Sunday, January 18, 2009

Technological Paradigm Shift

I has always enjoyed being on the cutting edge of high tech. My 25 year old daughter does not remember a time when there was not a computer in our house. I am the very embodiment of the term "early adopter".

However, a few years ago I started to become a bit more of a technological Luddite. My main concern shifted from the latest and greatest on the bleeding edge to "Will this damn thing connect, up load, sync and work consistently when I turn it on?" I suppose this might also be viewed as another reasonable tech step forward as these tools have integrated themselves so deeply into my daily life that if one of them refused to work properly it became a major inconvenience. All I wanted from them was reliability. Consequently, if it worked I was content - the only exception to this being cell phone technology with which I have remained relatively current.

Then over the Christmas holidays a few amusing things happened. First, on Christmas Eve I literally tore my study apart looking for our family Christmas CD's. These CD's have been the soundtrack to our holidays for years - and with a house full of relatives imminent I could not find them. After looking high and low a thought suddenly occurred to me. I opened the CD player and, lo and behold, there they were - exactly where they had been since last Christmas! One does not require a CD player to rip CD's to an iPod. Any time I wanted to listen to music I just plugged in my iPod because that was where all of my music was. Apparently I jumped from CD to MP3 without even realizing it.

Next, I was given a Netflix subscription for a gift. After trying it out and finding that the turn around time was quite good, I was delighted that I now had a source other than the library for hard to find movies. I also had the option to watch movies on-line if I chose to.

Then the cable bill came in the mail. It seems that our ex-friends at Time-Warner thought we should pay $780.00 a year for cable service without any premium channels. One phone call later (Time-Warner: "You know, after the middle of February your TV won't work" - Us: "Our TV will work just fine.") and one trip to Micro Center we are now streaming movies from Netflix and TV shows off the Internet for free onto our television. The cable companies might want to re-think their business model.

I then picked up a Garmin GPS for my car after I was briefly lost in a city I don't often frequent. Now with the aid of my Australian girlfriend on the dashboard I am flawlessly directed to all my destinations. Some of the other features such as finding local banks, shops and restaurants are nothing short of amazing.

And finally, the young squire picked up a new SD style card for my digital camera while he was at Micro Center. I can now take 750 of the highest quality setting pictures my camera will take. When I bought the camera they didn't even make cards with this much storage.

I feel as if we have taken a whole series of tech steps in the last three weeks. What really drove the point home was watching the first season of "Life On Mars" yesterday since the weather wasn't fit for man nor beast and made the option of sitting in front of the TV quite viable. The basic premise of the show is that a detective is transported from 2008 back to 1973 - don't ask, just watch - the soundtrack alone is worth it and the beginning of episode one is fantastic. But one of the underlying themes of the show is that all of the technology we take for granted today existed only in science fiction a mere 35 years ago.

More please. Faster. Give me back my beanie.

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