I love technology and try almost everything, but not all of it sticks.
I spend a ton of time in front of a computer. During a standard day, I’m in front of a computer for at least 12 hours. And that’s actually down from a few years ago.
Because of this deep, deep relationship between myself and my computer, I tend to give a lot of different computer- and Internet-related things a try, to see if they’re going to make my computing experience better, happier, more convenient, whatever.
Sometimes this works well. I gave Firefox a try, found it vastly superior to Internet Explorer, and now it’s my browser. I installed the Google Toolbar and now find myself painfully reliant on it.
But not everything sticks. This list is 11 computer things that I’ve tried to get into… but I just can’t.
1 | Instant messaging
People love IM. I do not. I did back in 1997 when it first came out, but, by this point, I absolutely can’t deal with it. And the reason is very simple: I’m a focuser. When I’m doing something on a computer, I’m either devoting 100% of my attention to work, or 100% of my attention to dicking around. IM does not allow that.
When I’m trying to focus and there’s a little window popping up, bleeping and blooping, and, worst of all, flashing on the bottom of the screen, I just can’t ignore it. So I have to break up my flow — of either working or dicking around to answer it, or piss off the person IMing me because I’m neglecting them. And all of that leads to me being unhappy.
2 | RSS
I’m a compulsive website checker, especially the handful of sites I like. But using a RSS reader has just never worked for me. I think it’s a mix of two things.
One, I haven’t found one that I can customize to my liking. None of the Firefox add-on news readers work how I want (an entire list, not broken into individual folders by site, that disappear after I read them as opposed to just turning un-bold). There are programs that do that, but I want to read in my browser, not have to remember to look at another program… since that’s contrary to the entire point of news-as-it-happens. The second reason: It’s just information overload. Sites update so much and dump so many headlines that eventually, I just give up on trying to keep up.So I continue to just compulsively check my favorite sites, and it’s going to be like that for a while. Yep, I’m becoming an online curmudgeon already. I can feel it.
3 | Podcasts
This is really simple: I find podcasts extraordinarily boring. I either want to read something, or see something. Just hearing some stranger stutter on and on does absolutely nothing for me. I hear enough droning on from people I know in real life.
4 | Trackballs
I find trackballs to be almost impossible to use. I just can’t get it to go where I want, which is, ya know, the fundamental purpose of one. Also, in college, whenever anyone had a trackball, people loved… just loved… stealing the ball out of it. So that probably contributed to my aversion.
5 | Printing digital photos
I like looking through photos. But I just can’t get on board with getting a printer to print out my digital photos. And here’s why: I’ll get lazy. I’ll get the printer, set it up, print a bunch of photos… and then wait at least a month or two until I try to print photos again. By then, the super-expensive photo ink cartridge will have mostly evaporated or dried up. I’ll get frustrated, refuse to drop $40 on a replacement cartridge out of principle, and be left with a useless photo printer just sitting there, taking up space. And I’ve already got plenty of paperweights.
6 | e-filing taxes
I know that it delays my refund, wastes paper, wastes postage, all that. But I will not e-file my taxes. It’s really the one online thing that I still don’t trust.
And also, the online forms don’t leave you the necessary room to leave little notes to the IRS or include just the forms you want to include. That’s like half the fun of taxes.
7 | Games
There’s something very prohibitive to me about video games for computers. I’m guessing it’s because, no matter how fast your computer is, somehow, it’s not fast enough to handle computer games. That, or because once you become a guy who plays computer games, you become a whole different kind of guy.
8 | Backing up my data
Tragically, I’ve never gotten into a good rhythm of doing this. And clearly, I’m never going to. Because after my car got stolen with my laptop inside — and I lost a LOT of stuff — I swore I’d be more diligent about backing up. Yet here I am, months later, not backing up a damn thing. Old habits, man. Old habits.
9 | Digital photo frames
I think those frames that cycle your digital photos are pretty lame. I guess I’m still stuck in the stone age of one frame holding one photo. Also, I am continually shocked at how expensive these digital photo frames are. I figured they are so gimmicky and such a gift/impulse buy item that they’d be priced in the $20 to $30 range. Nope… they’re like $100 or more. Mind boggling.
10 | Gmail
I know that, at this point, everyone on the planet is using Gmail. I just haven’t been able to give up my personal e-mail addresses and my Microsoft Outlook. Also, this other Sam Greenspan — a young fellow in Florida — grabbed email@example.com. I guess it was his revenge for me owning samgreenspan.com, firstname.lastname@example.org and “samgreenspan” as the login for just about every major bank, credit card company, cell phone provider and website in existence. We’re cool with each other, though. We’re actually Facebook friends.
11 | Facebook applications
Every few days, I get Superpoked or Superwalled by someone, or invited to join some cause, or bitten by a zombie, or challenged to Scrabble, and on and on. I feel like Facebook applications are a serious gateway drug: Once you add one, then you start adding billions and your entire page is completely cluttered up with them and you’re spending way, way, way too much time keeping up with them. I’m already dangerously close to a Facebook addiction. It’s like… if I was really into cocaine and suddenly friends started just throwing handfuls of crack rocks at me. Unless I staunchly resisted, I’d be a crackhead — with no going back — in minutes.