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Do you sometimes feel obsolete?

… because of your commitment to privacy? Or because you reject mainstream tech-enabled culture to follow your own path?

I’ve never feared technology and was for a long time an “early adopter.” I knew the moment I laid eyes on a PC that I had to have one. I was online years before the WWW was a thing. I met my former Significant Sweetie on a Fidonet bulletin board (gun-rights site) when meeting a partner online was unheard of.

These days, however, I shun most new tech. Even some of my granny-aged friends tote their smartphones everywhere they go, but I won’t have one; carrying an omni-surveillance device in my pocket is obvious folly. Yet that also means that quite an amazing array of useful apps — and even the operating systems they work on — are like a foreign language to me. It’s as if half the U.S. has suddenly started speaking Swedish and I’m still stubbornly insisting on talking “old-fashioned ‘Murrican.”

I quit TV 20 years ago (December 27, 1994) and my life is better for it. But there’s a whole range of common cultural experience I’m now distant from. And that’s true even now that anybody can catch Downton Abbey or Breaking Bad online.

I don’t regret my choices. If I did, I’d un-choose them. But the disconnect does worry me. As I get older I sometimes ask myself, “Is this still a matter of principle or are you just becoming a stuck-in-the-mud fogey, resisting change?”

Google’s just-announced acquisition of Nest got me mulling on this again. I love the idea of a household thermostat that learns my habits and adapts its settings to my activities. I loathe the notion of Google (and its bosom buddy the NSA) monitoring the transaction. Not only has Google become an information-gobbling monster; but I see no reason why such cool technologies can’t be made essentially private. They would be better private. Even if Google had good intentions (which it doesn’t), it’s obvious to me that inserting any third party between us and things we want to do is an ordinary, everyday, garden-variety hindrance, as well as a danger.

Or is that fogey talk?

I know a lot of you reject certain tech because it’s privacy-invasive or otherwise obnoxious. Do you sometimes worry, though, that these choices are carrying you farther and farther away from the culture you live in? Do you worry that maybe you’re just getting crotchety and stubborn?

OTOH, I know some of you embrace “smart” tech. If so, how do you manage to be comfortable with it, even knowing it’s inherently surveillance tech?


  1. Mac the Knife
    Mac the Knife January 16, 2014 6:09 am

    With 330 million in the US and 6 billion plus in the world, the NSA, etc, are drowning in way too much data. The only time the data collected about you becomes useful is if u are specifically targeted, and then it does not matter what you have said or done. If they want to get you they will, even if the have to make it up. But not using all the high tech may make them think you have something to hide which may make them start digging to find out what you are trying to hide too. Remember, just carrying around The Farmers Almanac is cause for them to think you may be one of those nasty terrorists. It is a rock and a hard place situation.

  2. Matt, another
    Matt, another January 16, 2014 6:16 am

    Yes, I sometimes feel obsolete. For me it isn’t a tech thing, it is simply part and parcel of getting old. I realize a lot of what I know and what I know how to do is slowly fading away from future generations. Some of it is simply the advancement of technology, others is because our society is changing. We’ve now lived long enough to see changes to our world that we did not expect. The worst is that often the youngsters are just not interested…

    Don’t feel obsolete about your principles they pretty much are meant to be non-changing, otherwise they would just be strong preferences. I use a lot of technology, have since I was a teen so many years ago. I am comfrtqable with it. I am careful about what I chose and what I run. I am well cognizant of the privacy issues and weigh that against what my needs are. I like a pocket communicator but also have no reservations about leaving it at home when needed or ditching it entirely. I still have skills to acquire information without a hand held device.

    I don’t use the internal home type technology such as smart thermostats, or centralized alarm systems etc. My house is very old and resistant to such technology. Adding it in would require upgrading old systems that work great to new standards and costs and it doesn’t interest me.

  3. Matt
    Matt January 16, 2014 6:21 am

    “Do you sometimes worry, though, that these choices are carrying you farther and farther away from the culture you live in?”

    Answer: No, it is they who are storming off from what made this country great to begin with. I never went anywhere….

    “Do you worry that maybe you’re just getting crotchety and stubborn?”

    Answer: The current culture can come kiss my “crotchety”. I like being stubborn…. so there. 🙂

  4. Matt, another
    Matt, another January 16, 2014 6:25 am

    Some thoughts on privacy since you got me thinking. Here is a list of ways I first started letting my privacy be violated, even though I didn’t see it that way all those years ago.

    First time I got my own library card.
    First drivers license/first car registered in my name
    First phone (land line) number registered in my name
    First mailing address (name and location) with USPS
    First new firearm purchased from a dealer
    First set of utilties
    First voters registration
    Enlistment in the military
    First credit card
    Mortgage etc.

    Since then privacy intrusions have been more about how much detail is given up and the technology used to violate my privacy than the act itself. Technology, like everything else just makes violating our privacy easier, faster and possibly more efficient.

