Speed of Technological Change: Rant v. 2.3

As mentioned in my last post (or two), I have been feeling quite overwhelmed with the speed that technology has been developing. Well. To be fair, I have no problems with the speed of development, just the speed of expected upgrading on behalf of the consumer. This goes for pretty all consumer products – not just tech stuff… I remember way back when we bought our first “used” appliance, a fridge – we went to a second hand store and I remember them telling me that if I wanted a fridge that would last (all eco/environment issues asides), then our best bet was to buy one that was made BEFORE 1985. Although not as environmentally sound, they were built to last forever – while the newer models are designed with a 10-12 yr life in mind so that people could ‘upgrade’ and buy more.

I feel the same way with my Ipod – the first one I had, I got in 2003 – a nice iVideo – I adored it – until the drive died in it about 2 years later. Then I bought an ipod Classic – a few short years later – the drive died, and I had to replace it. So on and so forth… I now have a nano – i love the size and the features, but fear it is an expensive two year solution to my personal musical listening needs.

But this is not a rant about apple. It is about the speed that we are expected to upgrade and change. This expectation is oddly in conflict with the concept of cell phone contracts … Case in point – my daughters both have cell phones on 3 year contracts. Yes, I know that’s bad of me, but for the phones they wanted, I could not afford the purchase outright… Before I go any further with this story – I just want to say, I hate all cell phone companies equally, and everyone has a story why XX company rocks or sucks…. moving on…. So – When I was with Rogers, I could upgrade my phone almost every 6 months, but it would reset the contract term. Boo Rogers. I eventually went to Bell. I can make changes to my phones without affecting my contract, but even having 3 phones on 3 year contracts (2 of which are smartphones), I am not offered ANY upgrading for the entire three years! (I have argued and asked for explanations many times). The thing is, I wouldn’t care so much (I don’t need to upgrade), if the companies themselves weren’t constantly shoving new phones down our throats and convincing the general population that every two weeks you need XX new phone for XX new service on XX new network blah blah blah (4g LTE anyone!?)

So – my youngest daughter is stuck with her Samsung Reclaim – an perfectly acceptable phone for a 13 yr old (when she got it) but now that she is 15 she wants something new and hip…

For myself, I am happy with my phone (much to the chagrin of a few of my friends). I love my blackberry. But they seem to be suffering from this upgrade upgrade upgrade mentality – fixing things that aren’t broken, and changing things to compete with other smartphones (namely the iphone. Well, RIM, I will tell you – if I wanted and iPhone, I would get one – not use some half-assed feature mimicking version of it. I chose the Blackberry for its own merit…). So, for the last few weeks, I’ve been getting notices to upgrade to os v.6.0. I have had the last version for quite some time – I like it a lot. It served all the purposes I needed – and I was happy. But I decided to not be a crankpot, and try the upgrade. WELL….. after a few days of trying to learn a new interface (up until this point, all the other upgrades were mostly back end), losing my simple interface theme, and constantly being told that I did not have enough space on my device to open xx website (the OS takes SO MUCH more space than the old one), I decided to downgrade. Yup. I want to be left behind. I am tired of running the upgrade rat race — at least for now.

It’s not that I hate things change. I am ok with change – I like change. I like new and shiny things too, it’s that the change is happening faster and faster that it is getting hard to keep up.

Tech Confession

My name is Kelly and I’m a PC…. yes. I know … it seems that this is cause for shame in the world. I am surrounded by mac advocates, and they just can’t understand why I use a PC, constantly informing me of all its shortcomings and how much better my (tech) life would be if I would just make the switch. I have been told that I need an iphone. Even if I am happy with my blackberry, I don’t know how much I actually ‘need’ an iphone until I have one – then I would realize how much I’ve been lacking without one. I want to say I have never, since 1994 (when I bought my own computer), been infected with any computer virus – and I couldn’t play EverQuest on a mac in 1999, and my blackberry itself is overkill for my needs.

To those who keep trying to convince me, I say two things: I am an academic whose primary tech function is to write. I use the internet for fun (and some scholarly research), and I use MS word (or even google docs) to work. I understand that there are 100 things Mac’s are better for – if you are a composer or work in an area where graphics are key for example. Some around me claim that Mac is better for game design… but I believe this to be specific for those wanting to make games for the iphone… in my experience, many ‘a game designer use a pc… but that’s not my gripe (honestly, I could care less what other people use for things I do not do – and I don’t mean that rudely).

My second point is – what I don’t understand – how can everyone afford to own a Mac? I have to admit, that is probably my biggest deterrent. The price differential – for someone like me whose primary function is internet surfing and text creation – I cannot justify $1,000 minimum for something that suits my functional needs for $400. Don’t get me wrong – I understand spec for spec, they are not the same machines whatsoever. And who can deny mac’s sex-ay aesthetic and lightweight portability? But whenever I look at my budget and my needs, I cannot even begin to justify the cost. ¬†Hell, I cannot even find it in my student budget at all (which brings me back to – how can every undergrad and their dog own a mac – let alone an iphone too! lol)

Perhaps there is some deep (deep deep deep) rooted tech envy. I doubt it though. For other areas in my life, I have tried to be reasonable (with the exception of shoes and face cream). We drove a toyota Echo for years because it sufficiently served our functional need. Sure, it would have been nice to have … well … any other car – but in the end, why pay more for something you don’t really need. It’s really all about the cost to need ratio.

