Figuring out the right path to take in the world of technology is not as easy as following this marked channel to the river.
Right now is the perfect storm for technology users and addicts. Apple has announced a new operating system and hardware for the holiday season. Microsoft has also come running to the party with Windows 7. Intel has helped with its I5 and I7 processors.
Best Buy is even offering a PC Makeover for $1199.99. It includes desktop, laptop, and netbook with wireless network and setup for one price.
It is hard to believe that you could get three computers for that price, but I suspect you get what you pay for. I have had great luck with my HP hardware, but I know others who have not.
Of course Apple barely offers one of their new iMacs for the price of $1199.
Having lived and worked in the technology industry most of my life since 1982, the natural response is to want to get my hands on some of this new stuff.
My newest computer is a HP laptop that has Vista and is two years old. My newest Mac is a three and one half years old white MacBook running Snow Leopard. My desktop G5 Mac was a previous year’s model when I bought it in December 2004.
Surprisingly I have gotten along just fine. I did add Snow Leopard recently, but it only cost $29. I do have a 2004 vintage Dell Dimension that I just upgraded to the latest Ubuntu. It is likely my fastest system.
I suspect that I am getting to the point of upgrading to a new Mac. I have taken the hard drive size about as far as I want to go. I certainly need more memory in my Mac desktop unit if for no other reason than my iPhoto libraries seem to get bigger even when I start new ones. However, I am a little reluctant to put a lot more money in a system that is getting a little long in the tooth.
Whatever I do, I am in no rush. My wife actually needs a system before I do since her Mac laptop is almost seven years old.
How did I get beyond the need to upgrade whenever something new is announced? The simple answer is pretty easy, money. While you are working for a computer manufacturer new systems are a status symbol and rarely cost your wallet anything.
When you are out on your own, a new system has to be justified by the results that it will deliver. In my case, I doubt that a new system will bring me greater productivity. It will allow me to standardize my laptop and desktop operating systems.
While that is not a big deal right now, my guess is that a year or two from now, it will be a big deal.
The other thing that has helped me resist all this new technology is that I have yet to see the killer application which requires new technology. Internet based applications have brought me more functionality than computer based ones.
I continue to be able to do my computing tasks on whatever computer is put in front of me. That includes the ancient Windows XP Dells that are at our real estate office. While I would likely not do photo work or website work on them unless I was desperate, my other work could survive.
Certainly if my main desktop is a Mac that is likely six years old technologically, I would question the need for new hardware for any other reason than mechanical reliability.
Actually if I could get better bandwidth for my Internet connection I would trade it for at least another year on my old hardware.
So how do you feel about that choice? Would you give up buying new hardware for a year, if you could get faster Internet?
While I have a good solid cable connection, I work with enough large files that I could use some extra bandwidth if it were available here on the Crystal Coast. I would like to see Internet sites almost jump into my lap.
When I go to work at our office where we have DSL, I almost die while waiting for pages to load.
In my situation new hardware would be nice, but more Internet speed would speed my work and be even nicer.
Of course I would trade both faster Internet and new computers for another day of great fishing like we had recently out in the ocean off of Bogue Inlet.
Today, December 29, the air temperatures on North Carolina’s Crystal Coast are so warm that fog is forming over some of the rivers.
Sometimes I think we live in a fog of technology. While the river fog will go away when the weather changes, I think we have to work at losing the technology fog.
Almost every home has a computer, and lots of people depend on email to do their jobs and to stay in touch with friends.
Most people, not including my wife, use a cell phone with a camera phone.
Wireless networks are everywhere, and few homes are without an all in one printer/scanner/copier.
Then there are the digital cameras and movie cameras. We have HD televisions with HDMI inputs so I suppose the next thing is a Blue Ray or HD DVD.
We were in Best Buy the other day and actually stopped for a couple of minutes to look at a comparison between Blue Ray and regular DVD. I will admit to the Blue Ray images being stunning.
What I can do with the technology that we already have in the home and that which is accessible on the web like geotagging and Google Earth is astonishing.
While I cannot yet send an image that rivals Blue Ray, I can send some very stunning images.