  5. Matt
    Matt January 16, 2014 6:34 am

    “As I get older I sometimes ask myself, “Is this still a matter of principle or are you just becoming a stuck-in-the-mud fogey, resisting change?””

    You know…. The Roman empire went through alot of changes before it finally ceased to exist. Change isn’t always good.

  6. Mark Call
    Mark Call January 16, 2014 7:02 am

    “Do you sometimes worry, though, that these choices are carrying you farther and farther away from the culture you live in?”

    Not at all.

    While I understand that many here do not accept the advice of Scripture, (although some still DO seem to recognize the threat of a “Mark”, like the National ID, biometric RFID implant, or even plain ole can’t-work-without-it SSN)…

    …my own ministry is focused on the concept of “come out of her.” Because ‘her’ was always what the Bible referred to appropriately as a ‘whore’.

    And while I don’t believe in the Xtian description of “hell” — I do conclude that whatever that word means is EXACTLY where the “culture” many choose to live in is headed. Directly.

    My prayer remains that the choices I make carry me as far from there as possible.

  7. Pat
    Pat January 16, 2014 7:07 am

    My son put the Nest in his home this summer, and when I read that article, I flipped out internally. (He is unconcerned. But he believes in “all things electronic”.)

    I, too, got rid of TV about 20 years ago, and haven’t looked back ― but don’t feel as if I’m losing ground *as long as the internet is available.*

    So much of TV is irrelevant ― even what they laughingly call News goes under the heading of Entertainment ― that I don’t feel left behind for not knowing about programs and people. If for privacy sake, I should have to drop the internet, however, THEN I might feel like I’m living in Ludditeville.

    “As I get older I sometimes ask myself, “Is this still a matter of principle or are you just becoming a stuck-in-the-mud fogey, resisting change?””

    Much of change comes about for change’s sake alone. Designers add a new model every year, like lawmakers feel they should make a new law, to prove they’re doing their job. Many ― not all ― innovators have no real imagination. Like the re-making of classic movies, they just try to re-make our lives and re-direct our interests so they can sell a new product. This is happening now with electronics; many current designers/programmers add bells, whistles and copycat features (with increasing lawsuits as a result), and call it NEW AND DIFFERENT.

    Resisting change is good if the change you’re resisting is bad.

  8. ILTim
    ILTim January 16, 2014 7:28 am

    I love the NEST thermostat, even though I don’t have one. I understand the idea and really love what they are doing. Predictive temperature management based on weather forecasts and everything, system learning your solar gain differences on sunny and cloudy days, its really a grand endeavor. This type of analytics and predictive processing is still somewhat new even to big business. But its coming. Fast.

    IBM is touting that we are entering the third generation of computing. First was tabulated… adding machines basically, second came programmable computing. Now we enter the third… cognitive systems which learn and adapt.

    So the NEST, I liked it better as a private and smaller company. It has near and far motion sensors built in. The NSA can know if your home or not, and what your patterns are. Maybe it will get a camera in the next model. Its a smartphone for your house.

  9. Bill St. Clair
    Bill St. Clair January 16, 2014 7:42 am

    iPhone on my belt, where a gun would be if I lived in a free state. iMac on 24/7 on my desk. Leviathan knows whatever they want about me. I regularly tell the NSA guy listening on my cell to do the world a favor by firing his pistol into his mouth. I fly when necessary for my job. Last time I got TSA pre-check status, enabling me to leave my shoes on and go through the metal detector instead of the electronic strip search. Don’t know why.

    I live openly. I won’t be cowered by the extortion racket. But I pay their protection money, and resent it. I expect to die violently at the hands of one of their enforcement thugs. Hopefully after I’ve gone to war and done significant damage.

  10. Tonerboy
    Tonerboy January 16, 2014 8:03 am

    Claire, I have been around technology since the original computer days and spent my career deep in it. There was a time when my heart raced at the thought of the latest chip set however, I find myself not only ignoring whatever the latest and greatest “concept” available but actually withdrawing from current used products.
    Maybe it is the natural process of aging, or maybe it is overload but I find myself wanting to “down-size” a little more each day. I get very tired of the loss of privacy, TV is just noise and while the internet has made life much easier in so many different ways, it also has ever so slowly taken hold of our lives.
    I guess I’m getting crotchety.

  11. AZ
    AZ January 16, 2014 8:59 am

    You ask: “Do you sometimes worry, though, that these choices are carrying you farther and farther away from the culture you live in?”

    I answer: “Not only do I not worry about it, I actively seek it! I would prefer by far to be carried farther and farther away from the ‘culture’ we live in.”

  12. LarryA
    LarryA January 16, 2014 9:14 am

    [But there’s a whole range of common cultural experience I’m now distant from.]

    Is there a “common culture” based on TV or the internet? There certainly used to be, back when there were three networks. But now, with so many channels and such a wide variety online, I think the “common” is gone.

