Come Back, Technology, All is Forgiven: A Libertarian Repents

Jeff Tucker, formerly of the Mises Institute and now running the venerable Laissez-Faire Books, writes of how he learned to stop worrying and love techno-modernity. Tucker (the man who taught me that shaving cream is a lie--that alone has saved me nearly $15 in Barbasol over the past half-decade) has a stirring take on the benefits of this wired world, and how evading it is often just hurting yourself.

Some highlights, including a mea culpa over a negative review of former Reason editor Virginia Postrel's dynamism-defending The Future and Its Enemies:

those people who bemoan the pace of technological development are not really longing for the state of nature. They are just sick of being hounded, badgered, hectored and pushed — as they see it — constantly to learn new things, acquire new gizmos, keep up-to-date and buy the latest thing....

I get this all the time when I talk to people about new stuff. Their first response is often: “No thanks. I’ve had it with all this techno wizardry and digital age mania. Whatever happened to a world in which people had authentic human contact, admired the beauty of God’s creations and developed genuine relationships, instead of virtual ones?”....  

I talked to a person the other day whose aging sister absolutely refuses to get a computer, an email address or a cellphone. Yes, such people do exist. When siblings want to contact her, they call or write a letter with a stamp. There is no sharing of photos, no video Skype, no keeping up with daily events. Everyone in the family is very close in the way that only digital technology allows, but this one person is the outlier, cut off from what everyone else experiences on a daily basis.  

I asked if she feels cut off. The answer: Yes, and she is very unhappy about it. She complains that people don’t travel long distances to see her enough. They don’t call enough. She is losing track of what is happening with the grandkids. She has a constant sense that she is just out of it, and this depresses her.

Exactly. She is not actually happy with her choice. It’s just that making this choice seems easier than learning new things and buying new stuff. So she rationalizes her decisions as a principled stand against the digitization of the world.

My experience is that these people have no idea the extent to which they inconvenience others. In fact, I would say that it comes close to being rude. It is not immoral, but it sure is annoying. Instead of dropping an email or posting on a Facebook wall or clicking a button on Skype, family members have to write out up their communications and stick them in an envelope and find a stamp and walk to a mailbox and wait a week or two or three to get an answer back.

It’s all kind of crazy. People do it for a while, but then eventually find themselves annoyed and give up. Then the person on the other end gets angry and upset and feels ignored or cut off.....

True confession: I was once among the late adopters. I freely put down the techno enthusiasts. I wrote a highly negative review to Virginia Postrel’s provocative book The Future and Its Enemies, which turns out to have seen what I did not see. After the digital revolution advanced more and more, I began to notice something. By being a late adopter, I gained no advantage whatsoever. All it meant was that I paid a high price in the form of foregone opportunities. If something is highly useful tomorrow, chances are that it is highly useful today, too. It took me a long time to learn this lesson.

Finally, I did, and my fears, excuses, rationalizations and strange anti-tech snobbery melted away.

To really engage life to its fullest today means being willing to embrace the new without fear. It means realizing that we have more mental and emotional resources to take on new challenges. If we can marshal those and face these challenges with courage and conviction, we nearly always find that our lives become more fulfilling and happy.

Reason.tv video on Why the Future is Better Than You Think:

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  • ||

    Tucker (the man who taught me that shaving cream is a lie--that alone has saved me nearly $15 in Barbasol over the past half-decade)

    Haha, nice. I barely ever remember or have the time to use it, and now that I think about it, my skin does seem to fare better without.

  • Ska||

    I have to try this no shaving cream business. I stopped shaving months ago and opted for perma-scruff, but eventually I'll want to stop looking like a character from a TV show. Time to beat Barbasol at their own game, greedy bastards.

  • ||

    So basically, Ska is admitting he's Turtle.

  • Ska||

    I do not have a chinstrap, 30 pairs of nikes, or more than a handful of baseball caps. However I do smoke trees and try to fuck my more successful friends' friends, but that's where the similarities end.

  • ||

    Are you from Queens, and have you ever tried to start your own limo company with really hot chicks as the drivers?

  • Ska||

    Alright, yeah, I'm from Queens. And I tried to start a Chinese staffed Mexican takeout place before the market was ready for such a place.

  • ||

    Takeout? Not delivery? In New York?!?

    You deserved to fail.

  • Ska||

    Is there even such a thing as takeout that doesn't include delivery? Of course I had delivery. But the delivery guy was Irish.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    PWN'ED!

  • ||

    There is takeout without delivery everywhere. Except New York.

    You hired a Mick?!? You deserved to fail.

  • Ska||

    I was young and idealistic! I hadn't taken the true lesson of Blazing Saddles to heart!

  • ||

    I thought the true lesson of Blazing Saddles was that Mongo just pawn in game of life.

  • ||

    Irish delivery guy?!?!? You expect anyone to believe that?

  • fried wylie||

    And I tried to start a Chinese staffed Mexican takeout

    Completely Backwards.

  • Killazontherun||

    I just scrape my face with an aloe tempered disposable razor every morning, no problem. forget the brand. It comes in a pretty green package.

  • Pham Nuwen||

    A real man, like myself, uses only hot water and a dull rusty knife.

    Remember that.

  • ||

    Phaw! Pham, you wussboy, REAL men do it with their bare FINGERNAILS! If you can't, it's because modern society has pussified you with it's newfangled "fingernail clippers."

  • Pham Nuwen||

    *Hangs head in shame at own weakness*

  • VG Zaytsev||

    REAL men Werewolves do it with their bare FINGERNAILS!

    FIFY

    Real MEN use an obsidian blade that they shaped themselves.

  • Killazontherun||

    Real men shave with the calloused ends of Jean Claude Van Damme's uncut foreskin while being kicked boxed in the nuts. If you are not up for that, or even find it disturbing in the slightest, you are not a real man.

  • ||

    Thank you for retransliterating Nguyen.

  • widget||

    After a week, you can even give up the oil and use only warm water. You will find that you will be able to shave ever more swiftly and with ever more abandon. A man can shave his whole face in 20 seconds without a single abrasion.

