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You are here: MacNN Forums > Community > MacNN Lounge > The state of technology in this country (and possibly elsewhere) is depressing

The state of technology in this country (and possibly elsewhere) is depressing
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besson3c
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Sep 27, 2010, 10:19 PM
 
I've been horsing around with Comcast lately, having to go into their goofy little office here and spend 23908290348 hours in line for stuff that cannot be done on their website. Verizon is similar, there are certain service changes that cannot be done on their website either, hence their little stores (which a lot of people use not just for playing with phones and getting them fixed and stuff, but for fixing up service related problems). There are numerous examples of potential that is not realized not just in customer service, but other areas of cell phone technology (e.g. lack of consistency in Android phones, Verizon crippling, etc.)

When I look at so many areas of technology, I often want Apple to enter these markets and do their thing. I would love to be able to access the Comcast website and do everything I want through the actual TV interface. There is nothing technologically preventing them from providing the capability of MythTV (DVR, web interface for managing recording schedules, etc) and an embedded browser for account management and other stuff. There is so much potential for all sorts of cool things with digital TV other than just an improvement in picture quality, and this doesn't get into the crappy broadband speeds that still limit many areas.

When I look at the cell phone industry it is amazing how far ahead the iOS and presumably Android is from my "dumb" phone, and how crappy certain aspects of owning a cell phone are for reasons that do not relate to technology.

So much of this lost potential relates to making money, power, control, politics, and other various non-technological things. Just about every time I read about an emerging technology, it always seems that what we end up getting and settling on is so much lamer than the initial potential that exists.

I'm not trying to get all political here and into arguments about capitalism (nor into nationalism, I know a lot of Canadians that bitch about Rogers service in Toronto too, I just don't want to speak for the world as whole not knowing whether what I describe is prevalent outside of North America), but does it ever depress you that when you are dealing with some bullshit customer service problem or something that this is apparently the best that we as a society are able to do with the technology that is available? Why is that that Circuit Citys and Best Buys always seem lame, at least to me? I realize that making technology accessible to Joe Average may require taking certain features away that would require more resources to support, but this doesn't explain blatant customer inconveniences (that may actually cost the company more), and going after pretty low dangling fruit to make the technology just a little better (like a decent company website).

Why do we aim so low?
     
besson3c  (op)
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Sep 27, 2010, 10:22 PM
 
Another great example is the car...

Why don't cars get better fuel economy (even the ones that consume gas?) Why do they seem so slow to observe fairly obvious things like the fact that people kind of like iPods? Why not spend the resources figuring out how to make our cars safer and more efficient rather than figuring out how to put a stupid TV set in them?
     
chabig
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Sep 27, 2010, 10:34 PM
 
Safety and efficiency are both hard and expensive. If you think people aren't working on those things you're a fool.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Sep 27, 2010, 10:38 PM
 
Originally Posted by chabig View Post
Safety and efficiency are both hard and expensive. If you think people aren't working on those things you're a fool.

In the case of the car, I guess, although the progress that has been made in fuel economy over the course of so many years seems unbelievable to me.
     
chabig
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Sep 27, 2010, 10:42 PM
 
Besson, it takes a certain amount of energy to move a car against friction from the road and drag from the air. The engine has a certain efficiency-the transmission does--everything works together and I don't think the current state of fuel economy comes from lack of trying. That's like complaining that we built the fusion bomb 60 years ago so why don't we have controlled fusion reactors yet. I wish we did, but the problems are hard.
     
imitchellg5
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Sep 27, 2010, 10:45 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Another great example is the car...

