Tag: technology

Be Gone E-Reader!

Yesterday I sold my kindle.  Yes that bastion of convenient reading and downloadable novels is gone.   The truth is I’m glad to be rid of it!   Now don’t get me wrong- I’m not some kind of luddite but the fact is I just didn’t use it. I went into the purchase with high hopes (and amazon immediately lowered it’s value by putting out the fire 2 weeks after my purchase. Sigh…) but I still thought it was going to be great!

Then I read my first book on it and I didn’t enjoy the experience.  Here’s why:

1. I’m a note-writer when I read, partly because it’s the only way I remember from day to day the details of a story, and partly because I like to add my two cents to what the writer is saying.   While this is possible to do on the kindle I found it very laborious.

2. If I wanted to go back and re-read a section, something I am prone to do, I couldn’t just flip through until I found the spot (usually with my accompanying note which makes it easier).

3. I read in long stretches and I found it annoying to have to worry about whether I had battery power.  I don’t want limitations on my reading.  Last year at a lecture by a favorite author Haven Kimmel she claimed she’d never seen anyone read a kindle for more than 15 minute stretches.  While this may have been a bit of an exaggeration I do think there is something about using an electronic device like that which encourages distraction and a less-leisurely reading experience.

4. I thought it would be great for travel but since you can’t use handheld electronics on the plane for most of the time I ended up bringing a book anyways so it ended up being another thing to carry around.

5.  Once I finish a book I get a lot of satisfaction out of putting it in my library so I can re-read to my hearts content.  Literally 2 weeks after I got my kindle it was already out of date.  The only way I want my books to be out of date is content-wise not because I can’t read them a few years down the road.  Plus, I don’t want to invite myself into the expensive web of constant upgrading, downloading and transferring.  Reading is supposed to be simple and accessible.

6. I’m a book loaner.  Meaning I find a book I love and pass it on to friends and family.  For instance, Edenbrooke I loved this year and I’ve given my copy to half a dozen people.  My sister has it at the moment.  Can’t really pass around a kindle like that.  It also limits my friends from loaning me books they’ve liked, which is no fun.

7.  I worry about the e-reader’s future socio-economic impact.  Books and free libraries have always been an equalizing force in our society.  Most anyone could go to a library, get a book, and read no matter their income level.  With e-books some of those children are excluded from a type of reading and that concerns me.  Suddenly the most fundamental act of learning has become a status symbol instead of an equalizer.  Kid’s from poor families already feel they fall short in so many areas of their life, do we really have to add reading to the list.  It is not good!

8. The last reason is probably debatable by some but it seems to me the e-reader  has had a negative effect on the quality of many recent modern books.  Haven Kimmel agreed.  She said when she wrote her first book there were 4 editors involved.  Her most recent had 1 part-time editor.  Her husband was her main editor.  Has anyone else noticed the sloppiness in books lately? Typos, grammatical errors, sections missing etc?  (I’m sorry but the Twilight books were terrible examples of this). I think the e-reader has perhaps made it too easy to publish books.  In the past it was such an investment they had to get it right on the first printing.

So there you go, my reasons for selling my kindle.  I should never have bought it in the first place but my friends all loved it so much I finally gave in.  I’m glad to be rid of it!

So, you’all enjoy your e-readers and I’ll continue to read the ‘old fashioned way’. (That statement is so sad…)

What do you think of e-readers?

My old kindle
My old kindle
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Emails

I had an interesting moment of clarity today.  With long-term tenants in most of the houses I am not getting the kind of work-related emails I used to get.  September is also traditionally a slow month for the rental business; however,  I don’t want you to think I haven’t been busy because nothing could be further from the truth.  I’m afraid as soon as one business slows down another picks up!  In fact, on  Thursday I was up till 2 am doing taxes for Grabber. Despite this work, lately I haven’t been getting very many emails both personally and professionally. I also haven’t gotten many comments on facebook or my blog.  I’ve gotten some just not as many as at other times.

Today I was bemoaning this lack of internet correspondence when I realized something funny.  Since last Wednesday I’ve had a plethora (yes plethora) of company including a well attended book club and visits from two of my sisters- Megan and Anna.  During their visit my guest room and new sofa bed were both used (the sofa bed for the first time) to which they gave rave reviews so friends come and visit!  In addition, we also spent a lovely evening with our long-time friend Emily Alvillar Whitman (former roommate and best friend I’ve mentioned many times on this blog).   On Sunday I also had the pleasure of seeing my nieces and Megan’s extended family at Luisa Gough’s house.  To add even more blessings, today I had lunch with my Grandma Wagner and Aunt Jodie.  After that Anna came with her roommate Becca for a movie night.  I could keep going about my plans for the rest of the week but I won’t bore you except to say that I have some plans.

