Friday, July 29, 2005

The Technological Catch-22

There are some pros and cons of technology. Cellular phones have allowed people with no sense of direction and no sense of self to find their way home and never get off the phone, respectively. The Sony Playstation Portable (PSP) has, thankfully, made it possible for people to be even lazier and less interested in working than they were before; now, lolly-gaggin' shits don't need to pry their asses off their couches in order to play The Legend of Mario's Left Testicle. And lest we forget, the miracle of air conditioning means that, no matter what the outside temperature, one's apartment or house can just hover at around 58 degrees, just enough to chill (but not freeze) the pool of drool collecting beneath the lolly-gaggin', cell-phone-using PSP geek.

The problem, of course, with all technology, is that it doesn't always work. The concept of a "paperless office" has been bandied about by computer magazine weenies for the past two decades. Yet despite these prognostications, paper shredders, copy machines, fax machines and -- yes, you guessed it -- paper -- are still omnipresent facets of offices around the country, if not the world. And while I fully agree that it'd be nice to not have piles of crap adorning what once resembled my desk, I know -- based on how many people don't have any real concept of what they're doing via PC -- that with paper, it's a matter of finding it. With a PC -- a missing file might be a result of a virus, an incompetent user, hardware failure, or a combination of these possibilities. And while I personally have been keeping my schedule, contact list and all the little info I collect each day in a Palm-based personal digital assistant ("PDA"), I can affirm that the only reason why I continue to do so is because all my info is perpetually backed up ("synced") onto my PC(s). So when I purchased the newest Palm, the LifeDrive, I was pretty pleased -- it's my (holy shit) seventh Palm in about 10 years, and it's really very wild. It's got WiFi and Bluetooth so I can connect to the Internet from anywhere and transfer contacts to/from my cell-phone. It's got a 4GB mini hard drive (same one found in the iPod Mini) so I can upload therein all of my shots of Bea Arthur drunk and topless at Studio54 back in the late 70's. And I can listen to music with the LifeDrive because it has a little headphone jack.

The main problem with all this, of course, is that it isn't always perfect. The WiFi never seems to be able to find a suitable signal, unless of course I'm sitting on my couch and leeching bandwidth from my wireless router (or, better yet, someone else's in my neighborhood). But if I'm sitting on my couch, I might as well just pry my own ass up and go to the PC itself. Unless, of course, some PSP player wants to take a break and play Mario's Testicles on the PC instead.

So where is all this going? Well, back to KISS-country (keep it simple, stupid). My A/C kept shutting off last night, so I ended up spending more time kicking the damn unit (or flipping fuses trying to cure the problem) than I did sleeping (about two hours, thanQ very much). Of course, in the end, it was a very simple, obvious solution -- the filter needed to be cleaned. With that out of the way, the unit was purring and humming along happily -- just in time for me to drop from physical and mental exhaustion.

What is the lesson learned here? It's nice to have 5,000 digital cable channels at your disposal, even if it takes you longer to find a decent, watchable program than it does to determine what to order for dinner via delivery in NYC. It's nice to have your entire life schedule and your world in a device that fits in your pocket, but if you sit on or fail to charge that little gizmo, you could be outta luck faster than shit through a goose. And while it's nice to have A/C that keeps your apartment meat-locker chilly and turns your nipples into pink icicles, it's sucks when these things invariably don't stand up to daily use.

Same with cell phones. I keep my cell phone for about 18 to 24 months before I round-file it and get a new one. On the surface, I do it because the cellular technology -- not just the radiation/emissions, but the cellular networks -- improve regularly, so I try to keep current. But I just love having a phone that can play video, tell me the weather in Sydney, take video snapshots of the womens' locker room at my gym, and function as a crude flash-bang grenade should I ever be taken prisoner by a gaggle of ninja assassins. Except all I really need the phone for is to make PHONE CALLS.

That reminds me of an incident I experienced in the mid-90's. I was looking to get a new car, so I went to a BMW dealership to take a gander at the 3-series. The salesman was giving me the schpiel about how slick the car was and how it's this and that, and instead of just having me drive the thing -- which is, after all, where a BMW (especially) shines -- he showed me the trip computer. The trip computer estimates how many miles you have remaining before you're out of gas, tracks your average miles per gallon, and calculates how lame you are for bothering to actually use the trip computer. The problem is the salesman -- we'll call him Retch -- wasn't quite able to figure out how to get this one car's trip computer to work, and I spent 20 minutes watching this Aqua-Velva freak punch in codes, call his manager, read the manual and try and find the little ID card that gives Retch and anyone else wearing a cheap tie and a polyester suit the ability to unlock the trip computer.

Needless to say, I wound up getting an Audi.

Moral of the story: keep it simple and always remember that gadgets, gizmos, toys and other life-luxuries are and always should be a means to an end, not the end themselves. If your new cell phone is giving you erections and you feel the need to show off by using it everywhere, including doctors offices, waiting areas, elevators, the bathroom stall, baseball games, funerals, the movies and while you are working the express counter at the fucking post office, perhaps you should have that phone permanently installed -- in your ass. If you pay more attention to the GPS set-up in your car than the passengers therein, you should be locked in the trunk, naked, with the GPS antenna in one hole and the crowbar in the other. Guess where you should put the flare.

And if you are so busy yapping away and playing with the trip computer in your 2005 Shitbox Coupe that you wind up causing an accident, you should have the spare tire permanently installed -- in your ass.

Finally, anyone who lives in NYC and feels the need to drive a Hummer and brag about it -- despite the fact that the Hummer is one giant piece of GM-manufactured crap -- is cordially invited to experience both the GPS and spare-tire experiences. Simultaneously.

Ooh, there's my cell phone, gotta go.

No comments: