Monday, January 30, 2012

More machine than man...

Not my desk, but it could be...
The other day I tried to cut some text from a document and paste it on another page. It didn't work no matter how many times I tried. It wouldn't even select.

I tried checking the documentation, then realized that I'd thrown it out with all my other equipment's paperwork. Okay, I thought, it's time to put that college education to work. Come on, brain, we can figure this out!
The source of the problem didn't take long to find: The page was made of paper, my stylus was actually a ball-point pen.

The realization actually took less time than it took you to read those lines, but still, I had an actual, real impulse to copy text on paper and paste it to another page with my pen.

It occurred to me that I may have reached the point of technological overload.

The signs have been there for awhile. Almost everything I do relies on some form of technology. I use the app so I'll know what to wear that day. I use GPS even on well-traveled routes so I can get (usually useless) traffic updates. My whole business relies on multiple levels of computer hardware and software. Without the Internet and the myriad services and systems therein, MTB just wouldn't exist.

I'm writing this on one of two monitors hooked to my computer. I needed the second monitor (so I reasoned) because it's much easier to manage the multiple open windows of data. It's so useful for things like editing the website on one screen, while monitoring the changes on the other. (Because, you know, Alt-tabbing between windows can give you rickets or something.) Or, I might be logging job data in a database on one screen, while reading it in the report form on the other screen. Add a layer of complexity if I need to check the online calendar for missing details.

To hook up the screens to the computer, I needed to get a new graphics card (also useful for video editing) that could handle two monitors. But then there were hours upon hours of trying to find the right frakking adapter to connect the extra monitor. Oh, and look at that! The new graphics card requires a bigger power supply. Might as well install some new RAM, too...

That video editing? It requires software, of course, but also an adapter to hook up the old Sony Handycam to import the video.

Meanwhile, I have a smart phone to be able to remotely access most of the stuff I need to operate such a highly mobile business, but, you know, sometimes that little screen isn't enough. Why, a tablet is the perfect solution.

Uh oh...not only is it illegal to use your phone while driving in many jurisdictions, it's also dangerous. So, a hands-free device is necessary. But not just any hands-free device -- I need one that won't fall out of my ear or cut the circulation off in my arm when the cord wraps around it. So, a rechargeable headset ought to do the trick!

All of this comes with cords, cords, cords! And cords, of course, require outlets. How many outlets? More than what you can find on the wall. Better go get a power strip...

I'm not complaining. (No really -- I'm not.) I actually love gadgets. It's a weakness. But there comes a point, probably long before you think, when you've long since blown past the usefulness of all your gadgets. I think I crossed that point in 2009. After all, a friend and mentor in this industry who more than doubled his gross revenue last year still does everything on paper. He runs about five crews, each of which are governed by a paper calendar. He looks at our operation, and the operations of some of my buddies in the industry, as being some kind of super tech-savvy NEXT GENERATION Web 7.0 stuff.

Then again, maybe he's patronizing us. While we're up to our eyeballs buggy databases, he's doubling his revenue -- effortlessly, apparently. Nice strategy, buddy.

Will I reduce my digital footprint. Most likely not. After all, I solved a calendar problem during the writing of this stupid blog post. Literally between paragraphs. I love and loathe my digital prison.

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