    Yes, there are popular shows like Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey, but there are many more viewers watching “reality” shows, sports channels, talk shows, “news,” and on and on. In my household the three of us have very little overlap on what we choose to watch.

    What has been on lately with the unified cultural impact of Dallas or Friends?

    In your example, Breaking Bad was certainly popular, and certainly became part of the culture for people who follow the war on drugs. Downton Abbey is also popular, and has a following. But do most people watch both, or are there two separate, perhaps overlapping but not identical cultures there?

    Which is a long way around to saying you aren’t missing a national culture because there increasingly isn’t one.

  13. water lily
    water lily January 16, 2014 9:23 am

    I have mixed feelings about tech. Mixed feelings about culture.

    I love the internet because I’m an info/research junkie.

    TV? No, we don’t have cable, but I love Netflix. GPS is useful. I have an older Kindle, and I love the ability to carry many books with me in one handy little device.

    Hubby’s computer crapped out on him the other day while he was on the road, so now he’s finally about to buy a smartphone so he can still check email and the weather if his laptop goes down. I don’t want or need a smartphone. Yet.

    I don’t know that we feel obsolete about tech, more like stuck between a rock and a hard place.

    Part of me loves modern tech and all it can do for me, but the other part of me is concerned about the consequences of owning it, privacy-wise.

    I guess I’m not yet ready to go completely off-grid electronically, but I don’t have all the latest gadgets/tech.

    Regarding current culture, we’re anti-state, anti-war, anti-conventional medicine, pro-organic food/primal diet, Christ followers, and totally uninterested in celebrities/pop culture. So these things stereotype us as weird/different/eccentric. Maybe obsolete. So be it.

  14. Curt S
    Curt S January 16, 2014 11:12 am

    Imho, technology has gotten way out of hand. For one thing, it has made people lazy. Also made them stupid! Kid goes to school….does he really learn? Yeah….how to operate a calculator or computer…Not how to do it on paper or in his head. Entertainment….it has become a fantasy land. I haven’t watched tv in over five years. Why? It is not worth the time or money…I don’t need to spend my dollars on ads, junk programs, and repeats. When technology first got started, yeah, it had merit…also shit canned a lot of jobs. Sure, I use a computer, how else would I be making this post? That does mean I use it as if it were the only thing worth having. I also do not have a lot of use for those “techies” that think they are the only ones that know things. Most of them I have seen would run from a job that required them to get dirty or heaven forbid get hurt. Bah!

  15. Karen
    Karen January 16, 2014 11:32 am

    I have a t-shirt that I wear proudly that says;
    I’m OCD
    Old, Cranky and Demented!

    And maybe it is because I’m old and cranky that I just don’t have a very high opinion of “culture”, tech-enabled or otherwise, anymore. As far as being in the system and worrying about surveillance, I just can’t be bothered. At 63 years old I’ve been “in the system” as long as I can remember and actually think it would be funny as hell if anyone was looking into me.

    I may be obsolete in terms of technology and culture, but I’m definitely not obsolete out here in the meat world where I’m still very much a viable human being doing what I do on my own path.

  16. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty January 16, 2014 11:59 am

    Does the gun kill people? Or people kill people? Blaming technology seems like blaming the gun.

    Here is the introduction to my new book:

    The Last 4th of July

    Things usually change slowly as people accept new ideas and new ways of doing things, but sometimes it happens fast. The invention of the printing press changed the face of human experience incredibly. Firearms, soon easily produced and easily used, changed both war and interpersonal relationships in ways that are still developing. The dawn of the industrial age took the world by storm, and massive changes happened at every level of human endeavor, sometimes seemingly overnight. The introduction of the computer and the internet has probably had the most profound influence on human beings and their interactions than anything that has ever happened before in the history of the world.

    So, some simple new invention, with comparable power to change history, might well be the catalyst that removes the scourge of organized and official slavery known as “government” from the world. All it would take is people intelligent enough to use the invention wisely, and be determined enough to finally prove false all those who insist that a truly free society is a futile dream. This is a story of how some people might use such a device to take back ownership of their lives and property.

  17. leonard
    leonard January 16, 2014 12:46 pm

    No, it isn’t fogey talk at all.

  18. ENthePeasant
    ENthePeasant January 16, 2014 12:46 pm

    There was an Italian mercenary general during the 30 years war who refused to accept artillery. He thought it would be the ruin of us all if it was accepted… turned out just to be the ruin of him. As Matt has pointed out the NSA is drowning in data. The danger is they will use it specifically, like against libertarians for instance, on their enemies. However, every weapon is a two way street. Today we know far more about Barack Obama and his intentions then in just about anytime in the history of the (dying) republic. The main problem with the NSA spying is it can’t possibly be used to stop terrorists. In fact this mass surveillance isn’t their strength, it’s a huge weakness. As the two Dagistani brothers showed in Boston. Even warnings by the Russian FSB couldn’t alert us. This tells us something important. The NSA is functionally worthless and easy to circumvent. I love my Iphone. It goes everywhere I go… or I should say it goes where I go 80% of the time. It’s odd how little the NSA knows for how hard they work. After all these years of fighting Al Qaeda we still have no way of penetrating the Hawala banking system and they are literally stronger than ever, buy and sell weapons at will and generally move agents agents wherever they choose by simply having them quit using cell phones, computers and credit cards and bank accounts. Never fight your enemies on the ground they choose or accept the limits of their strategy.

