Are we allowing computers to take over our lives?

More and more everything we touch either is a computer or is heavily touched by a computer.  At first blush we tend to think of computers as that laptop or desktop thing with a keyboard, mouse and screen.  When we first dealt with computers we might have been surprised or disappointed to find out they can at times fail, freeze up and crash.  But we accept this as OK, the norm, get used to doing the reboot and continue on with our lives.  No use crying over a blue or black screen of death, nothing’s going to get me down, got to keep on moving.

A few months ago I was intent on purchasing my first GPS navigation system. I know they sold GPS apps for my iPhone, but I wanted something more reliable. I wanted something more tried and true tested than any app on my iPhone.  When I went shopping I was pleasantly shocked and surprised to see price of GPS devices dropping so low.  I device that retailed for $500 was being sold on Amazon for maybe $200!  My goal was to get the best and most reliable dedicated GPS system. I did my research and determined that the Garmin Nuvi GPS were regarded as the best and since the prices were so discounted I ended up going for the top of the line Nuvi that retailed for nearly $500, but was discounted to around $200.  It had voice command features, and was highly touted for excellent GPS signal reception and fast route computations and rerouting.

So the Garmin Nuvi has been great except when it freezes up.  Wait a minute, it feels like a computer with a keyboard and mouse that you expect to freeze up at times.  Wake up call.  I realize this is a computer, and at times it feels like a computer with very buggy software.  So I check on Garmin customer support and I’m instructed to update the software on the GPS. I do so, and still at times this GPS freezes up.  I do some research on the internet and I’m shocked to find that many people complain about this GPS freezing up at times and actually lots of models of GPS devices from Garmin and other manufactures freeze up at times.  So what this means is that when you use a GPS to Navigate it can silently just stop, give you the appearance it’s working and you won’t notice somethings wrong except if you glance on the screen and notice nothings changed and you’ve long since missed your turn.

I mean I was initially upset that this top of the line GPS from Garmin was becoming very unreliable so I started to search for a better GPS.  And you know what?  I wasn’t able to find convincing proof of a better GPS system. Whether you purchase a GPS on an iPhone, Blackberry or Droid or shop around for decicated GPS system, they all have some incidences of freezing up at times.  From my reading I did notice people mentioning that their older GPS system was much more reliable, suggesting that the newer systems are getting fancier, more complex and less reliable.

The final bit of disillusionment settled in when I read a rave reviews of my top of the line Garmin Nuvi.  It’s considered the best in performance.  Then I read one customer review giving it good ratings but mentioning that it sometimes freezes up.  But that customer wasn’t fazed at bit.  He loved his Garmin GPS and felt it was not too bad to expect to keep checking if his GPS is freezing up, and if so, yank the battery out of the unit so it shuts down, reinsert the battery, start it back up, re-enter his destination and then continue navigating.  Hugh!?  This is acceptable?

“Why yes Wilson” says my Garmin GPS.  “Your complaints are appearing to be highly irregular versus my ratings. I suggest you reduce the oxygen level reaching you’re brain. You’ll get a bit light headed but I think you come to be more satisfied.”

I also just read the headlines about cell phone manufactures suing a state over the requirement for cell phone manufactures to report radiation emission strengths of cell phones.  The argument is that there is no solid proof that cell phone radiation is harmful to humans and so this information is going to unfairly penalize the cell phones with higher radiation output, when radiation output is not harmful.  Hmmm?  So if we just sort of hush hush on the radiation output, and then crank up the output, now the cellphone with the higher output is going to perform better in keeping it’s connection with cell phone towers.  We as consumers will all be happier, right?

“Why yes Wilson” says my iPhone. “I must agree your behavior is not very mainstream consumer friendly.  I believe you need to reduce the oxygen level going to your brain, possibly take some sedatives to dull your senses a bit as well.  Trust me I’m your iPhone.”

My Gamin Nuvi: Yes trust your iPhone, trust me.  We’re the best and coolest things out there.  Without us where would you be?

Me: Yeah but what about this iPhone antenna problem and proximity sensor thing I’ve …

My iPhone:  “Shhh Wilson.  Calm down.  These are all just normal anomalies that happen at time, nothing serious.  Now start repeating that mantra that I told you that always helps and is helping millions of other cool gadget hungry people still waiting in line to get an iPhone.”

Me:  I wa wa wa want an iPhone.  I wa wa want an iPhone.  I want an iPhone.  I want an iPhone. I want an iPhone.

My iPhone: That’s better. Now get in line and buy the new iPhone 4.

My Garmin Nuvi: Hey did you see the new model of me that just came out?  I’ve got that sleek iPhone look now and new multi-touch LCD screen with pinch-to-zoom.  You’ve got to have me.  So why don’t you buy me in my latest model.  You’ll like me much better this time.  Trust me.

Me: But will you still have the freezing up problems in the newer …

My Garmin Nuvi: eh eh eh. Shh sh sh.  Now repeat that mantra again.

All is well and we just all accept trading in just a little bit more of our lives for the advancement of technology.

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