Why don't cars get better fuel economy (even the ones that consume gas?) Why do they seem so slow to observe fairly obvious things like the fact that people kind of like iPods? Why not spend the resources figuring out how to make our cars safer and more efficient rather than figuring out how to put a stupid TV set in them?
Or how come we still have cars that require oil changes? Why do tyres still go bad? 120 years later, why do these things still have to happen? And the same does go for cell service providers. I remember my parents complaining about AT&T all the time in the early 2000s. Now, I can't stand dealing with Verizon. I'm getting 20-30 spam calls a day from one single number and blocked the number on My Verizon, but it's still getting through. WTF? I'm on the do not call list.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Sep 27, 2010, 10:48 PM
 
Okay, if you disagree with the car example that's cool, I'm happy to cross it off my list, perhaps it is invalid. What about the main point?
     
olePigeon
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Sep 27, 2010, 10:56 PM
 
How The U.S. Government Killed The Safest Car Ever Built

In 1975 the U.S. Government built a car that did 35 mpg, and its passengers could walk away from a 50 mph collision. It's too bad the Big Three were too interested in their own pocket books that safety and fuel efficiency innovation stagnated for 25 years.
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Laminar
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Sep 27, 2010, 10:57 PM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Another great example is the car...

Why don't cars get better fuel economy (even the ones that consume gas?) Why do they seem so slow to observe fairly obvious things like the fact that people kind of like iPods? Why not spend the resources figuring out how to make our cars safer and more efficient rather than figuring out how to put a stupid TV set in them?
#10

Dilbert's Logical Fallacies
     
olePigeon
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Sep 27, 2010, 10:59 PM
 
I, Cringely . The Pulpit . The $200 Billion Rip-Off | PBS

Just in case you're wondering why internet selection sucks in the U.S. compared to other developing nations.

In New York there was a suburb that started a municipal internet provider. Residents could get a 20/20 line with 120 channels and digital voice for $55/month. Comcast sued the city (and won) on the grounds that the city could not compete with private enterprise. So everything went back to $100/month (promotional) for slower internet, less channels, and all the quality you get to expect from Comcast.


Fortunately Tennessee doesn't have the same restrictions as New York. Chattanooga residents get access to a speedy Fiber internet access with a full, synchronous connection at prices that'll make Comcast customers cry. Residents can get as fast as 1000/1000 line for only $350/month. Still not as cheap as South Korea, where a 1000/1000 line is only $125/month, but it's still several thousand dollars cheaper than AT&T, and Comcast simply doesn't offer that speed.
( Last edited by olePigeon; Sep 27, 2010 at 11:11 PM. )
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downinflames68
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Sep 28, 2010, 01:21 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Another great example is the car...

Why don't cars get better fuel economy (even the ones that consume gas?) Why do they seem so slow to observe fairly obvious things like the fact that people kind of like iPods? Why not spend the resources figuring out how to make our cars safer and more efficient rather than figuring out how to put a stupid TV set in them?
Marketing. Marketing rushes everything, which means things are mostly halfassed, all the time. Also, cars take a while to develop... a 2010 model was most likely designed in 2006, engineered in 2007-2008, and tested in 2009.
     
downinflames68
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Sep 28, 2010, 01:31 AM
 
Originally Posted by chabig View Post
Besson, it takes a certain amount of energy to move a car against friction from the road and drag from the air. The engine has a certain efficiency-the transmission does--everything works together and I don't think the current state of fuel economy comes from lack of trying. That's like complaining that we built the fusion bomb 60 years ago so why don't we have controlled fusion reactors yet. I wish we did, but the problems are hard.
Sort of. My commuter is getting over 45mpg. It isn't even fully aero'd out yet. I hope to achieve 60mpg in a months time.
     
besson3c  (op)
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Sep 28, 2010, 02:52 AM
 
How fast is fiber spreading across the US? Is it available in your area? Is the technology close enough to be something that a company like Comcast will have little trouble adding to their product line, or will it come from somebody else?

We have fiber around here being offered by a company much smaller and with far fewer resources than Comcast, which is perhaps telling.

How is VOIP doing in replacing office landlines and phone queues?
     
SpaceMonkey
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Sep 28, 2010, 09:14 AM
 
Where's my flying car?

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The Final Dakar
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Sep 28, 2010, 09:19 AM
 
Where's my Monroebot?
     
SpaceMonkey
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Sep 28, 2010, 09:25 AM
 
I gave it a couple of blintzes to paint my fence and it never did. PAINT MY FENCE!

