Home Life Bits and Pieces Technology: good, bad — and ugly

Technology: good, bad — and ugly

If you ever had your hard drive crash, then you know it’s the stuff of nightmares. Recently, an ordinary workday turned into a day from hell with one strike of a computer key. The crash was due to a ransomware attack that spread through the Ukraine, Russia and globally. How it turned up in Jamesport remains a mystery.

The virus posed as an Adobe update. I hit the “update” icon (we do updates, right?) and just like that, I was locked out. Folks you can’t make this stuff up. After the initial panic and unprintable expletives, I realized that this behavior was getting me nowhere, fast. I called my IT guy — aka my computer guru. He managed to calm me down and together we reviewed all my options. It was time for a new system. My trusty computer was old and woefully out of date.

Installing the system required my “guru’s” expertise. He explained all the nuances — especially the concept of the “cloud.” The cloud thing required his infinite patience. When he went over it the first time (yes, there were many more times), my response was a blank stare.

“But where is the cloud?” I asked (repeatedly.) 

He patiently explained the concept again. And again. And then again. Finally, there was a glimmer of understanding: Instead of saving information to my hard drive, I save it to the cloud — maybe? (Everything seems to be working fine — with or without my understanding.)

Technology is very sophisticated nowadays, and a tad scary. I have this seven-minute workout App on my phone. It’s a good adjunct to my yoga practice. This cardiovascular routine works the entire body and comes with a personal trainer (although I don’t see her — maybe she lives in the cloud). I’ve named her Olympia. She reminds me when it’s time to exercise, encourages me while working out and when I’ve completed the routine, she says, “Congratulations! Well done.”

But there’s such a thing called overkill. While on vacation recently, Olympia came with me via my phone. What a pain in the butt! While traveling, she kept “beeping” and reminding me that I skipped my exercise routine. Maybe she didn’t have enough to do. I was tempted to uninstall her but decided she was worth the annoyance — especially since I was packing on the calories while vacationing.

I had this health App that informed me of the number of steps I take, how much sleep I am getting, how stressed I am (well, that I can figure out for myself) and how many calories I burn during exercise. At first, it was a novelty, but the fun wore thin. I found myself tracking myself — I wasn’t living my life; I was watching my life on a phone. Geez! I uninstalled it.

Most of us have GPS whether we like it or not — I love it. Driving to parts unknown is a breeze. If I make a wrong turn, or there is a traffic jam, I am rerouted. It has eliminated the worry of getting lost. But, there is a downside. There have been many a careless folk, who’ve had their whereabouts tracked: They were playing where they shouldn’t have been playing — if you get my drift! Private detectives and divorce lawyers are having a field day raking in the dough.

Tracking devices made news last month. The Pentagon has encouraged the use of Fitbits to military personnel and in 2013 distributed 2,500 of them as part of a pilot program to battle obesity. U.S. soldiers were inadvertently revealing sensitive and dangerous information by jogging. The GPS tracking company Strava uses satellite information to map the location and movements of subscribers to its fitness service. Many locations of military sites show up on the map, resulting in a major security oversight. Who knew?

Some research indicates that the rapid development of new innovative information technologies enhances the quality of our lives.

But does it really?

Depending on which studies you read, there is evidence to support the positives, negatives and downright scary aspects of how technology may impact an otherwise healthy individual. It will take many years of research to more clearly define the good, bad and ugly aspects of technology. Or maybe the answer is in the cloud.

Stay tuned!

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Celia Marszal-Iannelli
Celia Iannelli is a native New Yorker enjoying a second career — in 'retirement' — as a freelance writer. She lives in Jamesport.