In the end, I will continue to be a pc girl in a mac world. Hope you still want to be my friend ūüėČ

What Did I Just Say?

I know age is relative, but lately I have been finding myself saying things that I never thought I would say…

Every time I watch MuchMusic’s top 20 videos with my daughters, I inevitably say ¬†“back in my day” … never fail. ¬†I find myself telling them that “back when I was young” the videos had more variety, there was less gratuitous sex, blah, blah, blah. Never thought I would be that mom, but I am happy to be a muchretro subscriber….

I drive youngest daughter crazy when we go shopping because 80% of the styles at H&M or Forever 21 are clearly leftovers from the 80’s and ’90’s ..I mean, there not even “redesigned” or a modern version … I swear! ¬†Of course when we go shopping I have to point this out in some sort of annoying mom form like “oh my, I wouldn’t even wear that when it was in style the first time” or better “I think I still have this in a box in the basement” …

But the worse came out of my mouth last night – when we were watching television, and a commercial for “America’s Fastest Network” came on (can’t remember the company) and they were announcing 4g LTE – and I looked at my daughter and asked her “what the hell is that!? I thought it was a 4g network”? Her response of course rolled off her tongue like a true teenager, with a heavy sigh as she utters “mooooooom, its LITE – like, you know, FASTER than just 4g…” and what comes out of my mouth next stunned even myself as I muttered “hell, I haven’t even made it to 4g yet – can’t they just leave things alone for a while” ….

Am I really getting that old!?

Bullying & The Entertainment Industry

While not my normal range of topic to blog about, last night I was watching television with my 15 year old daughter. (Confession time….) I usually enjoy the lighthearted shenanigans of iCarly¬†and the Wizards of Waverly Place. Sure, you could deconstruct either of these shows and find ‘something’ questionable in regards to their use of stereotypes or representation, but for the most part, I think that when they deal with teen related issues, no matter how sugarcoated, they have a tendency to try and handle them in a diplomatic, mostly comical manner that gives the ‘right’ message.

But last night I was watching a YTV show called Mr. Young, about a genius kid who teaches high school… bad acting and nerve grating story line aside, I was struck by the over-the-top use of stereotypes and the use of bullying for comedic effect. Of course, the bully is an overgrown oaf, surely many years older than his classmates, and at the start of every class, he puts the over-the-top whiny skinny white boy into the garbage can. The characters are so¬†exaggerated¬†that it is hard to feel pity for the kid in the garbage can while everyone laughs. THIS, I think is one of the problems. The dialogue is set up to almost make you feel like “of course that nerd got stuffed into the garbage can!” …. and sadly, this is how the character reacts as well. In one scene, the bullied kid asks if he is going to get stuffed in the garbage again, because if so, he might as well just wear his dirty jeans. Laughter ensues. My stomach turns.

In another scene, the tables are slightly turned for comedic effect, but the stereotyping is painfully obvious when the bully is treated as if he is dumb and told to sit in the corner and wear a dunce cap (an odd punishment from a teacher – who is meant to be 16 in this show – if you ask me …) only for the bully to reply “no worries, I had one made – I have a very big head … blah blah blah – some bad joke about a mad hatter…”. What really bothered me about this show was ow casual and flippant the writers (and actors) had towards bullying and its effects. It was all one big joke. This is only one show – I have come across this in many other kid/teen shows and the schtick is always the same…

No wonder kids think it’s alright to bully (and be bullied!) – there was no story line that addressed the bullying besides its use for comedic effect essentially making fun of both sides. ¬†All I could think of last night is that until Hollywood stops making fun of bullying – stops making light of how is plays out and its effects (on both parties even!) then a lot of the anti-bullying campaigns these very stations (and actors) rally against will continue to fall on deaf ears.

More Networks, Less Connection

Over the last decade and a half, my digital connections have been a big part of my life. From giving me a sense of community and family when I was young and away from home, to enabling me to fight dragons with people all across the world. I hate to sound nostalgic, but I cannot keep but thinking that those were the days. I had a few tight knit digital communities, some of which have lasted for the better part of a decade.

But this morning, as I was checking my twitter feed, my facebook feed, my ‘fitnesspal’ feed, my email mailing lists and the few sports message boards I participate in, I started to feel a lot less connected even though I have more networks. The more I post – whether it’s here or on another platform, the more it feels like my words are simply released into the dark void of the internet. It feels a lot more like talking to myself than to participating in a conversation.¬†In an effort to connect networks, I linked my twitter to my facebook, but somehow, that feels disingenuous to the platforms and their purpose.¬†I know this is not the case for everyone, but it just seems the more places I have to share and interact with others, the more I feel disjointed and alone.