Blowing off Steam
From Twitter twits to phone-phobes, Doug lets fly with his technological pet peeves.
The Unabomber saw technology as a dehumanizing force, and killed actual humans in retaliation. I'm not nearly that angry or crazy -- just slightly annoyed and agitated.
Here's what's bugging me:
Twitter: I love the idea of Twitter, but the reality leaves much to be desired. The 140-character limit makes most posts meaningless. And for some reason, Twitter encourages horrible grammar: "I kno dood -- crzy aintt it." Loosen the character limit and add spell check, and you've got something.
New phones stink: AT&T, Verizon and other former telecom monopolists may have charged an arm and a leg, but at least you could hear the other party on their landline phones. But when was the last time you had a clear signal on your landline? I've bought a half-dozen phones ranging from dirt-cheap to the most expensive model that Circuit City had in stock. They're all awful. Add an Internet phone service and you'd be lucky to understand one word out of 10.
Digital media becomes obsolete when your PC does: VCRs made tapes you could stick in a closet and watch years later. Digital video cameras and digital storage is the new approach. Like VCRs, these devices all become obsolete eventually. But when your laptop dies or gets tossed, there's no physical legacy like a tape. If you don't want these memories to disappear forever, you have to transfer all this stuff -- and hardly any of us do.
Can't reach anyone by phone: With e-mail, texting, IM and social media, no one uses the phone anymore. And some jerks screen the one of two calls they may get a day. What is wrong with us?
TV is no longer free, and getting downright expensive: Rabbit ears were a huge hassle, but at least the three channels we got were free. Now basic cable costs mucho bucks, and when you want one extra channel you have to pay for a whole new bundle. My cable bill every month is $112 -- and I still don't get the Speed channel.
Nothing is synchronized: How many of us have work laptops, home computers and mobile phones? Each of these devices is its own island of data -- hardly anything is synchronized. There are tweaks you can make to have a common set of files, but there's no brainless, flawless, common way to do this.
Internet addiction: "My name is Doug, and I'm an Internet addict." How many of us are in this boat? Even on vacation we can't pull ourselves away from computer. When we get together, my whole family is glued to glowing tubes. Maybe I should IM them and tell 'em to cut it out.
What drives you nuts? Don't tweet! E-mail me what you think at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doug Barney is editor in chief of Redmond magazine and the VP, editorial director of Redmond Media Group.