    I use a bare razor to shave my ears. My glorious nose hairs are so thick that it seems that the roots are planted in the back of my neck. I'm guessing that Mr. Tucker is not a swarthy man-in-full.

  • Spoonman.||

    I read that in college just as I was starting to get the full beard capability, and it made shaving so much better.

    I just use a 50-pack of disposables from Costco, going through about one a month.

    And I don't shave on the weekends because (a) I'm lazy and (b) if my wife had her way I'd never be clean-shaven.

  • Suki||

    how evading it is often just huring yourself.

    Into oblivion?

  • rho||

    You are not a gadget.

    Adopting the patois of a paradigm is not a virtue. Whatever wisdom your grandparents may impart likely does not translate to Twitter. That doesn't make it right, but it sure as hell doesn't make it wrong.

  • ||

    He raises some interesting points.

  • alittlesense||

    Now kids, bring Grandpa the bourbon bottle and shut up, 'cause he's going to unload some wisdom on ya......

  • shrike||

    Libertarians made the fatal mistake of hitching their tiny wagon to SoCon rednecks like Jim DeMint.

    Bad call. DeMint and his ilk are scumbags.

  • Pham Nuwen||

    I'm for Jim DeMint?

  • ||

    Ignore it, Naga. Just walk away. Ignore.

  • Sevo||

    For a couple of days, there was a "shrike" who was actually posting comments worthy of discussion.
    This "shrike"? Not so much.
    Which is which?

  • Brutus||

    I read one a day or two ago that was actually eloquent and thoughtful. I had to check the spelling of the name. It's since relapsed into the shrikeshriek.

  • Pham Nuwen||

    ust walk away. Give me your words, the logical fallacies, the thread, and the whole blog, and I'll spare your lives. Just walk away and we'll give you a safe passageway in the intertubez. Just walk away and there will be an end to the horror.

    I await your answer. You have a full day to decide.

  • Pro Libertate||

    Last time I listened to a Sith lord, things didn't work out so well.

  • ||

    Pham Nuwen is a Sith lord? This adds a new wrinkle to the plot of Deepness.

  • Pham Nuwen||

    I went by a different handle in those long ago days of lore.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    You forgot to start your monologue with, "Children of Reason, I am disappoint...."

  • tallyho||

    Did not RTA but am using this as a test comment. (It is kinda related to technology however) - Mike Alissi have been having an interesting exchange of emails around the difficulties I have been having registering and he asked if I could post a comment and who did I show up as. So here it is.. testing, testing...

  • Sevo||

    KD,
    You're not the only one.

  • ||

    It’s just that making this choice seems easier than learning new things and buying new stuff

    That's not what I've seen. The people I know who reject technology often are afraid of it, because they don't understand it. That it is "too much work" to learn it is just the excuse.

  • rho||

    They may quite rightly be afraid.

    Do you, or do you not run some version of an ad-blocker inside of your browser?

    If so, is it because you're afraid of it? Why?

    If not, why?

  • ||

    I run adblocker software at work because animated ads or ads with attractive women on them tend to catch people's eyes if they happen to glance at your monitor, and if I'm fucking around on H&R I don't want that.

    You seem somewhat obsessed with this issue.

  • Tman||

    One vote for people are just afraid of it. Most people think that their personal information (like SS#, address, bank info) is still private and secure, yet they will on Facebook and post pictures of every goddamn thing that happens to them whilst FB adds a full GPS location to each picture.

    You and your private identification information are not now nor will ever be private. Give me your name and approximate address and I'll find your SS# through google in 30 minutes tops.

    Get used to it.

  • celtigirl||

    I think it's a combination of being afraid due to the scare stories about online stalkers and criminals as well as the "you can't teach an old dog new tricks" mentality that many people over a certain age have.

    The solution to the id theft problem is to put a credit freeze on your files at the 3 reporting agencies, don't use your debit card, and keep your checkbook at home. And don't Western Union money to strangers.

  • Tman||

    The solution to the id theft problem is to put a credit freeze on your file.

    Not really. For one thing less than 20% of ID theft is related to credit (FTC Consumer Complaint statistics). And the bigger problem with a freeze is that it by itself does not guarantee safety from fraudulent accounts being opened. If the creditor doesn't check your credit report during the application process the freeze is useless. And there are tons of creditors who serve low income/consumers with poor credit that will open accounts with a credit check.

    There is no easy solution to ID Theft.

    (Full disclosure-I fix ID theft issues all day for a living- this is my wheelhouse).

  • Tman||

    above should say-"And there are tons of creditors who serve low income/consumers with poor credit that will open accounts withOUT a credit check."

  • celtigirl||

    You kinda misquoted me there, the full stop was after a few more words of advice. Nothing can stop id fraud completely, but do your stats separate out stranger id theft vs. family/friend id theft? I think that taking a few wise precautions with regard to the internet, which was the original topic, can greatly reduce the harm that strangers can do to you.

  • celtigirl||

    Actually, further down in the thread Episiarch says he wasn't referring to theft or fraud, so I'm wrong there.

    Further, I will defer to your superior experience regarding id theft and with that enjoy some crow. :-)

  • Tman||

    No need for any crow soup, it's a common misconception about ID theft. Here's a link to a breakdown of the latest FTC stats in case you're interested- FTC's Latest Report: ID Theft Tops List of Consumer Complaints.

    And in regards to the "stranger vs. family/friend" id theft question the problem is that most people don't know nor do they end up finding out who stole their ID info. Of those who do and then reported this information, it showed that around 50% of these victims were in fact victimized by family/friends.

    You are absolutely correct however in stating that there are simple things one can do to minimize your your exposure and chances of being a victim, but I think that the credit freeze is that much better at protecting you than a fraud alert, which is different. A freeze "blocks" your credit, whereas an alert tells the creditor to call and make sure it's you before they approve any application. Freezes cost money and are a hassle, but alerts are easy and take all of five minutes to place. And getting that phone call from Lowe's Application department that someone is attempting to open a new credit line in your name can be the best warning system you can get.

