The sales rep I was working with that day had started his PowerPoint presentation, plowing through the thirty-five slides with maniacal fervor. I was watching the customer; she was beginning to roll her eyes. She looked at me as if to plead for relief. I bumped the sales rep’s foot to get his attention, but his focus was intense. Then I reached into the sales rep’s computer bag and brought out a sales agreement. That finally diverted his attention from the computer screen.
The list goes back a few years, but see if you can think of the law broken with each one.
Home phone lines
This is not a comprehensive list but is enough to serve the point.
Many won’t remember the Energy Policy Act from 1992, but when it went into effect in 1994, five-gallon flush toilets were banned from further sales. All new commodes had to flush with 1.6 gallons of water. This was done with the intention of helping the environment.
It seems that five gallons of water to flush a commode was “extravagant” and “wasteful” so it required government intervention. Of course, as they are want to do, they jumped the gun and passed a law before the tech worked adequately.
The unintended consequence: The technology wasn’t perfect, so to “flush,” most of what went into the toilet required two, three, or four flushes to take care of the circumstance. Many times more water was used for flushing these environmentally friendly toilets than the old ones. The water savings was not seen for a few years.
They tried adding air pumps, pressure pumps for the water and at some point discovered a way to get most “flushes” to work the first time.
Then the government implemented a requirement to go to 1.2 gallons per flush. More fun ensued.
This one seems more dubious to me. Washing machines seemed more efficient than all the other ways to clean clothes.
I’m not sure of the exact dates for this government intervention, but this has lasting effects felt to this day. They required top-loading washing machines to use less water and electricity.
In 2012 another set of regulations was implemented by the Obama Administration that was supposed to save consumers money on electricity and water. The standards were put together to lower the amounts of both needed to wash clothes.
The unintended consequences; In 2007, Consumer Reports tested the new breed of machines and reported that for the first time, they could not recommend any inexpensive, high-performing top loader washers. They were testing brand new washing machines and said the washers did not clean the clothes.
What did they recommend if you wanted to buy a washing machine and actually to clean your clothes? The costly front-loading machines. They ran longer cycles and could operate on less water. The problem is most people couldn’t afford them, and many still can’t.
I can vouch that our top-loader washing machine is horrible. The government regulations require them to work with such a small amount of water they can’t get the clothes clean. Not only that, the rinse cycle uses so little water we have to run four rinse cycles to get the detergent rinsed out of our clothes.
So much for saving water.
Remember these antiques. Many people still need and use a home phone and I would think this skews to the elderly.
Home phones were connected to a pair of copper wires in your house that linked back to the automated switchboard. The power was through the copper line, so even when your home lost electricity, the telephone still worked. You could call the electric company, on your still working telephone, and let them know your electricity was out.
As the internet became more prevalent in households, companies began selling a service called VoIP, or voice over internet protocol. This service provides for voice conversation to take place over the Internet. The third-party companies were selling this service very cheap because they didn’t have to install phone lines or invest in expensive sub-stations. They only sold a device that connected to your Internet connection.
The Baby Bells saw this goldmine and eventually jumped onboard. Now, most home telephone lines are provided by VoIP. It is cheaper to offer and costs the Bells almost $0 extra to give the service. Even if you don’t buy an internet connection from a Baby Bell, they connect you to the internet and only activate for telephone service.
As they provide this service that has a negligible cost add-on, they still charge the same monthly fees they always did. Some even charge you for a long-distance plan as well. We were charged $39.95 for local service and another $39.95 for long distance a few years back. It was VoIP.
The unintended consequences: If you lose your Internet connection for any reason, power outage or Internet outage, you lose your home phone. And the service has a habit of dropping on a regular basis making it difficult to make an extended call without a lot of “what did you say?” between the participants.
Cell phones are a bit different. Their story is similar to the television story (which we’ll get to). In the beginning, cell phone signals we’re analog with a reach of 20 to 30 miles depending on topography. Cell towers were positioned for coverage based on these criteria; topography and signal strength.
I worked a large territory as a salesman in a remote part of the Texas Panhandle. With the layout of towers, I was able to communicate with my customers from almost anywhere in the region. My customers could easily call me if they had an emergency or a situation. It was great.