  19. naturegirl
    naturegirl January 16, 2014 1:00 pm

    I find any new technology fascinating, and try to learn as much of and about it as possible….just not anywhere personal to me. Never been online with my real name, and never had a smartphone or anything gps connected. But I know how they work. So I don’t consider myself obsolete as long as I know about it and have a good idea of how it works.

    I don’t think we’re fad followers, around here – so running with the herd doesn’t matter to us. However, smart people are always aware. So we keep up on things.

    I tend to agree with Curt, much of it seems to be making people lazy and less self sufficient. I also agree that whatever I’m up to would be extremely boring to the spies. If we’re being monitored in the event that “they” decide to round people up for whatever tin foil reason one can think of, I’m gonna be a little harder to find and maybe even more work than they want to put into the effort at the moment. Gives me a head start LOL.

    As for TV, for those of you who don’t watch – no one is missing much. I actually think it’s more of a audio babysitter for most people who can’t seem to appreciate sitting in silence and actually thinking, heh. There are some interesting science shows on, and those are available online just as easily. In my case, if it weren’t for TV I probably would have never learned how to cook beyond “simply”, LOL.

    But overall, if I am to be termed “obsolete” I’m ok with that because there’s so much going on that I’d just not care to be a part of anyway 🙂

  20. Mic
    Mic January 16, 2014 2:10 pm

    I am always intrigued when I hear about people that have sworn off TV and even removed it from the house. Part of me loves this idea and part of me does not. Not that it matters much because I have a family that would totally mutiny on me if I tried to get rid of it.

    I would not say I watch a lot of TV, I actually really like reading and some online activities, but occasionally I am not in the mood for either so I pull up some History channel show I have on the DVR or grab something off of Netflix. I am thinking I would miss that if it wasn’t available at all to me. Maybe not, but in any case I am torn on the issue.

  21. Pat
    Pat January 16, 2014 2:43 pm

    “So, some simple new invention, with comparable power to change history, might well be the catalyst that removes the scourge of organized and official slavery known as “government” from the world. All it would take is people intelligent enough to use the invention wisely, and be determined enough to finally prove false all those who insist that a truly free society is a futile dream. This is a story of how some people might use such a device to take back ownership of their lives and property.”

    I sure hope it works, ML. And I’d very much like to read that story!

    But it was Albert Einstein himself (and he should know) who said, “It has become appallingly obvious that our technology has exceeded our humanity.”

    It is humanity ― in the full sense of the word, implying humaneness and benevolence ― that has become lost in this world. Without humanity I fear we will never find freedom… we will never realize the significance of freedom or recognize that freedom is wrapped in the cloak of tolerance and good will. (I use “we” in the universal sense, relating to humankind in general, not in the specific sense of those reading this blog.)

    This is not to say that humans CAN’T understand, but that we, in the 21st Century, are losing the independence and ambition to think for ourselves and determine where we want to go.

    This “invention” would indeed be worthy if it can give back to humans the desire to BE human, to be independent, to revel in individuality, to recognize their own abilities and act on them freely ― and to challenge tyranny before it establishes precedent. But to change history is to change the nature of people. Who among us is that smart, has the wherewithal (or the right) to do that, and who decides what humans become alternatively, so they are willing and able to establish free societies?

    Freedom is choice, and, as in religion, only choice allows room for morality. Without choice, we are simply obedient. With choice, we have the right to choose the good (freedom), the bad (slavery), or the ugly (tyranny).

    I’m not trying to throw cold water on your story, ML, just thinking out loud. I’d still like to read it, to see how you manage this invention.

  22. Betsey
    Betsey January 16, 2014 2:51 pm

    As Wordsworth said, “The world is too much with us…” I use the internet, basic TV, a cell phone and that’s about it. Oh, I do have a CD player. I guess I qualify for a partial fogey status.

  23. RickB
    RickB January 16, 2014 3:01 pm

    I never worry about invasion of privacy. I work with cutting-edge tech all day.

    And then I come home.
    I haven’t had a TV for 15 years. My kids never missed it, even when they were little.
    I might even get a smart phone one day. And an aluminum case to carry it in.
    My thermostat is 50 years old. Then there’s my internet kill switch–when I’m not at my computer the line is dead. And I don’t own a web cam.

    But I’m not kidding myself–I’m probably on so many lists that it makes no difference. I don’t own any of that stuff because I need to spend time away from tech.