  • Tman||

    My editing is terrible today, above should read- "I think that the credit freeze is NOT that much better"

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Thanks for the info Tman. I am always curious about the ratio of stranger vs. family/friends crime perpetrators. In my anecdotal observation, it seems like most crimes are perpetrated by "insiders". ID theft may be a little different because the internet reduces time and distance constraints. Anyways, thanks!

  • VG Zaytsev||

    There is no easy solution to ID Theft

    Sure there is.

    Make creditors entirely liable for fraud perpetrated against them.

    ID theft will stop entirely when they have an incentive to verify who they are giving money to.

  • Tman||

    ID theft will stop entirely when they have an incentive to verify who they are giving money to.

    They already have an incentive, it's called losing billions of dollars every year to fraudulent accounts. And there are penalties already for misreporting credit information or violating consumer rights, but I would agree that the penalties could be enforced better.

    We don't need more laws, just better enforcement of the current ones.

    But ID Theft will never stop entirely. That's like saying robbery can be stopped entirely.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    *whispering loudly*

    TMAN! You're scaring the children!

  • ||

    When I said afraid, I wasn't referring to being defrauded or having their identity stolen; I was referring to the technology. Some people seem actually sort of afraid of technology that they just completely do not understand.

  • Tman||

    I think it's a combination. Plenty of people are afraid to use the internet to make purchases or expose any of their Personal information because they fear that they can't trust it to remain secure.

    Others simply fear it because as you say, they simply don't understand it.

  • JW||

    Yep. I've worked enough years in IT, at almost every level, that I can attest to this. People manage to convince themselves that they can't learn it and whaddyaknow, they don't.

    One especially inept user, a woman in her 50's 10 years ago, would write down instructions that I would give her and then lose the notepad she wrote them on. 4 weeks later, I'm giving her the same instructions again. If I put it in an email, she'd delete it.

    Oh, and she was one of those people where *every* message was marked HIGH PRIORITY. I'm amazed that she didn't drive around on sunny days with her windshield wipers on.

  • PaganPriestess||

    My mother-in-law is one of those who don't want to learn, but the excuse that it's new-fangled doesn't fly with me. Every one in my husband's family (except for her) were EARLY adopters. They've had at least one personal computer and continuous upgrades since the mid 80's... ah fond memories of booting the CoCo with a fucking tape player...
    She's been fired from 3 jobs now because she refuses to use a computer. She can whine about no one contacting her all she wants but she did it to herself.

  • ||

    Tman, I can't even find myself.

  • Tman||

    well, do you remember where you last used yourself?

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Ewwww.

  • ||

    Sorry, forgot to add the question "what would they rightly be afraid of?"

  • Ryan||

    Same thing as most people: the unknown.

  • ||

    That was my point. But I don't think it was rho's point, which is why I asked.

  • Civilis||

    Strangely enough, most of the more tech-savvy people I know tend to be the most paranoid online.

  • Pham Nuwen||

    I don't twitter because I fear it will lead to mecha-godzilla is a viable excuse to me.

  • PaganPriestess||

    I don't use twitter because it's full of twits...it's like reading you-tube comments; you can feel the IQ points draining away from you as you read.

  • ||

    You would be scared too, if you understood there was only VOODOO behind it. You damned pagans.

  • PaganPriestess||

    Hey!

  • Killazontherun||

    The only technology I despise are telephones. I hate talking on the phone. My conversation style depends on a lot of non verbal ques, and I'm constantly gauging the reaction of the other people. Otherwise, e-mail, text, skype, all fine. But that damn phone makes me think the person has something to hide unless it is a short conversation where they are enthusiastically inviting me out to lunch for a face to face.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Yup, I've got a couple of relatives who refuse to join facebook because they've heard that their privacy can be compromised. Well, not if you don't put anything private on there.

  • Mr Whipple||

    WTF? Mr Whipple had to create an account. Was I flagged, or does everyone need to do this?

  • plu1959||

    Been away for a while?

  • Mr Whipple||

    Yes. Is this the result of someone with the initials MS?

  • ||

    Master Shake? Yes.

    Meatwad: Well I was told that they was going to get a trampoline. You know, maybe I was just projecting my desires onto them.

    Master Shake: I jump on a tramp every night. That's how I roll. The juice just keeps on flowing. Who is writing this down? This is gold.

  • Mr Whipple||

    Oooooooookay.

  • ||

    Master Shake: So are you gonna hop to it? Or will I have to beat you down in front of the child?

  • Sevo||

    My gripe about new-tech hardware is one of design:
    WIH do I need an owner's manual to turn on a transistor radio? That alone is an admission that the design is poor.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    I have to agree with this. I was surprised by the poor design choices that Google chose for their cellphone; having basic settings for power-hogging apps or devices buried in several submenus is just lousy, as is the design for widgets and the baffling choices for what sorts of things should be easily accessible without the use of menu-based UIs.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    My sister and I just had a 1/2 hour conversation (on our CELL PHONES! SO rad!) about the shithole new Windows 7.0 - what a piece of shit in terms of changes just to make changes (esp re: Office, since we both use the shit out of Word, XL, PPt, etc).

    Fuck you, Microsoft. But, that's not a new thing, is it...

  • JW||

    You do realize that Windows isn't Office, right? RIGHT?

  • Formerly Almanian||

    They both suck ass

  • JW||

    No, YOU suck ass.

  • Voros McCracken||

    I've actually not had any problems with 7 though Vista gave me no end of issues.

    Firefox on the other hand seems to want to act up daily.

  • JW||

    I gave up on Firefox one I beheld the glory of Chrome.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    I think Andy Rooney made the same point back in 1978.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    WHY is that??

  • Sevo||

    Not joking about the radio.
    It gets used a couple of times a year for baseball games when I'm in the yard. Other than that, it's there for emergency use when, say the power goes out.
    'Uh, here's the radio. Now WIH's the owner's manual to find out how to turn it on, and where's the flashlight to read the damn thing?!'