Someone sent me some fantastic images that are going around the web. While my images might not be quite in the same class, they aren’t bad. I think a lot of people can say that these days.
We have such good tools today, that anyone can be an expert, by capturing an image, balancing the color a little, and easily sending it by email or MMS.
Not only can you send it to someone, but likely they will be able to get it even if they are traveling. There is so much content, some of it very high quality, and delivered very quickly that we are in an information fog.
There are people who have trouble processing it all. And above all it is harder and harder to get information to stand out.
It is easy to lose track of what you want to focus on because there is so much information. Sometimes it is more than you want or need to know.
There are times you have to back away from the technology and what it delivers until you can see through the fog.
Too much information can take away your decision making ability. Maybe I am old school, but once in a while you have to go with a gut feeling and not let yourself get overwhelmed with instantaneous high tech data. Once in a while, all this high tech stuff lets you turn something not so appealing into something not exactly as good as it looks.
Maybe it helps to go back to a basic computer that does not overwhelm you with its possibilities. I am trying that with a new Zonbu computer.
It is so easy to take digital pictures that they have little intrinsic value these days. Anyone can also print them as high quality snapshots.
We have become so adept at capturing images that no one takes the time to appreciate good photography. Few actually make the effort to get the image onto to paper.
Some people never even get them off their cameras, Then there are those who tote the images around on their iPods, iPhotos, or other digital devices.
Of those who do print pictures, almost none take the time to try to print something other than a snapshot. Those who do try to print and sell large scale photos often find people who want the image but not the print.
I find it hard to even cover the costs of the ink for my Epson 4000 printer when I do large scale images.
If there are jobs harder than real estate, they might be selling digital prints for more than $24.95 or convincing people to pay attention to the real issues of the day.
As technology makes us more capable, it might also be making us less appreciative of real life and some really great photos.
Lots of important things seem to be lost in the chaff of the modern world.
Maybe some of the pictures will at least live on as long as the servers keep the Internet humming.
We can’t live without technology. That’s no secret.
What is interesting is how technology has become something to hide behind.
People have online identities that are virtually untraceable. It is not very hard to have an anonymous email account. There are people who don’t even have the courage to have that anonymous account.
People also say things online that they would never say in person. It is easy to write a note if you know no one can touch you. It is a whole different story if you are in an office and have to make the comment in person.
If talk is cheap, email is cheaper, and anonymous comments are the cheapest commodity in the land.
I have a number of blogs, one very popular one called Applepeels. I have to moderate the comments there, because it often touches a raw nerve with some Apple people. Once in a while they write things in response to my posts that aren’t in the spirit of reasonable discourse to put it mildly.
As employees of a Fortune 500 company, you would expect that the Apple folks could provide some real arguments if I am off base. Those real debates never happen with Apple people.
Unfortunately Apple is the North Korea of technology companies. The one thing these people fear more than anything is losing their jobs if they speak in public forums.
They afraid to use their real identities. I even had one Apple person make a comment, and send me a note asking for it to be removed because he thought he might have given away his identity.
Of course I removed it. More troubling are the Apple people who have a hard time handling the truth. Today I got a comment from one of them. He has sent comments before and usually has the same thing to say.
All he can do is launch into personal attacks. It is course the sign of a very tiny mind.
His anonymous rants also highlight his cowardice since he never uses his real name or email. I guess he doesn’t have the intelligence to set up an anonymous email account.
He hides behind the anonymity I allow. Still technology keeps me one up and allows me to monitor the comments and not publish the ones that I don’t like. I don’t force authentication because a few Apple folks will make intelligent comments, and I don’t want them to get fired.
In another time, I might have been writing opinion pieces and my cowardly antagonist would have sending anonymous poison pen letters.
While technology makes it easier to hide, it also makes it as simple as the click of the mouse to remove comments from the small minded folks who cannot stand the light of day.
Technology has just given us different tools with which to work. On the one hand it is easier to control the idiots and on the other hand they can still be pests.
The new tools will probably always keep those of us who use them ahead of those who try to abuse them.