After much consternation, my wife actually managed to persuade me to go on an RV trip over the Thanksgiving break. Head-shaking we set off on a 1,100 mile 5 day trip from our home in the East Bay to Sequoia National Park, Death Valley and Yosemite National Park.
Being a Brit, 1,100 miles still seems like from here to eternity. In fact I remember when I first arrived in the US, about 11 years ago, I asked for directions and was told it was “just up the road”. Now where I come from “just up the road means” a quick stroll. So I set off walking until I discovered “just up the road” in the US can mean almost 100 miles.
So, after driving “just up the road” (453 miles) we arrived at Panamint Springs, Death Valley. To my amazement not only did they have just about the best selection of beer I’ve seen on this side of the Atlantic; but they also had a high speed wireless Internet connection. Maybe I’m naïve, and maybe I shouldn’t be surprised about these things, but I am. It’s wonderful to see how technology can change everything. Unfortunately, after connecting to the Internet, it became apparent that the English soccer team had (yet again!) failed to qualify for a major tournament, and suddenly remoteness and the cold Stella seemed a much better proposition.
Technology can and should be beneficial and make positive change. I really couldn’t imagine my life without GPS navigation – before GPS Mr Magoo would have got from A-to-B better than me. As an early adopter of VOIP, I can barely remember what it was like to pay for calls to Europe. On the flip side of this there is implementing technology for the sake of it.
For example, some complete &*@#%! stole my notebook from my car. When I discovered what had happened I called the local police, who arrived in less than 10 minutes. The very efficient policeman took copious notes and told me to contact his office for the official police report. I waited a few days, called the station and was told the report was written, but was “somewhere in a workflow approval system”. Being an old EAI vendor I could empathize with her and she confided that “before this they’d just type them up, put them in a file and they’d be done in a day or so”. Many of the EAI vendors over -promise and under-deliver and often, as in the case of the local police station, make things worse than they were. So much so, the industry consortium had to remove the words EAI from its’ name.
Those self check-out machines at Home Depot are another example. I was reading the other day how a guy in Seattle took a crowbar to one of these incredibly frustrating machines after he accidentally hit the Spanish button. I can sort of understand this – and he did leave the store without completing the purchase of the crowbar…