  • Fatty Bolger||

    I thought it was amusing that you used a 50 year old technology as your example of "new-tech hardware."

    Guess it does prove that some things never change.

  • Sevo||

    Fatty Bolger|4.4.12 @ 8:36PM|#
    "I thought it was amusing that you used a 50 year old technology as your example of "new-tech hardware.""

    Uh, radios *needing* owner's manuals ain't 50YO tech.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    Uh, did you actually need the users manual?

  • Sevo||

    Go to Radio Shack, select a cheap radio and try to *turn it on* without asking for the manual.
    Yes.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    ... and don't get me started on those newfangled toasters. :)

  • Formerly Almanian||

    Kinda related:

    JUST picked up my 2013 Mustang GT Convertible in "Gotta Have It Green" (black top and interior)...to go with my 2011 Mustang GT Convertible (black with red interior).

    "Why, back in my day, my Hemi Cuda/428 Cobra-Jet Mustang/big-blocl Chevelle/etc...." would have gotten its ASS kicked. This thing has 420 horse ("For Your Pleasure!®") and actually handles, unlike my beloved but HORRIBLY ancient 1971 Camaro.

    I've learned to love fuel injection - no tuneups every 3000 miles like my Camaro, change plugs maybe after 100K miles instead of every couple months....yeah, I can learn to like that.

    Buy one - they're fun as hell!

  • JW||

    Where do you get this kind of coin for these toys?

  • Voros McCracken||

    He's a monocle salesman.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Is that a euphemism for trading in orphan organs?

  • Randian||

    No kids.

  • JW||

    Nope. Almanian has kids, teenagers in fact. That only deepens my curiosity.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    I'm guessing he gets a "pink slip" from Ford. It's a manufacturer's discount, given to employees.

  • Ornithorhynchus||

    Some people are slow to adopt new technology simply because of money. I never had a computer and internet connection until a few years ago because I just couldn't afford it.
    I still don't have a mobile phone. Or a car (although I have had them in the past.)

  • Formerly Almanian||

    Yeah, that too. I've lived through that, esp when I was young and poor.
    Choices....sometimes limited by funding.

  • Sevo||

    "Choices....sometimes limited by funding."
    And by other issues.
    Is there any function provided by texting that cannot be more easily provided by voice, email, etc?

  • Formerly Almanian||

    I despise texting, and refuse to respond to my kids when they text.

    "CALL me - it's ALWAYS quicker"

    DESPISE texting...it's just massively less efficient for me.

    Good call...

  • Sevo||

    "it's just massively less efficient for me."

    Email is:
    'please get back to me on this when you get a chance'
    'it's o-dark thirty and I just thought of this'
    'dear spouse, I didn't want to forget we need to discuss this'
    'here's the details that are hard to explain verbally'

    Voice is:
    'we need to talk about this *now*'
    'we need back-and-forth on this'
    'could you deal with this issue, and I'll answer any questions'

    Texting is:
    what?

  • Mustakrakish||

    Shorter FA, "GET OFF MY LAWN!!!"

  • WarrenT||

    Yeah, I used to be that way as well. Now, though, unless it's urgent or multiple things have to be discussed/responded to, I prefer to get a text.

    It's so much better than having to listen to someone talk.

  • Sevo||

    WarrenT|4.4.12 @ 8:32PM|#
    "Yeah, I used to be that way as well. Now, though, unless it's urgent or multiple things have to be discussed/responded to, I prefer to get a text."

    Any reason email wouldn't do the same?

  • WarrenT||

    Is there a functional difference? As it happens my phone sucks at connecting me to the internet in most places so texting is a surer method.

    Words on a screen are words on a screen. And I have unlimited texting so I'm not worried about the cost.

  • Sevo||

    So it's a workaround for immature tech.

  • WarrenT||

    I'm not seeing why e-mail would be the superior option.

    I will say this about who ever designed the on-screen keyboard...you eat shit you fuck.

    Why do I need an emoticon button that is bigger than and right next to the period button? Do you think I want to end my sentences with a fucking smiley, you rancid asshole?

    And how about if I mis-key and correct and then miss and correct again the key I am wrongly hitting is disabled for the next keystroke?

    Because those keys are small and my fingers are sausage like and not very dextrous so why don't you have it where it learns that I don't want the 'j' right now as I've corrected it multiple times and disable it until I hit another key. Would that be so hard?

  • WarrenT||

    And just to be clear I'm not insulting Sevo here, but rather the fuckstain who designed the KB.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    I'm not seeing why e-mail would be the superior option.

    Easier to keep and organize.

    I hate it when my customers use texting instead of email.

    Plus, emails are admissible evidence in court, text messages not so much.

  • Randian||

    Plus, emails are admissible evidence in court, text messages not so much.

    Where did you read that? That simply isn't true.

  • JW||

    I see emails sent to me. Texts, I ignore. I hate texting.

    I'd rather do most communication through email, esp. for technical issues. That's my archive and I can always refer back to it for info I've forgotten. Your text, meh, it's useless since it's nowhere to be found wher e I need it to be.

  • ||

    I'm so "only email" I don't even respond to voicemail. For a long time my voicemail message went along the lines of: "You have not reached me. If you know me please email me at any one of the addresses you have or use Facebook. If you don't know me email me at x@x.x, again that's x.x.x. But if you can't do that leave a message and in a week or two I might get back to you."

  • Fluffy||

    I find texting more efficient because people don't answer their phones.

    If you send someone a text with your entire question, they'll just answer it. If you try to call them, they can't know what your question is, and will worry it will be something that will take a lot of their time and/or be a pain in the ass, so they let your call go to voicemail so they can LISTEN to the voicemail and see what your question is before speaking to you.

  • Randian||

    Bingo - Fluffy gets it one.

    Texting lets me respond to question at my leisure. And for the people saying "buh-buh-but e-mails!", e-mails weren't on phones for most kids until like three years ago.

  • Sevo||

    So, it *was* a work around for tech that wasn't formally available?

  • Randian||

    Maybe. But that doesn't mean it isn't still more convenient.

