Scott Hanselman wrote an interesting post called Everything’s Broken and Nobody’s Upset this weekend, and it reminded me of the classic, profound Louis CK bit called Everything’s Amazing and Nobody’s Happy. While Scott’s post was reasonable, I’m an optimist and instead thought of a few aspects of technology awesomeness in life that are super cool but maybe unappreciated. This is just off the top of my head while I’m sitting on a plane. I’m using the internet. On. A. Plane.
- I’m able to drive from Los Angeles to San Diego without changing my radio station thanks to satellite radio. How cool is it that I’m listening to music, from space! No more mindless scanning for a hint of rock while driving through a desert or in between cities.
- My car has Bluetooth built in and it easily transfers calls from my phone to the car speakers, and when I turn the car off, it immediately transfers control back to my phone. It just works.
- I’m speaking at Dreamforce this week, and wanted to build a quick Single Sign On demo. Because of the magic of cloud computing, it took 10 minutes to spin up a Windows Server 2008 R2 box with Active Directory Federation Services. It then only took another 15 minutes to federate with Salesforce.com using SAML. IMAGINE acquiring hardware and installing software that quickly 10 years ago. Let alone doing SSO between a local network and offsite software!
- Yesterday I used my Nokia LUMIA to take a picture of my 4 year old son and his future wife. The picture was immediately backed up online and with one click I posted it to Facebook. How amazing is it that we can take pictures, instantly see the result, and share it seamlessly? I recall rolls of film that would sit in our camera for a year and I’d have no idea what pictures we had taken!
- There are so many ways to find answers to problems nowadays. If I hit some obscure problem while building an application, I can perform broad Google/Bing searches, hit up StackOverflow, go to technology-specific forums and even hit up email distribution lists. I think of doing this years ago when you’d post something to some sketchy newsgroup and hope that HornyInTulsa343 would respond with some nugget of wisdom about database encryption. Bleh.
- I’m getting a Masters degree in Engineering. Online. I may never set foot on the University of Colorado campus, but each week, I can watch lectures live or shortly thereafter, and I use Skype to participate in the same team activities and same homework/exams as my fellow students. We’re seeing schools like Stanford put classes online FOR FREE! It’s amazing that people can advance their education in so many convenient, sometimes free, ways because of technology.
- My son talks to his grandmother via Skype each week. They see each other all the time even though she lives 2500 miles away. A decade ago, he’d have to rely on pictures or occasional phone calls, but now when we go to visit my parents, he instantly runs up to his grandmother because he recognizes her. That’s awesome.
- It’s officially a sport to complain about Twitter, GMail, Hotmail, etc, but can you believe how much free software we have access to nowadays!?! I’m storing massive amounts of data online at no cost to me. I’m accessing applications that give me real-time access to information, establish complex business and social networks, and most importantly, let me play fantasy sports. I watch my colleague Adron quickly organize geek lunches, code camps and other events through the use of various free social networks. That was pretty freakin’ hard to do spontaneously even five years ago.
Are all the technologies I mentioned above perfect and completely logical in their behavior? Of course not. But I’m just happy to HAVE them. My life is infinitely better, and I have more free time to enjoy life because technology HAS gotten simpler and I can do more things in less time. We as technologists should strive to build better and better software that “just works” for novices and power users alike, but in the meantime, let’s enjoy the progress so far.
What technologies do you think are awesome but taken for granted?