I used to be a geek, but I got better

Technology is a wonderful, and scary thing. I love this quote by Arthur C. Clarke:

Any sufficient advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

In my programming days, one of the systems I cut my teeth on was named MAGIC. I don’t remember what the acronym stood for anymore, but the system was an allocation calculation system for 401k plans. The company I worked for hated it, but it made money. Go figure.

I came late into the iPod revolution. My pod is old and I bought it used. Sort of proud of myself for that, but now that I have one I can definitely understand the little gadget’s charm. Actually, I think the darned thing is psychic. Really. Every time I put it on ‘shuffle songs’ it instinctively knows EXACTLY what to play, based on what time of day it is, what mood I’m in, what the weather is outside, who’s in the car or wherever. I’m serious! I couldn’t get to sleep one night so I slapped on the headphones and turned on the pod. And it played all the quiet, classical stuff, and the ballads, and Secret Garden, all randomly…oh, and Music of the Night.

And today, I had a doctor’s appointment this morning and it was raining buckets, wind howling. I was in a melancholy sort of mood. Plugged in the pod. It plays Kathy Mattea, Knee Deep in a River Dying of Thirst. I thought, that’s weird, the pod’s doing it again. Wish it would play Seeds, also Kathy Mattea. So it did. Then it played Fade Away by Day of Fire, which perfectly matched my mood (I’m surprised it didn’t play their Rain Song, which is awesome.) It tried to cheer me up with some acoustic Decemberadio, the up-and-coming Christian rock band that my cousin Brian plays lead guitar in. Then another Decemberadio song, Are You Alright My Friend. Isn’t that sweet? The pod cares. Back to Kathy Mattea, I Am Ready for the Storm, as the storm drops more buckets of rain on me. (If I was still a techno geek I’d figure out how to make the song titles into links to somewhere so you could hear them. Oh well.)

I’m seriously thinking about how the people at Apple have programmed this thing. Yes, it has a calendar so it knows what time of day it is. It could have a database of basic day/night words. It could check the time, check it’s little database, check the song titles loaded into it, match ’em up, pick ’em out and play ’em. I’ve programmed harder stuff trying to read driver’s accident records, motor vehicle records and match up accident information with the appropriate drivers on insurance policies based on named insured, other insureds, driver’s name on the accident report, which may or may not be a driver on the actual policy…forget it, it’s complicated.

But I haven’t met a computer yet that could read my emotions, until this stupid, old iPod. It’s freaking me out.

Then I get to the doctor’s office and guess what? He has a new computer system. He comes in carrying his little wireless laptop, updates my insurance and pharmacy information, my drug allergies, yak yak. We discuss what nasty things fibromyalgia is doing to me right now, and we discuss the possible reasons why it might be doing those things. Doc pulls up my medical record, inputs some stuff, hits the update button, then says “Oh my God, I updated the wrong patient. What do I do? We only had 4 hours of training on this system.”

I’m glad to see not much has changed in the industry since I left it 4 years ago.

I go into programmer mode. Is there an option to delete the transaction just completed anywhere on the screen? Nope. He tries several different things. Nothing works, so he decides to finish with me. Then he’ll figure out how to correct the other patient’s record. He suggests we change a prescription. We discuss options and decide on a course of action. He taps the screen a few times and says “Done! Just stop by the pharmacy on your way home and pick it up.”

Like I said, technology is a wonderful, and scary, thing.

He decides to check my Vitamin D level, so I trot to the lab, back to check out and make a follow-up appointment and pay my co-pay. As I’m leaving he says, “Hey, I figured out how to fix that screw up I made. I had to go to a completely different part of the system.” To which I said, “What did you expect? You wanted to fix it at the same place where you messed it up? How silly of you!”

I used to get in trouble at work because of comments like that. “You mean, you wanted something to be in a logical place? You wanted it make SENSE?”

I’m getting sort of tense. I think I’ll go get the pod, put it on shuffle, and see what it plays.

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3 responses to “I used to be a geek, but I got better

  1. Technology can be mind boggling.

    I have never understood the reasoning that went into having to hit the “Start” to shut down Windows.

  2. Yep. Maybe they thought we’d “Start” to shut down, then change our minds and leave the system up, and….

    wait a minute.

  3. Don’t even get me started, I want DOS back.

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