Apr 06 2011

Eight Areas of Technology that Really Need to Advance

Published by at 12:00 pm under Lists

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.

8. Laundry


Doing laundry still sucks. There has to be a better way to do this. Someone get on this immediately.

 





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24 responses so far

  • Jackson Briggs

    Take that Modern World!

    But seriously, good observations. Those are spot on, some of those I didn’t know. Like how we suck in terms of internet speed.

  • Andy D

    Have you ever had to have a tooth taken out? They still use fucking pliers!

  • Mutant Turd

    I agree with just about everything here. Especially the part on the space industry. I am very anti-touch screen anything and the main reason why is because that technology was being developed for the space program. It was there so they could get rid of tons of weight that is needed for the massive screens and numerous switches all over the place. And now they have it on those stupid ass internet alarm clocks which is a retarded invention anyway.

    The only think I disagree on is the laundry part. I actually love doing laundry. It gives me the few hours a week where I can shut out the world and say, “No, sorry can’t. I’m doing laundry.” It’s the perfect excuse for everything.

  • joe

    Nice that you admit to being a pirate on a public blog.

  • matt

    hell yes laundry and wow i cant believe our internet is that slow. AND GODDAMIT i want some damn mass effect space travel

  • http://mandyatlarge.com Mandy

    omg, where is my Laundry Bot 5000!? … better yet, Kitchen Bot T1000!? Dishes, cooking, cleaning and laundry… it can’t be that hard. I did read an article about them trying to make a dishwashing robot. To better the AI and technique on dishwashing, they created a dishwashing game and let people play it… worst game ever, but i’d do it if I didn’t have to do dishes.

    Why can’t my sink just be a dishwasher? I mean, slap a cover on there and steam and spin some hot water.. lol.

    It’s not that I’m lazy, but working 8-5 and doing freelance work on the side, plus all of the crafts and painting I do.. I just don’t have time to keep my 100 year old giant house clean. (plus yardwork!?) I have to clean every single day. Even if there was something to keep my workload down to once a week.. I’d buy it. (and I don’t mean an illegal)

  • Rob J

    Everyones is a pirate on the inside….some just haven’t been pissed off enough yet by the media man to know it

  • Lawdog

    The last time we went to the moon was in the 70s, but the point still stands.

  • MrZarq

    There are other PDF readers than Adobe. Google Chrome can open them for instance.
    As for creating: LaTeX is the way to go.

  • Metz

    Okay, before you start talking about things that haven’t advanced, why don’t you do some actual research before instead of rambling off things that piss you off.

    I’m talking about your air travel reference. As a flight major at my university, you are looking real ignorant in this post. Maybe not to others but it’s rather insulting to me. You’re saying you would rather sacrifice safety than having to wait longer for a flight? You say they do nothing to prevent terrorism by taking an isolated incident you may have read from a news site online years ago and hold it as a fact across the board??? If you did that for everything you wrote about I would stop reading. As for the advancement of the aircraft themselves, take a look at the B-787 or A-380 and tell me they aren’t advancing. It doesn’t take 3 years to come up with a whole new flight system and design, they’re not cars. And the Concorde was discontinued cuz it broke the sound barrier and was the cause of so many complaints they had to do it. Maybe in the future something similar will come along but who knows. And my last point is that the airlines don’t invest in new technology, those are the manufacturers. The airlines have no say as to what goes into any new aircraft/technology. That’s like saying “Smith Ford Dealership” can’t tell Ford how to design new cars cuz they’re bankrupt. What???

    I agree with your other points and maybe I’m being sensitive, but it just really rubbed me the wrong way when I read that. I still love your posts, I just had to speak up about this topic.

  • John

    I am on the fence about the movies post. I agree with the IMAX and 3D points you made but movie theaters have improved. I know you already posted that you hated the idea, but you hadnt even tried it out.

    Im talking full-service movie theaters. Dinner and a movie at the same time. It isnt as bad as you thought/think it was/is. the chairs are large and comfortable, plenty of space between rows. You have a personal bar for your food and drinks. Stadium seating prevents obstructed views. The price, at least in my city, isnt bad. Eating and watching a movie here is the same price as eating as a restaurant and then going to a movie.

    Have you given this type of theater a try yet? I recommend going to see a movie you are looking forward to. Or, better yet, check out the website for their theme nights. Rocky Horror, Pulp Fiction,The Room? Who knows what cult classic they are showing.

