Brave New World?

Tech savvy are not two words that probably come to mind when you think of me. Some folks even laugh when they find out I am the go-to person at work when things are not going well computer-wise. My co-workers come to me when files go missing, when they need to know how to do something in Word or Excel (even Powerpoint occasionally) and I’m also the head of a long-standing group that controls all the various forms that we use in the events division. That doesn’t mean that technology isn’t moving faster than I can sometimes keep up with it. I have a new computer at home and it feels slow going to get used to it and at work it does feel like sometimes the tech folks are speaking a foreign language. But even so, I generally don’t feel flummoxed when faced with technology.

So, my trip to Texas a couple of weeks back took me by surprise. I got to the hotel around lunchtime – the front desk offered to have someone show me to my room but I declined; seems a little silly to make somebody walk to my room with me. I got into the elevator, pushed the button for the 5th floor and the doors shut. After a bit, the doors opened and as I was about to step out, I looked up to see that the elevator was still on the lobby level and the man waiting seemed surprised that I stayed on as he entered. Then I saw him swipe his room key card up against a panel at the bottom of the floor buttons; you need your key card to signal the elevator to move.

Key card in hand, I approved my door once I finally got to the 5th floor. There wasn’t a noticeable “slot” to enter the key card, so I assumed you just swiped it. I held it up to the door knob. Nothing. I turned I sideways. Nothing. I held it upside down. Nothing. As I was about to go back to the desk to get a new key, I happened to very quickly move the card against the door. Open sesame!

And as if that wasn’t enough trauma in two minutes, I had to call the front desk for the wifi password and I couldn’t figure out the phone. I pushed the Line 1 button, then the Line 2 button, the speaker button and all the combinations I could think of. I eventually did get through, but I tried so many things that I don’t remember what I did that worked.

Three times in 10 minutes, I was stymied by technology at the Four Seasons. It made me feel a little old and outdated so to sooth my nerves, I took my book and sat out on my balcony for a while, reading the old-fashioned way. I left my phone and my pc in the room.

Been flummoxed by any technology lately?

33 thoughts on “Brave New World?”

  1. great examples vs
    i used to you know youre in trouble when you not as smart as a door or a telephone or a fill in the blank…. today its getting more common place. smart tv.. dumb me…
    i most recently got a smart watch to monitor my heartbeat in this aging old frame and am amazed by the stuff i dont know how to do on my watch
    today is dr suess birthday
    i celebrate in my own little way

    technology whacks me right upside the head
    i used to do dos but now dos is dead
    my smart phone is smarter than ill ever be
    its got more to do than i csn possibly see
    so i have to be satisfied learning a bit
    and trying to apply all that about it
    it hard when the thing you learned requires a move
    that gets fhe thing moving and into the groove
    the thing in my pocket whistles and dings
    it heads down the path and it whirs as it sings
    then it reminds me i need to be somewhere soon
    and i jump into the car and get there bout noon
    only to discover the meeting im at
    was a virtual meeting by the cat in the hat
    it was all on my schedule if id only looked
    it had been there for weeks i was long ago booked
    i neednt remember it would take care of that
    it would take care of my schedule and inform me in chat
    that the meeting im scheduled to attend is now started
    and my presence is missing the ship has departed
    i need to figure out if its skype hangout or wechat
    but if thats my biggest challange i will take care of that.
    the trail baboon is just right for me.
    lower case brain and thats all i can be

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Hey, it has been some time since a spontaneous tim poem was generated by your brain, tim. Well done.

      I hope the cat in the hat appears at your door so you can fully celebrate.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. The examples you cite, Sherrilee, from the hotel in Texas are not failures to understand technology but rather bad usability design. Good design, technological or not, requires that its use be intuitive. Ideally, no signage at all should be necessary but at the very least it should be minimal. The security systems at this hotel were not commonplace. If you, of all people, had not encountered them before, what hope would there be for us less frequent travelers?

    “Intuitive” means different things to generations that have grown up surrounded by digital devices and who have incorporated them into their lives in a way that generations with a fundamentally pre-digital mostly haven’t. Software designers, primarily young, work from their own understanding of intuition.

    There’s a kind of arrogance in devices that challenge you to discover how they work, as if you had nothing better to do. The tendency is to blame yourself that you are not more adept, but really the fault is with the design.

    While not flummoxed, I’ve often wondered why all those card reader devices at checkout counters shouldn’t be required to conform to a common format of buttons and screens. It’s annoying to have to pay particular attention to each one and almost all of them have some sort of instruction added (on a piece of tape stuck to the device) to clarify something. Bad design.

    Liked by 5 people

    1. I absolutely agree with you about the credit card readers at retail establishments. It would drive me insane to have to say 500 times a day “no, push the yellow one”. And I hate that I have to take up space in my brain remembering that which stores are yellow.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I put myself in the four seasons in this Austin trying to figure out the door for the elevator and ask my daughter how you would go about making it work and immediately see that she would go to her phone and either Google or ask Siri how do you make the door work upon which the instructions would appear and she would be informed from that point forward

      The brave New World understands that developers have our brains and that in order to get inside of the new technology rather than ask or expect more of them than the two of you it’s a godsend to have Siri and Google act as the concierge

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I had a pathetically small victory last night. When I asked my tablet computer’s assistant, Alexa, for the weather, she delivered a forecast for Port Huron, Michigan. The silly dear hasn’t twigged to the fact she and I have moved. After a whole lot of frustration, I convinced her that she and I are in Saint Paul. That’s a small win for the good guys.