The unintended consequences: The conversion made all analog cell phones obsolete requiring new phones to work on the new technology. The bigger issue was signal strength and distance. Digital cell signals only carried eight to ten miles, which left much of the remote country I covered without coverage. I honestly can’t remember how long it took for the additional towers to be installed.
The television story is similar to the cell phones. Analog television signals reached for great distances. We lived in a city 60 miles from the “big city” where the television stations were located. With an antenna, we were able to watch TV without any issues. The weather didn’t seem to affect the analog signal we received from the stations. The weather not affecting the signal was the most important part because the weather was why we watched.
We moved to a remote location in the Texas Hill Country and the nearest stations were in San Antonio. Again, the analog signal worked great with one of the new flat panel powered antennas. The 30 or so miles didn’t matter. I could watch the Dallas Cowboys and the local news and weather.
The unintended consequences: The loss of all analog signals caused a large part of the rural population to lose their ability to watch television. This required those receiving “free television over the air” to purchase the new “digital only” signal from cable or satellite companies or do without their television service all together.
As with cell phones, the digital signal has a much shorter reach than the original analog signal.
I have to admit, this one chaps me the most. It was the most political and least thought out government intrusion up to this point in time.
Let’s start with price. At the time of the required conversion date, incandescent bulbs were about $0.50 cents each for a standard 60 watt bulb. The replacement CFL was over $10.00 dollars. So much for helping the poor and middle class.
Then they “forgot” to tell us the new CFL bulbs contained mercury, so they were dangerous if broken. Oh, and when they quit working, which was frequently, you could not throw them in the trash. You had to collect them and haul them to a designated location for proper disposal.
Supposedly, the CFL, or compact flourescent bulb, was supposed to last forever. Like 10,000 hours or something. Well, that didn’t happen. The bulbs manufactured for home use were not as reliable as the 4 foot and 8 foot flouescent tubes designed and built for office use.
The unintended consequences: LED bulbs were all ready being tested when the mandated change took place. I saw the LED (light emitting diode) in Amarillo, Texas in the early ’90s. It was remarkable. It took very little electricity to produce a brilliant light. And better, it did not put off any heat, to speak of.
At that time I knew LEDs would be the lighting of the future. Little did I know at that time the forthcoming CFL debacle.
This is an interesting one from the point of a “car guy.” Especially one that love muscle cars from the ’60s.
So far, the government hasn’t mandated electric cars, but I’m sure they will at some point in time. And if they do, you can be sure it will be before the technology is ready.
I’m not against the electric car, but I know that are better options.
Let’s look at the pros and cons to the electric car.
quiet running (except for government mandated noise)
Expensive to purchase
require diesel, coal, or natural gas to produce electricity to keep running
battery replacement cost are extremely expensive
total operational costs per mile is higher than gasoline vehicle
I know I might be the exception, but I’ve never paid more than $15,000 for a car. In fact, that was a 50% increase in what I paid for the car before that. Then I keep them and drive them for a long time. The $15,000 car is my current Dodge Magnum SXT with over 306,000 miles, and still going.
Since I only buy used, I would never buy a used electric car because of battery replacement costs.
This article is one of the most telling. It seems a police officer began a high-speed chase of a gas vehicle. The officer was forced to break off pursuit because his electric Tesla didn’t have enough charge to continue. He then had to locate and stop at a charging station to enable his return to the police station.
We’ve all seen the pictures of the electric car dead on the side of the highway with a two-ton truck pulling a big diesel generator. It seems that many drivers misjudge the distance one can drive in an electric car with the stereo, windshield wipers, heater, and cruise control running. Hint: It’s less than you think.
When the manufacturer says the car will run for 120 miles, remember that it is measured under ideal circumstances. A gasoline vehicle manufacturer says a car will get 15 city and 19 highway. Again, perfect conditions. In actuality, the car will get 12 city and 16 highway under real-life conditions.
The same goes for battery mileage. 100,000, 200,000, or 300,000 miles promised is like your laptop computer guy that says your battery will last 12 hours. Really? How about 5 hours under real conditions. And electric car batteries are expensive. To replace a battery pack currently is about $6,000. It’s hard to do the math with all the unknowns.
I also have kept meticulous records on my Dodge Magnum. Removing the cost of the vehicle like they did makes my total service and maintenance costs $.0.036/mile. I’m not seeing the huge savings they tout. In fact, they spent 28% more than I have.