    E-mail on a phone requires entering an e-mail client, entering information in the "to", "from" and "subject line", entering text, and then checking that e-mail client for a response.

    Texting requires none of this.

  • Spoonman.||

    When somebody calls me, I let it go to voicemail so Google Voice can text me what they said, and then I know if I need to respond.

    Google Voice can't understand my father-in-law though. Everyone else I have a pretty good idea what the message is about, but with him it's basically word salad.

  • fried wylie||

    Is there any function provided by texting that cannot be more easily provided by voice, email, etc?

    We're just talking about on phones, right? Texting (Skype/IM) at my computer makes plenty of sense, since I'm usually chatting with people I can't afford to call on the phone, and if I'm trying to walk them through something then email is just not interactive enough.

  • Sevo||

    "We're just talking about on phones, right?"
    That's the subject of my posts.

    "Texting (Skype/IM) at my computer makes plenty of sense, since I'm usually chatting with people I can't afford to call on the phone, and if I'm trying to walk them through something then email is just not interactive enough."
    OK, that's what I'd call IM, and that has a function not met by others.
    Good call.

  • Sevo||

    Even that is plagued by the 'are you responding to my X:XX message', so while it may be cheaper, it loses in that regard.

  • Randian||

    The new texting clients look like conversations and save everything.

  • ||

    Yeah, I haven't got a smart phone yet cuz I want to buy some guns and ammo with the extra money (I assume) that would cost. Although I do wish I could do that fancy "face time" thing with my youngun when I'm out of town.

  • Sevo||

    OT, but WTH:
    "CodePink on Michelle Obama’s message to them in SF: “Keep up the great work”"
    http://blog.sfgate.com/nov05el.....ork/?tsp=1
    For your homework, compare and contrast the love-fest between CP/MO and a similar meeting with Laura Bush.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    It's truly strange how little we hear about casualties in Afghanistan any more. Apparently it's just not a big deal when we have a President who won a peace prize or something.

  • Sevo||

    ..."or something."
    Winna! We have a winna!
    Now, please tell us the party to which this person belongs!

  • Killazontherun||

    If the Obama administration allows a deeper schism with the Pakistanis, they will give a go ahead for a Tet Offensive type action in Kabul similar to what occurred in Mumbai. Total evil fuckers.

  • Bill||

    I forget. Did he win that Peace prize before or after the election?

  • Killazontherun||

    That is some First Rate disconnect right there, I tell you.

  • Terr||

    registered. now what?

  • Formerly Almanian||

    PS - I'd still bang Sarah Palin like a dinner bell.

    That is all.

  • Formerly Almanian||

    Brian Doherty - did you sing this song when you welcomed Technology back into your life?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ERCzN91JicA

  • fried wylie||

    write a letter with a stamp

    try using a pen or pencil, heck even a crayon or some charcoal. should be much more productive than the stamp.

  • Gutenburg||

    Whole bunch of little movable stamps has worked for me for several centuries.

  • WarrenT||

    I'm in the market for a bible? Can you hook me up?

  • fried wylie||

    oh snap.

  • widget||

    Though I am generally nuts about technology, and I am techie by trade, there are some technologies that I fear.

    One of them is texting (IM, Twitter, etc.). I have decided never to text anyone about anything and ignore all incoming. It just seems so tedious.

    Another is Google's Latitude. This one I use, but with a knot in my stomach.

  • Mike Laursen||

    Agreed. Can't think of a reason in the world that I would want to use Twitter.

  • WarrenT||

    Anyone have Dish? Who ever designed their UI for the DVR needs to be sent back to school. Or shot, whatever.

    So I love the technology of the DVR but like in a lot of areas the people who make it useable give no thought to how others will be using the thing.

    They design it and are therefore used to how it works and then they tweek it and add this and that option and soon it takes multiple windows to change the option of recording all episodes of a show to just the next ep.

  • WarrenT||

    And this laptop I'm typing on...well how about a caplocks key that they had a choice they could make smaller but made left the same size that you find on other keyboards.

    Now this probably because it's always been like that and they don't want to change things up.

    Well, fuck you, keyboard layouters.

    On my typewriter I had to hit shift AND CL to get it to set, now all I have to do is slightly brush the fucking thing and it gOES ON.

    Why not leave a bigger gap between it and the letter A? Would that have been difficult? No? Well, fuck you.

  • WarrenT||

    It's a good thing that the A isn't used all that much. Because having one of the more used letters next to a mostly useless and easy to activate key would be ridiculous.

    Also, what's with the fucking touch pad?

    One slight, and accidental touch with a thumb and the cursor moves to elsewhere in the text and I find myself typing right in the middle of a completed paragraph.

    Or worse find I've inadvertently highlighted something and then with another keystroke erased it.

    Once, after typing a long response to something I noticed a typo and hit backspace twice to erase the letters but for some reason the cursor was not in the text box but outside and my hitting backspace took me back two web-pages thus erasing everything I just wrote.

  • Bingo||

    The MacBook line is fantastic about ignoring accidental input on the touchpad, and has been for years. It's one of those things the other laptop makers really need to catch up on.

  • WarrenT||

    Whatever happened to that little eraser looking thing that used to be in the middle of the keyboard? That would be fine. Or give me a little scroll ball off to the side somewhere...I don't need a sensitive pad right under my thumbs.

    How does the Mac know it was an inadvertent strike?

  • ||

    That's called a J-mouse and I believe Lenovo ThinkPads (formerly IBM) still have them.

    Apple's real genius is in the "two fingers stroking means scroll". That is an awesome feature that they must have patented because nobody else has it.

  • Randian||

    That is called the clit mouse, you oaf.

  • Tejicano||

    Once, after typing a long response to something I noticed a typo and hit backspace twice to erase the letters

    Warren - I feel your pain.

    Next time try Ctrl Z to retrieve the lost stuff.

  • ||

    Ah my HP laptop had that considered. There's a wee button at the top of the touchpad that disables it instantly. You click that before typing a long missive and no jumpy errors. This Dell that I am typing on now does not have that feature and it's really annoying.

