy thumbs, it takes me a million years to bang out a single text message, and the whole texting/ instant messaging thing has gotten way out of hand. It's so much quicker to call me or for me to call you. What is going on? Have people forgotten how to talk?
Worst of all, with these new complex phones, it takes a lot of skill not to crash while operating through each menu with tiny, hard-to-manipulate buttons, and hard-to-read displays. Someone please make a phone that works like a plain old phone, with a large, bright LCD screen, big buttons, maybe throw in voice recognition, a Bluetooth headset that actually works, and a good camera. Leave everything else out.
Don't be a techno-slave, remember tech gadgets are supposed to make things easier, not put you into high-tech involuntary servitude. Live life for real in the real world. Take the red pill. You'll be a better person for it and the world will be a better place.
See you in the matrix. -Mike