January 9, 2005
Sometimes I get to thinking, are we overdoing this whole technology thing? Sure I love to print digital photos at home and get my e-mail on the road but now I need to constantly buy paper and ink as well as fix paper jams and of course bring a Blackberry charger everywhere I go. Besides using more and more technology, we are all suffering from CMS or crappy manual syndrome which is often the manifestation of a manual written in Asia in a language from the region and translated by the lowest paid translator who happened to be in the company cafeteria at the time the translation was needed. I swear I would make a small fortune proofing these things for companies... Even if they just paid me a dime for every error I found.With the ever increasing race to add features to products and beat the competition in doing so, there seems to be less and less emphasis on developing easy to use and navigate user interfaces as well as manuals to explain how everything works. Sony is a great example of this problem. I have their DSC-T1 camera and it is a technological marvel with a software interface certainly written by the Asian descendent of the Marquis de Sade (And I didn't even know he ever went to Japan). Even the largest software companies with billions of dollars in revenue cant seem to get their programs to follow the same shortcut key guidelines. Case in point is Microsoft and the Control F key combination which means something different in Outlook than it does in Word or Excel.So in this age of escalating feature wars and gadget envy, what we are doing is setting ourselves up for levels of complexity that will take an MIS department in every home to unravel. Sometimes I think all the displaced MIS workers -- causalities of offshoring, will end up in our homes configuring SMB IP Centrex.I got to thinking about all of this recently when my home WiFi Internet connection started to die for no apparent reason. What a dilemma it was to fix it. Was it the cable modem? The cable Internet service? the D-link adapter from CallVantage or the WiFi access point? I finally narrowed it down to the access point when I realized that unplugging it temporarily would always fix the problem. In order to test the theory I swapped out the Linksys access point with another and 2 blog entries later, problem solved. Does every home need redundant systems now to stay in touch?
Can we throw away our WiFi access points then to aid in simplifying our lives? NO! The way I see it WiFi is a necessity like a cordless phone or toaster oven.Just this weekend in fact we had friends over and the station we were watching said "Important news about Brad and Jennifer... Stay tuned, news at 11." My guests were in Shock! What could have happened to this seemingly perfect couple. Sometimes I get the feeling these two are the closest to a royal family we will see in this country. How could two ordinary citizens be worshipped by so many? Back to my guests. Theories abounded. Did they split? A baby? What is happening? Never one to deliberate when I feel the WiFi in the air, I directed my guests to the local WiFi aware laptop in the den and a moment later we found out they had split and learned more about the couple's personal life than I think it is healthy for me to know.But I digress. WiFi is essential and that means that complexity is essential as well. The point is when I see the chance for this massive amount of complexity in our homes with levels and levels of NAT and multiple firewalls that packets have to traverse, I realize that any step towards simplification is a good thing.So when I read that engadget had seen a CallVantage D-Link router with built in WiFi
, I got excited.Granted, to me this device looks more like a sardine can on steroids than a leading edge VoIP gateway/WiFi access point, but that isnt the point... Its the functionality that matters. Currently when diagnosing an Internet problem I need to log into the console of each device and play around. Each has its own IP address and if you are having problems, sometimes you cant get to one device through another. Less devices of course means less detective work when something doesn't work correctly. Well that is the theory anyway.So my hope is that in the new year, VoIP will grow exponentially in functionality and ability while simultaneously adopting more simplicity. A tall order, yes -- but if we can accomplish this same feat with a PC we can do it in the VoIP industry. Speaking of integration, we may even see the royal couple reunite before 2006.