And to claim they are carbon free? Where do they think the electricity comes from? The magic socket on the wall? That is a long discussion beyond the scope of this work, but the electric car is ultimately still powered by Natural gas, Coal, Diesel, or Nuclear energy. Sure we can even discuss solar and wind, but they are not ready for prime time, either.
Will electric cars get better? Yes, in time. But not now.
I guess my point is that tech seems to move backwards long before moving ahead. It’s just a shame the government keeps interfering with the process requiring conversions before they are ready. The cost to American taxpayers is tremendous.
Can a tablet be your full-time computer? That is a good question. Since a tablet is light-weight and more capable than ever, I wanted to see if it were possible. The quick answer is a resounding YES! And maybe a little no.
Is the hardware available and sufficient for full-time work?
Is the hardware viable with its smaller screen?
Is the software applications plentiful enough?
Are the software applications adequate?
Let’s Begin with Hardware
My first concern is the hardware. What do you need to begin a successful test?
a beautiful screen with a high resolution
a superb Bluetooth keyboard to connect
a Bluetooth mouse for quick location onscreen
a large monitor to connect when working at your desk
These criteria would help with the process of converting to a tablet.
As readers know, I have an ASUS ZenPad 10 Android tablet. It is two years old and yet has a screen resolution higher than most current tablets at 2048 X 1536. Great screen and definitely a high enough resolution.
The Logitech Keys-To-Go Bluetooth keyboard is still the best Bluetooth keyboard available today. The keyboard weighs nothing and is so thin it is barely there. And it still has key movement similar to my ASUS ZenBook laptop. It will fill the keyboard slot very well. I just bought a second one for my wife to use with her new tablet.
I have yet to test a Bluetooth mouse, but there are plenty of brand name and off-brand names available. From the Amazon reviews, these work well enough for this part of the hardware requirements.
Connecting a large screen is also easy to do. Amazon Basics offers a USB Type C to HDMI adapter that will handle a large monitor. Since I got rid of the last desktop computer and monitor I had, I am unable to test this part, but again, according to the Amazon reviews, this is solved.
How about the Software part of the equation?
Software is the toughest part of this test. The resounding YES! is because there are plenty of productivity apps to satisfy most users. The small no comes from the lack of availability of specialty software.
With Google Drive and its associated apps, it can handle basic computing needs. There is Docs for word processing, Sheets for spreadsheets, Slides for presentations, Forms for information gathering, Drawings for creativity, and more within this suite of products.
Even Microsoft offers versions of it’s Office Suite on the Android and Apple platforms.
I suspect this will cover most computer users on the tablet.
Publishing on the Web
Even writing specifically for the web is easy using apps provided by the different suiters. I use the WordPress app on my tablet for writing with the Keys-to-Go Bluetooth keyboard. I’ve written about this before.
I found a Medium app in the Google Play store that allows for reading and writing with the Medium website.
There are apps for all of the following:
Voice to Text
Text to Voice
What is Missing
The problem comes with specialty applications. I use only a few in this category.
Writing on a tablet with a portable Bluetooth keyboard is easier than ever. Of late, I have to work from different locations daily. This situation has forced me back to my ASUS tablet and the Logitech keyboard. I wrote an article on the combination of the two of them earlier this year. They make a formidable pair.
Let’s Talk Weight
My current laptop is a seven-year-old 13.3″ ASUS Zenbook (named Zeus) that weighs in at 3.2 lbs. It is thin and light, but not as easy to carry as a 9.7″ tablet and small keyboard. First, the charging cable is larger, and second, the battery is getting weaker as it ages. It is still the original battery. I have upgraded the hard drive from a 128 GB SSD to a 480 GB SSD. The battery will probably be the next replacement required. I’m not sure I can upgrade the RAM, but it would be nice.
Back to the Keyboard
The Logitech Keys-to-Go Bluetooth keyboard is the ultimate in thin and light. I have the one made specifically for Android that seems to no longer be available on Amazon. They made the blue one for Android, a red one for iPad, and a black one for Windows. The Windows keyboard is the only one showing up on Amazon now. They are all interchangeable, but each has a few special keys set aside for OS functions specific to each one.
My amazement continues as I use this keyboard and in how easy it is to type. The keys have a good feel and enough travel to let you know the key is depressed. The built-in battery lasts a long time, then a quick connection to a charger with a Micro USB connector puts the green light back on. It is a fantastic device.