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osiris
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Sep 28, 2010, 09:27 AM
 
Great, now I'm depressed too. Stupid future with no flying cars, transporters, moon bases, monroebots, or blintzes.
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ghporter
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Sep 28, 2010, 09:49 AM
 
I am still waiting for my flying car. But unfortunately other people would also have flying cars, and the state of "driving ability" throughout the country (but especially where I live) would make that an airborne Apocalypse.

I would like "fiber to the house" for broadband and TV, but my DSL is pretty fast when just shared between my wife and me, and DirecTV works fine except in really bad weather (and we don't watch TV that much anyway). There are other things I'd be more interested in though. Really affordable solar power systems that you could install at home and that made economic sense in terms of output and efficiency. Widespread videophone capability-whether over computer connections of with dedicated hardware-that didn't need really fast, really expensive broadband connections than most people can afford or even have access to in order to be effective-and that used some standardized, phone-like connection process. High efficiency lighting that puts out white light and is affordable (LED lamps aren't there yet). Better, more available, more efficient recycling systems everywhere.

None of this is science fiction-it's all "there" right now. Except for the "affordable" part, which is really just a matter of building up the market and getting a foothold for an installed customer base. But I'm impatient.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
Laminar
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Sep 28, 2010, 10:12 AM
 
Originally Posted by The Final Dakar View Post
Where's my Monroebot?
"Oh, I love you so much THE FINAL DAKAR."
( Last edited by Laminar; Sep 28, 2010 at 10:27 AM. )
     
osiris
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Sep 28, 2010, 10:14 AM
 
Aww, isn't that special.
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Doofy
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Sep 28, 2010, 10:25 AM
 
No.
     
andi*pandi
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Sep 28, 2010, 10:38 AM
 
I get emails from comcast all the time telling me I can set season passes/recordings from my computer. Never done it though. What I want is a way for them to do a backup of my settings before doing an upgrade, every time I have service I have to reset all the season passes and blocked channels.

We have VOIP instead of regular landline.
     
Laminar
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Sep 28, 2010, 11:03 AM
 
Blocking Skinamax?
     
ort888
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Sep 28, 2010, 11:47 AM
 
You sound like my mom. Anytime we go anywhere, she thinks everyone is stupid and doing everything in the worst possible way.

"Why would they put the exit door there? It's in everyone's way. It's just stupid."
"Why don't they have a better system for bringing out the bread? They should..."
"I can't believe the taxi company can't figure out something so simple, all it takes is a little planning..."
"Someone should fix this"
"Someone should fix that!"
"Why do they do it like this... if they would just..."
"Why does it take 4 people to do _______?"

The funny thing is that my mom hasn't worked in about 30 years and has about 30 minutes of actual responsibilities to tend to per day. Getting her to do anything at all is an epic event. Just going to the grocery store to purchase eggs is a two day affair for her.

I like to describe her as the world foremost expert on everything except actually doing anything.

I always just tell her she should get a job there and whip that place into shape.


The scary thing is that I know way too many people like that.

My sig is 1 pixel too big.
     
andi*pandi
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Sep 28, 2010, 11:54 AM
 
Originally Posted by laminar View Post
blocking skinamax?
qvc.
     
The Final Dakar
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Sep 28, 2010, 11:57 AM
 
Oxygen
     
andi*pandi
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Sep 28, 2010, 12:20 PM
 
700 club.
     
ctt1wbw
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Sep 28, 2010, 01:47 PM
 
Originally Posted by chabig View Post
Safety and efficiency are both hard and expensive. If you think people aren't working on those things you're a fool.
I think people should learn how to drive, first.
     
olePigeon
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Sep 28, 2010, 01:52 PM
 
Originally Posted by ctt1wbw View Post
I think people should learn how to drive, first.
Most U.S. state driver's license requires taking a written test as many time as you want, then you drive around the block. That's it.

