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9:59 a.m. - April 25, 2006
Another Technology Rant!
Looking back to the way things were in 1988, when I started in the working world (yeah, I know, Iím a dinosaur Ė Smedasaurus Ė here me bleat), it seemed like a totally different world.

Sure, we had fax machines, copiers, automatic drip coffee and overnight delivery services back in those times, but there have been some great improvements in communication technologies in that relatively brief time frame.

Right now we have all kinds of palm and hand-held devices that you can check anything and everything on. We have phones that take pictures and play music. We have already bypassed the era of the pager! (Just think about it, 10 to 12 years ago all the trendy technogeeks had pagers. Where are they now, collecting dust with the Commodore 64s?)

We have laptop computers that you can actually carry and use, and have the ability to connect to the internet from pert near everywhere (well, everywhere near a coffee shop).

We have music players that you can take in your pocket and could hold a normal personís entire CD collection. (Note: Normal not being me, letís just get that straight, OK?)

But what I want to complain talk about today are a couple of ways that we communicate that were supposed to make our lives easier, but in reality cause headaches as well.

I know, theyíre easy targets, but I need an easy target once in a while.

Cell Phones - I do like my cell phone. Itís very small. Itís very efficient on battery use. It normally does a great job in making or receiving calls.

And thatís all it does, make and receive calls.

Oh, sure, I have a ringtone. Zon giggled with glee when she heard it. Itís a very apt and fitting ringtone for a Smed. But I have just one ringtone, and thatís all I need.

My phone does do text messages, but my plan doesnít have an economical texting plan.

I donít really like text messages, though. As you may have guessed, I prefer longer discourse (yeah, tell us something we donít know). I like my sentences to be actual sentences, you know, with subject AND predicate, and other shiny things.

Texting is just annoying, because you are limited to a small amount of words. No one likes getting texts with more than 10 to 20 words. Itís even worse than IMing someone (more on that later).

Sure, I used text messaging when the storm hit the other week, just in case someone actually cared that we were stupid enough to watch the damn thing out our bay window instead of heading to the basement. But that doesnít mean I like it.

Another thing my phone doesnít do is take pictures. Before camera phones came out, I never thought to myself, ďOh, if I only had a camera right now so I could take a grainy, out of focus picture of something insignificant that I was while walking to get a newspaper here in Wichita.Ē It doesnít fulfill an inherent need for me.

Cell phones themselves are quite improved. Just like laptops, the early models were designed to give you various and sundry strains and sprains. However, they are now very sleek and self contained. But I never have thought of them as a fashion accessory. Itís a DAMN PHONE, people. You punch buttons, it rings, you talk. Period.

(Call me a fogey, OK?)

The actual technology is a lot better as well. The quality of the networks, at least here in BFE land, is greatly improved over 5 years ago. Right now, I donít lose the signal even when Iím by the big pig farm on 32. (That used to be the biggest dead zone of them all Ė and of course I was always on the phone talking about a sensitive whenever I passed it and it sounded all like ďrezzo fepal schmurzĒ or something like that).

But itís not perfect. Recently, Iíve talked to a couple of people Ė having serious discussions about things and for a while the other end turned to static.

What do you do in those cases? If you ask to repeat what they said, then people may think you werenít listening, and were just contemplating your navel.

I just act like I heard it and move on.

So while I love cell phones, I just need to use one call people, and thatís all I need.

Email and other such nonsense - I love love love email.

Yes, I do know that sometimes you lose inflection and intent with email, and not even loading your email with every permutation of smiley will do that. But I had people not get my sardonic humor even when Iím taking to them face to face, so I can deal with that.

I have a lot of ways that people can write to me. I have my work email, which I am now using for WORK, believe it or not. I have two other email accounts, one with my regular ISP (and thatís the one that works when you hit the ďEmailĒ thing on my template Ė go ahead and try it Ė I DARE YA!) and my other account that I use for porn fantasy sports and what not. (Actually, I was a dumbass and didnít set up the accounts right when we moved to our new ISP in the new house.)

I now have a MySpace account and use that to send out silly little messages and stuff.

I use my SBC account to send out the really important silly messages and stuff. And believe me, I can get silly (and long winded) in my emails. (Say it isnít so!)

I also use Yahoo Messenger once in a while, but Iím not a huge fan of it, though. Not Messenger, but IMing in general. Oh, itís cool to talk to some of your friends in real time; yet again my love of long winded discourse gets in the way of IMing. So mine usually usually consists of things like this:

Smed: Hey! Youíre online.
Unwitting victim: Yeah.
Smed: How are things?
Unwitting victim: Fine. you?
Smed: Fine. Whatís up?
Unwitting victim: Not much. Bored
Smed: Me too.

Who Ė wee! Thatís a conversation there!

(Note: Iím not doing the classic IM shorthand. Iím not 12, nor am I Prince, but I am wearing a purple shirt today, and in three clicks I could get ďDirty MindĒ on my iPod. So thereís thatÖ)

I do also have an MSN messenger account but only log on once in a while. And no, I donít have AIM. I renounced AOL a long time ago, and once I renounce something, I never go back. Well, except when I need to. But AOL is not in that category, yet.

My work email does pretty well, actually. But I get a lot of traffic in there from list serves and actual correspondence from people that I felt it would be best if I shifted my personal stuff totally over to SBC. Besides, the remote interface I use to access my work email from home and the road is nasty. Webmail is just wrong, people, wrong wrong wrong. (Well, ours isÖptui!)

So my SBC account is what Iím using for my main correspondence with most of my friends, lovers, enemies and nemeses.

However, Iím thinking of switching a lot of my correspondence to Gmail, because Iím getting frustrated with SBC.

The reason is that at times, I send out this glorious prose, full of magical words, and I hit send, and it seems to disappear.

A couple of my friends have hotmail and one out of every 10 messages I send goes into the internet lost and found, never to return. Sunday, I sent a crucial one to a friend, and it just went poof.

Plus, my messages to my AOL friends tend to go into their spam folders no matter what subject I put on them.

I remember that one of my dear friends messages went into MY spam folder automatically, no matter what I did.

Recently, I sent a couple of emails to Red, and I have no idea if she got them. I suspect she missed one, because she sent one to me that covered some of the same ground. Hell, I donít know. Sure, I could be paranoid and send emails to other accounts and ask people, ďDid you get THIS specific email I sent? Why didnít you reply? WHY? WHY??Ē

Thatíd be a bit over the top, I suppose. You never want to come off as a stalker, even as a junior grade stalker.

(Of course, not putting ďHot Sexy Vi@gr@ BabeĒ in the subject line would probably help, right?)

And I donít know if Gmail would be different. So I guess Iíll just wallow in my angst and wonder if people are getting my emails.

Ah, thatís OK, though. Thatís relatively minor angst. Iím saving my major angst for later, thanks.


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