Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Technological tantrum

Mobile phones were invented in 1973, the internet in 1969, computers have been around since the 1930s/1940s and mobile internet appeared in 1996. All things that have clearly had a huge impact on how we live our lives. You could also argue that these developments in technology have helped us, given us more freedom and ensured greater access to a wealth of information.

However, there is also the downside, which recently I have been experiencing. Although I am generally interested in technology, mostly through the path I have taken in my career, I don’t consider myself a techie geek at all.

I do, however, have a handful of tech toys, which it is safe to say I couldn’t live without. I own a Smartphone (Android I must add, not an iPhone), an mp3 player (although it is a rather aged iRiver, rather than an iPod), a Kindle and I have a laptop (well my boyfriend keeps his laptop at my flat and I tend to use it most of the time!)

In terms of the smartphone, I avoided getting one for quite a while, preferring to get a new mobile phone each time I could upgrade. However, then my addiction to social media grew, I got internet as a bundle on my phone and then started to realise why everyone was making such a fuss over smartphones.

When I first heard of the Kindle I loved the idea of not having to pack a ton of books in your case on holiday and only needing to take one item and a small charger. Although I love reading a good book, picking what to read from the cover and the satisfaction as you get nearer the end of the book. I look at a computer screen all day at work and the thought of yet another screen to view put me off. Eventually I decided to give it a go though and was pleased with the way the screen works, how light it is and how easy it is to use.

I don’t need to go on about how easy having a mp3 player is and the benefits it brings – push you further in the gym as you run to your favourite track, drown out the annoying morons on the commute and allow you to have numerous singles and albums in one compact place at any time.

As for a laptop – well you can sit watching TV and type away (as I’m doing now), you can surf the net, watch a film in bed when poorly, download music, shop online, do your social networking, store all your photos somewhere, and I could go on…

So far so good right? Well yes, when all these things work. But the downside of technology is just how much you come to rely on it and how frustrating it is when it goes wrong…

Smartphones are great at seeing what your friends are up to on Facebook – when the app loads properly and doesn’t take forever to display up to date results, when you want to Tweet on the go – if the app doesn’t crash and save most of your Tweets in drafts. How about when you want to just use your phone to make a call, oh sorry your battery is so low from actually using the smartphone it’s not really going to be able to allow a call, or you put someone on speakerphone because – how strange – your face leans on the touchscreen buttons and causes all sorts of issues.

You settle down to enjoy the latest eBook you’ve purchased on the train into work, relax on your lunchbreak by reading that new novel or buying a new option by using the wireless built into your Kindle. It’s great the battery lasts forever! Yes that is true, however there is also some odd bug that means it also decides – at random – to freeze and not allow you to login, switch on or reset the thing whilst you’re on the go. Over the last week or so my Kindle has decided to do this little trick at least five times or so and the only way to fix it? Well I took the advice off a forum recently and found if you hold the switch for 15 seconds and then connect the device to a power supply hey presto it resets and works again! Not so handy if you find yourself sat on the train or out in a park with no plug socket in site…Oh and it then goes on to conveniently forget the last page you were on.

Laptops then? They’ve been around for ages now, surely they are more reliable? Well yes, unless the keys decide to get loose, the internet dongle freezes/crashes regularly or the mouse out of the blue no longer works and you have to work out a way to go online using the keypad. Oh what fun we have had…

I could go on – the mp3 that freezes or won’t charge up fully anymore so doesn’t stay switched on, the Oystercard that randomly stops working and you have the pleasure of paying out for a new one, the digibox for your TV that doesn’t display all the information properly or freezes if you channel hop too quickly…

Technology it has to be said overall is in the main to our benefit, of course it is, it would be silly to argue otherwise. But lately with all these mishaps, I have started to wonder if the ‘easy’ life I now ‘enjoy’ thanks to technological developments might actually be outweighed by the stress and anger I feel when the things don’t work properly…

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