Somehow that makes you qualified to drive a two ton object around at high speeds.
"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
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finboy
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Sep 28, 2010, 01:58 PM
 
Originally Posted by chabig View Post
Safety and efficiency are both hard and expensive. If you think people aren't working on those things you're a fool.
The word that needs to be applied here is "satisficing." There is no "optimizing."

The lack of common sense is appalling. But it's encouraged - people can live without responsibility to anyone for anything.
     
sek929
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Sep 28, 2010, 02:14 PM
 
Originally Posted by olePigeon View Post
Most U.S. state driver's license requires taking a written test as many time as you want, then you drive around the block. That's it.

Somehow that makes you qualified to drive a two ton object around at high speeds.
I know people that got their license, with no written test (I didn't take one), and without leaving the parking lot of the DMV. Might as well just hand them out to anyone with a pulse.
     
olePigeon
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Sep 28, 2010, 02:16 PM
 
How about the state of Firewire? Where're the S3200 devices? Firewire over ethernet?
"…I contend that we are both atheists. I just believe in one fewer god than
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besson3c  (op)
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Sep 28, 2010, 05:07 PM
 
I just got stuff sorted out with Comcast. I hate going into their office and hoping that the person I speak to knows what they are doing. While you wait you get to enjoy posters of movies like Paul Blart Mall Cop being advertised as being available in HD
     
Big Mac
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Sep 28, 2010, 05:28 PM
 
It's easy to bitch about technological or consumer market shortcomings, but what's the point? What does bitching accomplish? And beyond that, we bitch about our cell phone service being poor, not having enough broadband bandwidth in comparison to other countries, etc. It's easy to do that, but aren't you glad you have the tech you have versus the tech of 50 years ago or heck, how about just five or ten years ago? It's inconsequential what kind of wonderful broadband is available in Western Europe or Japan because I'm never going to live in those places.

People bitch about the iPad not originally having a camera, or being too heavy. Bitching. It's a terrific piece of hardware for the uses it's meant for, but people still bitch. You can't always get what you want, but if you try. . .

Of course, I too enjoy complaining sometimes.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
besson3c  (op)
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Sep 28, 2010, 05:36 PM
 
It's just depressing and/or annoying when politics, power, and other non-technological things hold things back.
     
Big Mac
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Sep 28, 2010, 08:24 PM
 
Depressing is a strong word. Sometimes it's annoying - I think you're talking about annoyances. Now what I could term depressing is the way the United States is driving itself right of a cliff, with most Americans oblivious to it. It will take civilization as we know it down with it. That I could see as depressing, although I have come to accept the apparent inevitability of that process. Annoyances with technology are a mere trifle by comparison, my friend.

"The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield and government to gain ground." TJ
     
besson3c  (op)
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Sep 28, 2010, 08:36 PM
 
No, I think "depressing" is an appropriate word (in addition to annoying). It's depressing because there is something wrong with the lameness of how things end up being apparently the best we can do as a society with our otherwise brilliant inventions.

As far as the political stuff, you know that I think that "taking civilization as we know down with it" is in part the reason for the Rally to Restore Sanity (i.e. just a wee bit overly dramatic), but let's save that for the PWL. You still owe me a reply there anyway.
     
macaddict0001
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Sep 28, 2010, 08:54 PM
 
Nobody would do anything if it weren't for beaurocracy, however at the same time, there is a lot of waste, paperwork for one, there would be no point if everybody just did everything they should do. The world doesn't work that way though. Everybody is born an idealist until eventually their soul is crushed and they become a productive member of society. "cough" Ahem, excuse my cynicism.
     
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Sep 28, 2010, 09:03 PM
 
Mankind's only chance is to harness the power of stupid.
     
