Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it – no matter if I have said it! – except it agree with your own reason and your own common sense.” – Siddhartha Gautama, a.k.a. the Buddha

Ruminations about techy stuff

Off work today, snowing of all things, and said snow also cuts signal to nil, so no internet as well.  Well, that got me ta thinkin’bout things, reflecting ya might say, about current standards, past standards, conditions then and now, and how it all ties together.  This might get a little longwinded, so bear with me,  there is a point.  

Back in High School, way back in the misty depths of time for me, I was a lot more sociable then I am these days.   Information was available, but communications were of a much slower sort and also a more ‘human’ nature.  If you wanted to talk to someone, you called them up or wrote a note, or even just went to where they lived and visited them.  Information had to be looked up (remember having to go through the card catalog to find a book, note the dewey numbers and whatnot when citing passages for reference?  Yeah, all of that.  No providing a link in the pdf you were tapping out on screen.  Lots of pencil work and the chance or two of a paper cut.) and while there is still research today, the prospect of lugging several tomes to a desk and spreading them all out on a table to dig for items of interest are gone, Now we just pull up multiple ‘screens’ or ‘windows’ and cut and past passages as needed into our ‘document’ and provide a link for further reading.   

Now don’t get me wrong here, I love the internet, webs, and all of the great information we have available to us now.  Heck, just being able to pull up a recording of an event and watch it ‘live’ repeatedly to catch every nuance of it is a pretty awesome tool.   I have even discussed this with my sis, about how if the things we take for granted now, were available to us back then, where would be now.   Yeah, that whole ‘what if,,,’ conversation.  I know that I would have become a much more dangerous person(a good thing, not bad.  Dangerous children will keep the world interesting.).   I would have found the interests I have now much sooner and would be further along the learning curve on all of it, and, well, you can likely imagine a similar situation in your own world.   

But, there is another side to the nets that troubles me.   Its one that I lay in the laps of the social medias.   Its too easy to have a gazzilion ‘friends’ on the plentitude of SM’s .  Its quite easy to “unfriend” someone that you realize is a nitwit, or just said something you thought was inappropriate, crass, or just plain stupid.   And all of this takes place in a world that doesn’t actually exist.  

Then that world ‘goes away’ because the nets are down, for whatever reason, and those people realize they are quite alone in the world.  All of those ‘friends’ aren’t there, no other way of contacting them because, well, why bother with a phone when we can Skype online,,,    (I ain’t whining, I LIKE being alone.  Just making observations of what others may experience, and take badly.)    I have to wonder about those that have dedicated such a majority of thier life to a digital world that they don’t have a ‘meatspace’ world at all.   (and they are out there, trust me.  There is a reason places are offering online grocery shopping with free home delivery, and its not just because some urban soccermom with a career is trying to save time.)  I wonder if maybe the ‘Matrix’ wasn’t a reality for these people so much as a casual observation creatively documented by the Wachowskis.

There is another downside to all of the tech we have.   Loss of brain activity.  

Ah Bullshit Dio, we have MORE thinking going on than we did!

Do we?   I have to ask because of something I noted just the other day.   Do you remember your wife/husband/kids phone number/  Your own?   WITHOUT LOOKING IT UP IN YOUR CELL?

When I was in school I had about 100, maybe more, phone numbers completely memorized and didn’t think twice about it.  I didn’t have them written down or stored in a device.  I KNEW THEM.   

I had formulas memorized for math, stuff that I find I have to look up now because its EASIER to just query the net.  

I have also observed that there are people that won’t learn anything because they can just ‘youtube it’ and get what they need, if they need to know how to do something.   Granted, I do a lot of youtube searches as well, but mostly for music and new artist links.   And there are good resources there, but there are even more bad resources as well.  I find that if I were to look up a ‘how to’ vid, a majority of them would get a person hurt, or bore them to death.   And there are a plethora of people that really really need to learn how to do public speaking BEFORE they make a video.   All that hemming and hawing and Ummming, are enough to drive a guy like me to insane levels of “SPIT IT OUT, YOU FRICKIN IDIOT!!!!” 