    Heck, the only reason I have a home computer is to read Claire’s blog. 😉

  24. NMC_EXP
    NMC_EXP January 16, 2014 3:37 pm

    [I]”I know a lot of you reject certain tech because it’s privacy-invasive or otherwise obnoxious. Do you sometimes worry, though, that these choices are carrying you farther and farther away from the culture you live in?” [/I]

    As for me, I want to be farther away the culture we live in.

    “…crotchety and stubborn…” Could be. I’ve been accused in jest of having ODD behavior. That is Oppositional Defiant Disorder – turns out to be an honest to goodness DSM defined wierdness. I’m OK with that so long as my ODD behavior keeps the pop culture types outta my life.



    “Tolerance is the virtue of the man without convictions” ~ G.K. Chesterton

  25. Kent McManigal
    Kent McManigal January 16, 2014 6:14 pm

    About seven years ago I wondered aloud on the same topic: Libertarians: Amish of the Future?
    I like technology… and I love doing things the literal Stone Age way. The evildoers who call themselves “government” aren’t going to stop me from enjoying my life. There’s plenty they could dig up on me- but nothing that would turn anyone on the Liberty Side against me (unless some stuff gets fabricated) unless they are excessively prudish. But I’m not silly enough to believe I’m important enough to destroy.

  26. Mary Lou
    Mary Lou January 16, 2014 7:40 pm

    Well, I dont care much for technology ‘for its own sake’, when its something useful (like a cell phone) I try to get the least invasive that will allow me do to what I need (I have a Trak Phone,lol). I use FaceBook for animal rescue because it is much much more effective than email. Twitter sucks for animal rescue so I stopped using it. I cannot imagine putting personal information or details of my life on FaceBook. I cannot abide GPS, even if it wasnt used to ‘track me’ I dont want some dang mechanical thing telling me where to turn, I can read a map. I never carry on a private conversation in public, if I’m with someone I do not take or respond to phone calls from others (how rude). I dont text except in dire emergencies (have to reach a dog foster parent on her job and she cant take phone calls). And yep, I’m an old fogey, and proud of it.

  27. Mary Lou
    Mary Lou January 16, 2014 7:41 pm

    I DO watch Downton Abbey, the dog shows, and Elementary. Thats it.

  28. Winston
    Winston January 16, 2014 10:15 pm

    I don’t’ exactly embrace it but I don’t shun it either. I already get micromanged by uncle Sam to the extreme so a couple years ago I stopped caring that he knows what blogs I read and what kind of depravity I get into. Someday I’ll definitely take more steps go minimize my electronic footprint so to speak but, for now while I’m already working for the man who obviously cares very little… meh. It benefits me more to ignore it.

    Like right now, I’m 8000 feet above sea level in a wasteland of volcanic ash and rock for as far as the eye can see….there isnt so much as a flush toilet or an ac outlet for several miles and I’m on the internet on my phone. That’s pretty nice, something that even when I was growing up in the 90s I didnt for see.

  29. Thomas L. Knapp
    Thomas L. Knapp January 17, 2014 3:14 am

    At a certain point, I realized the two things that Mac the Knife mentions in the very first comment:

    1) If the bad guys are really interested in me, they’re going to be able to surveil me regardless of what kind of tech I’m using.

    2) If the bad guys aren’t particularly interested in me specifically, the kind of tech I use isn’t likely to be a factor in getting them interested. They’re drowning in too much useless data on everyone (according to one news story yesterday, they collect 200 million text messages a day) to reliably extract information from that data.

    People who choose to avoid Google and so forth don’t bother or bug me. I don’t have a problem with them or anything. It’s just a personal choice. The only thing I’d say about it is that that choice probably positively impacts their privacy much, much less than they think or hope.

  30. LiberTarHeel
    LiberTarHeel January 17, 2014 6:08 am

    I do not reject innovation in tool-making; on the contrary, I embrace it.

    I actively reject the aggressive misuse of tools.

  31. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty January 17, 2014 7:38 am

    Pat said:
    “This “invention” would indeed be worthy if it can give back to humans the desire to BE human, to be independent, to revel in individuality, to recognize their own abilities and act on them freely…”

    Pat, that’s the whole point. This “invention” I’ve imagined is no different than the gun… the tool itself can’t do a damned thing. It is only valuable or dangerous depending on the values of the evil intentions of the one who holds it.

    But the gun IS the most effective tool available right now for people to use to defend themselves, usually from ordinary criminals. The invention I illustrate in my story becomes a very effective tool for good people to defend themselves against the “powers that be.” And it simply sets off a chain reaction that changes the world.

    I’d be delighted to send the story to anyone who asks for it in email. mamaliberty at rtconnect dot net – just replace the at and dot with appropriate symbols and eliminate the spaces. Subject line: Last 4th of July so I spot it.

