Monday, August 26, 2013

Feeling spoiled ... and the opposite ...

I don't think we realise how much we're spoiled in this modern technological age.

We have so many things that help us out. So many devices that make it easier to do things (or make it harder to concentrate on the important things like housekeeping !) and so many devices that just make it possible to do things we wouldn't have thought possible 5 or 10 years ago.

It's the little devices that help out most of all. 5 years ago, I used a separate satnav. It started life as a Hewlett Packard iPaq 4150 running the Tomtom software. Good little device, even though I didn't use it much for its prime reason for being. It was a Personal Data Assistant, before phones became powerful enough to take over that job. The only problem it had was the glitches in the Tomtom software.

Even then, we're spoiled. When I started working, satnavs were incredibly rare. We'd plan our routes on pieces of paper (big writing !) and we'd panic when we lost track of the route. Nowadays GPS takes all the fun out of getting lost because it's an ever present thing on everything keeping us in the picture for where we are. GPS used to be a luxury reserved for the military ...

I was watching the Doctor Who prom concert before moving over to the desktop, even there things have improved. Video recorders have been in the home for decades now but digital video recorders make things so much easier. No more hunting through the tape library for the right tape, just look in the list. I could watch that on a stream from the internet too if I missed it.

That's another thing - when I started with Blueyonder, I had 512kbit/s download. Now, I have 30Mbits/s and my upload is faster than that original download.

Where did the inspiration of this post come from ?

Mostly from gaming. I've bought a few things from Good Old Gaming over the past year and barely played any of them. To be honest, it's so cheap there that I've had my money's worth from the goodies (soundtracks, pictures etc) they throw in with the game.

The latest attempt was to have a go at Arcanum. The concept here is awesome. It's a Dungeons & Dragons type setup with orcs, elves, dwarves and magic crossed with technology. Kinda like D&D moved into the Industrial Age. The concept has spectacular potential, the implementation does not. It's ok for the time but is missing things we take for granted like a big sign saying "Go Here To Progress Story". After the intro, I literally had no clue where to go next and the game wasn't helping.

Bit of a pity that.

A lot of the other games were like that too. They would implement more depth into the game (there's dazzling depth possible in Neverwinter Nights, especially when enhanced with the extra character classes) but it's also possible to get lost in the game. Same with the first person shooter games. They had multiple routes and it was possible to get lost.

A frequent complaint against modern games is that they are on rails. The term "corridor shooter" has come into gaming. This is where a game may look open but you're shepherded (often unsubtly) down set pathways. Things like unopenable doors or sidestreets with an invisible wall. Progress is good but often comes with costs.

Another sign of progress - my laptop is currently streaming the music over the network to my hifi. In ages past, I'd be running across the room to change cds. I'd certainly not be picking from a library with 10,000 tracks. I'd definitely be tripping over the audio cables a few times :-)

I can't help feeling that we miss out though. I'm still in hiding mode at the moment but the modern things lead to a more Indoor life anyway. I'm not needing to venture outside for entertainment. I'm missing chatting up the barmaids at the local or propping up the popcorn stand at the cinema.

A modern life is a more lonely life ? Perhaps.

But then again, before the internet came around, I wouldn't have had the involvement in World of Warcraft which led to me gaining lots of good friends from around the globe. Eve counts there too, although the Eve crowd is a bit more geeky than the WoW crowd if you can believe that.

Another inspiration for this post is hearing the comments about the cricketers. When I started my cricket, it was before the ultra professional era. Now, the cricketers are more in the gym than active in the game. They're a stronger bunch, a more powerful bunch. Perhaps I'd have been a better cricketer given more gym time or more practice time ? Definitely if it was directed practice. But I doubt whether my fragility would have supported gym time.

Apologies if this has gone very scattergun ;-).

We definitely have it easier these days. We have access to massive amounts of information that tell us how to do stuff, that helps us out in ways we didn't know existed 10 years ago. We can get cash from a hole in the wall (I vaguely remember ATMs being introduced). We can call people across the world from a device that fits in out pocket.

But perhaps we're getting a little too reliant on the technology. I definitely think a hug is more satisfying than a win in a game.


  1. Pete said: We have access to massive amounts of information that tell us how to do stuff, that helps us out in ways we didn't know existed 10 years ago.

    It's just a pity we don't use that information to build better worlds..... rather than Facebook status updates and cat videos! [lol]

  2. Now what was the address of that cat video streaming site ...


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