Sunday, December 03, 2006

Technology frustrations

My first frustration was with skype: suddenly my volume was very low. For 2-3 weeks, I tried hard to follow all kind of conversations, but it sounded like very far away, extremely frustrating. I realised how dependent and accustomed I have become on skype. We even cancelled one meeting, though I proposed to continue with text-only, others were not comfortable with that. For groups of people at least, setting up phone teleconferences is not as easy, and I missed the collaborative note-taking that's easy in skype. When I had the same problem with an Interwise supported teleconference, I decided that I had to solve this. After a long search (I thought it was a software problem, but my husband found out it had to be my headset) I was happy that this was solved.

Then I had a serious problem with microsoft Word, at times Word gave an error while saving the file, and at times the whole file was lost. I kind of tried to ignore this problem again, using a google document to avoid loosing my work, or even seeking refuge at other computers. After trying to reduce space, reloading the program, etc. through google we found out that it was probably caused by the anti-virus program Windows Live Onecare, which I had downloaded as trial version. And surprise, surprise, when I turned off the anti-virus, the problem was gone!!

I feel a little stupid about these frustrations, as I lived for 3 years in Ke-Macina in Mali and did not even have telephone, but wasn't frustrated. The thing seems to be that you grow used to a certain use of technology and get frustrated when it fails. Typing Ke-Macina, I remember someone who lived in a town with electricity tell me how frustrating it was to have a fridge and then experience the electricity failures. Whereas we did not have electricity and hence had an oil-fridge. So the more we get used to technologies and certain uses of technologies, the more we can also be frustrated when it doesn't work. So far so good I removed windows live onecare.

And now I can't add an image to this blogpost. Grre&$st.


hoong said...

I worked in the technical field for 10 years. In fact was in the front line of the wireless technologies during the 90s. Yet I seldom switch on my mobile phone. The simple reason is, I do not want to be slave to my phone or any technologies. My mobile phone is 6 years old and does not have any new features. And I don't miss them.

We live in a VERY commercialized world. The focus of the merchants is to sell, sell, sell. But are you willing to be slave to 'materials' OR are you going to be a sensible consumers and master of your own decisions? Instead of being pulled by the nose?

I used to have a printer. For a while I was using it quite often to print out documents for my course work. Later I found that I tend to print documents that I think I want to read, but eventually these documents ended up in the paper bin. So I decided to become selective on what MUST read and therefore print much less. Which means I only use the printer occassionary, that lead to another problem -- the ink would dried-up and the printer refused to work unless I put in new cartiridge ... to cut story short, last year I gave my printer to the 2nd Hand Charity shop

These days I am using the printing facilities at the local library which is about 25 minutes walk from my house. I have to get used to their opening hours and services. But I have less frustrations and stress, and I am wasting less paper, spend ALOT less money on ink-jet, and I become EVEN more effective in choosing what I REALLY, TRUELY want to read.

So, I can survive without a printer. Now if I live 10 minutes walk from the library, I would even give up my PC and internet services.

Now I am not asking everyone to be as crazy as I am. But I do believe, if we take time to manage our life, we can live with a lot less material things.

And that reminds me of a TV programme I watched yesterday ... Due South. It is about a Canadian ranger sent south to Chicago. The episode yesterday was about bomb and hijacking. Since he could not use the phone, he communicated with his female boss in sign language (this is special language for the Canadian Rangers. Not for the deaf). Communications!

Often time I wonder how important it is that some of my messages/emails must be read/send right away or within 24 hours? I used to put more time and thoughts into writing a letter because I know I have to be clear on what I say. A letter takes 5 days each way from Europe to Asia. I was thoughful of what would be the 'reactions' to what I wrote. Would I bring joy, confusions, or anger??? These days I do not care so much because clarifications is one click away. BUT is that good? Is being fast BUT sloppy something to be proud of? I don't think so.

Technologies are good in many ways. But we must admit technologies are creating a lot more damages to huma kind than just frustrations and stress.

Sorry for the long post.

Anonymous said...

Hi Joitske, sounds very familiar. When we lived in rural Nigeria, we used to call the putting on, changing wicks, reducing smoke etc. of the kerosine fridges our 'luxury suffering' or our 'daily exercise'. Later in town we had electricity + the frustration when it was off. Now I have Blogger-beta (!) + the frustration when it forces me to type my comment to your blog all over again, just because I have to sign in as a beta-user...

Joitske said...

Hi, the long comment by Cindy made me think more about the abundance and not being careful about what you print/read.. It's true that we get more easily into a scanning/not reading carefully mode. That's why I like to read books. It reminded me of the water graph, with improved water access, it's amazing how the number of liters used per person goes up! Whereas you would say water is something which has a certain limit in needs.

hoong said...

Recently I am also practicing being conscious on how I use water!! Watching others suffer, on TV, without water, long walks to fetch water ... Actually when I was growing up in Malaysia 50 odd years ago, we used well water untile I was about 8, and fetch drinking water from the tap ONLY 5 minutes walk from the house!! What luxury!

Anywy, there is two interesting books on technology and cultures that might be interesting to readers of Joitske's blog:

1) The Medium is the MASSAGE by Marshall McLuhan. 1967. It is a very small book and I think is only available at KB, the Hague.

2) The Skin of Culture -- Derrick De Kerckhove, 1995. (I am reading at present)

These two books kind of described how I feel about technologies and us, the human being. As McLuhan described how technologies become the extention of us -- car becomes our feet, TV our eyes, phone our ears etc. My reasoning is, if 'they are' just an extension of our body, should we let 'them' control us? Or we manage them?

hoong said...

Sorry .. I am back ...

Here is an interesting blog looking from a different angle ... It is from 37days, a blog by Patti