  32. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty January 17, 2014 7:39 am

    values of the evil intentions = typo!!
    Values OR the evil intentions…

  33. Pat
    Pat January 17, 2014 7:50 am

    Funny — I was thinking of the gun while reading your earlier comment.

    “It is only valuable or dangerous depending on the values [or] the evil intentions of the one who holds it.”

    And the value system of the user is what prompted my comments.

    You’ll be hearing from me.

  34. Adam Selene
    Adam Selene January 17, 2014 7:55 am

    Claire, do you own a regular (non-smart) cell phone? Do you consider regular cellphones a slightly better privacy option?

    I don’t own a smart phone, but I do have a conventional flip-type cell phone.

    BTW, Claire, if you learn to use a iPod Touch or an iPad, you would know 90% of what is needed to use an iPhone. They used the same operating system as the iPhone. I do own an iPad which I use only via public wi-fi connection as I don’t have wi-fi at home. Since I have the tracking turned off (supposedly), I assume that is much more private than being continuously connected via a cell phone.

  35. Jim B.
    Jim B. January 17, 2014 8:18 am

    Whenever I start feeling obsolete, I just remember one of the supplemental to Murphy’s Law, the more advanced a gadget, the more screwed up it can and will get.

  36. -s
    -s January 17, 2014 11:45 am

    I too own only dumb phones, and I have no regrets. An occasional glance at the sheeplike expression on people I know as they stumble along, fixated on their geegaws, oblivious to where they are and never in the moment, is more than enough to convince me of the wisdom of my choice. The fact that they are spyphones as well only reinforces my determination.

    As for TV, I find it wholly uninteresting; fluff, filth, and propaganda. I need mind bleach after being exposed to it. We watch selected movies via DVD but very little broadcast/network garbage. No regrets there.

    I don’t feel obsolete, but I do admit not being very well connected to this culture. Since it is a culture that glorifies murder and mayhem, and treats freedomistas as dangerous outlaws, I am not troubled by this.

    Freedomistas are so much more interesting and fun, even when I don’t agree with them. Mainstream culture with its endless focus on various green teams versus blue teams (reference to Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire) and puerile titillation is sad and ultimately boring. At least the Romans knew how to throw a proper orgy.

    As for tech, I choose what serves me and my interests. Spyphones and tablets don’t make the cut. I was given a very nice Android-based tablet as a gift, but after wasting several hours trying to get minimal privacy set up, I’ve not touched it in 2 months. Lovely screen, but that’s not nearly enough to tempt me to let Google and its ilk spy on me.

    A spying thermostat? NO way. There’s just no excuse for that middleman, nothing of genuine value to me. Once you follow the money, and these days follow the bytes, its an easy enough call.

  37. LarryA
    LarryA January 17, 2014 12:00 pm

    Life was a lot simpler before our gadgets were intelligent.

  38. mobius
    mobius January 17, 2014 12:01 pm

    “Do you sometimes worry, though, that these choices are carrying you farther and farther away from the culture you live in?”

    Meh….. do you really want to go where they are going?

  39. Douglas2
    Douglas2 January 17, 2014 5:14 pm

    I find that my non-Nest timed thermostat self adjusts already for ambient outdoor temperature and solar gain — when the heat loss is enough to make it turn on, it will turn on.
    And I don’t want it adjusting to my real schedule. I’ve already programmed my ideal schedule into it, and if the house has already cooled back to 58° by the time I get my lazy tush out of bed for a shower, then I’m gonna be cold walking around the cold house. It gets the house warm for wake-up, keeps it warm in the evening when we’re relaxing, but other than that if we pay it no mind for more than a few hours it adjusts the setback to “not home” mode, and if I don’t like it I can just deal with getting up to set it back up to 67°
    I’ll second the nomination of the WiFi-only iPod touch for a smartphone proxy that doesn’t tell the world where you are unless you ask it to. However I work on a WiFi’d campus, I’ve found that out in the real world you have to fuss with it to get that free wifi working to get your map fix, local weather report, or whatnot

  40. slidemansailor
    slidemansailor January 17, 2014 5:52 pm

    I designed my home of 20 years with wood heat as the only, but thoroughly adequate, choice. I’ll get wood heat as a backup/suppliment in the cabin this year.

    However I love the programmable thermostadt I put in before our first winter. It comes on at 0530 … inspiring me to stay in bed and possibly fall back to sleep when I undersleep, yet making noise and warming the house inviting me to get up at a reasonable hour.

    It also never forgets to turn the heat down by 0900 in case we get involved in gathering gear and heading out and would otherwise forget to turn the heat down.

    It warms the house up before we get home so we can take our coats off as soon as we arrive. Then it turns it down when we should go to bed. Plus the override buttons are right on the face and easy to use anytime the program needs a temporary adjustment.

    How Google and the NSA could do it better is beyond me … not to mention abhorrent.