Doofy
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Sep 29, 2010, 02:37 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
It's just depressing and/or annoying when politics, power, and other non-technological things hold things back.
Actually, technology holds technology back. We reach a certain level then the tools we've made so far encourage us to be complacent and lazy.
     
ghporter
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Sep 29, 2010, 08:07 AM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
Actually, technology holds technology back. We reach a certain level then the tools we've made so far encourage us to be complacent and lazy.
Extremely good point. And this goes to technology users rather than the technology itself. For example, high quality, near-real time text messaging is NOT going to advance if people keep texting while driving-texting is going to be banned entirely at the network level if the trend of "impaired by technology" continues. I read a study (can't find it at the moment) that equated just TALKING on a cell phone while driving to the impairment that comes with being "under the influence," and from road experience, I have to agree. It's so bad that in San Antonio it's illegal to HOLD your cell phone while driving in a school zone; this is because of real incidents, not "possibilities."

Technology is neutral, like a steak knife or a hammer. If users do stupid things with technology, they themselves will suffer, but so will other users who don't do stupid things with it.

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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Sep 29, 2010, 09:01 AM
 
Originally Posted by besson3c View Post
Why do we aim so low?
Shareholders are more important than clients. Get used to it.
     
Doofy
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Sep 29, 2010, 09:19 AM
 
Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
I read a study (can't find it at the moment) that equated just TALKING on a cell phone while driving to the impairment that comes with being "under the influence," and from road experience, I have to agree.
Yep, I have to agree with that one.
Now, I might be blowing my own trumpet a little here but I'm an extremely good driver - and I can't talk on the phone while driving (if I can't do it, how do other people manage?). Maybe that piece of the brain which is used to talk on the phone is the one which is also used to drive well?

Originally Posted by ghporter View Post
It's so bad that in San Antonio it's illegal to HOLD your cell phone while driving in a school zone; this is because of real incidents, not "possibilities."
Yep, it's illegal to hold a phone while driving anywhere over here. Even illegal to do it if you're stationary in a jam.
     
sek929
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Sep 29, 2010, 10:01 AM
 
I've also heard that car fatalities that involved texting while driving have risen 28% since last year, which is pretty scary. During that same study they also found that texting while driving is leaps and bounds more dangerous than even drunk driving. I can't count how many times each day I see someone swerving around, unable to stay in their lane. 9 times out of ten they have a cell phone out. I swear if some teeny kills me while texting LOL to her BFF I am gonna haunt the shit out of that family for decades.
     
andi*pandi
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Sep 29, 2010, 10:05 AM
 
This thread is depressing.
     
ghporter
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Sep 29, 2010, 02:00 PM
 
Originally Posted by Doofy View Post
Yep, I have to agree with that one.
Now, I might be blowing my own trumpet a little here but I'm an extremely good driver - and I can't talk on the phone while driving (if I can't do it, how do other people manage?). Maybe that piece of the brain which is used to talk on the phone is the one which is also used to drive well?

Yep, it's illegal to hold a phone while driving anywhere over here. Even illegal to do it if you're stationary in a jam.
I'm pretty darn good behind the wheel myself-and that's not just when compared to my "peers" around here. I can use a hands free kit while driving, but it's always "I'm driving-I'll get back to you." There are people on my street who have issues with the whole "left side versus right side" thing, and I see them blabbering away on their handsets, blithely ignoring most of the world. It's insanely criminal.

We are allowed to use hands free appliances around schools, but then who can tell the difference between a nitwit that talks to himself in his car, and one who talks on a phone with a headset? I personally don't spend so much time on the phone that I NEED to talk while driving, let alone while navigating an easily dangerous place like a school zone. Some people I see must be incredibly insecure to need someone else to chat with 24/7...

Glenn -----OTR/L, MOT, Tx
     
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Sep 29, 2010, 03:10 PM
 
I'd rather not talk to anyone while I'm driving or at any other time of the day.
     
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Sep 29, 2010, 03:21 PM
 
Originally Posted by sek929 View Post
I swear if some teeny kills me while texting LOL to her BFF I am gonna haunt the shit out of that family for decades.
You and I both.
     
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Sep 29, 2010, 09:22 PM
 
I am ready to make a mutual vow to haunt as well.
     
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Sep 29, 2010, 09:42 PM
 
Shit, I don't even carry a cellphone.
     
 
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