Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Oh, For Crissake's

Listen here - technology was supposed to save time, make us rich beyond our wildest dreams and cure cancer, mend broken hearts and reduce fat asses by 1999, as I remember the promises made in Popular Mechanics in the mid-60's. Where's my flying car? Where's my meal in a pill? What the hell happened?

Not to put too fine a point on it, a buddy sent me a book that he got as a sample. I like the author, so I said to myself, "Self, you haven't read anything except technical manuals, white papers and tutorials for two years. Isn't it about time you sat down and immersed yourself in a world of fancy and folly whilst taking your daily ablutions?" I agreed with the voice in my head, covered it with one of my daughter's left-over book socks (what was wrong with brown paper bags, anyhow?) and readied myself to be massively entertained.

In three weeks, I've read twenty-two pages. Twenty-two! Here's why:

1. My cell phone has been acting weird. I took it to t-Mobile and then graciously blew some compressed air in the SIM card connector area. That helped, but now it seems to not keep a charge for all that long. I could be in the middle of a confab, fully power-barred, et voila! - dead phone. Not good considering that the deductible on the cell phone insurance is more than the phone is worth, and I didn't drop it or have it stolen. Oh, and, of course, the warranty is expired. I've gone through more cell phones than underwear in my lifetime and I keep both very clean.

2. The big TV in my living room is starting to get pincushion-y, that is, squeezing in from the sides. Bad flyback transformer, probably, which I hate because they carry ten thousand volts of electricity through the capacitors they're attached to, so, one false move and PFFFFFT! Just in time to spend $800 on a flat screen LCD, huh. Me no likey.

3. My satellite receivers seem to lose their collective minds once a week, necessitating a call to India, where the routine is the same mind-numbing, "unplug the unit and wait sixty seconds then plug it back in" even if the problem is with the remote! Maybe I should just leave it unplugged for good.

4. My computer was massively infected with a virus and spyware. No, it's not because of the porn sites I cruise. It just happened, okay? Two weeks it took me to back up, virus check, re-install, over and over again and get this machine running . Arrrrrggggghhhh!

5. The lifetime fluorescent light bulbs I had installed all over the house to save money on, well, light bulbs and electricity, are all burning out at once, one after another. I can get them replaced by shipping them individually in "adequate" packaging back to the manufacturer for a free replacement if I include a shipping and handling charge of $4.95 per bulb. I think not.

6. Don't get me started on software malfunctions. Just don't.

7. My PDA refuses to charge. All of my passwords, contact names, important numbers for cards and such (in case I lost my wallet) were on that and are now wiped out. That's not right.

8. My car was burning gas like it had stock in Lukoil. The solution was to hook it up to an analyzer at the dealership and then, you guessed it, unhook the battery for sixty seconds . . . Now it's fine. C'mon, now: really.

9. My penis is affected severely by the Lexapro that I take, making one problem (depression) a trade-off for another (having a girlfriend.) How is that advanced pharmacology? Doctor dudes - didn't it occur to you that depressed people might get depressed over not having a functioning member? Gawd.

10. It goes on and on. There's just too much more to manage because of marginal technology. Cell calls disappear in major urban centres. E-mail make or may not be received due to spam filtering or a messed-up ISP. Jobs are yards harder to get because the software that screens your application was set up by a $12 an-hour receptionist whose main philosophy in life is Thinspiration. Credit cards are subject to strong magnetic fields - like those found in gas pumps, leaving the gas pump attendant screwing up his eyes in disgust at your perfectly good but otherwise declined card.

I was doing graphic arts back in the days when it was paste-up, meaning non-reproducing light blue lines on a big board formed your design and then you glued type and images to the board. There was some skill involved and paste-up artists abounded. But the work was right, ready for the separation camera, another specialty.

Now, we're all "enabled" through technology. We're enabled to be tracked down through our cell phones by whiny kids that want to use Dad's ATM card at the mall, by spouses that give shopping lists item-by-item over the phone to beleaguered counter-spouses at the Stop, Shop and Slave, enabled to have our identities, lost, stolen, spindled and mutilated and in general, to run down the clock on time that could otherwise be deployed to useful, fulfilling tasks.

Oops, gotta run. My cell phone is vibrating. I think it's Software Support calling me from Mumbai . . .