Technology has been a boon for certain areas of my life – but not all

Technology has been a boon for certain areas of my life – but not all

Technology has been a boon for certain areas of my life – but not all

First published in Look Who's Talking by

I am, like many males, a fan of gadgets and find it difficult to resist any new piece of kit that I can convince myself might make my life easier or more enjoyable.

And that is no mean feat – the convincing bit. Because all the evidence is that on a day to day basis most of the stuff I already own frequently has the opposite effect on my life. I suppose the one main exception is the difference between the time I would have spent typing this article on my old portable Olivetti and then posting it to the Bucks Free Press in its corrected and smudged glory. I found the carbon copies of all the theatre reviews that I wrote for the Croydon Advertiser in the 1970s the other day which were ample evidence of that. The computer as word processor has certainly been a boon in my life.

But the use by large organisations of computerised systems which were trumpeted as being for the benefit of us customers frequently fail to live up to the hype and benefit them more than us, principally by making it nigh on impossible to ever speak to someone with any power to help you.

Sometimes the IT solution nearly works. For instance, the computerised check-in for outpatients at Wycombe Hospital works very well indeed. You input your date of birth and up pops your appointment (or a choice, I imagine, should your birthday coincide with another patient). Then you are directed to the designated waiting point. Brilliant. When, however, you leave and have to make another appointment it’s a different matter.

This week, I watched the receptionist going through more key operations than I do in writing this article. I suggested that her job might be made easier with an appointment book rather than whatever hoops she must be going through on the other side of the screen. Her response was a smile of recognition and a nod of the head. Of course, that’s no big problem but illustrates my point.

And I so regret abandoning my old system of keeping addresses in a succession of books and trusting the computer. When I moved from Windows XP to Windows 7 and lost Outlook Express as a result, the transfer of all my mail and addresses to the insanely complicated Outlook jettisoned everything from 2006 to 2012. If you knew me then sorry and – goodbye.

Comments (1)

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9:34am Thu 28 Aug 14

Beth Holbrooke says...

Well hello again. I had a better reason to lose your address and phone number 19 years ago - one of the hospital people threw out my written address book. The computer has not been my best friend at times either - I've lost entire newsletters just as they were finally done and spreadsheets that weren't saved properly merged with other spreadsheets. Quite a mess. But my old IBM Selectric wouldn't do well on carbon copies. At least my errors can be changed without ripping out the sheets to type over again. I think I should learn to tweet so we can talk again - something new to learn! Beth from St. Louis
Well hello again. I had a better reason to lose your address and phone number 19 years ago - one of the hospital people threw out my written address book. The computer has not been my best friend at times either - I've lost entire newsletters just as they were finally done and spreadsheets that weren't saved properly merged with other spreadsheets. Quite a mess. But my old IBM Selectric wouldn't do well on carbon copies. At least my errors can be changed without ripping out the sheets to type over again. I think I should learn to tweet so we can talk again - something new to learn! Beth from St. Louis Beth Holbrooke
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