Fax machines, landline phones (got dropped cell phone call?), answering machine, alarm clocks, wrist watches, and even record players are still with us (NY Times). Yes, there are fewer of them, and they may perhaps someday actually be obsolete. But if it works and it ain't broken, despite what the technorati may say, you don't need the latest and greatest.
05 May 2014
20 April 2014
As this fall down funny article in the NY Times from Delia Ephron shows, the zipper, which is over 100 years old, has been converted into a torture device. I have experienced the horrors she describes; standing in the rain and trying to zip my otherwise excellent raincoat while getting drenched.
Just say "no" to those who would "improve" or "modernize" simple technologies.
08 April 2014
Time for all those technoids out there to consider how to protect their Frankenstein devices rather than eating lunch at the right places in Palo Alto and Mountainview, and rubbing shoulders with VCs.
31 March 2014
Now all modern cars have airbags which deploy on impact. It seems to me that it would be simple to attach a device (preferably a couple of them at least) to a plane that would be deployed on impact and could float. Even if it wasn't tethered to the plane, like a buoy, it would still indicate about where the plane went in. And it could be made so it would be resistant to drifting, so it would stay close to the spot.
I make this idea freely available to anyone. No thanks necessary.
28 March 2014
"Smartphone users are frustrated and deprived by bad service, including slow application load times and frequent service crashes."
This insight comes from Crittercism, which says it monitors real world apps running on smart phones. NY Times
And if that doesn't make your day, there is also the fact that smart phone operating systems regularly crash, especially under the load of apps doing such useful things as Candy Crush and Facebook.
So the next time the pundits say a new era is upon us, stop and think for a moment about the fact that, in this case at least, "past performance may indicate future results."
17 March 2014
At this rate, everyone in the US will have their identity stolen. Welcome to the Brave New World.
06 March 2014
23 January 2014
In Dec2013, "hackers Charlie Miller and Chris Valasek (working legit with the Defense Department) demonstrated they could gain remote access to the electronic control units (ECUs) in both a Toyota Prius and a Ford Escape, control the brakes, gas pedal, steering wheel and even the infotainment system."
And "Tom Kowalick, who chairs a black box group at the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), says people are routinely hacking into those boxes, which are similar to event data recorders on airplanes, using cheap devices bought on the Internet. Why? So they can alter entries that show them speeding, or failing to apply the brakes before an accident."
Stop the car, Hal. I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that.
25 December 2013
As this NY Times article shows, e-books gather information on what you read and the ways you read. I've already been exposed to this through my Kindle, which sends information to Amazon whenever I add or delete books, even those not purchased from Amazon, slowing down the operation of the device and generally pissing me off. But that is nothing compared to the intrusive things these start ups want to do/are already doing.
Google reads your mail - "Gentlemen do not read other gentlemen's mail." Henry Stimson, Secretary of State, 1929-33
Amazon reads your purchases.
Facebook reads your friends, likes, and posts.
Maybe there should be more protesting about this invasion of privacy by corporate persons, since among other things, it allows the NSA to read all that stuff without having to go to the time or expense of gathering it.
07 December 2013
So next time you're faced with getting data off of obsolete media, check with the local government offices first rather than some expensive tech specialists; they may just have what you need, and not in a storage closet, but in everyday use.
02 December 2013
Early TV adopted many of the features of movies and especially theater, as did the early movies, which were mainly (except for a few innovative directors) filmed plays.
It will be interesting to see what happens as ebooks evolve. I suspect one place where we might see the future of ebooks is in graphic novels, many of which have broken out of the narrative sequence of books, and even the frames of comics.
18 November 2013
But just as, in legal markets, there are always those in banks and Wall Street seeking to push the limits for the sake of making buckets of dough, there are those, in illegal markets, who will do the same. It would be simpler, cheaper, and more efficient to legalize and regulate/tax drugs, because the Internet will continue to make it easy for frictionless commerce.
15 November 2013
My advice? Forget flashy new tech and stick to old-fashioned credit cards swipes.
21 October 2013
Now, online signup has been around forever (or at least since the start of the Internet), and should be a no brainer. But, as always, the government decided to build its own (mistake #1), use the usual legions of contractors (mistake #2), and not do any standard load analysis (mistake #3). Result, of course, has been near disaster as well as huge cost over runs and overly complex plans to "fix" the mess.
