Monday, August 19, 2013

Taking tech for granted.

As we grow up, we also grow older, and the strangest thing tends to happen; we begin to take for granted that which we would have seen as miraculous only a short time ago.

When was the last time you complained about your cell phone?  Complained about your DSL connection?  Your laptop?  We take these things for granted every day, but the reality is that they would have seemed fantastic and unimaginable in our childhoods.  For most of us who are 30 and up, it's highly unlikely that you had a computer in your home when you were a small child, but today there are 6 year old kids running around with iPhones.

The first computer we had in my household was purchased at Sears, the day after Thanksgiving in 1986 or '87 when I was 6 or 7 years old.  It came with a 33mhz CPU and my dad paid quite a bit extra to upgrade it to 1MB of RAM, and insisted on a 40MB hard disk drive which the salesmen tried to discourage him from by saying, and I quote, "trust me.  It's not worth the money.  You couldn't fill a 40MB hard drive in a million years."

Today, I carry a cell phone in my pocket that has a processor which cycles 57 times as fast (never mind improvements in efficiency and the fact that it's a quad-core).  It has 2,000 times as much RAM, and more than 400 times as much storage.  Even the screen, which is small enough to fit comfortably in my pocket, has nearly 7 times as many pixels.

Even if we ignore the fact that it's a massively more powerful computer than what was available just a couple decades ago and we ignore the fact that it costs roughly 1/10 of what that old Packard Bell desktop cost my dad, we still have to admit that it puts the original Star Trek communicator to shame.

Voice, text, data and multi-media in something ¼" thick and roughly the outline of a dollar bill. It'll even do GPS navigation, connect to my car stereo, and connect to my car's on-board computer for diagnostics.  It keeps track of how long I've been jogging, and calculates how many calories I've burned.  You can even connect them to some bathroom scales so that it can monitor your weight, body fat, hydration levels, and countless other aspects of your physical health.

It's a communicator AND a tri-corder.

In the 47 years since the debut of Star Trek; secure, pocket-sized and crystal clear 2 way communicators have gone from science fiction to something we complain about if we have to reset them once a week.  Just imagine the technology that our children and grandchildren will take for granted.

It's staggering to imagine that 30 years ago, a portable phone was the size of a briefcase and incredibly rare.  50 years ago it was pure science fiction.

90 years ago, people routinely died from every day bacterial infections that we can now cure with a single shot.

A brief 600 years ago, Johannes Gutenberg was a teenager, and still almost 30 years from inventing the printing press.

Of course, above and beyond all that, the next time you take your high speed internet or your cell phone for granted; before your complain about or malign the marvelous technology that helps our world run so smoothly in this very young millennium; consider this quote by Cory Doctoro, my favorite novelist who has yet to write a great novel:

"Ten thousand years ago, the state-of-the-art was a goat."-

Monday, August 12, 2013

Shopping for things no man wants to buy.

There are many things in life that are unavoidable.  Death, taxes, and if you're a married man, buying feminine hygiene products.  That's right guys; sooner or later you're going to be sent to the store to buy pads.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Top 10 signs that you may be working in the wrong position

My apologies for this re-post. The blogger app for android leaves a lot to be desired and unposted this entry.

I think that we've fairly well established by now that I'm working in the wrong job.  That's fine for me, since I'm studying towards certifications for a better job, and generally working hard at improving my life.  So far that's all going according to plan, and there have been some interesting developments in other areas that will have to wait a little bit before they hit the blogosphere.

I've talked a good deal about what to do when you find yourself in the wrong job, but after a conversation I had with a coworker recently, I thought I'd share a few thoughts on just exactly how to tell when you're in the wrong job.

Co-Worker: Wow, Stephen, I need to get the !#$( out of here.  I can't believe you can fit this many stupid people in one building.

That was the opening comment from a coworker last week.  It was the end of her shift, and she'd simply had the same experiences at work one time too many.  That, ladies and gentlemen, is a solid indication that you're not only working in the wrong job for you, but that you've also been working there way too long.

She went on to rant (I do love a good soap box) about the attitudes of her subordinates, guests and employees asking stupid questions, lazy people, and the fact that she had finally come to realize that while she kind of likes her job, she hates her employees and the need to babysit them so much she's afraid she'll lose her mind if she stays here much longer.  I suggested a few books for her that were written by better authors than me, and we'll see how long it takes her to quit.

Folks, don't let a bad job go that far.  Take it from me and my first hand experience; not loving your job but being stuck in it for the next 6-12 months while you shift directions towards something better, Absolutely Sucks™.  Now she's right in the same spot that I am.  She can't just up and quit, because if you're even sort of a Grown Up™, then you know you can't just walk out on your job unless you've got another one lined up, or there's something going on that violates your values or puts you in danger.

With that in mind, allow me to share a list of early warning signs that you need to quit your job.  Think of this like one of Jeff Foxeworthy's, "You might be a redneck if..." lists, but for people in the wrong career.

You might need to find a new job if....

  1. You regularly think, "Oh God, it's Monday,"  and/or, "Thank God it's Friday.
  2. You've called in with a bad case of, "I'm not working today."
  3. You've ever done a salary comparison between your current job and Panda Express.
  4. When a coworker comes to tell you they've been fired, the first word out of your mouth is, "Congratulations!"
  5. The end of the week office trip to the bar starts on Thursday at lunchtime because nobody can actually make it five days.
  6. You've become convinced that many of your coworkers and/or employees who all seemed fine a year ago, have been replaced with mentally challenged, adolescent, space aliens wearing foam rubber people-suits.
  7. Your Vice President of Human Resources has taken down the traditional motivation posters in his/her office and replaced them with these.
  8. You regularly miss, "the good old days when I worked in fast food."
  9. You've stopped crying at the sight of your tiny paycheck, but it hasn't gotten any bigger.
  10. You've started a blog about how much your job sucks, and all the things you're doing to find a better one.