My Technology Blind Spots

As a computer engineer and programming author, I’m pretty savvy when it comes to computers. But despite this, there are some areas of tech, be it gadgets, social media services, or even infrastructure changes, that I have a hard time adopting and bringing into my daily life. I thought it’d be fun to share a few of these with you, and why I have a hard time joining the herd. See if you recognize anything from your own tech habits.

1. Smart Phones

Smart-Phones

I want my phone to just be a phone. I like texting, but I have a much better time with a tiny keyboard than any on-screen keyboard, even on a bigger smart-phone. The main benefit I see to texting is conveying tiny snippets of information that would take much longer in a phone conversation, or are the kind of things I actually want to record so I can remember a number, a task, etc. I don’t get having texting conversations longer than 2-3 exchanges.

I get that there might be some added convenience in being able to access the Internet literally everywhere I go but I always balk at the data plan. A new thing is sharing 10 GBs of data between four family members a month. This is lousy! Do you have any idea the bandwidth I use on my laptop in a month? Over the weekend I just installed two games that were 3GB together. And before you tell me smart-phone content is smaller, what about streaming? If I watch a bunch of video on this thing, then I’m eating bandwidth. Now apparently I can save some of that bandwidth by being logged into WiFi, but getting each phone to correctly switch between communications methods seems dodgy.

Plus answering the phone without physical call buttons feels weird (my wife has a newish smart-phone and she’s welcome to it).

Everyone I know who has a smart-phone says they can’t imagine living without it, and yet they did perfectly well until they had the thing. This is one I’ll go kicking and screaming into the night on.

2. The Cloud

cloud_web

Call me old fashioned, but I don’t fully trust Google, Amazon and any other number of cloud based data services. I have a personal physical data storage capacity of somewhere in the neighborhood of 4-5TB (and climbing). Amazon hosts all the music I purchase from them online (mostly) and that’s okay, but I still like having the downloaded copy and mostly playing from it. Same with eBooks, games, comics and just about anything else I purchase online.

Part of this is the clunkiness of accessing these services. I like lightweight MP3 players (like XMPlay). Small, portable, extensible, and not spending all my computer resources trying to catalog, find album covers, and suggest more things I should buy.

I have enough free on-line storage to store a copy of every story, book, and document I’ve ever written, and most of my pictures. But do I really want all of that information where a third party can get to it? I know it’s “secure”, but a lot of secure things can be broken into, or used for things I didn’t approve of (just read your terms of service). I keep dedicated backups, either two working copies on disk, or burned to DVDs. Sometimes I’m spending a lot of my life organizing and making sure I have the right stuff with me, but if you put a good enough system in place, it can be just as convenient as any cloud service, and far more secure.

Also any cloud documents app I’ve used, like Google Docs, is way clunkier than Word. Sure you can collaborate, but how often do I do that anyway?

3. Twitter

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I think I’d like Twitter more if I were a smart-phone user. It doesn’t seem like an experience that’s geared for the laptop, or even the small tablet screen. But if I want random articles, humor, or the minutiae of people’s lives, Facebook serves it up to me in a more pleasing and efficient fashion.

4. 11-inch Tablets

IPad_3

For me a tablet is a Book/GameBoy replacement. It is not as powerful, as fully featured, or as easy to use as my laptop. No matter how light you make a large tablet, it will feel uncomfortable to hold, and if it has to sit on a desk, it might as well be a laptop.

5. YouTube

YouTube-logo-full_color

Now don’t get me wrong. I watch a ton of stuff on YouTube, but never from the actual site. It’s all referrals from Facebook or funny things friends send me. As a website to browse and watch stuff, it’s pretty bad. The only things I really watch consistently on YouTube are the Last Week Tonight posts from John Oliver, and even those don’t always come up in a logical order when viewed either on a computer or on my Wii.

YouTube is a video hosting service, not really a place to find anything unless you already know what to look for. Vimeo, conversely, leans into this hosting and seems to provide a much more high-quality and versatile product. I can’t see YouTube as a great place to host fractal videos, but Vimeo, maybe.

What are your technology blind spots?

 

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