Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain…

Posted: February 14, 2013 in Technology

My mind is constantly blown by technology. On the heels of my latest tech purchase, I’d like to devote at least one entry to how amazing technology has gotten in just a few short years. I recognize that this isn’t new information–there’s no technology I’m going to mention that you’re not already aware of, but when you sit down and really think about it, it’s absolutely baffling considering how far we’ve come, and almost scary to ponder where it goes from here.

My first experience with a computer was a Macintosh computer in elementary school on which we played Oregon Trail. I always wanted a computer in our house, but the price being what it was at the time, it just wasn’t something that was in the cards at the time. What was in the cards, though, were regular visits to an outdoor flea market (that sadly, doesn’t exist anymore…patrons of the Memphis Drive-In know what I’m talking about). And since technology was always changing, you could almost always count on finding an old, unwanted, crappy computer. I think this was where we got our first computer.

If I recall correctly, it was an 8086 (kudos to you if you know what that means) desktop PC, you know, the flat kind that you set the [big, heavy, QVGA] monitor on top of…surely a pastime of yesteryear. My brother and I loved that PC–he got pretty good (for an 11-year-old) at QBASIC programming, and I played Gorillas and that snake game where you chase the numbers, attempting to avoid your tail and the wall. We had that computer a long time, all things considered. Future trips to flea markets led to more computers, some good, some not so good. When I was 13, I bought a computer from my aunt and uncle with my saved up allowance; that computer had Windows 3.11, a few small games, and most likely Word Perfect. That was 15 years ago.

Over the years we collected massive amounts of computer hardware. Most of it was garbage, but there was something special about having it all. And going through that exercise gives me the appreciation that I have for technology today. Because my first computer was an MS-DOS machine, I had to learn how to use DOS…and that stuck with me, even to this day–so command prompt is something I enjoy using on my PCs now. My experience in learning Word Perfect–I believe my 6th grade “in-depth” report on World War II was prepared there–gives me a deep sense of appreciation for the fancy bells and whistles I have access to in Microsoft Word. In fact, I regret that I didn’t have the opportunity to use any legacy spreadsheet programs, because while I have an intense fascination with Excel, I’m sure it would be more so with prior experience. Excel was my first spreadsheet program.

But turning the clock forward and taking inventory of the gadgets I have access to now, and the amount of power they each possess–is mind-boggling. Some of it is obvious–my main laptop, a Dell Latitude E6320 with 8GB RAM, 2nd gen i7 processor, 128GB SSD drivie…runnning Windows 7, the thing boots up in 30 seconds and is the fastest, most responsive PC I’ve ever used. iPads are such an old story and so boring now–and to be honest, I haven’t turned mine on in a while (I think of it as Janine’s new iPad), but it’s an amazing piece of hardware. Lately, I’ve been somewhat obsessed with the Nexus 7, which is a solid device that’s great for light web surfing and ideal for media. My latest purchase, not even 12 hours ago, is a Samsung 3-series Chromebook, which I’m loving–writing this blog with it, in fact. And let’s not leave cell phones out of the mix…my iPhone 4 is the best phone I’ve ever had, and while I’m not staying with Apple when it’s time to upgrade next month, I have greatly enjoyed the consistency in the experience.

So those are the obvious things–but what about the not-so-obvious ones? We all like gadgets, but there are some things that I tend to take for granted that deserve some recognition. Bluetooth blows my freakin’ mind. We bought a Bluetooth speaker for our living room a handful of months ago–spent just over $100 on it, and the sound this thing puts out is amazing. No cables, no direct connection–hell, doesn’t even need to be in the same room as my phone–and it produces beautiful, crisp, lagless sound…pretty amazing. Another thing I think we take for granted is cloud storage. Since my company opened up their Private Cloud (hosted exchange, hosted desktops, file storage, etc.), I’ve learned to appreciate what is required to grant, for example, 100GB of free cloud storage for 2 years to anyone who buys a Chromebook. And just about everybody does it in some form–Dropbox, Google Docs, Box, Skydrive–and I think that’s crazy. How about wireless internet? Real-time software backup programs for your home PC? Or tire-pressure monitoring systems on your car? Microwave ovens (an oldie but a goodie), remote desktop programs, virtual machines, GPS, police radar scanners, and the list goes on and on.

Like I said–nothing new here. But these technologies that we so heavily rely upon are often taken for granted, and I’m just as guilty as the next guy. But when I think back to those two kids who sat around navigating DOS and getting excited about seeing a list of files in a directory, and I then think about what has to happen to make this blog entry get from my Google Docs file to WordPress’s online blog editing tool–it kind of blows my mind. And, I wouldn’t trade it for anything…I love my gadgets and always will.

Have a great weekend–and thanks as always for tuning in. Be well, and stay tuned.

Comments
  1. […] anybody who knows me can probably tell you, I, like my brother Jake, am a big fan of technology.  I think it’s awesome.  For example, last week, my blog was read […]

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