Living in the Past
I used a 12.1″ Dell laptop for about eight years, so I’m used to a smaller keyboard. It was my work and personal laptop, and I loved it. I had to retire it when both hinges broke. A sad day.
The Logitech keyboard is even smaller than the one on “Baby Dell,” but the spacing on the keys is enough to touch type. I’m not as fast as I was when I was typing every day, but it is getting better with each use.
Fresh and Cool
I have used this combination for a few days now, writing in the WordPress Android app. Currently, this works because I have WiFi available. The WordPress app requires a connection to the website but has no offline function. The app would not even open when I tried it last year. I’m not sure what I will do when I end up somewhere with no connection. I’ll cross that bridge when I get there, I guess.
I have enjoyed writing regularly again. It gets my brain active, and after a bit, the creative juices begin to flow. It is something I have missed.
Back to Writing
When writing, I use the Grammarly app as well as the Hemmingway app. I have not figured out an easy way to incorporate either into this portable writing process. When I have completed writing on the tablet, I upload it as a draft to my WordPress site and finish formatting on my laptop. By uploading the document, I can check the grammar and sentence structure before publishing. So far, the process seems to work.
I know there is a Grammarly keyboard for Android, but I don’t think it will work while I’m using the Logitech keyboard. I may have to experiment with that.
Since I have committed to getting my writing chops back in shape, this combination is helpful. I throw them in a small bag and head out the door. The bag has a charger and cables for the tablet and phone, so no need to remember to grab extras.
I will try to give an update as I continue this new journey.
What portable tech are you using? I’m always open to new ideas.
Oh, and you DO name your tech devices, don’t you? Or is it just me?
Can a tablet replace a laptop? This is a question asked every day by many people. And if so, which tablet? And how do you get it to work like your laptop? I am always looking for a lighter bag when traveling. One caveat: I have never used an Apple device, so I can’t speak to them. I am an Android and Windows guy.
In March of 2017, I purchased a small, Bluetooth Logitech keyboard to accompany my 7″ Nexus tablet. In June, I upgraded the tablet to an ASUS Zenpad 3S 9.7″ tablet and paired it with the keyboard. That was when it became clear the future had arrived. The 7″ tablet worked but was a little small on for my eyes. Moving up to the larger tablet made a huge difference.
Full disclosure, I am typing this on my laptop since I’m at my desk. When traveling, the tablet keyboard combo works great.
Using the tablet keyboard combination does post challenges. Some automated tasks don’t work. Some software applications were not available in the app store. And the keyboard and screen are smaller.
I found workarounds for some automated tasks, I used available apps, and the size was an easy one for me. My laptop for seven years was a 12.1″ Dell computer named Baby Dell. I found the smaller keyboard easier and faster to type on than the big, clunky desktop keyboards. But that may just be me.
My Experience with Limitations
The limitations depend on what you regularly do on your computer. My primary functions are writing and research.
Here is a list from my experience.
Microsoft Word App
Microsoft Excel App
Google Docs and Sheets
Open Live Writer
WAMP for testing before updating a website
Misc. Notes apps
Blue = Good; Red = Bad;Green = Sometimes Sorta Maybe
The apps in Blue work as good and sometimes better on Andriod than Windows. The apps in Red have proven to be a challenge in Android. Grammarly does have the web application, but nothing native to Android for inline work. The apps in Green are a different story. Phrase Express and a few notes apps can sync through Dropbox if you want to work on that, but I’m not that motivated.
While my experience may not equal yours, I am interested in your stories. Have you tried this setup? Have you found a way to make it work? Has it been a disaster? Let me know below.
If you don’t know by now, I love technology. It can assist our productivity, automate routine tasks and make life easier. It can also enslave us and bring us under its spell. So is technology good or evil? This is such a good question.
Technology is Good
I love todoist, my todo app. It syncs with my phone and tablet, always keeping me in line with my priorities. I love Evernote for its ability to keep all types of information at my fingertips, no matter the device I have at hand. Technology is a way to make routine tasks take care of themselves. IFTTT and Zapier seem like magic when applied to repeat actions.
The beginning of my sales life was without a cell phone. I always had a roll of quarters in my car and knew where most of the pay phones were in my territory. Cell phones made communication faster and easier for people on the go. And laptop computers were a godsend for road warriors.
