Sunday, August 24, 2008

5 Greatest Technology Failures of the Last Year

Here are the five greatest personal technology failures that I have experienced in the last year.

5. Google Calendar. I'm still using Google Calendar and I will continue to use it. But I put a text message reminder in the calendar to move my car, the reminder was not delivered to my phone on one occasion, and my car was towed. The text message alerts have worked well otherwise, but that was a big failure. I experienced other Google Calendar issues in the last year. I tried to manage multiple calendars and load public calendars, but it didn't always work so well. I evangelized Google Calendar to a friend to manage and publish a public calendar on her website using a widget, but the widget didn't always update properly and she couldn't change the light blue color inside it. Bummer.

Solution: I still use Google Calendar. It's a lightweight app, it has treated me well most of the time, and I know it's getting some investment and improvement.

4. HP All in One Printer. I love being able to print stuff, and especially to make copies and scan items, in the comfort of my home office. Hence I was extra sad when my HP Printer jammed up and I couldn't fix it. My attempts to fix it were half-hearted because I already hated the HP software on my computer. I wish the whole thing had worked better. Not that the case has been any different for the last ten years or so. Boo.

Solution: I don't have a printer any more.

3. Microsoft Word. Word 3.1, if I am remembering the version correctly, was the first piece of software that I fell in love with. It was fast, simple, and reliable. Microsoft Office 2007 is like a celebration of everything terrible that a piece of software can be. It's slow. It is fascist about a new file format with no obvious benefits to the format. And the menus make no sense. In an attempt to make menus based on pictures, the creators of the software have moved away from the tried-and-true fact of human psychology that we think in terms of nested lists.

Solution: use Google Docs, which has been working awesomely for me for a few months now. For now, it still seems to be necessary to have Word. But I don't use it much.

2. Nokia N95. I really liked this phone, and I've always been happy with Nokia. And maybe I pushed the envelope by buying an unlocked version before it was really ready here. Also, the phone did some great things for me. It gave me a mobile web browsing, good email connectivity, map usage, and a hulking 5 megapixel camera AND videocamera. But the software just really really sucked. It crashed and it was super slow. The camera was embarrassingly slow, for all the megapixels. It was something of a relief when it died.

Maybe the phone is better for some people. Maybe there are sweet phones in the N Series. But after this experience I realized that the primary criterion of a phone is reliability. So I got slightly reduced functionality, but maximum reliability, with a Blackberry. As a bonus, I've found that my Curve plays really well with Google Apps, which are the backbone of my productivity technology. Then I have an iPod Touch for bonus productivity and bonus play.

Solution: Now I'm using a Blackberry Curve and an iPod Touch.

1. Norton Anti-Virus by Symantec. For months, I was trying to figure out what was freezing up my computer and slowing it down. I lost a ton of productivity. Turned out the problem was due to Norton Anti-Virus. Norton, kiss my butt.

Solution: Now I'm using AVG Free. My speedy computer is speedy again. My computer works better and is faster now even when AVG is in the middle of a scan of my hard drive. Plus, as a nice bonus, AVG is free.