Tuesday 30 May 2006

Handicapped by technology

Becoming a less-human of modernity

At times, one does wonder if the use of technology deadens human ability to do all sorts of things, they should be able to do naturally and sensibly.

For instance, through secondary school I used 4-figure tables and in some instances 5-figure tables, when I got to polytechnic we used tables for thermodynamics amongst other subjects.

At least then we began to use calculators, but before calculators, it was amazing how many sums one could do in ones head and even more on paper.

Nowadays, I falter on long division on paper and whilst every now and then I’ll rather do the head arithmetic or the paper calculations, but I find I have to affirm my findings with the addiction to that number-crunching prop – the electronic calculator.

I could remember nigh on 33 years ago, my fascination with the hand-operated calculator the precursor to the check-out till with all the calculation appearing on rolls of paper, indeed, technology has come a long way.

In the process, I have lost the ability to do simple sums, I find that it is difficult to transcribe numbers – a continuing frustration – multiplication, I hardly do in my head when once I could do the times tables to 22 by recitation.

Now, all this computer malarkey means I rarely write, such that my once really beautiful handwriting could as well be a ciphered scrawl – it is not that bad really, but I know my writing can be a lot better if I did a lot more pen to paper stuff than tap on keys.

Becoming an asocial communicator

This leads to another aspect of socialising, I do try to make friends and maintain contact with them. However, the ease with which technology allows contact through telephony, email and chat amongst other things means that you might find time but not space.

Time is when you engage in the contact over these media, space is when you take time to meet up and “press the flesh”. My concern is that I have allowed technology to absorb my time that space is not created to engender and foster relationships properly.

On a personal level, I despair of the time I spend trying in all civility to be run long distance relationships, where I might be quite expressive emotional, but cannot expect the same of my respondents.

Even today, when I should have been celebrating a birthday with a friend who I had invited over, the reticence that accompanied rejecting the invitation was both palpable on the one hand and not clearly as forth coming as one should expect.

I suppose there are times people would rather celebrate their birthdays alone – hard as it might seem to be that articulate in a chat session.

Making time away from technology

This then feeds into other aspects of building friendship-type relationships as opposed to business ones – it leaves me open to accusations that I am incapable of showing affection, well, I am affected, could be affecting, and might be given to affectation.

I do not, however, have a pet because I understand that it would require a lot more of my time than I have to offer in dedication and concern to the level that satisfies what concern should be. Change, is journey I must surely embark on.

You might then say, what brings on this introspection? I just read that a 21-year old put a 13-month old baby he was baby-sitting in the tumble-dryer when she spilt her drink on herself – makes you ponder – the wonders of technology today!

Or rather, dense stupidity helped by technological advancement - the Philips adverts helps a lot, this is not a time of Sense and Simplicity - try - Nonsense and simpletons!


Philips claim simply makes no sense

Wednesday 10 May 2006

Causing Disabling Ignorance

First week over - thankfully

Am I grateful that my first seminar week has is over and one can start all over again in the second seminar week.

It all adds up eventually in the final end of module score, but the scoring is per weekly activity added up at the end rather than cumulative.

Having had a really long break, getting back into the flow has been difficult and stressful. I produced work which a year ago I would not have offered up for my proof-reading, talk less of submitting it for assessment.

This is just not me, but that is now done and gone.

I have a bit of a head start this week and hope to do a lot better and get on with things without ending up in a time bind.

My only big thing is the using Endnote for my bibliography, I am still struggling with the making the Harvard style of reference in the application match up to our customised Harvard offering.

I cannot begin to think of the amount of time I have expended in fine-tuning the stuff only to find that our library has not done any work on providing support for the tool.

No-hard-work man

All my life, I know was born for a labour-saving world, there has to be easier, better, smarter ways of doing things and one has to find them and utilise them.

My voice goes into a shrill at work when inertia allows people to just accept shoddy work on the prompting of an emergency in fulfilling urgency.

We then find that we have urgently implemented a solution that has just exacerbated the problem; I must be from Mars where there is a similitude of joined up thinking.

Call it histrionics bordering on apoplexy, I am your drama queen nightmare if I cannot see the benefits of brain cell activity in a situation – we have architects a-plenty whose drawings would never lift off the paper because they know nothing of the strength of materials.

Intellectual arrogance disabling ignorance

Yours truly is caught up in this papier-mâché of designs that do not work and in the whole time I have been in the company, not one architect, no, not one egomaniac technical ignoramus has deigned to visit to see how their design is not fit for use, but by some manic depressive.

Even I always want to discover where my intellectual arrogance is causing disabling ignorance and do well to overcome it. I know too many people who have been overwhelmed. Peter Drucker, I you owe big-time for this amazing insight, I cannot continue to suffer from disabling ignorance.

If only I could say to the disabled – Rise up and walk – my life would also be bliss at work.

Sunday 7 May 2006

The first word was the slowest in coming

Back to school and tardy

After a long break, I am back on the academic trail to finish my last 2 modules and start on my MSc Dissertation.

Each module lasts 8 weeks that could be utter bliss or a complete ordeal and many things factor in between. You need 8 modules for the complete Masters in IT course.

Each week consists of a seminar, which includes a lecture a number of discussion question, probable assignments and project work for individuals or groups.

The seminar week runs from Thursday till Wednesday with the requirement that students must attend by effective contribution in at least 4 days.

So, work begins on the discussion question with ideas buzzing around in my head to distraction, I probably have written a whole conference in my head by Saturday morning but nothing committed to paper.

My head on a block

Writer’s block, they call it, more like an insurmountable mountain as I am drained of all energy to do other things and the clock begins to tick towards the deadline of midnight Sunday to get the discussion question contributions out and start commenting on the views of colleagues.

You might wonder how a person who seems to blog a lot can come to crossroads on writing decisions, well, it is probably like a hangover, until you’ve tried Hair of the Dog you might be nowhere near losing the headache.

From experience, I now find that I probably need 4 hours to knock-out decent copy and whilst the suggested time of study is considered somewhere between 15 to 20 hours a week, 30 of my waking hours are out there trying to be coherent and working to remain relevant.

Miss Marple’s assistant

The fun of study comes from the excitement of learning new things and ideas that one would not normally attend to in everyday life.

Currently, as we start with Computer Forensics, I feel I have just got a bit part in Miss Marple bites into an apple (computer) and she is investigating how the worm got in there.

Cite all sites

I was driven to complete distraction as I struggled to come to terms with the new citation guidelines that have become a nightmare that I acquired a tool – EndNote to handle all that stuff.

I am amazed that a tool that popular is so counter-intuitive and stodgy, most especially when in this day and age referencing from the web accounts for more citations than conventional books.

After a good 2 days of mucking around with the tool, it all began to make some sense, but a bit more practice is required before good value and consistent styles can results.

I fired a missive of 5 long questions to our librarian to help – methinks, the change would have less people citing references if so much time is spent trying to get it up to the demands and standards of the authorities.

Associating Computers with Manual work

More so, I am amazed that the Association of Computing Machinery that has a digital library to rival any large archive still requires that interfacing with contemporary bibliographical tools be a cut-and-paste activity – I am disappointed.

A hundred years of computing history and the largest archive still follows the bookshelf metaphor of a conventional library – something is definitely wrong if computing people cannot for themselves create a labour saving activity for their own use.

Methinks, I have a project to hand, however, I need a programmer’s brain for a radical lobotomy.

Study a-plenty means blogs a-few.