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Thread: How to stop being a dinosaur?

  1. #1
    Moderator VJ's Avatar
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    Default How to stop being a dinosaur?

    Hello,

    Perhaps a strange question... I'm still doing stuff like I have been doing in the last 10-15 years: moving files via local storage (ok, moved to bigger usb sticks), using paper maps when traveling (except for use of in car navigation), using mail and sms rather than other media.

    This does not mean I'm not up to speed: I have different cloud storage accounts, a facebook, google+, smartphones, tablet, 4G internet, evan a smartwatch (original Sony LiveView, 5 years old now) but I don't integrate any of those. For some aspects, I don't really see the need (why do I need to Tweet stuff, or instagram things? or Like things? - facebook to me is just a communication channel like email) and for others I don't want to be too dependent on online services (lack of internet when traveling is a good reason to use paper). But I also feel I may be missing out on some usable things and while I still can follow new developments, I want to be sure not to stay behind in the future.

    I tried to use cloud storage more often, but the lack of speed to upload data or unstable internet when needing to access data left me rather disappointed. I know it should be so easy when everything is synchronized to the cloud, but somehow it seems not. I am using a google calendar, but need to discipline myself more to it (and clean it up after different synchronizations issued messed up some data).

    What do you guys do to prevent becoming a dinosaur? How do you force yourself to go with it all (while protecting privacy)?


    Jörg
    Last edited by VJ; 31st May 2017 at 02:56.
    pixar
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    Super MURCer UtwigMU's Avatar
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    It's interesting question. I'm working as sysadmin for 10 years now, 4 out of those I was self employed running the whole business (taxes, accounting, planning).

    Since around 2006 I'm learning languages for which I'm using a paper notebook and fountain pen (can't stand ball pens). Last year I went to markers car rendering work shop where everything was done analog - pens, chalk and paper. I want to do some stuff which is not related to computers in any way. Also until very recently I was using printed maps for same reason you have - no internet or roaming abroad was expensive. Now I use Google maps on android phone.

    I don't think going fully electronical helps as much as having processes in place and sticking to them. For example this year I found my phone contacts backup from 2005 which was a paper notebook to which I wrote down all the contacts from my then Nokia phone. Now I'm using MS Exchange account, outlook and phone, (computers and phone all sync with exchange which is then backed up to external HDD which is rotated. In both cases I thought about possibility of loosing phone and contacts and I put some process in place to keep contacts. So I think people who pop on social media writing: OMG call me I lost all my contacts are just not proactive.

    The biggest opener to me was reading the book called Getting Things done which is about how to organize your processes. You can do it either completely manually or electronically, the point is that you organize them in sane way.

    I have a server (HP Proliant) and I sync all important files to it and then the server is backed up to USB drive which gets rotated and taken offsite. I don't trust cloud. Also unlimited mailbox, unlimited aliases, proper ptr records so corporations get email from me, 4TB drives for file storage beat any cloud offerings.

    For notes I use OneNote since 2010 and I write down most important stuff or stuff I discover. OneNote is synced to share on server, so if I change laptop I just sync email, sync current projects files and one note. If I change phone I just sync exchange which syncs all my contacts and I install all the apps from my apps that I have frequently used. I set up this system around 2008 and for now it works but I'm also thinking of changing or updating.

    I have no use for tablet as I carry a laptop almost all the time.

    What is planned is: OpenVPN for network where server is, so I can VPN to my files from everywhere. ZFS NAS with scrubbing and resilvering for the place where I'm living and then some sort of file sync between NAS and my server. Also I plan to migrate off MS Exchange to something FOSS. Maybe Kolab. There is also hosted Kolab - they are hosting in Switzerland, not USA or EU countries so if I had to have cloud email I'd consider that. Of course I have gmail, yahoo, hotmail, skype, whatsap, viber, facebook

    I think a lot of people make mistake of OMG I'm a Dinosaur I need BuzzWord of the day. So for example our boss has MS CRM which is cheap if you use it as a tool to do sales but it's very expensive if you only use it as address book and he keeps everything in there. But he is using it improperly and he cannot find stuff when he needs to and he keeps stuff in there that I think he shouldn't be keeping. In 2006 CRM was cool as cloud is now and someone sold him on it. Then he never really got to use it the way it was intended and now he has 40€/month posh address book.
    Last edited by UtwigMU; 31st May 2017 at 07:58.

