Archive for the ‘ Technology ’ Category

Living with Technology

Our technologies are what has made us the dominant species in the world. But as they become more powerful (as they rapidly are) – they end up being in control of us.

I am always asking “What is in control here?” And the answers I get are sometimes disturbing. It does seems like people want to give control of themselves over to something else. This was originally God, but has become Technology. And people easily confuse the two.

A good place to start looking at this situation, is probably the Industrial Revolution. An event we have never fully understood – but we can see that Machines – the Steam Engine, and then the Internal Combustion Engine – had a huge impact on us. In many ways, they simply took over – and we became like them. This was an advantage, and a disadvantage both – as I have remarked elsewhere.

This can be seen in the case of the Railroads – most of our energy (and our finances) went into building them. They, in return, provided lots of jobs. And made possible the Civil War, WWI, and WWII. The Railroads (and its people) benefited enormously from all this – but people in general, did not do so well (as shown by the Holocaust).

Note the pattern here – people who identify with a successful technology (no matter what kind of people they are) benefit from it – at the expense of everyone else. And those who benefit most. allow the technology to take over their minds – so they can no longer think for themselves (the Nazis, for example).

This takes us up the the middle of the last century – when we were hit by Television  – and have never recovered from it. We were now controlled by forces we could not identify – and didn’t want to. But we got its basic  message – we are important, and you are not!

And people everywhere know those in power must be obeyed.


The Psychology of Everyday Life

I tend to be a technical person, but I have to think like a person sometimes – which isn’t too hard, because I am a person. And I can start from there.

I can start from where I am, look around me, at all the other people – and ask myself “What is going on with them?”

The answer I get, depends on where I am.

Yesterday, I took my digital camera and made videos of a celebration that was going on  – some kind of footrace, where teams from different places, all wearing distinctive jerseys, competed with each other. They were hanging out, socializing with each other (as they often do) and were delighted when I started to make a video of them. In a word, they were friendly – and that is why I am living here.

I have to contrast this with the situation in Silicon Valley, where I was working in the Nineties. I was part of a men’s therapy group, where I kept asking the same question “What is going on in the Valley?” The answer I got was unbelievable – all kinds of things were going on, money was sloshing around all over the place, but fundamentally – nothing was going on!

And they didn’t want anything to really go on – because that would have been too disruptive of the way things were. And the way things were was unfriendly. They will never, ever admit this (in fact, they are not aware of it) – but that is how they are. They are interested in other things – not themselves.

The undeveloped world has a problem – not enough money! But the developed world also has a problem – they cannot be good to themselves! In either case, their basic problem cannot be fixed – or fixed very easily.

To continue this investigation of mine – I would have to ask why Americans are in the fix they are in. But that will have to wait for later – right now we have to look at the way things are – right now.

What We Have to do First

Is carefully assess our problem, which is this  – most people have dropped out of the world, and are not interested in it. Which means other people are now responsible for making things work.

These people have a powerful tool to help them – the Computer, and its Software. They can use the techniques of Software Development for Human Development. Don’t look at me that way – I am serious about this!

I am babysitting a new Windows 10 laptop – and and learning from the experience. The Chinese company that built it (for a low price, it is true) left a lot for me to figure out for myself. And Microsoft did not want anything Google on it. I had to be smarter than they are, to make it right for me – which was hard, but not too hard.

Now I can use Google’s apps (such as their Chrome browser) and learn to program in F#, using Microsoft’s Visual Studio. Mix and Match!

And there are other things I am learning, just by hanging around the Software community – and seeing what they are interested in.

For example – Microservices. People can look at how this is done, in software – and adapt it to almost anything. At least anything in the Developed world – which is used to the idea of development. 

You can learn from anything – even a computer.

I Gotta VPN

Just what I always wanted!

Perhaps, like me, you wonder what a VPN is – check this out. Impressed?

I have been trying to use AWS, the Amazon Cloud – the best one out there.

I got a free account, and decided to set up a virtual personal computer on it, so I could do some F# programming there – using its EC2 service. I got my virtual computer, but could not figure out how to use it. Something was wrong, and their technical support told me:

Your instance security group rules show that, you are only allowing RDP connection from Ip address. If you IP address changed or RDP’ing from different location, modify this security groupo rule to allow connection from your IP address or for testing purpose, allow RDP connection from

RDP stands for their virtual desktop, that you can use to program your virtual machine. The rest of the message mean nothing to me. AWS has given me powerful new capabilities I never asked for!

I now have to learn a vast range of skills, just to become Cloud Literate. Perhaps I should have just left the thing alone.

But The Beast has been awakened, and has grabbed us by the balls!

Writing F#, Using Visual Studio

Microsoft technologies

I’m too old for this kid stuff! As we used to say (about sex) “I’m old enough to know better, but too young to resist”.

From my experience in Silicon Valley – I knew there had to be a better way to write software. And Functional Programming is probably that way.

So why isn’t it used more? Because it uses a different programming paradigm – that makes programmers think differently – but also because the companies who hire these programmers – are not interested in better software.

How many products have you used, that are hard to use? Or don’t work at all?

You probably thought something was wrong with you – but it was probably the software.

The Emotional Effects of Continuous Improvement

Much of the world has been continually improving itself, beginning in the middle of the 19th Century. Note the key word much, however. Some parts of the world have not changed much at all.

Much of the Islamic world, for example, is determined to not change – and views this as a dangerous process that will take them away from the truth.

America, however, still continues to change at an ever-increasing pace – and this is extracting a heavy emotional toll from its people.

They have assumed, since they have been improved so much – they are now radically different people – in fact, demigods! And can take as much as they please, from lesser beings – everyone and everything else in the world.

This is faulty reasoning, but reasoning that seems perfectly sound to them.

Their critical reasoning has moved into their unconscious (including their collective unconscious). And this is typical unconscious reasoning – simple in its operation – and violent.

Americans are Nice

And this self-knowledge is bred into their bones. They can get away with anything, because they know they are right – no matter what they do – no matter how crazy they are.

And this is why they have failed so disastrously – without knowing it in the least. They are not allowed to know what they really are. They are nice, and that is all they need to know.

There was another adjective that my parents liked to use – they were respectable.

Why they had to be respectable was clear enough – underneath their clever facade, they were not respectable at all – but were quite the opposite. This is why they were so religious – and their church affiliation made them even more respectable.

This worked in the boom economy right after WWII – they could proudly show off their possessions – their new houses and new cars. These proved they were good people.

When the economy faded, in the Sixties – they shifted their attention elsewhere. They went from the Great Society to Vietnam.

And gradually they went from being respectable to being nice – a state harder to define. But one they could observe easily on their Televisions.

The second half of the last Century was influenced by TV, and then the Computer. These produced some very complicated changes, that are still going on. But one overall effect was clear – Americans (and Europeans, and nearly everyone else) became self-destructive.

They were living in another reality – much better than the real one! Nero fiddled while Rome burned – and we are obsessed by our Phones, while our world burns.

Perhaps some day historians will describe the complicated transitions in the 17th through 21st Centuries. A huge undertaking that we cannot begin now.