    Thechnophobe is probably problematic or at least a handicap in today’s world. But balance in all things is always healthy. Thechnodependence is every bit as unhealthy.

    I really like my router. Happily, I really like my block plane(s) too. Both get used. Both are a joy. Each carries its own advantages.

    I was operating and intrigued with USAF computers in 1970. With nowhere else to be and nothing else to do, I became a hacker before most folks knew what a computer was. I’ve been in and out ever since. But I know for sure that dependence on them is Bad Juju. They will go down. That is the one thing you can count on.

    You must always have a back up… and always be ready for a Murphy Moment … the failure at the worst possible time. You must be able to calculate without a calculator, compute without a computer, communicate without the Internet, etc. But to not use the Internet when it is the most potent anti-statist tool on the planet today .. unimaginable to me.

    Smart phone, cell phone, land line, no phone … I’ve covered the gamut. Cell phone is today’s compromise, but I am under no illusions of privacy with that tool (or this). Separation is the only route to privacy in its case.

    TV – the “circus” side of bread and circuses. Over 20 years absence with no regrets. The “culture” I’m missing out on cannot really qualify under very many of the definitions of the word.


    I have to laugh at my wise children thinking their luddite old man just can’t grok tech. The website building and linux classes I’m offering for the local adult ed classes say otherwise. The radio communications and organic gardening classes I’m offering speak of balance.

    No, I feel wise enough to know which technologies to explore, which to embrace and at what level. I believe I’m just sceptical enough to choose which and how much to allow into my life. I think I’m educated enough to have at least one foot in the non-tech world of getting by without.

    No, I suspect I’m more ready for the future than they are.

  41. FishOrMan
    FishOrMan January 18, 2014 12:52 am

    From what I see, “technology” is NOT being driven by consumers. Do I want my vital files saved online, out of my control and without guarantee from failure? Hell no. The cost of personal hard drive space is minimal. Family pictures are backed up in redunance, and done by the person who has the most to lose should the system fail. Is the Nest a good idea? Motion sensors make sense to me. But requiring internet connection throws it right out.

    I believe we will one day learn these invasive products/services only made it to market AFTER tweaks to receive approval from the NSA and other gov. agencies. We already found their weasling hands destroying encryption programs after companies were strong armed to provide backdoors. Website based encryption, the kind to secure banking transactions has the same backdoors built in. IPhones and droids encryption are likely compromised in the same ways, (and either way they operate on a cellular backbone that is fed directly through numerous government server hubs). When someone comes up with something outside of their control, (as in the encryption email service Snowden was using), other government agencies crush them under thousands of lawyers, including gag-orders so we never hear about them. The only real consumer driven technology will come from the blackmarket and opensource software. And so I wait until consumer driven products find their way into my neighborhood, quite possibly by the drug distribution networks which work so efficiently to give consumers what they actually want.

  42. Shel
    Shel January 18, 2014 6:21 am

    I remember hearing some time ago that even a flipper phone, which is what I have, allows your location to be traced even if the phone is off. My recollection is that the only way to defeat this is to take out the battery. I don’t remember the source of this info, unfortunately. A very quick search did turn up this:

    I used to think that having a computer that never was put online would allow one to have security but apparently that’s no haven anymore, either.

    I’ve never sent a text message in my life, have no plans to do so, and have no sense of deprivation about it. Like others, I don’t have cable or satellite TV; I just rabbit ears. I waste way too much time on the computer anyway and don’t need another temptation. The Discovery and History Channels and a few others can have some pretty interesting/entertaining shows which I can get caught up in. “Wildman,” I think it is, features a freelance animal control Kentuckian nicknamed “Turtle Man” because he caught his first snapping turtle at age seven. He overacts, like “Billy the Exterminator” did, and has poor diction and poor dentition. His sidekick has worse diction and worse dentition. Thinking about watching them madly chase animals around involuntarily forces a chuckle.

  43. Ron Johnson
    Ron Johnson January 18, 2014 11:47 am

    I own a stupid phone because I really don’t care about techy stuff. I carry a phone because my wife likes to be able to get hold of me on a whim…about once every couple of months. It’s also handy for killing boredom in a car…but that’s become more illegal by the day.

    I’m old enough to remember when all of the gadgets were unnecessary to living life. If I’m going to be late getting home, could I just call from the office? If my car breaks down, can I fix it myself or flag someone down for a ride? If I’m late getting home, does my wife have to jump to the conclusion I’m dead? Would it hurt to pen a letter every now and then to keep in touch with friends instead of trading snarky texts and e-mails?

    Do I really have to know about every brain-fart coming from Obama’s mouth the very minute he pronounces it, or should I really learn about universal and ageless truths that make the heavy breathing on the daily news just so much background hiss?

    My goal is to grow into a real adult one day, throw away the stupid phone, recyle the p.c., write paper letters, and read hard bound classics. Call me old fashioned. Call me a relic. I won’t know ’cause I won’t get the text….

