Sunday, December 11, 2011

Technology’s Relentless March! One Baby Boomer’s Lament

I know I’ve been neglecting this Tech and the Baby Boomer blog, and I apologize to all my readers. I am in the middle of a project that is taking all of my time: a web news site called New Jersey Tech Weekly. This is an interesting journey for me into the world of entrepreneurship. However, there is nothing like trying something new, to show you that you have a lot to learn.

This is the truth: as a baby boomer, I am frequently stymied by the technology I must use to do my new job well. While I’ve mastered much of what I wrote about earlier, I’ll admit I am having trouble keeping up with new developments. The more I need to use new technology, the less time I have to learn it.

So here is my Boomer wish list for the coming year:

Facebook, Twitter, and Google: Stop changing things so fast
. Give us casual users a chance to catch up to the last change before you make more changes to your products. I’m not even saying this is something these companies should do just for baby boomers. I think the rate of change baffles even younger users, if they are casual ones.

Facebook seems to change something every week. In the past, it made no difference to me, but now I don’t have time to go back to update my privacy settings each time Facebook makes a change. When I go to Facebook, I really just want to find out what my friends are doing, comment and get out. Also, now I have two Facebook pages, one for myself and one for New Jersey Tech Weekly. Updating everything is overwhelming, and even more so when I have to learn something new about the service each time I go on it.

This brings me to Google. Google is changing Gmail’s interface shortly. I had an opportunity to try out the new interface and I hate what they’ve done. All the new colors are hard on my eyes. It takes forever for the “pull down” menus to open on my screen. Those menu items used to be right there for me to click on. I just learned how to use “labels,” became comfortable with what they could do for me, and now I have to hunt for them!

Then, of course, Google introduced Google+ this year. Some of the cutting edge companies I cover are on Google+ so I have to learn how to use it. I went to a great session taught by a social media guru (Eva Abreu) and got some good pointers. (This is her webpage in case you want to use her services.) I put up a personal page and a business page.

I even learned how to initiate or join a “hangout.” I do think this is an amazing feature. It lets 10 people with video cameras on their computers interact. You could have a study group this way. Or interact with all the members of your far flung family at the same time. Yet Google keeps on tweaking the features for this service and many of its others. And frankly, I can’t keep up.

The last straw was Twitter’s new redesign. I use Twitter to broadcast news about my areas of expertise. My "handle" for this is @techandboomers and @njtechwkly.  For the most part I've found it very, very easy to use.  I “tweet” links to interesting articles in these fields and I send direct messages to companies I cover for New Jersey Tech Weekly. Now Twitter changed. It’s hard to find the direct message feature, for example. I’m not sure why Twitter is changing either. Much of the change that goes on seems like change for change sake!

My Second Wish has to do with apps. I’ll address this complaint to developers: stop making apps that are hard to use! I mean, test them on regular people before you release them. If you make a new version of an app, give people a way to delete the old version easily. Don’t make them figure it out. I say this with the utmost respect. I love app developers. I love anyone who is takes a problem and solves it. I love my iPhone and my iPad, and generally I’m happy with them. But occasionally, I become frustrated.

I had downloaded Cardmuncher to solve a business card issue I was having. Who has time to enter all their business card info into a computer? Cardmuncher lets you take a picture of a business card someone gives you, and snap, the information is processed and brought back into your computer. It links to LinkedIn, so you can “connect” with the person who handed you the card on that social networking site. It was great.

Cardmuncher announced a new version. Did it update the version I already had on my iPhone? No, it just downloaded a new one. True, all my information was on it, but the old version’s icon was still there on my screen. I know how to delete the old version. You just hold it down until an "X" appears on it and I did that, but that is something the app developer should have taken care of. Also, the new version is different from the old one. Now it seems that you can only take a picture of a card vertically, not horizontally as before. It’s harder to focus the cards in that little window. Yet I’m still using the app, just not as happily.

Well that’s enough ranting for one day. I wish everyone out there a happy holiday season!


Donna Hull said...

Oh do I ever hear you on this one. And you didn't mention YouTube and StumbleUpon. Why do all of the internet companies make technical changes at the same time? As a boomer blogger, my brain is challenged continuously by the changes in technology. It's hard to concentrate on producing quality content when I'm having to learn Facebook, twitter, etc., yet again.

Esther Surden said...

Thanks Donna. It's nice to know that others share my frustration!

Sell Used Cell Phones said...

Cardmuncher, sure is a great app!

Kaye Swain - SandwichINK for Grandparents and Caregivers said...

Right there with you :) Re: Twitter - I use Tweetdeck - it's not the easiest, but it works well and it is MUCH easier for things like direct messages. I can NEVER find those on the twitter site.

Re: apps - if I can't figure it out within a minute or two (or my grandkids -for their fave fun apps for the iPhone, I delete it :) It's just not worth the hassle, is it?

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