TECH AND ME

I recently read a complaint written by an older man on his difficulties with technology. I totally agree—me too, in my mid-eighties. Born too soon. I saw a mother pushing a little boy in a pram, three or four years old and not good at walking yet. He had an electrical device in hand, something like an IPod but smaller, a child-like design with bright colors. It had a display screen, and the boy was happily poking around on it as mom pushed him along. Images appeared and were replaced by others as I passed. Amazing. He is growing up with this while I’m still struggling with my cellphone. Will this little boy grow up without desire to play outside, preferring laptop or a mobile that is never out of his hand? Just twenty-five years ago, there were no cellphones. Changes come so fast, or is it only me? My mid-eighties mind seems stuck in second gear. Life ratio has changed; years passed are more than those ahead.

Small changes:

We have a smart TV that’s smarter than I am and offers dozens of options I have no use for. I get sucked into a whirlpool of options once or twice a month and have to ask my wife to get me out of where I’m stuck. She’s never farther than an arm’s reach from her phone with options beyond count. I don’t even know where my phone is. I saw it yesterday, downstairs somewhere.

Microsoft keeps giving me help I do not want. Predictive text drives me nuts. Sometimes alternative words appear in a white box I need to get rid of. There are always new procedures, how and where and when to save things, endless options, formats, fonts—click here, or there. Annoying, but thank God for spell-check and the proper use of commas.

I have one suggestion for Microsoft: make the cursor darker so I can find the damn thing without “mousing” to the top of the screen to be able to see it.

What change would you tell Microsoft to make?

7 Comments

  1. Some time in the mid-90s I had to visit Finland (from Sweden) for my work. I was gobsmacked by the number of young people – I mean teenagers – wandering around with their Nokia handsets. Nokia being a Finnish company, they were cheaper and more ubiquitous in Finland. Back home in Sweden, only the yuppies had them. (Young Upwardly Mobile Professional People – remember them?)

    I didn’t realise I was seeing a vision of the future. Just shook my head in bemusement.

    Twenty-five years or so down the line and Nokia handsets are “retro”, “old school”. (See here: https://www.makeuseof.com/old-nokia-cell-phone/)

  2. Gill

    Mark and I are both pretty good at ‘simple tech.’ perhaps because we started so long ago. I recall having to insert a floppy disc to start a computer, having 16 bytes of information as opposed to umpteen gigabytes, and tuning a scale by decimal places on a ZX spectrum. But it is now going faster than I can keep up, and the days when our eldest came home to write his book because he needed our computer expertise are in the past.
    As for predictive text and spell-checkers, I have both turned off. You try writing Welsh or Dutch or Ukrainian with them on!

  3. Vesna

    It’s the insidiousness of the takeover that’s disturbing. We were talking about e-prescriptions just last night. I have to confess I find them convenient. You never lose the script and can simply hand over the screen and bang you’re done. But then, you’d better have your phone in working order, and be able to log into your messages. And you’d better hope hackers or glitches don’t pop into the system (as they without doubt, absolutely, will) and stop everyone from getting their prescriptions, including people on insulin, antipsychotics, or any number of essential meds. But we don’t think about that when we simply go ‘paperless’.

  4. Sue

    Thank you Bruce. Ten days ago most of Canada lost the internet. It was a cash only world for over a day. No bank transfers. No gas for the truck. No groceries. No courier tracking. And for many no phone. It was a time to experience life without that much-used element of technology. A kind of liberation. But was it freedom; things that needed to happen within a timeframe just didn’t happen. There was a domino affect that we are still experiencing ten days later. Back logs. Delays. Missing messages. Lives were affected. Businesses were lost. There was none of this wonderful thing I call ‘a back-up plan’. No contingency. Will someone at some point now stand up and say “What if?” What if we cannot rely on technology to live our lives, to get help in times of trouble. As an IT Strategy Consultant in my previous life, I always ensured a contingency was built into the strategy. Obviously times have changed and society just barges forward without a care. I rest my case.

  5. I would like to ask Microsoft (and all tech companies) to show a degree of politeness and respect.
    Ask us if we want the apps, updates, and ‘improvements’ before just riding roughshod over us and doing it anyway!
    And as for the mobile phone – well, don’t ask!

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