November-December 2014 … The Global Online Magazine of Arts, Information & Entertainment … Volume 10, Number 6
Random header image... Refresh for more!

Casual Observer

Ignorance is a Blessing

(aka, Playing Gadget Gotcha!)

by Mark Levy

Gadget Gotcha

Roll back the years

We often don’t miss what we don’t have. But once you have something, boy can you miss it when it’s gone.

I’m thinking about automatic dishwashers. Some of us lived many years without one. Some of us, I dare say, still may not have one. But once you have a dishwasher, you absolutely cannot live without it. Generally, you can’t get water as hot in the sink as a dishwasher can. You can’t dry all of your dishes, pots and silverware at the same time, like a dishwasher can. And you can’t walk away from the dishes in your sink and come back some time later to find that they’re all clean. So once most of us have a dishwasher, we can never go back.

Take another example: garage doors. Again, if you’ve never had an automatic garage door opener, you probably don’t know what you’re missing. But as soon as you get a motorized garage door opener, operated by a push button on the door frame or, preferably, from a remote control in the warm comfort of your car, you will never, ever want to go back to pre-garage opener days, when you had to exit your car, run over to your garage door in the rain, sleet, or snow, and risk injuring your back as you jerked the door open or closed. Living without an automatic garage door opener after you became accustomed to it would be like trying to survive in America without a television. It’s possible to do that, but why would you want to?

Of course every modern convenience has a drawback. With an electric garage door opener, in the case of a power outage, you are out of luck. The garage door cannot be opened by anyone weaker than the Incredible Hulk. It’s not catastrophic when your vehicle is in your driveway, but it’s more than a bit inconvenient when your car is incarcerated in your garage.

Another convenience we soon take for granted is a computer that operates quickly. If all you have is a dial-up system for your computer, you may not know how fast Internet access can be. But once you play some games or do a little Internet surfing on a fast computer, you will not be able to deal with a much slower machine. Every second seems like a week when you’re downloading what may be -— let’s face it -— a frivolous image or video clip. There’s nothing more frustrating than waiting for a long time for something you didn’t want. I think hospitals must be overflowing with anxiety-ridden patients who took out their anger on their computer. There are times when I wonder if the risk of getting caught wouldn’t be worth the satisfaction of smashing a computer monitor to smithereens.

Consider, also, the little bitty cell phone. What a wonder that is, a fulfillment of Dick Tracy’s wristwatch with more functionality than D.T. ever dreamed of. It was only 30 years ago that two-and-a-half-pound cell phones and their power supplies required a separate briefcase to drag them around in. If you don’t have a cell phone, you don’t know what you’re missing. But once you get one, even if only for emergencies, before you know it you’re using it to make appointments, tell people you’re running late again, check in with the kids, and call into radio talk shows.

I remember the first time I called someone who was on the road. I was on the road, too. Point to point communications! Who would have imagined that? What seemed awesome, like magic, when we first got cell phones is now as commonplace as ordering a pizza on the way home.

I can’t make calls from the road on my handheld cell phone now; it’s unlawful in my state. Seems like 10 years ago we didn’t have them, and they’re already illegal. That must be some sort of record.

Certain things in the home can be operated remotely. You can have your oven turn on when you call home or your burglar alarm system turn off when you return. What I’m waiting for is a way to open my garage door from a couple of blocks away, by using my cell phone. Now won’t THAT be great?!!