Welcome to Mid September. Another new iPhone was just released.
I used to type on an IBM Selectric III typewriter. It was thirty pounds of whirring, bell ringing, paper and correction tape joy. When you hit a letter key, it made a satisfying THUMP as the type ball spun to the right position and whacked the ribbon against the paper. When I made an error, correction fluid was my friend. We were graded by margin size, line spacing, words per page.
Now, I sit in front of three screens, shining their lonely white glow on my desk, and pushing a key on by keyboard makes almost no sound at all. Because my brilliant prose is on a computer, I have to make sure I have systems in place to continuously save my work. I have to make sure the words that will make THE difference to humanity are securely backed up to “the Cloud”, that the series of devices connecting my keyboard to my computer to the switch near my desk to the firewall to the Internet Service Provider through their network and finally to the server that hosts this blog are ALL working correctly, fully patched, password protected, secure, and online. I have to ensure the UPS battery backup is not only connected, but that it will work if the power suddenly goes out and I’ll have time to save my work before the battery dies. And I have to test that battery once in a while to make sure it will be there when I need it.
The actual network in my home is actually ten times more complicated than what you see above, with multiple Alexa devices, a RING doorbell, thermostat, six computers, eight laptops, three WiFi access points, ten Sonos speakers, Fire TV, and at least twenty smart light bulbs. All of this was supposed to make my life easier – “control the world from your smart phone!” they said.
For the most part, I can do some pretty scary things with the apps on my phone, including restarting servers a thousand miles away, or talking to the magazine salesman at my front door while sitting poolside in Hawaii. BUT, it takes patience and a willingness to manage all of the complexity in the background to set all of this up, and then be willing to maintain it all as various parts of the network get updated by the various vendors who supply the bits. Even my friends who have devoted their entire technical lives to the gods in Cupertino still struggle with keeping it all up and running.
The thing is, I WORK IN THIS BUSINESS – I make computers, networks, WiFi, and the Internet of Things talk and play nice together all day long, and even I get frustrated when the “latest update” breaks something that was working just fine yesterday. I can’t imagine how this is for some of our clients.
On October 1, we will release
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