Wednesday, June 25, 2008

What technological advances provide

There are so many things that technological advances have added to our lives. I know many of them I take for granted. My 96 year old grandmother has seen so much change in her lifetime and I often wonder at her perspective on it all. I asked her once if she could name a thing or two that she thought were the best things she's seen become commonplace in her lifetime and she answered with "indoor plumbing" and "washing machines". My grandmother was a mother of 6 so both of these "bests" seem quite fitting. :)

But, since I've always had indoor plumbing and a washing machine handy, I was trying to think what I'd consider my top two things. I'd certainly not be very happy if I had to head to the outhouse or wash my clothes in a bucket with a scrub board, but I don't think that either of those things is something I'll ever have to revert to doing. I'll bet, if you've read my recent blog posts, you'd think I'd say the Kindle or the MacBook. :) Well, I think I can certainly say that many of the cool gadgets I use every day are in my top 10, I think what is at the top of my list is of a slightly different, although related, caliber.

First, the explosion of services that allow me to do many of the tasks I used to have to do in person to be done over the internet. Banking. Shopping. Research. I can't remember the last time I went into a bank. The closest I've come is the drive-thru ATM. My paychecks are deposited electronically, I pay all my bills with internet banking. I can order books, clothes, toys, gifts, movies, music and even order my groceries and have them delivered to my door. I can research any topic with ease and get piles of information (admittedly, some not so good) within seconds.

Second, how easily and readily I can communicate with anyone, anywhere. I have my mobile phone, internet phone, land line phone, email, blogging... The ability to connect with people is so easy. Some people feel that we've taken it too far and that the pervasive use of communication technology is taking away from the time we have instead of adding to it. I think any tool or technology can be misused so that it leads away from the problem or situation it was invented to help. But, in general terms, having this particular technology available (in my opinion) makes communicating and staying connected with people so much better and easier.

There are so many things that advances in technology bring and I can't really imagine all the things that I'll see in my lifetime if I live to my grandmother's age. But, I have to say I'm glad I'm part of this generation and not my grandparent's generation who had the experience of visiting outhouses and doing wash by hand! If the worst "remember when" I have to share with my daughter is that I once only had a corded telephone, that's OK by me.


jan van mourik said...

From an Oracle perspective I'd say Metalink! Remember the days before Metalink, well, the days before the web? Getting help from Oracle, opening a tar, meant calling a support person. Don't even remember the last time I >>spoke<< to Oracle support.
Nowadays, just go to Metalink or Google that error message and chances are you'll find something useful...

Anonymous said...

I agree with Jan that the internet (and metalink) has made it much easier to research a problem, but sometimes actually speaking to a person will provide faster and better results.

I myself work for a company who (amongst other things) provides oracle monitoring and servicedesk for our customers, and sometimes I see long email conversations pass by about a problem that could have been solved by a 5 minute call with the client.

Karen said...

That's an excellent point about how sometimes a 5 minute call can get to the root of the problem much faster than a long-winded email thread. I think the key for support folks, and their organizations, is to realize when those 5 minute calls would be appropriate and just pick up the phone. A single note on the thread can state what was covered in the call and the ticket closed. Situations like that are what people talk about when they get frustrated with support. So, as long as the support folks are given an option to make a call, you could have the best of both worlds.

jan van mourik said...

That might be too efficient though, then support can't hide behind a bunch of non-sense answers!
Case in point, a few months ago we opened a ticket to get some help with a patch script for apps. The sql script we needed to run was supposed to delete data from a few tables. One delete was commented out in the code, with a comment saying "this delete is not needed, the after-delete trigger on the other table will take care of it". Sounds good, except there was no such trigger, nor any "on delete cascade" constraints! So we asked Oracle about this, and if this script was still OK to run. In the three weeks we tried through email, all they could say is "read note xxxxx", but we never once got a direct answer out of them. So we ran the script anyway after making a few changes (and some performance improvements ;-)

Maybe a five minute call would have been more efficient, but then you need to talk to somebody who actually knows what they are talking about...