 Sorry bout that.   I was trained to be able to speak publicly, and those that don’t drive me nuts.  I have had to speak to a crowd of 60,000+ and didn’t umm once, and it was adlibbed as well.   It isn’t hard to do, but you had better be able to talk or you will find that people will ignore you. and being ignored by a  crowd that size is a horrible feeling.  But I digress.   

I was discussing the lack of brain activity,    Maybe I should readdress it as DIFFERENT brain activity.   and that begs the question of ‘Is it better or worse activity?’  

I don’t have an answer, but I feel that its worse.   As proof of concept, I direct your thoughts to the activity of a dementia patient, whose memory retention is shot.   They are functional, but they are so easily confused by the simplist notion.   Are we as a society heading down that road, because we aren’t using the memory faculty of our brains enough?  Or are we evolving into something different.   Was ‘Idiocracy’ a prophecy of things to come?  (Please, if you have never seen it, do so,   It was meant as a comedy, but became something else altogether.)

More questions, and maybe some Psych student could use the idea as a thesis paper.   I am just observing from experience what was and what I am seeing now with the growth of tech.   Recall, Until the mid 90’s, we didn’t have this stuff.  My first cell phone could only hold 25 numbers or so  (maybe 50, its been a few years.)  and it couldn’t do onemillionth of what my current phone can do.   It was just a daggum phone without a cord.  (and there are days where I miss that simplicity.)  I don’t remember how many phone numbers it held because I didn’t rely on that aspect of it.  It was just my phone, only a phone, and not a multi- level world interaction device, research tool, and picture storage device.   It couldn’t calculate any more than a standard 15 key calculator could, or with anymore accuracy.  It had one game on it: Snake, and it was a standard B/W LCD display.  A nokia something or other.   Kids now would laugh at it, but dang it was a good phone with a hell of a battery life.   I only charged it once a week unless I was on it a lot then maybe every two days or so.  Not NIGHTLY.

Ah, now I am dating myself.   LOL    

The scary part of that is how just short a time ago that was.   I had that Nokia in ’98.   By 2001, I was using one with nationwide PTT and standard phone service.  (I miss the push to talk thing too. )  Then in 2005, I had a Razer, with limited net access and full color display.   That was when things like Fakebook took off.   That was just 13 years ago, and the nets and cellular networks have evolved repeatedly, and don’t look like they are ready to stop anytime soon.   

I have to wonder what a person back in the late 1800-early 1900’s thought of all the changes that were going on then.  Airplanes, mass production, horseless buggies, electric lights, INDOORPLUMBING,   

Yeah, There is a new revolution going on, and its a whirlwind of change, some good some bad, but change.   

The only thing that never changes is change, its always around doing something.  Who would have ever thought to see quadcopter drones back in the 80’s?  Or the fact that they are only notionally in control of the person using one.  The flight controller on board is doing the flying with only directional inputs by the user.   Think I’m kidding?   That thing has 3 to 6(or more) sensors in it to determine what it is doing and make corrections to keep it under control.   There is no way a person with a pair of joysticks could handle that amount of feedback needed to keep the thing stable.  And some of the newer RC planes are similar.   Things like NFP (natural flight progression) systems or SAFE    These systems will maintain level flight, or even establish a loiter pattern until the controller re-establishes control.   There is also RTH feature in some of them (RTH meaning Return to Home.)_ and then you have the Ardupilot program.  You can establish way points, altitudes, and flight paths on a computer using google maps or other mapping systems, Then load that into the plane/copter, twist its tail and sit back and wait for it to come to home.   You don’t even have to land it, it does that too.  All you have to do is program it, and watch the video as it flies.  (FYI, I love the ardupilot program.   I think its far better than anything the MIC has came up with and its completely open source.  Add in a set of FPV goggles,  Use the Ardupilot as a backup in case of signal loss and Go Flying!!!   Whoohooo!   Many many potential applications for such tools/toys,)

