Tuesday, January 16, 2018

What’s next?

3-setting seat control: warm, hot, sear.
Products often tout “New!” and “Improved!” versions of themselves. It’s the nature of marketing and commerce to always look for the next new thing to bring in revenue.

My nature is to favor reliable go-to products—things I consider tried and true. Even so, I find myself smitten by things I never knew I wanted and now don’t want to be without.

My car is a prime example.
  • I once laughed at heated seats. “I don’t drive naked, so why would I need them?” Now I know. They feel wonderful, especially on chilly days.
  • Heads-up display? Brilliant! I didn’t know this existed until I test-drove my late-model car. The information I want to see is projected onto my windshield. I can keep my eyes on the road and still have in my line of sight info on speed, navigation directions, and radio station.
  • Mastering the stick shift is a badge of honor, but I’ll take hill hold assist every time. Now there's no reason not to drive a manual transmission car. Hill hold adds the few seconds needed to go from brake pedal to gas, without fear of rolling backward when stopped on an uphill.   
Less technically oriented innovations have also captured my loyalty. Take Greek yogurt, for example. I used to live on the regular kind, with lots of sweet fruit filling on the bottom. But one bite of the creamier, protein-packed, and tastier Greek variety, and I switched for good. Most mornings I share a spoonful with the cat, who also is hooked.

I’ll share one final discovery, this one mine. Like many eureka moments, it was accidental. I woke a little groggy one morning and began pouring a glass of vanilla soy milk when I really wanted orange juice. So I decided to top off the milk with OJ and, voilĂ , I now had a Creamsicle. What could be better than mixing two tried-and-true beverages to create something even better.

No one would ever accuse me of being an early adopter of New! Improved! things. But once I stumble upon the next thing I really like, I can be the most loyal of customers.

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Save me

As the digital world advances, so do choices for how to backup all those selfies and videos—and, of course, work and personal files. For the brave and trusting, there’s always the cloud. But for those of us who want to keep things in-house, what’s the best option?

My early career dates back to the Age of Diskette. Specifically, the 8” IBM Displaywriter Diskette, or floppy disk. What innovation! Forget punch cards, this was the wave of the future. I could store 80 kilobytes of documents on a single diskette and, as long as I didn’t bend or crease it, gain access again with a few keystrokes. 

As diskette size shrank to 5-1/4” and then 3.5”, capacity grew to 1.44 megabytes. What would I do with all that space? I made backups of all my files all the time, and soon found myself awash in diskettes. At least these weren’t as fragile as the 8” kind—but they soon were superseded by CDs and then DVDs. With optical media, thin silver discs could store much, much more and do it more reliably.

When computer manufacturers began phasing out floppy disk drives, I said a final goodbye to diskettes and hello to discs, now able to save gigabytes of data. Then the next technology innovation came along. For my one-person office, that took the shape of USB flash drives. Easy to use, small in size, and growing ever larger in capacity.

But wait, there’s more. Last year I began using the cloud, with a twist. Now I’m backing up all my files, photos, and other digital tidbits to a cloud station that sits on my desk. Basically, it’s my own personal cloud, which can take me into terabyte territory if need be.

I expect backup technology to continue leapfrogging ahead, and I will follow along. While computers have become more reliable, I remember too vividly blue-screen-of-death crashes. Fearful of losing hours of work, I learned to save documents frequently, using the shortcut Ctrl+s. The habit is so ingrained, I once found my fingers doing Ctrl+s motions while writing longhand on a legal pad.

I guess I’m just programmed to save. And, because I’m a belt-and-suspenders kind of person, I save in duplicate, with redundant systems, in case one fails.

In the digital world, it's better to be saved than sorry.