Thursday, December 28, 2006

I'm No Techno-Guru

You know, being a scientist doing cutting-edge biotech research and development, operating and understanding sensitive scientific equipment worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, and having a blog and all, you’d think I would be techno-savvy. Maybe I am – compared to my grandma. But compared to the technophiles I work with I’m a dunce. Take for instance a coworker by the name of Ian. Ian has a reputation for being a techno-wizard. On any given topic related to cutting-edge gadgets for the home, he can tell you more facts and figures than Consumer Reports. He knows where to get the good rebates, what features are available, and what the next great tech will be. He walks around with one of those little phones attached to his ear. He has an MP3 player / PDA / cell phone thingy on his body at all times. He has no need for our IT people. Any day now I expect him to show up at work looking like the Borg with some implant extending out of his finger ready to inject nanoprobes into the computer mainframe and assimilate the company. Ask him anything you want (such as “What the hell is a Blu-Ray? Some sort of fish?”), and like a guru meditating high upon Mount Sony, he will help you reach techno-enlightenment.

But not me. It’s a strange paradox since I am conversant in so many areas of science, yet if you ask me anything about home gadgets, I’d just shrug and say, “Ask Ian” (even if you didn’t know him); I’d be too unsure of myself to give good advice. I don’t have a high-speed internet connection, don’t have an MP3 player, don’t use a cell phone, and don’t own a PDA of any sort. My laptop is too primitive to run on anything newer than Windows 95. And don’t even ask me about my digital camcorder and digital editing fiasco. Yet I am eager to be part of the techno-world. It takes money (that I don’t have) to get into all these things, but educating myself about them, at least, is free.

A recent ABC News report says I’m not alone with my condition:

Purchases of products like HDTVs, digital cameras, and GPS tracking devices are up sharply. And yet, folks are more perplexed than ever at the increasingly difficult maze of wires and operating functions (and, I might add, can’t remember which damned remote to use). Consider, if you will, that 50% of people who own HDTVs don’t subscribe to the high-definition programming necessary to make their purchase worthwhile. I’d like to think that I’d be more savvy about such a purchase, looking into the best systems, subscribing to high-def stations, hooking up the wires in the right manner, understanding the basic technology. But then I should remind myself that my car stereo (for example) doesn’t even have a working tape deck much less MP3 or even CD capability, and that my recent attempt to install a new ceiling fan resulted in no light and no moving blades. So what are the chances I'm going to purchase and install my own high-tech gadgets? I feel downright primitive. Tsk tsk! Bad scientist, bad! Oh, if only becoming "modern" were as easy as getting assimilated by the Borg.

Maybe I should ask Ian for help.

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