Just before Christmas of 2010, I got an email of a Dilbert cartoon.
The cartoon pokes fun at a character with thirty years of experience. Unfortunately his experience is in the tech industry where the half life of technolgy is measured in months not years.
This scenario likely still fits the computer industry where I spent over twenty years.
It also fits a lot of people these days who got their toes wet in technology over the years but seem to be afraid of jumping in and really getting wet.
Unfortunately folks selling us technology are more a part of the problem than a solution. New technologies and untested changes get thrown over the wall by tech folks more often than I can count. Sometimes the changes are more about form factor than what the technology can actually do.
Often we as consumers are just a huge beta test for half-baked ideas.
We have moved quickly to a world where the cloud is now where much of the innovation is really taking place. Web based applications have been a growth area for ages and I have long wondered how long operating systems will really matter.
My life which has included selling farm equipment, cattle, computers, email services, lambda class networking, photographs, articles, and real estate has been a cram course in technology. Those diverse careers have exposed me to many new technologies before they hit most of the world.
Fortunately I have made the technology work for me instead of letting it hold me prisoner.
When we started farming in Canada, we had to use a party line for our telephone system. I can still remember brow beating the phone company into getting our first private line.
Our family first computer, an Apple II+, in 1982 was a gamble that paid off. In 1988 it just took a lot of money and no arguing to get our first car mounted cell phone. Not too many years after that my children gave me my first domain, Sobotta.org. With it came my own email to manage.
By the year 2000, I was creating simple websites on our internal web at Apple to foster communication with my sales team which spanned the contintent.
In the fall of 2004 I started blogging about my experiences in putting Linux on a computer. By 2006, I was the vp of sales and marketing for a cloud-based email services company. My job was to help convince people that their email was safer in the cloud than it was on a server locked in their back office.
In March of 2010, I got my first true smartphone, a Droid. It took about thirty seconds to log into my Gmail accounts and get my contacts into my phone. It is hard to compare that to the battles I went through to sync my old Nokia phone's contacts to my Mac. I finally got it to work but it took a lot more time than it did on my Droid.
Along the way, there have been digital cameras, both video and still. Now my new Nikon 3100 and my latest Pansonic Lumix camera both do video and still shots. It is hard to even compare them to that huge first Sonny video camera that I won in a sales contest while working for Apple.
While all this has been happening, there have been ad hoc home networks and other more elaborate set-ups. I have helped friends and family with computers and technology over the years. I am pleased that my latest gift to my youngest daughter was a wireless router which she managed to set up on her own.
I have moved much of my important stuff to the web or the cloud as lots of folks prefer to call it these days. Given the challenges of keeping track of an ever changing lineup of a computers, the web looks like a good place to archive things.
Last year, I gave a few seminars on the importance of storing your digital photographs someplace besides your computer. I think more people should pay attention to getting things in the cloud. It is far better than a shoe box.
I have become something of an agnostic when it comes to computers and operating systems. I don't worship at the altar of Steve Jobs, Bill Gates or even Linus Torvalds. I just use the computers to solve the problems that I run into in my daily world. I am proud that being cross platform gives me the skills to solve almost any computer problem on any platform.
With all this history of technology and working my way through it, I feel pretty confident that it might be a while before I have to whack a young whipper snipper with a modem or some other outdated piece of technology, but I have been surprised by the younger generation before and I suspect it won't be the last time.
In my journey through all this technological change, I have learned listening works a whole lot better that shouting. At the same time I have figured out how to differentiate between the people who know everything, and the ones who know something valuable and are willing help me while at the same time possibly benefitting from some of my thoughts.
I ran into enough brick walls at Apple to last me for a lifetime. I would far rather work with people than battle them any day. I happy to still be writing and working on the web where much of this new technology actually hits the road.
Today if you run into me walking on the beach, I can easily show you my latest website or pictures of my granddaughter on my smartphone. All that digital information is there along with a lot of other stuff that I can suck down from the cloud. I will also likely know the exact location where I met you.
It has been a long road since I started using that first computer, but I fully expect that that there will be lots more surprises before the journey is over. I'm looking forward to them.