Thursday, June 24, 2010

Technology Can be a Pain

While my research is often funded because of its potential for high-tech applications, I sometimes find technology to be a pain in the neck. I pre-ordered an iPhone 4GS, so it arrived yesterday. I immediately drove to my local AT&T Store to get my contact list transferred to my new iPhone; but alas, because the official release date was not until today, they did not have the right equipment to make the transfer. The AT&T Store also did not have any iP4accessories.

New technology is such a time sink. I spent hours loading apps and getting to know my new time-saving device. It is certainly a wonderful piece of technology, and trying out all the new features and apps is very addictive. But, at the end of the day, I felt that I had wasted a large chunk of time that could have been put to more productive uses. Hopefully, this phone will be a time saver in the future.

I was also amongst the first group of Geeks to get the Nook in December 2009. Being a new product, I knew it would have all sorts of kinks, but I liked the fact that it used Google's Android operating system, the files were not stored in a proprietary format (as is the case with the Kindle) and that oen could lend a book. There certainly were lots of kinks, but after a couple of software updates, the Nook became a wonderful eReader. Until yesterday...

A couple of days ago, I got an email that announced release 1.4. So, I turned on the WiFi on my Nook, and started the update process, which turned out to be an endless loop of downloading the update, followed by rebooting. Update 1.4 never successfully loaded. After several hours of effort, some very helpful people at my local Barnes and Noble Store identified the problem, and graciously replaced my Nook with a new one. At least my wife and I got to have coffee and browse through lots of books. However, B&N made some money on the deal because we couldn't resist purchasing a book.

To my great irritation, my new Nook would not charge; and, it would not connect to my secure WiFi at home. I took my Nook back to the store and dropped it off so that they could troubleshoot the problem. They were able to get the Nook to charge by doing a hard reboot. Of course, I should have done it, but I was sick and tired of dealing with technology. After returning my Nook to me, they told me that I would need to call customer support if I could not connect to my secure network. Now I am looking forward to someone reading from a script, telling me that my WiFi router is not compatible with the Nook, which I know to be false because my previous WiFi did connect just fine. Perhaps I am getting too cynical.

This afternoon, I am meeting with my students to talk about research. Our work may eventually lead to new technologies that will frustrate the next generation of Geeks. At least I can look forward to thinking about physics and enjoying the intellectual stimulation before being sidetracked by the next time sink.

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