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    Moderator VJ's Avatar
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    Well, I'm managing with it all, but at the same time it feels to me like things can be done better. I particularly came to realize this now that I'm abroad (in Spain) for two years and have to manage. At the moment, I'm trying to keep up with the things that exist and use those that are useful for me (I just now got a Whatsapp, as colleagues in Spain use it to set meetings). While I have a feeling I know what is out there, it somehow annoys me that despite all of that, I'm still doing the same as 15 years ago. I observe other people and try to see if their use of technology makes sense to me. Our PR guy uses a mobile phone with a bluetooth keyboard to work on location (he manages the social media and press reports). But it seems that I'm not that different from many people.

    I have all my contacts in a Google address book, and started forcing myself to use Google calender (but am not consistent enough, working on that). But for example for note-taking in meetings, I use pen/paper and depending on the results I write a small summary afterwards. I used to do it on my old Windows tablet (using Journal), but as that was just a replacement for the pen/paper, it did not add much. Probably it could be better with new hardware, but I'm not convinced yet...

    I would love to set up my own server at home, and was planning that but those plans got postponed due to the Spain-work-thing. The own server would already be a good step when it comes to centralizing, archiving, protecting and accessing data, but it is quite an effort and investment, and I doubt many people do it like that (but I also am weary of cloud services; I use those for some less important files or as a medium for moving data from place A to place B). Still, setting that up is one of my plans when I return to Warsaw.

    At home, before moving to Spain, I was configuring the home (smarthome: knx + loxone server, media server), but it is rather disappointing: there is not much smart about it when you think about it all.

    But those things don't really affect my daily business that much... Somehow it surprised me that with all that is out there, I am not benefiting much from it... The whole google now things looks amazing, but I have my worries with it (which is why I have not tried it yet).
    pixar
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    Moderator Dr Mordrid's Avatar
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    I have all the toys, have had them synched via clouds, etc. etc. Photo archiving; some, but not all...mainly so family can access them. Highly secure local network, some systems air gapped. Recently I have been unwinding for security and privacy reasons.

    Most recent is a change in Echo/Alexa's terms and permissions where it can, and does, listen without the keyword being spoken. What it hears is recorded to your corner of the AWS cloud. This "feature" makes it a privacy nightmare, both from the hack standpoint and US security services who also use AWS. They were just hammered, hard, by the US FISA Court (handles national security warrants etc.) for such overreach activities against US citizens and govt. officers over the last 5 years.

    Confirmed Echo was doing this when sniffer and app filters started tossing numerous alarms more than a month ago. Google Assistant does the same thing, but only when activated. Whatever.

    Twitter has so many bot users for me all it's good for is update posts by tech companies, individuals or the few media sources I'm interested in. It may not last that long anyhow as it's bleeding money/users.

    FB: private groups and family, period.

    Secure, encrypted, mirrored servers for documents, media etc. in 2 locations.
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    Moderator VJ's Avatar
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    But how does it affect your daily routines?

    I mean, granted, cloud services can help to avoid having to carry storage and supply easy access.

    But how does e.g. Google now or Amazon echo improve your life (to put it bluntly)? Google demonstrates it that you can ask for e.g. the weather, but if I have to take out my phone, unlock it, press the button for google now and then ask for the weather, I'd be much faster of just glancing at the weather widget. How often do you order things at Amazon that you need the device always ready for you to say an order?

    Now, everything that is controlled via a mobile phone is considered "smart": smart lights, smart thermostat, ... But if you have to take out your phone, launch the app, go to the appropriate screen and make an adjustment, you might as well do it manually. The smart aspect starts when you start integrating things, but that point is often forgotten, and too much integration starts working counterproductive (I've tried with my home automation, where I have all lights, thermostats, music and home cinema controllable via a central control system, which in turn offers me an app to control it all).

    The best example for me is still an add by LG (or was it Samsung) on their connected washingmachine:
    Scene 1 (dull colours): Washing machine is not starting, woman calls technician, technician comes to fix it.
    Scene 2 (bright colours): Washing machine is not starting, woman checks mobile phone, phone shows the door of the machine is open, woman has this revelation and closes the door.
    WHAT?!?!

    So my question is more like: am I turning into a dinosaur because I'm overly critical to such things and because I fail to see the point of many novel things? And how do you decide which novel things are useful without sacrificing privacy... or breaking the bank?

    I can see that e.g. an automatic washing machine is a huge improvement over doing laundry manually. In the last 10-15 years, technology has evolved so much, but I am still to see a similar improvement to my daily routines.... What am I missing?
    pixar
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    Moderator Dr Mordrid's Avatar
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    They're not just novelties. There are people using Echo to voice control lab equipment via WiFi or the MQTT (Message Queue Telemetry Transport) protocol. This can apply just as well to home automation using the Belkin WeMo protocol.