  • ||

    My parents are those people who refuse to do internet or cellphones and they aren't even old enough to use being elderly as an excuse (they're in their fifties). It is for all the reasons people mentioned above plus one more that I think is significant. Some people who may tend towards martyrdom are never comfortable with things being too easy. If you don't have a cellphone it's fucking difficult to arrange, say, an airport pickup and if you don't have internet/email well it'll be a long ass time before you see my vacation photos because that is where they are. But making plans days in advance just to meet at the right terminal and getting physical photos developed is a hassle and if you don't have hassles what do you have to complain about? I think knowing that your life is that much more difficult than other people's lives offers a kind of moral superiority, purity through suffering, all that shit.

  • Sevo||

    "purity through suffering, all that shit."
    So these folks are the "Bickersons"?
    Sorry. I do know of which you post; there are plenty of people willing to be martyrs.

  • widget||

    So I love the technology of the DVR but like in a lot of areas the people who make it useable give no thought to how others will be using the thing.

    The problem with consumer electronics like a DVR is buttons. There should only be one button labeled 0/1. It's too darned complicated to operate something like this with buttons. There are some tablets that advertise universal remote control with a GUI. I don't have one yet, but that seems to be the direction.

  • WarrenT||

    I would like to be able to scroll through my options. Have a wheel of pages where all the pages are visible and just go to the one I need.

    If they don't want to do that one of the current pages needs to be Programs I have recorded/Programs I've set to record. It's idiotic to have them in different areas. And if I want to change the staus of a to-be-recorded program one click on it should give me all the options. ALL of them. i should not have to page through multiple layers to do what I need.

    And for fuck sake clearly label the shit! "Set Timer"? Fuck you! It should say "Record". And when I set something to record it should give me a pop-up window that confirms it along with the other options I've chosen.

  • ||

    Get a TiVo. Problem solved.

  • WarrenT||

    I've never seen a Tivo being used. Is the UI better?

  • ||

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    When my mom died, we bought my old man a computer and, surprisingly, he took to it pretty quickly. Sure he somehow installs every spyware toolbar imaginable, his inbox is spilling over with the chain messages bandied daily between his friends, and he routinely emails links to pictures stored on his local drive. But if he can muster the will and ability to enjoy the wonders of the internet on his own, no one has an excuse.

  • WarrenT||

    Yeah, once my mom died my spam was reduced by about 90%. She sent me more shit than Nigerian Princes did.

  • fried wylie||

    and yet you miss the obvious conclusion: your mom was Nigerian Royalty.

  • WarrenT||

    Good Lord!

  • WarrenT||

    Are you saying my mother was near?

  • fried wylie||

    and he routinely emails links to pictures stored on his local drive

    cockles. heart. warmed.

  • widget||

    When my mom died, we bought my old man a computer...

    You bought him a PC with Windows, didn't you? No hate on Windows, but it is an office grade OS at minimum. The scaled-down consumer variations of Windows are all flops.

  • Brutus||

    I'm a EE by trade, in the industrial automation, instrumentation and controls field, so I can't afford to be a technophobe. But it doesn't always pay to be on the bleeding edge of tech, either, as a lot of stuff comes out that winds up be ing a dead end.

    That said, I don't want to make it **too** easy for people to contact me. I had a FB page at one time, and I was chagrined to be messaged by a whole lot of people from HS that I'd rather not talk to. Anyone I want to contact has my email addy, my phone number and my cell. That's good enough. And I don't need to know the score of the Cardinal game within seconds of it finishing...the final score will be the same when I get to my laptop, thanks.

  • Nick M||

    I'm a EE by trade, in the industrial automation, instrumentation and controls field, so I can't afford to be a technophobe. But it doesn't always pay to be on the bleeding edge of tech, either, as a lot of stuff comes out that winds up be ing a dead end.


    I couldn't agree more. While it is definitely not a good idea to be a technophobe, it is also a huge pain in the ass to be on the bleeding edge and realize you've followed some tech into a dead end.
    I am an engineer too and I tend to wait a while before trying much that is new, just to make sure they've got most of the huge bugs out and that it's something that will be around for a while.

  • widget||

    Hi Brutus. I do the same. Industrial automation and controls. It's 24/7.

    Here's my favorite 3am phone call.

    OPERATOR: Hi widget, I'm having some problems here. The control system is broken. It keeps telling me that the level in Forebay 2 is high.

    WIDGET: OK. Did you take a look at the local indicator for the Forebay 2 level.

    OPERATOR: No, I'm trying to stop the alarm from keep coming back.

    WIDGET: Maybe the level in Forebay 2 is high.

    OPERATOR: Thanks. I'll go take a look at it.

    WIDGET: I think your on the right track. Goodnight.

  • tarran||

    My favorite late night call: it was 2:30 AM. I wake up. I wake up with a phone pressed to my ear and someone is talking. I realize quickly that I'm on the phone with an operator at the mill. He is in the middle of explaining something. Clearly he's 2 or 3 minutes into his explanation. And I remember none of it, since I woke up only 2 seconds ago.

    Later he told me that during those 5 minutes I was on the phone with him, I was talking like I was awake. Except a couple of times I repeated a question that I had asked a minute earlier - no short term memory. :)

  • Fluffy||

    Whatever happened to a world in which people had authentic human contact, admired the beauty of God’s creations and developed genuine relationships, instead of virtual ones?”

    The real problem with this is that it's so achingly, horribly false.

    It's not that it's corny or cliched. It's that it's the opposite of true.

    Avoiding technology will hobble and restrict your human relationships. And not just because everyone else in using the technology and will get annoyed if they have to write you a letter.

    It was just so damn easy to lose track of people before the internet. And so damn easy to forget people before digital photography.

    If email and digital photography had come about in 1986 instead of 1996, I'm sure I'd be much, much more in touch with people I went to high school and college with.

  • widget||

    The real problem with this is that it's so achingly, horribly false.

    Yup. We live in a gentle time.