As I was cleaning up from Anna and Becca’s visit the irony of this weekend struck me- I was missing my electronic conversation when the entire time I was surrounded by REAL PEOPLE!  How greedy can I get?  I thought it such a funny realization I had to share it immediately with my electronic friends!  Thank you to everyone for the visits and friendship- both through the internet and actual human contact but especially the latter.  I am so blessed to have such wonderful people in my life.

On my mission occasionally we would come across people who were truly lonely- men and women who had nobody to lean on when times got hard.  One woman in particular that stands out in my mind. She was in Bloomington, IN and her family had disowned her for joining the church.  In addition, her only son had taken his own life years before.  Naturally she had the church to lean on, but she was a terrible pack-rat and a bit of an odd ball.   It was interesting because she lived in a big sprawling house  from the 20’s or 30’s (it even had a dumb-waiter) which she  completely filled with stuff.  There were entire rooms that could not be entered they were so full of stuff (junk really).

To be honest I can’t even remember this woman’s name but she has always struck me as an example of a lonely soul surrounded by meaningless objects.  Whenever my possessions start to feel too sentimental I think of her as the ultimate extreme and it gives me pause.  I am so blessed to have an abundance of love in my life.  I have an amazing family that supports me, friends that reach out and new acquaintances that enrich my life.  How much more blessed am I that I frequently get to see these people live in person!  No more complaining about email for me! I am one lucky girl!

Love Hate Relationship with Technology

Yesterday I had a few friends over for book club.  As we chatted over Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns the topic of technology was introduced.  In the novel the spirited grandfather named Rucker resists technology coming to his life and the town of Cold Sassy.  He does so because he knows it will change everything (which it in fact does- even changing the name of the town).  He also resists it because it takes away some of his power, prestige and control.  Here’s a man who is wise and weary being trained in technology by his young grandson. Eventually Rucker gives in and embraces technology to impress his new, spirited bride.

Love Technology-

In a certain way I can relate to this dilemma.  There is no doubt my life is better because of technology.  Even just a few years ago I could not have managed both my jobs from my home office like I do today.  I LOVE my job and am so grateful I can- receive calls about the properties at anytime, do team view chats with colleagues, have conference calls over the internet, email documents quickly etc.   The internet also makes it easy to advertise our rental properties.  About 80% of our referrals come from a website called www.vrbo.com– a site which charges only $250 a year for an ad (small potatoes when it comes to advertising budgets!).  I don’t even know how we would get the word out about vacation rentals before the internet.  I guess through the newspaper?

I also completed my education mainly via the internet.   I received my MBA from University of Phoenix using their FlexNet program which is 1/3rd ground, 2/3rd internet.  This convenience allowed me to squeeze my education into any gap of time.  I could turn in papers, or watch lectures at 3am.  I received my degree while working thus eliminating some of the debt incurred using traditional methods of education.  Working while going to school also allowed me to apply the concepts from class in a “real world” setting.  This was often more valuable than anything taught by a professor or included in a textbook.

I love technology because of the ability it gives me to communicate with loved ones at low cost.  My sister is in England and I miss her greatly.  However, thanks to Skype I talk to her through a video-chat for free as long as I want!  This would have been $100’s just a decade ago.  Through blogs and facebook I can also see photos, read updates and keep at least a passing acquaintance with friends that are far away.  In my fantasy everyone would be living close to me, and I could drop in unannounced for visits, chatting merrily together…..But in the meantime I enjoy the little online tidbits I get from gone but not forgotten friends.  With my recent fitness goals I have also used the internet to help keep track of my training, share my journey  and receive support from everyone- even total strangers!

There are so many other ways technology benefits my life.  I could go on about my favorite gadgets (DVR and IPOD being at the top) but I won’t bore you.

Hate Technology-

Despite all these advantages sometimes I hate technology.  I feel like it has made people cold, non-familial and rude.  Gone are the days when you were expected to visit and talk with people you didn’t like.  In previous societies people needed each other more for survival.  One of my favorite things about old books like Jane Austen’s novels is that the characters always had something nice to say.  Even if she hates the woman she is talking  with, the Austen hero would be forced to ask “How is your mother’s health?” or “Is your family well?” etc.  Now even  with people we like, we screen calls, fail to respond to texts, and ignore emails.  I think I would die of shock if someone actually RSVP’d to one of my parties.  Most of the time it is a text a half hour after saying they can’t come- if that. I have friends and colleagues that have become almost impossible to reach over the phone.  It is all texting all the time.  I am sorry but sometimes I actually want to talk to a human being!

Part of the problem is our lives have become more complicated.  I recently got a new computer and have been amazed at the difficult process of installing, loading programs and getting it ready.  My laptop is only 2 years old but it seems archaic compared to the new desktop.  I’m no expert, but I don’t think things changed as quickly in Austen’s time.  Life was simple consisting of work, family, marriage, daily sustenance and socializing.  Technology can feel a like an insatiable appetite ever looking for the next great life-saving meal (or in this case gadget).