    Getting it connected varies, but a common method is to connect it to a Raspberry Pi running Linux, which has open source libraries installed. This acts as a server which executes Python scripts on voice command, controlling devices Echo can't directly.
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    Moderator VJ's Avatar
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    Yes... I tried the home automation thing; I have a knx installation for lights and thermostats and a Loxone miniserver. The latter allows me to also integrate media playback and other functions and consolidate everything in a single app on tablet, phone or pc (voice control can be added in the mix - have not tried that one). Setting it all up to work together is really a pain if you have to do it yourself, so that is a downside. And after all the effort, in the end it does not change much: you use the phone as remote control rather than a dedicated remote. Except when the phone is charging... The only benefit was when my girlfriend had an issue with her leg and could control everything from the bed.

    But my question is not just about the smarthomes or even the technical side, but new things in general. I know there are people that use those things, but surprisingly I do not see it around me - surprisingly as I work in a technical research center with many technology adept people. So I wonder why they are not using more but also why I am not using them. Some I'm trying but I fail to see the point for my usage. And it puzzles me that for simple daily tasks I have not found anything better... But perhaps I'm expecting too much?
    pixar
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    Super MURCer UtwigMU's Avatar
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    I think IoT is now in the "PDA" stage of technology. PDAs and Nokia Communicator have been around since 1990's. At work we had this talk in 2003 and one coworker said: WAP and mobile data transfer is a thing now. A friend set up WAP server so he has all meetings and everything accessible through WAP. And we were thinking wow, we're not using WAP or data, we must be dinosaurs. I was actually using Yahoo mail on WAP with few lines b&w screen. Then Omnias, iPhones started to come out and at first techies were using high-end Windows phones, then everyone started using iPhones and now androids. The smart phone is ubiquitous.

    We need a "smart phone" version of IoT and I don't think this will get worked out until some big hacks happen that make companies serious.

    Also a company that has been a leader in one phase of technological development optimizes itself for cranking out widgets at a profit and not for taking risks and being innovative. So the companies that are leaders in this tech cycle will not be leaders in the next. (MS was leader in PC cycle, flopped in Smart Phones, Nokia was leader in feature phones, flopped in Smart Phones. Apple was leader in early PCs of the 1980's, flopped in Multimedia PCs of the 1990s, became leader again in smart phones but will most likely not be leader in IoT).

    Watch this really interesting presentation:

    The Internet of Things is Going to Destroy Us All
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=304Lcn0nU3c
    Last edited by UtwigMU; 2nd June 2017 at 07:51.

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    Super MURCer cjolley's Avatar
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    So, in non dino mode I have google drive (very reliable), phone enabled thermostat and sprinkler system.
    Does running a share for family files count?

    Dino mode, still program client server on Relational Database. You'll pry those billions of $ away from enforcing structure out of my cold dead hands.

    PS I use the thermostat and sprinkler apps on my phone nearly every day. It's really handy.
    OTOH, I would never consider connecting ANYTHING on my phone to my credit card.
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    Super MURCer KRSESQ's Avatar
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    <curmudgeonly rant>

    Only got a smart phone (which it turns out is non-too-smart) after my old flip phone stopped working. It's fun to play with but it burns up its battery in no time. I already have a good timer/thermostat. I don't need to fiddle with it over the phone, no matter how Jetsony or star trekky it is. Neither do people need to be able to monitor their infant in their bassinet from the local pub. They need to trust their baby-sitter like their parents did (unless that's the reason they DON'T trust babysitters). They don't need a toaster that can IM them when their toast is done. They need to learn (or re-learn) how to stand still for 45 seconds until the toast is done. I sure as hell DON'T need a refrigerator that keeps track of what I eat because I know the insurance company will use that info to jack up my rates. All that junk is just consumerist materialist status BS anyway. You want to sell me a home security system I can monitor over the web? THAT I can use. But that thing better be more secure than an NSA server.

    "The Cloud" is just marketing for "somebody else's computer." Yeah, it's a convenient way to access info across devices or backup and restore. But you're at the mercy of somebody else's security. Data breaches are commonplace. Who knows how your personal info might be used by someone of malicious intent? I'm just too paranoid to take that chance.

    I'm all for developing artificial intelligence as there is bugger-all natural intelligence in the world. And if AI does take over the world, who's to say whether it will do any worse a job running it than we have?

    </curmudgeonly rant>

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    MURCer Belwarrior's Avatar
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    IMHO, as long as we are able to keep in touch with our family, friends and work, it doesn't matter if the tools/methods we use are old or outdated as long as it works for us

    I myself have my contacts and pictures synced on Google so switching phones would not be a problem but then I'm still using my 3 years old Sony Xperia Z2 (getting long in the tooth now) since it is adequate for my usage - I might change to a new phone before the end of this year (battery issues). WhatsApp has mostly replaced SMS and Viber for family communication.

