Apr 06 2011
I’m going to go ahead and preemptively quote Louis C.K. who said “everything is amazing and everyone sucks.” It was his rebuttal to people who complain about technology, like I’m about to do here.
But whatever, I recognize that while technology in itself is great, and I could invent or build none of it, there are certain segments that are failing to keep up with the times.
This list is my own personal hate-letter to certain things that are just evolving too slowly for my liking, when it seems like given all the amazing advancements in the world, this should not be the case. I think you’ll agree with me on at least a few counts.
Check out the list below:
1. Fax Machines
Someday, I hope my kid can look up at me and say “Dad, what the f*ck is a fax machine?” This technology is older than me, but it’s not getting any more convenient and apparently refuses to go away. As a twenty something kid who works from home, I’ve been asked to fax things to people on occasion, and my response is always the same.
“Sigh, can I just scan it and email it instead?”
A fax machine uses a phone line, something else I haven’t used in years, and because of that, owning a fax is a monthly expense. So why the hell does this tech exist when whatever I want to send can be scanned and sent as an e-mail attachment? Because it doesn’t print it out for you? PRINT IT YOURSELF IF YOU WANT TO SO BADLY! And don’t even get me started on printers…
2. Air Travel
With cars becoming further and further advanced in both efficiency and technology, and cruise ships practically existing as floating cities, air travel is the only way to get somewhere where I remember it actually being BETTER a decade or more ago.
It’s a combination of factors, the two main ones being terrorism and budget constraints. Airports themselves have become increasingly annoying experiences due to 9/11 and one guy who had a bomb in his shoe. What used to be a breeze is now sometimes a multi-hour ordeal, and random screenings and searches do nothing. Repeatedly the TSA has been fooled by FBI agents attempting to sneak weapons through, so the system doesn’t even work.
As for the planes themselves? While I might still marvel at the miracle of human flight, planes just don’t seem to be getting more advanced. Yes, they now have movies and internet on them, but it still takes just as long to get anywhere. I remember a decade ago when the Concorde jet was zipping all around the world in record time, and I figured that tech would eventually make its way to commercial jets, but not so, and between cramped seating and cancelled flights, things are the same. I’d blame the airlines, but how are they supposed to invest in new tech when they’re on the verge of bankruptcy every few days?
3. Adobe Products
My computer is currently infected with spyware. It’s called the Adobe updater, and I’m constantly plagued with pop-ups telling me to update Flash, Reader, Photoshop or any of the other zillion Adobe products that I’m forced to have on my computer. And when I do? A brand new desktop icon I don’t want, every single time.
I’ve had endless battles with PDFs, trying to make them, send them and edit them, and I just don’t understand how they became the industry standard. As for Flash? It crashes more often than not, with a new version holding me hostage until I download it.
Don’t even get me started on programs like Photoshop and Premiere, which are necessary and useful tools for someone in my line of work, but cost hundreds if not thousands of dollars if you want to purchase them legally. Yeah, I’ll get right on that.
4. Movie Theaters
While home TVs have gotten better and better, movie theaters are getting worse, relying on cheap gimmicks to milk money out of consumers instead of actually providing a better service.
Ticket prices go up over time, I get that, but now between “IMAX” and 3D, in the past few years they’ve rocketed up practically 50%. $15 for one ticket, are you kidding me? What’s worse is that these “advancements” are a joke. I remember watching IMAX movies when I was little, and that meant a screen so massive it was almost my entire field of view. Today, that’s just a nameplate sold by the company to theaters, who slap IMAX on their biggest screen and curve it a little, though it’s barely a third the size of a true IMAX screen.
3D? Don’t get me started. I’ve written about this way too much, and the fact is that outside of one or two films in history, 3D makes movies worse and forces us to pay 50% more for the privilege. Things like a “glasses surcharge” are a joke, as anyone could bring their own $2 pair if they wanted, and you can say you can avoid this by just always picking 2D, but there are often limited or no times in that format nowadays.
5. Cable TV Packages
I’m still amazed at what a goddamn rip off cable TV is. They charge me $60-100 a month for 800 channels when at the most, I watch seven. TV is slowly fading into obscurity thanks to the internet, but it’s not happening fast enough. I’ve been overpaying for hundreds of thousands of hours of television I’ve never watched over the years, and it would be much easier to pay by the channel.
But they’ll never do that. They make too much money from these packages, so the only way to fight back is to unsubscribe and get your shows legally from Netflix or Hulu, or illegally from Bittorrent. The way I see it, piracy is fine here because I’ve already paid for the damn programming via my cable bill. Why should it matter if I want to watch it on my laptop or on a flash drive plugged into my Xbox? I paid for cable TV, I now am allowed to watch anything that airs on it, no matter how I get it.
6. Internet Speeds and Access
Yes, we have come a long ways from 56K and dial-up, but not far enough. Over the past decade, the internet has largely remained static in terms of speed, and now is actually going to start regressing backwards if things like Net Neutrality fall. ISPs are starting to put bandwidth caps on how much you can upload and download a month. This isn’t just a way to stop you from downloading nine seasons of Nip/Tuck, but rather this interferes with a whole host of legal activities like video streaming and file transferring.
As for speeds? The rest of the world laughs at us. As you can see in that chart above, the US is far behind a lot of developed countries in terms of internet speed, with South Korea and Japan leading the pack. No wonder they’re surging ahead of us in technological advancement. Yes, we’re a bigger country, and steps are being made to improve things, but the pace at which progress is moving is barely a crawl at this point.
7. Space Travel
This makes me more sad than any of these others. The last time we went to the moon, it was the ‘60s. There is more technology in my iPhone than in the shuttle that landed there. Why then have we not gone back? Why then is Mars still a pipe dream?
I know I watch too many science fiction movies, and so I have unrealistically high standards, but outside of telescopes zooming further and further out, I can’t name one significant advancement in space travel since the moon landing. The International Space Station? Water on Mars? I know there has been some progress, but it’s nothing that we in the public have seen for the most part. We only pay attention when a space shuttle blows up, and everyone goes “see, space travel just costs millions of dollars and human lives.”
None of this is NASA’s fault mind you. If they were given a FRACTION of the budget they deserve I’m sure there would have been a lot more progress than we’ve seen, but we’re too busy paying for wars and old people and frankly, there’s no money in space. At least not yet.
Doing laundry still sucks. There has to be a better way to do this. Someone get on this immediately.
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