Monday, January 10, 2011

Accident or design? No control...

There are reports of upset users concerned that phones running the Windows 7 operating system transmit 2-5Mb of data per hour, even in idle usage. It's come to light because users on restricted data plans are finding that they hit their limit sooner than they'd expected...

The issue highlights the difficulties we all face in a technologically advanced world: we have little understanding, and even less control, over the tools and systems on which our lifestyle depends. Today I struggled to change a light bulb in the headlamp assembly of the car. It took many minutes longer than it should have done because I couldn't figure out why the manufacturer had chosen to do things that way; and still less why the driver manual needed reading five times just to work out what to do. And that's something simple by comparison with the iPhone I carry or the laptop software I use, all of which interacts unpredictably with the operating system software, upgrades, patches and malicious hacking attempts I'm forced to try to ward off...

But what's the alternative? My wife laments, "Technology's great - when it works" but I don't relish subsisting on a small-holding, skinning rabbits, which seems the consequence of a Luddite reaction.

Instead, I think we have to learn to evaluate, select, and trust, suppliers as well as business colleagues. And remain as educated and self-sufficient as we can, taking responsibility to ensure that the systems we use to support our life are truly fit for purpose - at the same time necessary and sufficient for what we have to accomplish.

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