The original AT&T (before the government forced breakup) had phone service perfected. The only way it did not work was a physical line cut. Electricity goes out and the phones continued to work. VOIP, on the other hand, is frequently down. It requires both electricity and an Internet connection to function.
Let’s talk modern washing machines and one-gallon toilets. Okay, I won’t, but I will say the new washing machines suck so much. Clothes don’t get clean and they don’t rinse the soap out. What a terrible use of technology.
I witnessed technology enslaving someone over the weekend and it was an eye-opening experience. I was in the company of a six-year-old with an iPad. Throughout sixteen waking hours, I saw fifteen hours and fifty minutes of Mindcraft play. The ten minutes were bathroom breaks. On occasion he would look up, but only momentarily.
On the highway yesterday, driving at 75mph, a young man was texting on his cell phone. I don’t think I have to even talk about how dangerous and stupid that is. How do you get them to stop? Has the phone taken over their mind? No. Well, maybe.
Good or Evil?
So the question remains. Is technology good or evil?
The correct answer is “neither.” It has no soul and it does not make choices. However, it can control the human mind, if allowed.
I’m not going to get on my soapbox here, but everyone knows the solution to the above issues. Don’t we?
I will not say I’m retiring because I hate that word. It makes me think a person is giving up. Besides, biblically, the only retirement is death. I’m just getting my second wind and preparing for new adventures, new struggles, and new dreams.
This self-named website indulgence is for my opinions about life, tech, and cars.
I love tech. It makes me happy. I love cars, especially muscle cars from the sixties and early seventies. And life … what can I say. I am blessed with a wonderful family: my wife, my son and his wife and the two wonderful granddaughters.
At my age, many have thoughts of slowing down, but nothing is farther from the truth. For me, it is time to pivot. To begin anew.
What is it like to be home every day?
What is it like for my wife to have me home every day? How do I deal with the flexibility?
My wife reminds me frequently, “I took you for better or worse, but not lunch every day.”
I love technology. All kinds of technology.
Remember Day Planners? They were early time management technologies. Then digital arrived and I was blown away.
Personal Tech in a Small Way
Then Radio Shack had Rolodex develop and private brand a device that held contacts, notes, to do lists, and a calendar with reminders. It was fantastic and I went through three of them before they were discontinued.
Then came the Sharp Wizard. The high end model allowed for a cabled connection to a computer to backup information. Again, all four functions were available, contacts, notes, to do lists, and calendar. I went through two or three of those before the introduction of the Palm Pilot.
I used both the Rolodex unit and the Sharp Wizard for work. I was an outside sales rep and these electronics stored all the information about my customers on me at all times.
Then Palm released the Palm Pilot and everything changed. My brother-in-law loaned me his Palm Pilot (yes, the original) and my world changed forever.
First Owned Palm
Eventually I purchased a Palm Vx. It was the best device on the market and leaps ahead of my first devices … open pdf, Word, and Excel documents using apps built by third-party developers. That changed everything.
The Vx gave way to the T5 and later still, a Palm Centro phone. By the way, I still have all the Palm devices and they still work. I’m saving them for my Tech Museum.
Tech in a Larger Way
When Radio Shack decided to close out the TRS-80 Model 4P for half price, I bought one. The P stood for portable, but it was as large as a suitcase. It had two 5-1/4″ floppy drives and no hard drive. One floppy was for the Operating System, TRS-DOS, and the other drive was for programs and saving work.
Next was a DAK computer and I also bought a Gorilla Banana dot matrix printer. This was before Michael Dell began building computers in his dorm room.
Our second desktop is an interesting story. The DAK was getting old and slow and was ready for replacing. Our family got together and bought my wife and me a new computer for our 25th wedding anniversary in 1995. I still have that computer. It’s boxed and in the closet and last time I checked, booted and worked. Powered by a 286 Pentium processor, it was top shelf and set them back $2500. The good old days.
After that, my wife and I moved to laptop computers and I have a closet full of old, dead laptops waiting to be recycled. I just counted, and there are nine laptops in the house, but only four work.
There is one more desktop bought 11 years ago, an E-machine bought at Walmart for a few business applications. It still works, but is old and slow.
Car are a completely different topic and will be thoroughly discussed in another article.
Well, that is a quick overview of the new LarryHendrick.com. I hope you come along for the journey.