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Doug's Mailbag: Kids These Days...

We turn this issue's Mailbag to a reader who wants to get a few gripes he has with today's technology off his chest:

Every kid I know says, "Cool." I have kids and, as a result, know a lot of kids. And everything is, "Cool.". "Cool" has never gone out of vogue. "Out of vogue" has, but not "Cool." It remains a very groovy thing to say.  

I love technology. I look back on the '70s and think, "If I needed to contact someone, my only option was to find a telephone that was tethered to a wall somewhere." I mean, Ma Bell's final introduction of the RJ11 for general use was the greatest technological blessing of that decade -- more important to me than the moon landing of the previous one. Here some of this decade's technological breakthroughs that I just don't understand:

      1. The Kindle? $200.00 versus a book that costs $.50-$25.00? A book can be resold and reused. If a book is lost it's just an annoyance, not a noticeable financial hit. The print won't disappear because of copyright problems. Their ads and images show people using Kindles on the beach and on the bus. Rain, sand, theft, sudden stops? Kindle -- you're down $200.00.
      2. And the iPad? It's not as functional as a Laptop. It's too big to be a phone and doesn't make calls anyway (wouldn't it be cool if it did, though? I'd love to see someone holding an iPad up to their ear like a boom box in the '80s.). It's probably the most expensive conversation piece ever, unless you collect art.
      3. And the Netbook? I guess if you carry a purse. So why aren't they all pink? They don't seem to represent any great savings -- you end up having to purchase outboard hardware if you want a larger hard drive or a DVD burner. If you just absolutely can't get to a laptop, I guess it's better for working with documents and spreadsheets than on a smart phone, but when was the last Excel emergency you had?

Now, I'm sure there are a number of people out there for whom these niche products fit a unique need, situation or lifestyle. I don't doubt that at all. What I don't understand is the long lines and the demand far exceeding what even the manufacturers anticipated. Such as paying $500.00 for a new version of the same phone you already have and standing in a long line for the privilege of doing so (Malibu Stacy's got a new hat, people!) or buying an overpriced 'appliance' that even the manufacturer can't adequately explain why anyone would need it.

I can't imagine living in the technological dark ages again. No internet? Just shoot me! Have to actually talk to people or write them letters and mail them? Actually meet my "friends" (in person!!!???)? Plus, I'd have to get a real job! But there is a lot of this I just can't wrap my head around at all. I just know I need a much larger smartphone and a much smaller laptop and I need them now.

Thanks for letting me vent.
-G

Share your thoughts with the editors of this newsletter! Write to dbarney@redmondmag.com. Letters printed in this newsletter may be edited for length and clarity, and will be credited by first name only (we do NOT print last names or e-mail addresses).

Posted by Doug Barney on 08/06/2010 at 9:03 AM


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