The Square Peg - Are You Kidding Me??
© S. Bradley Stoner
I was in the local electronics store the other day and happened to be listening to a couple of millennials extolling the virtues of “smart ware.” You know, smart phones, smart TVs, smart communications… stuff like doorbells that take video so you can talk to folks who ring your bell without you really being home, smart watches that can tell you what your heartbeat, blood pressure are, where you are, and how many steps you have taken during the day. Are you kidding me? Who needs that?
I don’t have much in the way of smart technology. I have a smart phone that has done nothing for me but convince me how dumb it is to carry the thing. Why? Because it’s a distraction. I have notices set to vibrate so it won’t interrupt whatever it is I happen to be doing. The downside, or upside depending on your point of view, is that it puts a tingle in my pants. Crap, somebody posted in Facebook again. Do I look? It might be important. Nah, nothing important gets posted to Facebook. That’s just another time waster.
Oh, a smart phone is nice to have to take pictures because it isn’t nearly as bulky as any of my cameras, but, on the other hand, it isn’t much good for serious photography. For that you need a real camera. I prefer the kind that uses real film, but even that gets spoiled. If you don’t develop the film yourself, you don’t get the negatives back. You get a digital disk. That way you can “improve” your photos with any of a number of programs. It isn’t the same as using an old-fashioned enlarger and manipulating the picture with focus, gel filters, dodging and all those other archaic tricks.
I don’t have a fancy doorbell with video and two-way communications. I don’t figure I need that. But, the argument goes, you can catch burglars in the act and scare them away by intoning, “What are you doing?” in a stern voice. Supposedly this will frighten them away and if that doesn’t work, you’ll still have visual evidence of them engaging in their nefarious deeds to show the cops. Now, I’ll grant you burglars aren’t the brightest bulbs in the lamp, but even they are going to figure out it’s hard to identify someone in a mask. I don’t worry about burglars. I’m home most of the time and I have a couple of large caliber hand cannons that will discourage them from carrying out their plans.
I have an Alexa that seems unable to follow my commands unless it is to ask about the weather or play music. Nice to have, but it really can’t do anything I can’t do for myself. I must admit, however, that I have fun with her. I ask her questions she can’t answer, like, “Do you work for the CIA?” Yeah, I know, I’m easily amused.
I don’t own a smart watch. I got one as a gift, but it didn’t work with my Android, so I gave it to my oldest who is a devotee of Apple products. He uses it to check his video feed that gets activated when anybody comes to his front door and also to play his I-tunes so he doesn’t have to get his I-phone out of his pocket. I’d need a magnifying glass to see the screen. Keep your comments about my age to yourself.
And smart TVs? I don’t own one… in fact I own the Forrest Gump of color TVs. It’s like fourteen or fifteen years old, but it still works great, perfect color and everything. The only problem is that film credits, the program guides and subtitles are created for smart TVs… on old Gumpy they show up about two millimeters high. Yeah, like I can read those. I have Direct TV. I’m convinced the remote hates me. It’s a smart remote, so I hate it back. It’s like a mutual disadmiration society. I did go over to Bob’s one night to watch a game on his smart TV. It’s got a fifty-inch screen. No problem seeing that. The missing pixels were a little distracting though. Stupid smart TV.