    I wouldn't label you as a Dinosaur just because you don't use or have the latest software/hardware
    Life is a bed of roses. Everyone else sees the roses, you are the one being gored by the thorns.

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    Moderator VJ's Avatar
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    Interesting comments guys!

    Quote Originally Posted by UtwigMU View Post
    I think IoT is now in the "PDA" stage of technology.
    I'm not sure IoT is the answer... it seems again too forced...


    Quote Originally Posted by cjolley View Post
    So, in non dino mode I have google drive (very reliable), phone enabled thermostat and sprinkler system.
    Does running a share for family files count?
    That is one thing that has been made more easy recently.

    Quote Originally Posted by KRSESQ View Post
    All that junk is just consumerist materialist status BS anyway.
    ...
    Data breaches are commonplace. Who knows how your personal info might be used by someone of malicious intent? I'm just too paranoid to take that chance.
    Same here... I just don't trust it all enough to use some things...

    Quote Originally Posted by Belwarrior View Post
    I wouldn't label you as a Dinosaur just because you don't use or have the latest software/hardware


    Actually, reading all your comments made me think that I'm more disappointed by the fact that despite the technological advances in the last 10-15 years have been huge, apart from some small changes, there has been no real change to my daily routines. But in technology media I read so many things that I started thinking I'm missing out on things. Somehow I feel several possibilities where I could improve my daily routines, but somehow it is not yet happening.
    pixar
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    Crabby Smurf Umfriend's Avatar
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    Uhm, I have this EvoHome thingy where every room regulates their own heating demands. Very kewl, just one steamboiler (?) and the radiators are regulated locally _and_ signal the radiator to supply heat.

    Other than that, what is wrong with dinosaurs?
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    Moderator VJ's Avatar
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    Nothing wrong with dinosaurs...

    But as another example... My parents recently bought a new TV. And it took me a bit to figure out how to connect it. Back in the old days, the av-receiver was the center of the installation to which every device connects. Now, it is much more beneficial to put the TV at the center, as it will control receiver, set top box and blu-ray. But if you want to be able to listen to a CD without having the TV on, you have an issue (to make it easier at my parents, I actually connected an old DVD player directly to the receiver for use as CD player). But this shift of the center of the installation is something that just crept up on me.

    Here in Spain, I bought a TV, but one of my main criteria was the supported hdmi standards. Even though I did not care about 4K, it ended up being a 4K because of that and I feel that may not have been a bad choice (some broadcasts are in 4K). By contrast however, a few years ago 3D TV was all the craze, and now it is gone completely. Paying extra for that was pointless. In addition, I learned after buying the TV about the mess LG created with their RGBW lcd tvs (which differs from the RGBW pattern of their OLEDs), but luckily I did not get one of those.

    I passed up on Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, ... and I do not feel I miss out on anything. I also passed up on Spotify, Deezer, ... but am beginning to feel that I may start to miss out on things. I do not have a netflix but that is mainly due to my current situation (abroad, bad internet, ...).

    I like my father's attitude, which is that you should not be the first to adopt to new stuff but that you also should not be the last - allthough I feel he is sometimes on the late end.

    The thing is: how do you decide which things to embrace and which not? If the things turn out to be unsuccessful and you embraced them, it was a waste of time, money and effort (and you'll have to revert back); if it turns out to be successful and you did not embrace them on time, you may have a higher entry-level for it (with the risk of reaching an entry level that becomes too high for you to adjust).

    I would hate that latter thing to happen to me, but as so many new things come and go at a faster rate, it just becomes harder to keep track of it all... To paraphrase from the Simpsons:
    - You are old, you are not with it anymore!
    - I used to be with it, but then they changed what ‘it’ was, and now what I’m with isn’t it. And what’s ‘it’ seems weird and scary to me.
    I'm still not yet at that last sentence of the quote, but I generally feel a bit this tiredness towards new things: another new smartphone enters the market, with 10 cameras and 13 speakers, but a basic one suffices to do even the smarter things. A new standard for this or that, but it will get surpassed before it establishes itself (e.g. the whole thunderbolt/usb-c/usb3 mess: still not clear where it will go). And it gives this "what is the point of trying to keep up?" But at the same time I know I have to not to become a dinosaur...
    Last edited by VJ; 5th June 2017 at 05:06.
    pixar
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    Moderator Dr Mordrid's Avatar
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    "I do not have a netflix"

    We have Netflix, Hulu, CBS All Access and Amazon (which comes with Plus, and we have it for 2 day deliveries.) Told Comcast to go stick a fence post in a dark place and rotate. Enough TV/movies for anyone.
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