"Buy, don't build." They could have simply bought a sign up system from another insurance organization, such as, for example, Kaiser which has a system large enough to suit. But, no, we're the government and we do our own thing.
13 October 2013
Obamacare - NY Times (they should have at least studied all the problems of portals from years ago)
Food assistance in 17 states - NY Times
Online college applications - NY Times
There is no excuse for technology failures of this kind, except, of course, for ignorance and incompetence.
23 August 2013
So the Nasdaq had a pricing problem and was turned off for 3 hours. NY Times And as the article points out, this is only the latest in a long series of glitches, crashes, and "technical problems." Trading is becoming all electronic and the electrons are created and transmitted by technological systems so complex that no one understands them and finds it hard, if not impossible, to fix when they blow up.
The stock market is only one place where technology is taking over. Manufacturing is becoming more a process of robots, cars are computers with wheels, appliances have a mind of their own, and communication is now a "feature" of the Internet. So we should not be surprised that technology, which is, after all, built by fallible humans, fails suddenly and, sometimes, catastrophically.
26 July 2013
These guys made it look easy, and it was. How could major retailers and banks, who supposedly have IT security people and worry about their customer's data (they do, don't they?) been like corner candy stores knocked over by a smash and grad 2-bit thief? Simple - the Internet is not secure, never will be, and all the laws and regulations are meaningless because the people who suffer -- you and me -- are not the corporate persons whose technology security proved full of holes like Swiss cheese. Make them suffer and perhaps they will get more serious about security.
29 June 2013
So get over it, all you Crackberries out there, and find a new technology to hug.
25 May 2013
Moving financial transactions online, as this NY Times article shows, may perhaps save time and make you more efficient (although often less secure), but it can also wall off accounts from people who should have access, such as your heirs or people who need to handle your affairs in case you are incapacitated.
A lot of the living people affected by this problem are of a generation where the automatic assumption is that paper documents are all that is required, forgetting that financial institutions went online to, among other things, save the money associated with creating and mailing paper. And many people don't bother to download a copy of the records, leaving them frozen in an institution's databases.
Yes, this makes estate planning a little bit more complicated, but I'm sure you would rather work a bit more than block your heirs from inheriting.
20 May 2013
Once you stop hyperventilating, the reality hits. Most things are not made entirely of one substance, which means that making them would require either retooling for each material, or having multiple printers, sometimes to make small runs. Yes, 3D printers could lead some clever folks to make some things entirely out of plastic, but that is a small subset of all manufactured products.
And Business Week admits that widespread use of 3D printing (assuming that were even possible) could reinforce the trend in manufacturing to use technology, not people, to make stuff.
And even worse, many of the articles show 3D printers making things that contribute to the use of oil to make plastic, rather than reduce the stuff people buy.
10 May 2013
As this NY Times article shows, clever, innovative thieves can easily use technology for illegal purposes. And make it more efficient as well, looting thousands of ATMs of millions of dollars in a few hours. And they took advantage of outsourcing as well, both debit card processors and foot soldiers to visit the ATMs - what a business school case this makes.
02 May 2013
Those of you out there of the geek persuasion might want to consider this a business opportunity.
29 April 2013
28 March 2013
More recent examples, of course, our friendly neighborhood Facebook, and Google, which has imposed "new, improved features" for REPLY and SEND on Gmail.
Google could be excused somewhat, since its staff of techies has no clue about ordinary people and the way they interact with software. Facebook, on the other hand, has no excuse.
Lest you think I'm leaving out some offenders here, one could also mention Microsoft and, perhaps the leading proponent of FascistWare, the folks at Apple.
I'm sure you have your own candidates. Seems to me time for the 99% to rise up in protest and demand that attention be paid.
19 March 2013
But sometimes they simply generate unusable, hard to dispose of waste, as noted in this NY Times article about cathode ray tubes (CRTs). And then the waste becomes society's problem, an "externality" in dry economic terms, which means a cost not to the businesses making money, in this instance, on flat screen TVs and monitors, but to the society in which those items are sold and used.
One solution is to add in the cost of disposal to the product, which is a noble idea, but sadly far too late to prevent the mounting CRT problem.