Net Results: Hey techies, this is what I want for Christmas

Thu, Dec 19, 2013, 01:00

Christmas is a time of miracles – or so the holiday songs and cards say. Setting aside that technology itself can seem miraculous (Do you remember the first time you saw an iPhone? I do. It was jaw-droppingly amazing), there are a few miracles in the technology arena that I’d sure like to see happen as one year draws to a close and another puts its head over the horizon.

Here’s my personal wish list.


Churnalism
That we might pass a single year without some US journalist blaming Ireland when big tech corporations move their cash about for maximum tax shelter effect.

This is a red herring. US companies do this because the US has not changed its own tax system to stop it. The US government has happily settled into a well-worn pattern where its multinationals are allowed to repatriate that sequestered money at a lower tax rate about once a decade. It’s all a game of loopholes that could be resolved within the US tax system itself.

The Microsmirk
That we might have a return of the truly funny Microsoft joke. Once upon a time, Microsoft was at the jocular centre of the technology humour universe (such as it is). What has changed? I am not sure if the products and services have improved or if the lack of joke-ability is related to a decline in power and profile. Or perhaps we all drained the well of Microsoftian humour dry long ago. But I haven’t heard a good Microsoft joke in years.


Apple plug
That Apple will produce a plug for its Macs, iPads, iPods and iPhones that doesn’t eventually break or wear out due to the wide magnetic charger or the charger block being attached to a flimsy bit of cord. Even though slightly sturdier now at the business end, they still tend to give way. They are expensive to replace, especially on a Mac.

One answer: get some Sugru (Sugru.com) and hack up a reinforcement fix yourself.

The problem is so widespread that there is even a guide to fixing a Mac charger (http://iti.ms/19TmdCe) on the Sugru site.


Board silly
That we will see diverse boards and conference speaker lists that better represent the actual proportions of the population in gender and ethnicity.

And that this will be so much the norm, at last, that no one will need to ever again write opinion pieces bemoaning that well into the 21st century, boards and conferences would make you think that 95 per cent of the world consists of white men.


Apped out
That I will find an app that I will actually use more than 10 times – excluding games, that is, but even then.

Oh yes, my phone is full of apps. Do I use them? Not really. Except the recorder one, that is. It’s very handy for interviews. Well, not at the US embassy, where you aren’t allowed to bring in a phone, for security reasons. I got an email specifying this in advance of a recent interview, which also helpfully noted that I could, however, bring a dictaphone. A dictaphone!

I was tempted to fly immediately to the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley for the loan of one, just for the craic.


Family time
That a month might pass during which I will not be asked for help with some computer issue, during a call home to mom. Wait: scratch that. Were that to happen, at least 30 per cent of our weekly conversation time would evaporate, leaving us with only family and neighbourhood gossip, a discussion of what was on sale at Macy’s, and a mutual exchange of our list of personal ailments.

Plus it’s the one way I still feel I contribute meaningfully to home life from abroad. Computer problems: the modern glue helping to hold families together across the generations.


Cyber punked
That the prefix “cyber” will vanish, except for knowingly ironic usage. Using the term “cyberspace” is the equivalent of , say, using the word “tipple” when describing an alcoholic drink. You only use it as a bit of a joke. Except when some people don’t.

Generally, those people are ones who hardly go near the internet (read: politicians), but worry anxiously about it from afar. And as for cyberbullying – it’s just bullying. Or online bullying. And much of the time it isn’t actually bullying, it is just people being offensive cretins. It callously demeans the true and valid anguish of those who suffer real bullying online, to have every type of annoying comment described as “cyberbullying”.


OMG, LOL
That people older than 12 will stop using text-speak for their posts on Facebook and other social media sites. Stop it! Stop it right now!


I hope your own wished-for miracles come true, too. Have a happy Christmas and New Year.

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