    But, really, this doesn’t change much. Because I’m so shy and old, I won’t ask her for weather reports often. I just hate bothering her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. When we were in Wales in 2015, I used The Weather Channel to look up the weather. It still thinks I’m in Wales. I’ve spent too much time trying to figure out how to change the default location to Minneapolis without success. It’s not worth any more of my time. There are other sources for weather.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Even I knew my problem would be solved if I changed “device location.” But the designers of my tablet were extremely clever when hiding the path to device location. When the India-based tech support guy has trouble finding something like that, I feel no shame in asking for help.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. On those days when the temperature ranges thirty or more degrees, it doesn’t tell you what the weather will be like later in the day.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. When you come visit me, you’ll understand why that isn’t the way things are done here! We have all sorts of complications: powered doors, an entryway, a keypad to open the doors and a concierge overseeing the whole thing.

          Liked by 2 people

  4. Our performance evaluations are all done electronically now, and it is complicated process that times you out after 5 minutes. Our Governor is a tech guy who made a bundle through aligning his Fargo software company with Microsoft, so I suppose he thinks that everyone can adapt easily to new technology.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. That must make an irritating process even more irritating. I don’t know how you have worked in a bureaucracy for all these years. The bureaucracy wore me out.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Rise and Shine Baboons,

    Recently the “Cloud” got me. Late, late at night, during a bout of insomnia I was listening to my iPod audiobook and playing with the features on the little device. I found a bunch of files that I could not figure out — why were they there. I deleted them. And soon the next day they also disappeared from my laptop desktop. Fortunately I had them backed up, but it had been several weeks. I am still re-building some files, but only for several weeks’ worth of data.

    I cannot agree more with Bill’s opinion about “usability.” The engineers that build this stuff assume all kinds of things about what users know. They live in a computer world in which computers are the point. The rest of us live in a world in which computers help us with our purposes (sales, therapy, library access, travel, buying things, organizing our work). These are two very different worlds. My son and I have had lengthy conversations about this.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. For fun, I redesigned Sherrilee’s hotel experience, assuming I have envisioned it correctly:
    First of all, the key card, while basically rectangular, is not symmetrical. Maybe there are a few notches out of part of one side to suggest a key. That also insures there is only one correct orientation. When you check in, they give you the wi-fi password with your key card. Why wouldn’t they?

    At the elevator, instead of some undistinguished panel under the buttons, there would be an embossed panel at eye level, above the buttons. It would exactly fit the shape of your key card. Until you place the card in the panel, the door wouldn’t close, alerting you that there was something you needed to do. Better yet, the panel would be outside the elevator and the doors wouldn’t even open until you used the card. Notice that you only have to position the card in its receptacle- no vague waving it around. Once you are in the elevator with the doors closed, it operates like any elevator.

    At your room door, there is another keycard panel. By now, you know to place the card in the panel and the door is unlocked.

    Similar technology but without the “secret handshakes” available only to those in the know. If that were the way the system were set up, would you feel technologically inept?

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Hell, I don’t need a smart watch, smart phone, smart TV, computer or tablet to make me feel technologically inept. Just put me in front of one of them motion-activated hand dryers and you’ll see an old woman frantically waving her wet hands trying to trigger it to spring into action. More often than not I leave in defeat, wiping my hands dry on my backside.

      Liked by 4 people

  7. Of course, the usual little things like navigating in Facebook, or even on this desktop in M-soft Word… Still trying to figure out our laptop, which I don’t get on very often.

    I was going to add a lengthy corollary here, but have decided it can be its own post… will send it soon, VS.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi–
    My schedule seems to be off and I’m not getting to posting as much as I normally do.
    Plus picked up some bug so slept most of yesterday and keeping a low profile today.

    I find myself fighting with iTunes more than I’d expect. Download a recording to my phone, I want it on the work computer too. We don’t use the cloud much due to our lousy internet connection, but how come at work it won’t even load the images for iTunes?? I suspect it’s something to do with needing an upgrade, which is out of my hands on the work computer of course. Bang head on wall.
    Got a show opening. Needs running water in a sink onstage. That part isn’t really my job, I just provided a sink and faucet I’ve used before. Except handles fell off. They got new faucet. Got additional pipe fittings to connect it to hose. Got additional fittings to connect it to sink backstage. Got leaks coming from the faucet under the sink but above all our connections?? Got leak at backstage sink faucet. Bang head on wall.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Too much head banging, Ben, you’ll hurt yourself. I caught some bug, too. Started coughing last Thursday, had my pre-op exam on Friday for the cataract surgery that’s scheduled for tomorrow. On Saturday the cough evolved into a full-blown upper respiratory infection, not sure if Dr. Pfaff can operate if things don’t calm down by tomorrow. Time will tell.


  9. I am normally pretty patient with whatever technological hurdle I need to overcome, but I get really impatient when I’m outside in cold windy weather trying to reason with a parking meter. Also, I wish they would standardize they way gas pumps operate. And gas pumps that make you punch in your zip code when it’s below zero should be illegal.

    Liked by 3 people

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