  • Killazontherun||

    In one of his blog notes years ago, Tucker wrote a recipe for a vegetable pie. Utterly fantastic.

  • Ryan||

    Which just goes to show how the advancement of technolmumblemumbleand the future of vegetable pie-making!

  • Tejicano||

    Back in engineering school I jumped full into technology and was even ahead of most of my classmates. After I graduated and got a job with a large, global tech company where (among other things) I was writing FORTRAN programs with stuff like seven degree curve fitting sub-routines to estimate thermal performance of products we were designing.

    Even before the end of the 80’s most of my hard won skills were irrelevant and even my household name brand corporation was evolving from designing & manufacturing to consulting. Most of what I had spent years to learn became little more than techie artifact.

    So I have a visceral reaction to learning new stuff that I might not have any use for the next time some stupid “all change is good” tech company (Microsoft) puts out their latest & greatest (ie: still haven’t got it right) whizbang. Nothing ticks me off more than being up at 3 AM trying to figure out where MS hid in their new version some function I was using just last week without having to think about it.

    I hate that tech companies assume you will have 10 to 20 minutes a week - whenever they ask you for them - to update, upgrade, download, install, and fix some POS application. How come the world in which I work in a task completed has to be complete while the shyte they push at me comes with the expectation that I will have time to let them fix it later?

  • 0x90||

    First, you don't have to update; you can just keep on running Windows 98, or whatever.

    Second, the reason it's not ever perfect, is that it's not ever done. It is perpetually in process, because that's what people demand. If it were a viable business model to only release software that was finished with a capital F, which guaranteed that it did not have a single bug to be patched later, then you would be able to buy that today. But there is no such market, unless you're talking about ICBM or nuclear reactor control and the like. And you don't want to pay that price, or endure that kind of development cycle -- and neither does anyone else in the consumer sector, which is the real point.

    People want the next version, they want it cheaper, they want it yesterday, and if you can't come close to doing that for them, then I've got news: you don't exist. It's not developers who determine this, it's the customer.

    Really, it's the weirdest market I've dealt with. Nowhere else have I seen customers get irate because you have failed to provide them with yet another opportunity to fork over more dough.

    The best you can do is to find outfits that have demonstrated a commitment to quality, and paying the premium; there is a limit to what you'll find though, since few are willing to pay that price.

  • Tejicano||

    If you work for a company you do have to upgrade at some point along with everybody else.

    Yup, products continue to evolve but there is such a thing as downward compatibility - it just isn't profitable to let people continue to run products they bought a couple revisions back. It takes a bit of work (not all that much) to maintain compatibility but the math for why they don't try is pretty simple.

  • 0x90||

    I think you meant forward compatibility. Backward compatibility is much easier, and I'd be curious to hear of any application you have that isn't.

    While there are surely companies out there who are just trying to milk you, who don't, as you say, try, I've not run across any like that, myself. At least in my sector, ISVs and developers are pretty much obsessive about what they do, and would pretty much work for free, provided that the bills got paid. If, due to an unforeseeable factor, I need to break compat (forward, not backward -- that only requires keeping old code around to read old files), I am going to do it, because it is going to make a lot of people a lot more productive. If that means you will not be able to read new files, so be it, since by your own statement, you are no longer interested in being a part of the process.

    Not that that needs to happen too frequently; when it does, though, I have no qualms: you have the software you bought, it does what it did when you bought it, and your wishful thinking amounts to asking me to keep working for you after you've declared that you have stopped working with me.

  • widget||

    Backward compatibility is much easier...

    There are few 130+ IQ programmers who will put up the drudge work of maintaining backward compatible software for long. There are few 130- IQ programmers who can do it.

  • 0x90||

    Except in a case where there is either technically or conceptually no transformation possible, it's not generally much work to perform one. And the whole question hinges on the nature of the data...if you can use a self-describing format, forward and backward both aren't too difficult; new objects are constructed with appropriate defaults, and whatever old data that can be used gets used. Sometimes you have to perform some tricky transforms to fit old tabs into new slots, but it's usually not the end of the world. If you are dealing with larger datasets, though, it might be that for the next version, you have implemented a new way of representing things that allows a significant file-size reduction (it's not uncommon for data I work with to be several GB in size, so such optimizations are a big deal). Even here, there is nothing requiring that backward compatibility be broken, but in the other direction, there is simply no choice: you could not have predicted that this would become possible, so your choice is: ask your current and future clients to forgo the benefits of the new development, or break forward compatibility.

  • Tejicano||

    I guess I need to either give up discussing this kind of stuff in English or do it more often as I tend to forget some terminology after nearly 20 years living outside the US in a different language.

    You are an IT worker so it is your job to keep up with changes and fixes for your equipment. I am an IT consumer - through my company’s choices in IT products - and don’t want to schedule time to get up to date on changes to IT tools I have to use to do my real job. I do it but I don’t agree that it should be my job. I have enough to do just keeping up with my own industry and company.

    If a customer is impacted due to a problem or change to a product or service related to my industry it is called “failure”. We don’t pretend it is a feature or an upgrade even if the end result is an improvement for that customer. I keep up with the changes in the industry and my company so those changes are invisible to the customer.

  • Brutus||

    So how are everyone's HD-DVDs playing today? Laser discs? SACDs? CD4 LPs? Mini-discs?

  • JW||

    My DVDs and Blu Rays are playing fine, as are my CDs (even they were ripped to MP3 long ago). I'll probably get around to ripping those too, one day. Betting on niche technology can screw you to the wall, and I say this as an old Betamax guy.

    My old boss had a Pioneer LaserDisc player, which he used until a couple years ago.

    How are your 8mm and 16mm films? Reel-to-reel tape? 8mm video tapes? Betamax tapes? VHS? 8 Tracks? Cassettes? Telxes? Telegrams? How about 35mm film stock? Instamatic film catridges? Some of these we can still use, such as LPs, becuse the demand is still there, but most are lost to the past. I only recently got around to converting 12 year old 8mm videos to digital and probably not a moment too soon. The camera is almost crapped out.