I  check my emails many times a day and am constantly updating facebook, twitter, my blog etc.  I am also always working and even though I love my job it can be a bit invasive.  They say that responding to an inquiry within 2 hours gives you an 80% higher chance of booking the reservation.  Knowing this, it makes it hard to turn my phone off or not check my email because I feel guilty about the leads I’m missing.  My greatest blessing of flexible work can at times become a curse.  Sometimes I just turn it all off anyway and enjoy life, but I don’t do it half as much as I should.

I won’t even get started on the woes of dating and technology.  Too many men my age are addicted to World of Warcraft, Everquest, and Command and Conquer.  I have been in conversation with boys (inviting them to a party or something) when they actually will forget I am in the room they are so entrenched with their game.  The real world is staring at them in the face, talking with them, and they would prefer the virtual world.  It makes me crazy!  That’s just one example of technology messing up dating.  It’s too easy to be a hermit, or even just lazy.  People used to feel more of a drive to find the “third place” in their lives- a place where they could interact with the community, make friends and maybe find love.  Now the “third place” is the internet, which is lame if you ask me.

It’s always interesting to see around Christmas time my friends and I usually go on more dates.  This is because many guys are encouraged to bring dates to company parties.  When given a reason they date, but if left to their own devices it  becomes more rare.  In previous generations there were more reasons to date- to find a companion. If only for survival, a spouse was essential.  I don’t know if that makes sense!  Let’s just say it takes a lot to get a guy to ask a girl out now-days.

Anyway, I will continue my love-hate relationship with technology because its not going anywhere!  How do you’all feel about it?

I think this clip expresses my feelings well:

Funny Glimpse into the Past

Here I am with the floppy disk!

Change

Change the poem, change the line,
change the meaning, change the rhyme,
change the outcome change the plan,
change the mood, change the man.

Change your looks, change your smile,
change your going, stay awhile,
change your past, change your time,
change your future, stay be mine.

william greer

Today I was filling up my new bookcase (which despite purchasing 4 bags of books from DI leaves my other bookcases markedly sparse!).  While personally oogling over each and every book- even the ones from my childhood such as the boxcar children and babysitters club- I started looking at my old books from college.  This is always a sentimental trap for me because I look at my college experience as the most defining one of my life.  My mission was the most difficult, college was the most defining.  I know it is such a cliche but I really did find my voice as a young political philosophy student.  All of the sudden I had the words to say what I had been feeling my entire life.  I can recall the first moment of reading Plato (something most would shutter at) as one of the most liberating of my life.  Particularly his teaching on forms- the belief that eternal forms have always existed.  He uses the example of a chair. We know something is a chair because it uses the form of a chair.  Abstract concepts are the same way.  We know what justice is because it fits the form of justice.  There were so many times in my life when I had been trying in vain to describe my heart and to know that this struggle with words was eternal was an ah ha moment if there ever was one!  Since then I have had many ah ha moments but none came with such fluidity as they did in college. Suddenly reading became easy and fun, writing (and even grammar) became a passion and learning new concepts an adrenhaline rush.  This love of learning has never left me and I believe is now one of the distinctive parts of my personality.

Anyway, as I was reminiscing with each old book I came across a book from my Marriage and Family course (ironic that I took 3 such courses I know!) and from inside the book fell out my old floppy drive from college!  What a blast from the past that was.  I knew it was the floppy I relied on because it was black with a green and white label.  I used to put everything on that floppy (everything that would fit that is!).  At the time it seemed more than sufficient for my back up and storage needs.  Looking at it now it has 1.44 mb. To put things in perspective one song on Itunes has 5 mb.  My current ipod has 160 GB.  The flash drive I carry on my key chain has 4 GB and my back up capabilities are over 1 terabyte.  This means that in my personal back up system I have over a million floppy drives! Amazing.

What am I getting with all those bytes- tons of added photos, videos and software space, back up for many projects, and perhaps most importantly thousands of downloaded songs and cds at my disposal. With all that I am only using about 1/3rd of my storage capacity.  It is hard to imagine filling it up but I am sure someday I will.  Perhaps someday I will be looking at my loud noisy back up hard drive and think it is so old fashioned- just as I am with the floppy drive.

That said- I wonder if my life really is any better?  Back then I still had a laptop with music files, software and was completely satisfied.  In fact, I would love to be able to look at this floppy and see what kinds of projects I was working on and items I thought important enough to save.  Most of it is probably papers that I put on the floppy to print at the SWKT computer lab (my printer was notoriously fickle- something that doesn’t seem to have changed much with ink jets!)

Do you all ever have moments like that where a simple item will start you down the reminiscing trail and lead to questions, to pondering?  Happens to me all the time.  Please share!  I haven’t had a comment in a while.  Not since my President Obama post and let’s be honest you guys don’t want me doing political posts all the time do you!!  (Btw, I’ve lost 8 lbs so far on my new fitness regiment but that’s for another entry!).  Thanks for reading.