Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Confessions of a Former "Gadget Guy"

Just a heads-up: this will not, at any point, devolve into fan-fiction or fandom for Inspector Gadget. So if you came here for that, I'm sorry. 

I used to be a "gadget guy." I did, really. I won't ever claim to have been a "tech guy," but thanks to a couple of college roommates I at least knew how to add and partition a hard drive, among other things. I stopped being able to program once I got beyond learning BASIC, but I was okay with that. I still knew things. I still liked having the latest gizmos. I saw a reason to have the latest, newest, shiniest gizmos, even if that reason was mainly just to have them.

While I still like the flashy shiny things (except for those lens flares in JJ Abrams' films),  I have discovered that somewhere along the line my ability to understand the inner workings of such things got passed by, and that as such I seem to be slipping into more and more of a not-quite luddite mentality. A luddite light, possibly, or even an Amish approach to things, if the Amish had decided to come along in the late 20th Century instead of the late 17th.

(Contrary to popular wisdom, the Amish do not eschew all technology. Instead they periodically review tech things and decide which they should use, and which they should not.)

For example, I do not see the need for a 52 inch plasma TV with shake the ground surround-sound speakers. Which is not to say I don't want a home theater system. By all means, if I had a house and the money for it, I most certainly would, along with a movie-style popcorn machine. But I have neither the space nor the funds, and frankly I'm more likely to invest int the movie theater popcorn maker than I am the television. I am serious about my movie watching, but I am much more serious about my popcorn. Short of having an actual home theater, having a television that will kill you if it falls on you seems like overkill.

I do not own a smart phone. I don't even really want one. My cell phone is essentially a burner phone that I have because I spend a fair amount of time on the road, and because it became cheaper to have that than to have a landline. Also far less hassle, because dealing with Verizon was like trying to navigate Dante's levels of Hell if he'd been writing about office bureaucrats and paperwork instead of damned souls and torture. Though, really, those are kind of the same things, right?

I was also offered a GPS system recently. I turned it down. The only time I want a machine telling me directions are likely going to be places that are either off the grid, or where the grid is so convoluted as to render GPS mostly useless anyway. (Pittsburgh, I'm looking at you.) I like maps. Maps I have. I even have a compass. That really ought to be good enough.

Hell, I wear a pocket watch. (I have three, as a matter of fact. Including one I have to wind. I like the tactileness of it.)

I'm not sure when I started thinking this way. Maybe it's always been my approach to things. While I lamented the demise of Sharper Image, it was mostly because it was a great store to kill time in. I couldn't ever see myself shelling out the cash they wanted for the things they sold, no matter how nifty they were. (With the exception of the Stormtrooper armor in my local store. Some purchases speak for themselves.)

There is some technology I do embrace, and even some gadgets I'd spend the funds on if I had them. For instance, I would like a sextant, though I have only the vaguest idea how to use one and certainly no real use for it. And in all seriousness, I'd like a tablet. I have a use for that, though, and it's not simply an impulse buy. My last move and the endless boxes of books I had to schlepp up into my walk-up convinced me of the beauty of e-readers. But again, those are practical concerns. I'm not about to buy something just because it's new and shiny.

Even though that used to be me.

So when did this happen? I'm not entirely sure, and I have a couple of theories on that, but I think I've rambled on enough for one post.

Right now, I have to put a stamp on this envelope to mail out a check.