    Time moves on and so does technology. Shit gets left behind, so find a way to deal with it now. Or just rage against the machine.

  • ||

    I've gone FULL RETARD on the digitization. I got epub/MOBI copies of all my books and then sold all that I could to Amazon. All my CDs were ripped to disk years ago. I've sold almost all my DVDs to Amazon, because if I really want to watch something again I'll stream it on Netflix/Amazon/iTunes or, worst case, have to have the DVD delivered to me. My paperwork is mostly electronic (at least the recent stuff) and I have contemplated scanning the rest.

    It's really, really nice to not have shelves of books/DVDs/CDs. Less crap is more.

  • WarrenT||

    But won't you please think of the bookbinders?

  • JW||

    I'm still too attached to the hard copies to part with them. You'll thank me when the Apocalypse comes and we're stuck together in the bunker for 2 years.

  • widget||

    While your womenfolk are rubbing sticks together, I'll whip a lighter from my pocket. Who's the alpha-male now?

  • JW||

    Me. I just clubbed you over the head with a hammer and took the lighter.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    My LaserDiscs play just fine, thanks. It's hard to get new ones, though, and they don't play at all in my Blu-Ray player/set-top box.

  • widget||

    Nothing ticks me off more than being up at 3 AM trying to figure out where MS hid in their new version some function I was using just last week without having to think about it.

    Are you aware some of the new business concept called an invoice with after-hour rates. When a customer calls me at 3am I mumble to myself "oh fuck", then "CA-CHING".

  • Tejicano||

    The problem is that once you rise high enough in the corporate structure you are not paid for your overtime - you just have to produce.

  • widget||

    The corporate structure of widget's corporation is widget. Let me flow-chart that for you:

    customer wants > widget works > widget sends invoice > customer pays > widget eats

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    When you, the customer, are driving the change, then change is more than OK, it is wonderful. When you are being DRIVEN to adopt change because "everyone else is doing it," or the change clearly benefits others and not you, then change sucks bigtime. Successful agents of change find ways to design and implement the change process, or the technological innovation, so that it is straightforward to use and easy to master.

  • JW||

    The flip side is those who are threatened by change or can't comprehend it and demand top down control and/or stasis.

    Can you imagine telling Sleepy Judge Jackson at the Microsoft anti-trust trial that within a decade, they won't be the dominant force in technology and that the personal computer model is changing faster than MS can keep up?

    I had these arguments with the lefties I knew at the time, making a similar argument, and and all they could do is parrot the conventional wisdom. I doubt they would admit just how unbelievably fucking wrong they were.

  • 0x90||

    They would admit no such thing, because they would not see it that way. They would have a hazy recollection of Microsoft getting smacked down in some fashion (they would be unable to give you specifics), and would tell you something along the lines of: "Even after the government stepped in, look how powerful Microsoft still is. Imagine if they'd been allowed to continue on abusing their monopoly position!" It's impenetrable, that force field.

  • widget||

    At a practical level, the Microsoft anti-trust suit stopped Microsoft from purchasing Intuit. It's water under the bridge now, but all this did was to inconvenience small business owners so that contact lists and other Microsoft Office technology could not be seamlessly integrated with Quickbooks. Small business owners would have paid the monopoly premium for this.

  • JW||

    At a practical level, the Microsoft anti-trust suit stopped Microsoft from purchasing Intuit.

    And yet, MS Money is no longer made and Quickbooks is, giving Inuit the monopoly.

    All the suit did was to divert resources from other ventures into defending that idiocy (it was over the 'bundling' of IE) and make them gun shy and hobbled about future products. There was never any "crime" of consumer harm. It was MS competitors using the courts to hobble MS. Full stop. Anyone with half a brain could see that the market changed even during the 2 years of the trial.

    Of course, that criteria would exclude the court, which only foretold the even greater dull-wittedness of the European courts over MS.

  • crazyfingers||

    As a libertarian I am mostly concerned about the encroaching surveillance state that has been enabled by all these technological advancements. The federal government has abandoned any pretense of needing probable cause to spy on Americans. I mean, when the CIA Director is publicly talking about using people's refrigerators to spy on them - http://www.smartplanet.com/blo.....ator/10717 - it sure is beginning to sound a heck of a lot like "1984" to me.

  • James Anderson Merritt||

    I used Edge gel for a while many years ago, but found no real improvement over the warm-water shaving that was my habit before and after that experiment.

    The warning about shaving cream reminds me of similar warnings from the San Francisco Chronicle's late columnist, Charles McCabe. He suspected a conspiracy in the introduction of new razor blade products. He asserted that new products would stay sharp for many weeks or months. But once the brand became established, he said, the products would be shoddy, lasting for just a few shaves before becoming dull. So his recommendation was to buy new blades in bulk at their introduction, in order to enjoy the best longevity and value. I miss McCabe.

  • widget||

    Rust never sleeps. You cannot buy 10,000 razor blades and expect them be in new condition 20 years from now. To even get close to that you'd have to package the blades in a vacuum, or maybe better, an inert gas with some positive pressure. Making a container for that would be troublesome. Alternatively, you could hook a ground wire up to each razor blade and provide a battery with a sacrificial metal to provide cathodic protection.

  • BoscoH||

    Cosmotarian checklist:
    1. Email address. Check.
    2. Smartphone. Check.
    3. Facebook account. Check.
    4. Black friends in meatspace. Check.

  • Stilgar||

    While I am not (yet) elderly I can understand where that little old lady is coming from. She doesn't want to read the endless whining and moaning about day to day events, she does not want to be sent photos daily or weekly of the "cute" little ones and their pets. Rather she prefers to save it all for the infrequent more meaningful letter or gasp, family gathering. Unlike the rest of the family who already knows everything to know about each others lives, she may have something new to say or hear making an otherwise tedious event more interesting.

    Todays "technology" is far more like a giant umbilical cord between friends and family which is never cut. Do we really need to tell everyone about everything we do (or hear everything they have done) to be happy?

  • TiggyFooo||

    Dude is not making a lot of sense man.

    www.Anony-Surf.tk

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