Well.  There is one thing that all of this tech has done that would likely never have happened, or at least been delayed by decades.   That is the awakening I am observing.   People are becoming more in tune with the fact that Government is a restricting factor,  I mentioned that the MIC hadn’t come up with Ardupilot.  That is just one thing that they ‘missed’.  3D printing, also started as open source, and its taking off in some rather unusual ways: 3D welders, 3D concrete fabricators, just to name a couple.  Most all of this stuff was born in someones garage, even though a lot of it has now moved to places like MIT VAT, or Texas Tech.  (Funny, the computers that kicked all of this off were born in a garage as well, Thank you Jobs and Gates.  ) When the Government steps in and starts to ‘regulate’, innovations drop off. (What is an Elephant?   A mouse built to government standards.) Sometimes though, it goes underground. The makers movement is one such that will go underground if the Government gets overzealous ( its nearly there now.).  But people are seeing that Government is more of a burden than is neccesary.  I see more places hiring ‘contractors’ for short term runs, and using the gaps in regulation to hide the transactions.   I see locals doing far more for where they live than the Government infrastructure that was put in place to handle those things.   I forget where it took place but back in the early part of the 20teens, there was a local community that got together to rebuild a bridge that was needed.  They did it under budget, under-time, and with locally procurred assets and donations.   No one that didn’t want to, ‘helped’ by way of second hand theft (taxes) or was coerced into something they didn’t want “because we said so”.

I won’t lie, The glacial progress of that awakening frustrates the living shit out of me, but I do see it growing.   The Tech helps, but in the end, it always comes down to the human nature as to how it grows.  Humans are, by nature, as lazy as they can get away with. (for the most part, there are always exceptions.)   (could that be new axiom?   Like “you get the government you deserve” axiom?   Prolly not, its not like I am an original thinker or anything.  I am sure someone else has already said it.)  I think that is the one thing our current government understands quite well. If you pay people to be lazy, they will likely support you 100%; so long as you keep the checks flowing.   ( a similar situation is in Saudi Arabia.  One faction is in charge and supports the other faction to keep the peace.  If that support fails, SA falls into a really bloody civil war the next day.  Keep that in mind when someone says that Islam is a religion of peace and uses the Saudis as an example.   Bribery and blackmail are only different sides of the same coin.)

Alright, I am rambling now, but I had fun tapping this one out.  Think about what modern tech has changed in your life.  Is it a good change, or are there aspects you don’t like.   I personally am going to work on that memory thing I mentioned cuz I don’t like being dependent on a tool for something I should have in my head.

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2 responses

  1. Call T. Don

    Another excellent installment of brain and conversation “starting fluid”!

    And since I am still of the belief that perfection is reached not by how complex we can make something but how simple it can be refined to and still do the job with complete reliability. Do we still maintain the ability to refine things to that end. I’ve pondered myself how to take a washing machine with a shot computer board and refine it to a much simpler, reliable machine. Progression to complex always seems to increase vulnerability in the sense that there is to much to know to be able to learn and retain it all. Having videos to watch, parts available, and large amounts of knowledge available is great right? Nope, just one more layer of complex. Something that shouldn’t need to be worked on for another 10 years is now requiring the brain power that could be used for actual innovation. It seems as if laziness, government meddling, and forced complexity have detracted from the larger elements of life. They have reduced personal satisfaction, quality interaction, and independence. Along with that it has drawn an increasing divide between what will be a homogeneous glob of people grasping at a substite (for those larger elements) in technology for its own sake……and on the other, those dragging there feet, carefully evaluating for actual value. I fear the latter are in the minority and ever shrinking. Your writings give comfort that though smaller in number, apparently there is company.

    March 13, 2018 at 9:44 pm

    • “And since I am still of the belief that perfection is reached not by how complex we can make something but how simple it can be refined”

      You have to be an old school engineer. That line is (nearly) straight out of one of my old engineering texts.
      It also is something our current economy shunts off. “Gotta keep the product evolving” seems to be the current mantra; or so It would seem with how programs and applications just keep getting larger and larger memory footprints.
      I’ve noted that even with things like yard equipment, there is a new latest and greatest, every spring. A couple years back it was the ‘new’ 4stroke engine’s in weedeaters and the like. I havent been in any big box store yet this season so I couldn’t guess what the new ‘part the rubes from their money’ trick is this year.

      Maybe I am older in spirit than my actual years, but it just seems that “they dont make things like that now ” comes more easily to my lips.
      Current and long term pride for my shop is a 1921 Southbend 11″x5′ lathe with many original parts and pieces. They really dont make ’em like that now.
      Yup, we grow smaller in number every year.

      March 14, 2018 at 6:58 pm

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