  • frikkenkids

    There is no logical reason for anyone to be spending money on manned space flight. It is too damned expensive with no pay off. There is nothing a man can do in space (or on the moon or on Mars) that a robot couldn’t do for a fraction of the price. Space travel is so expensive that if there were massive blocks of solid gold in low earth orbit it wouldn’t be cost-effective to go get them. After landing on the moon – which was basically a PR stunt and big F-U to the Russians, the only reason NASA continued using astronauts was for public relations…without the all-American heroes posing for magazine covers to keep NASA in the public eye, the public would have lost interest and their funds would have dried up completely. Still, despite most of the money being wasted on the space shuttle, unmanned space exploration has advanced spectacularly since the ’60s.

  • ted

    great article, i especially empathise with air travel

  • og bobby j

    @frikkenkids – i do hope you take a few minutes to research the technological advances that came about from the useless space travel….

    I think the argument that we should be investing money into the hands of the countries leading scientists (NASA) is well worth it, regardless of whether it is refelcted in space travel directly.

  • Guy Incognito

    It seems to me you’re just showing your ignorance on 2 of your points:

    Air Travel
    As Metz said take a look at the Boeing 787 and Airbus A-380. Comfort and efficiency are the areas the industry is advancing in. The reason it still takes the same amount of time to get anywhere is due to aerodynamics. Airliners today go about Mach 0.85 because this is the best trade-off of speed and fuel efficiency. Going any faster increases fuel consumption exponentially. Do you want to pay double the fare to go from New York to LA in an hour less? The Concorde was discontinued because it was so expensive no one wanted to fly on it anymore.

    Space Exploration
    A ‘shuttle’ didn’t land on the moon. And as for your iPhone being more powerful than the computers in the spacecraft they send? It’s amazing but actually a digital watch has about the same computing power as NASA had at their disposal during the Apollo missions. There have been many improvements in space travel but as you said, the public doesn’t really recognize them. The Space Shuttle is probably the single greatest machine mankind has ever created. Your iPhone has GPS. Know how that works? Advancements in satellite technology are probably the biggest thing that has happened over the years. There are currently around 25 000 man-made objects in space, about 8500 of those are currently functioning. Not to mention the hundreds of scientific experiments that have been carried out onboard the shuttle and international space station. Space Travel is expensive, and no one wants to pay for it. Blame the uninformed public for this.

  • frikkenkids

    @og bobby j,

    I am well aware of the many technological advances produced by the space program. I merely pointed out that spending resources to further MANNED space flight is a waste. Human are too fragile and the costs involved in keeping people alive in space is money that might as well be thrown into a bonfire.

    I would suggest that the best and most beneficial technologies had little or nothing to do with keeping the astronauts alive despite a massive portion of NASA funding being spent for that sole purpose. Take out the astronauts and the space program would be able to focus that money on actual exploration and scientific advancement.

    Read Bob Park’s work about manned space flight. It is enlightening. The space shuttle program is a monumental waste of money as is the International Space Station – they are pretty much the two largest obstructions to furthering human kind’s exploration of our solar system.

  • Alex

    To be fair the biggest problems in movie theaters is not the more expensive prices or gimmicks but the goddamn people. You know what? I would gladly pay 15$ for a truly good movie if I can actually enjoy it in peace. But instead there is always some assholes that just have to talk. There is always some assholes who can’t help but eat. Seriously why the hell are we allowing pocorns in movie theaters? Will all those assholes who can’t but chew through the entire movie starve to death? And children? Why the fuck aren’t small children banned from all non kids movies?

  • Jim
  • Buddy Lee

    when the rest of the world laughs at the speed of US, laugh at their payment plans with limits and over charges when you go over like old cell phone bills.

  • Xin

    @Buddy Lee.

    I’m spending 6 months in S. Korea teaching. Let me tell you, for $20-30 USD, I get fantastic speeds and as much as I want.

  • Ian

    They invented something to do the laundry and make it easier for you… its called a woman

  • Lu

    I agree we should add dentistry to the list. Also, firefighting. Seriously, have you see Ladder 49. There must be something more effective than an ax to put out fires.

  • Lu

    *seen, also please put a question mark at the end of that sentence. I have an intense migraine and I’m pretty sure I should be hospitalized. Or at least in bed and not attempting to interact with humans. Thank you.

  • Johannes P Anderson

    Don’t you dare mention internet speeds you ungrateful American. Ok like 5 countries in the world are faster, but if you extrapolated downwards you are in the highest percentile!

    Not to mention the uncapped bandwidths prevalent in the US. Literally nothing is worse than getting your internet throttled back to DIAL-UP speeds because you dl’d a few too many songs of iTunes

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