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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Technology! Whiskey! Sexy!

Roger had a list the other day of technologies that USA Today touted as the most important to come along since 1982, and he gave his opinions/thoughts on each entry. I figured, hey, why not do the same!

1. Cellphones

Don't have one. Someday I'm sure I'll get one, because there really is some convenience there, but I'm in no hurry. Plus, for all their usefulness, they're also too damned everywhere and they seem to turn otherwise-normal people into rude boors who think that their own personal connectivity to anyone and everyone is more important than being polite to people who are physically there. (And I have no interest at all in the iPhone. In fact, that one iPhone commercial that starts with "Suppose you're watching Pirates of the Caribbean...." actually annoys me. I can't take seriously the thought that watching movies on a screen the size of an index card is now supposed to be a good thing.)

2. Laptops

I plan to buy one sometime in the next few months -- probably September. I just want to be able to write at my desk, as opposed to the family computer table, or to actually take the thing out to do some writing. I love to write in cafes and such places; cacophony and people-watching juice my creativity.

3. Blackberrys

You know, I don't get the Blackberry, and I'm not even sure what the hell it does. Seems like a combination phone-and-palm pilot thing. No need for one at all.

4. Debit cards

Cool thing, but I don't have one.

5. Caller ID

Meh. I grant its usefulness, but for me, it's not that important, since we don't answer the phone anyway.

6. DVDs

I love the DVD. I love them more than kittens. And I, for one, am flummoxed at the idea that we need a new and better format already.

7. Lithium rechargeable batteries

I like rechargeable batteries. They're neat. What else to say?

8. IPods

I don't own one. I suppose I'll get some kind of digital music player someday, but it's just not a priority. The CD is fine for me.

9. Pay at the pump

This is certainly useful, even though I pay with cash for my gas almost exclusively.

10. Lettuce in a bag

Now we're talking! I hate chopping lettuce, but I love being able to have a tasty salad in seconds.

11. Digital cameras

I love the digital camera. I love being able to make my own prints, to get photos directly onto the Web and the blog, and so on. (Note to self: Get off thy arse and pony up for a pro account at Flickr.)

12. Doppler radar

I suppose, although sometimes I think that the only reason it was invented was to give TV news shows an opportunity to do some masturbatory advertising: "You saw the approach storm FIRST on Channel 2' LiveDopplerTwoThousand!"

13. Flat-panel TVs

Yup, I'd love one. Our current computer monitor is actually a flatscreen, and the first time I watched a DVD on the computer, I was astonished at how much more movies look like movies on the flatscreen LCD monitor than on my standard cathode-ray-tube teevee. It'll be a while before we get one, though -- maybe whenever it is in the next couple of years when the TV signals go all-digital.

14. Electronic tolls

Sorry, but screw the tolls. Seriously. Especially here in New York, where tolls go to provide funding for the "Thruway Authority", a governmental body whose only job is to oversee the New York State Thruway. What is so damned special, though, about I-90 in New York that it requires an entire bureaucracy of its own?! I'd just ditch the Thruway Authority and just turn I-90 over to the Department of Transportation.

15. PowerPoint

Really? This is the Wonder Bread of technological innovations. It's everywhere, and yet I can't tell where it's made anything better. I've been in on many a potentially-fascinating lecture that, distilled to a series of slides on a computer, became "Meh".

16. Microwave popcorn

I confess: I love microwave popcorn. I also love regular popcorn, but I almost never pop it the right way anymore. (By the way: the best traditional corn popper I've ever discovered is the Chinese wok. Works better than those electric corn poppers. And air-popped popcorn is the tool of the Devil.)

17. High tech footwear

What is high-tech footwear? Scientifically-designed Air Jordans? I'm a Birkenstocks-and-overalls type, and I buy my shoes at Target and Payless.

18. Online stock trading

Sure. Because the world needed a way to take capitalism and give it a stiff shot of meth.

19. Big Bertha golf clubs

I don't know a thing about these, but if they help me putt my ball past the big windmill on Hole Six, bring 'em on!

20. Disposable contact lenses

I don't wear contacts. My glasses are only necessary for reading and computer stuff, so these have no effect on me at all.

21. StairMaster

Meh. For this kind of thing, I prefer a treadmill with a programmable hill-resistance thingy. (I've actually been doing a lot of walking lately, because I've decided that I've backslid on my health long enough. I take the personal CD player and hit the road for an hour, most days. No idea if I've lost any weight yet, but time will tell when my clothes start feeling looser.)

22. Tivo

No opinion whatsoever. Don't have it, no plans to get it anytime in the foreseeable future. Sounds cool, but so do lots of things.

23. Purell

I like liquid hand soaps just from the neatness angle -- no bar of soap oozing all over a soapdish on the bathroom counter -- but I don't much care about the anti-germ thing. The idea is to get germs off your hands entirely, after all, so bar soap works fine for that.

24. Home satellite TV

Heh. We're using rabbit-ears.

25. Karaoke

Huh? This is better than the compact disc? I had some fun times at a karaoke bar in college (never sang myself), but come on. The CD made music sound so great, and setting aside all the crap about record companies charging absurd prices for them, the CD is terrific. I still have the first CD I ever owned (Herbert von Karajan conducting the Berlin Philharmonic in Strauss's Eine Alpensinfonie), and it still sounds great. Since I got my first CD player for Christmas in 1988, with that disc being one of several my parents threw in to the package, that means I've owned that disc for eighteen-and-a-half years. Will MP3's still be the way we're listening to music in 2025? Somehow I doubt it.

What about widespread GPS technology? Or the friggin' World Wide Web? Yeah, the bones of the Internet existed before 1982, but not the Web. And I'd cite digital visual effects in movies. Lots of people complain about rampant CGI in movies, but frankly, the crap-to-goodness ratio back in the days when effects were models and matte paintings probably wasn't any less than it is now.

Thoughts?

3 comments:

Tal said...

Oh, do I have comments.

The blackberry is annoying. It's an Outlook connected cell phone. So you get email, calendar, tasks, notes etc. I have it for work, so I'm expected to actually use it. Boo.

How on earth do you not have a debit card?! Seriously, how?

Powerpoint, um, see an Inconvenient Truth. That may change your mind. Or not.

Discposable contact lenses are the bomb. They are awesome if one cannot afford glasses.

I have nothing nice to say about the Stairmaster, but I LOVE your attitude about exercise and health. Really.

Great post!

Kelly Sedinger said...

Debit card: I could get one, but I just don't feel that I need one yet.

PowerPoint: OK, I forgot that one. I've seen a few admittedly excellent lectures/productions that made good use of PP, but way too much crap.

Belladonna said...

I'm terribly intrigued to find "lettuce in a bag" to be considered key technology. Obviously they are talking about the development of breathable plastic for long term storage of vegies, NOT the lettuce itself. Still, who would have thunk in?

Really, there are SEVERAL items on this list that make me wonder about the folks at USA Today who originally put it out. I'm curious what sort of criteria they were using to decide what to include and what to leave off.

There was nothing said about some of the very cool tools on the market today that give people with disailities greater mobility and accessibility of information.

Also left out was the current blood screening technology which rescued our ability to keep a clean and healthy blood supply availabe in the post AIDS world.

Or for that matter, what about thoses flashlights that never need batteries - you shake 'em up to make the light work?

Personally, my favorite break through technology is my GPS receiver. Whether its the fancy models that give turn by turn directions while driving or my trusty geocache guide, I think they are just way cool.