  44. Jim B.
    Jim B. January 18, 2014 12:11 pm

    Just remembered this. Amongst those in the Maker Community, there is a saying: If you can’t hack it, then you don’t own it.

  45. Paul Bonneau
    Paul Bonneau January 18, 2014 10:34 pm

    [“Is this still a matter of principle or are you just becoming a stuck-in-the-mud fogey, resisting change?”]

    Both. I still resist smartphones due to the surveillance. But I figure I have a fixed or decreasing number of brain cells or “memory cells” and I’m just not interested in wasting a lot of them figuring out the latest new thing.

    Anyway so much of the new is just re-hashed old. My wife complains about each new iteration of database tool or programming language, just being a different and not necessarily better way of doing the same old thing she did with the old tools. After a while new stuff even gets boring.

    I was just grumping about motorcycle technology. The way I figure it, motorcycles hit the peak of utility back in 1985 or so. From then on it’s gotten more and more ridiculous. Not that there aren’t advances, but what about the days when a bike was so simple that almost all the owners could perform the entire service needed on the bike, all the way up to changing rings and bearings? Was that so bad? Doesn’t complication, and resulting dependency on shop mechanics, have quite a cost?

    I still get into some new stuff that interests me, like firewalls (pfsense) to keep NSA out. I think learning that is useful. Any way we can advance in that direction is good. Although, contrarily, I am not so concerned about privacy. I figure the aim of surveillance is more about making us fear and submit, than about collecting information. So, fiddling with pfsense is mostly for the purpose of poking snoops in the eye.

  46. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty January 19, 2014 5:05 am

    I chuckle when someone brings up the “write paper letters” thing in a technology discussion. I wonder how far back they are willing to push it. No refrigeration, washing machines, automobiles? I wonder if they have considered how difficult it is to park a horse and buggy where they work…

    Back is for emergencies. It is impossible to maintain life without change and growth. The future is where we will find life, health and wealth. Everyone should certainly choose the technology they are comfortable with, but I wonder why so many can’t seem to be happy if others choose differently.

  47. Ron Johnson
    Ron Johnson January 19, 2014 5:55 am

    MammaLiberty, not all change is for the good, just as not all old things are worth repeating. I hope to have the wisdom to keep what deepens life and discard what is inconsequential.

    More and more, I’m finding electronics to be a distraction. It’s strange to me that I feel a sense of anxiety when I accidentally leave my phone at home, or when I don’t have WiFi access on a trip. Ridiculous. Does the phone really add that much to my well-being? If I didn’t have a p.c. would I be forever ignorant? Silly questions, I know, but ….just what would life be like without constant instant connections?

    The anxiety I feel is similar to the first year or two that I learned to sail. Once out on the water, you really are completely on your own. Oh, if you get into trouble, you can call on the radio for help, but generally help doesn’t arrive until the boat has sunk. So you’re on your own. I found it to be a spooky feeling at first, then I found it liberating. I need to get that way with my electronics.

    I once read a fascinating rant by a techy who said that if pencil and paper were invented after the computer, it would have been considered an improvement. Overstatement, for sure, but true in ways we don’t like to admit. Paper is secure. Requires no batteries. Lasts, unchanged, for centuries. Always archivable and always retrievable. According to that techy, there are warehouses in Washington DC containing innumerable magnetic tapes from the 1960’s that hold irreplaceable information about the Vietnam War, but the readers are obsolete and the tapes can no longer be read. Not all change is for the good.

    I fantasize about getting rid of my electronic communications (I say this while typing on a laptop). Of course, that is ridiculous. On the other hand, I am dead serious about writing honest-to-god paper letters. My wife and I send out a yearly Xmas letter entitled ‘He Said…She Said’ in which we give our separate renditions of what happened in our lives over the previous year. Believing our letters were navel-gazing overkill, we stopped one year only to hear from many of our friends that our yearly letter was a communication they all waited for. Many of them had saved our letters from year to year. Lesson learned: there is something about a physical letter that cannot be duplicated by electronics.

    No, I won’t be taking a buggy to work. But I still drive an old Tahoe that I can work on myself. No, I won’t be washing my clothes with a wash tub and wash board; I like the new washer-dryer we bought this year. I will, however, be writing letters, leaving my cell phone off, and visiting friends instead of relying on Skype. But that’s just me. 🙂

  48. MamaLiberty
    MamaLiberty January 19, 2014 11:28 am

    “But that’s just me. :)”

    Exactly. As long as everyone can make those choices for themselves, we’re cool. One man’s meat is another man’s poison… often literally. Seems to me that the key here is to do and appreciate what works for us, without throwing aspersions on what works for others.

    Not all change is good if you don’t think it is good for you, obviously, but nobody can decide that for someone else. 🙂

  49. A.G.
    A.G. January 20, 2014 10:19 am

    No. The things that matter in life are timeless.

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