The New Temptation

Did you wake up today feeling like you’re missing out on something? Are you tempted to book your place in the queue for the revolutionary iPhone X?

I use Apple products every day but there’s something about the inevitable fanfare of their new product launches that concerns me. I’ll admit that it’s clever marketing but it always leaves me feeling quite unsettled.

The latest iPhones have been launched and once again they offer newer, better, must have features. So we now have the iPhone X, available from the first week of November, as well as the iPhone 8 and 8+ which will start selling before the end of this month. If you believe the hype, the new versions almost render the previous versions obsolete.

Apple has rolled out its much-anticipated iPhone X, a redesigned product of glass and stainless steel with an edge-to-edge display that Apple chief executive Tim Cook has described as, “the biggest leap forward since the original iPhone”.

The new iPhone features include wireless charging, an infrared camera and special hardware for facial recognition, which will replace the fingerprint sensor for unlocking the phone. – ABC

I have certainly embraced new technology but I do worry about the relentless pursuit of the newest and latest.

Each upgrade or redesign is calculated to make us feel that the device in our hand is no longer worthy of our complete adoration. It’s time to move on to the next big thing and the next big thing is a shinier version of the last with features you didn’t know you needed until it was pointed out that you don’t have them.

Apple is not the issue.

Just in case you think this is a rant against Apple, it’s not. Just in case you think I’m just pointing the finger at others, I’m on the treadmill too. I don’t have the very latest of every ‘gadget’ but my eye is caught by the non-stop advancements in technology and a lot of the technology I own comes from the Apple factory.

I love music so I use my iPod Classic every day. I won an iPhone 6+ some years back and it’s excellent for both work and personal usage. (My phone battery died recently and I did the unthinkable. I paid to replace the battery rather than upgrading the phone.) I also regularly use my iPad at home and for work.

Apple isn’t the issue. The relentless push to have more and more of the very latest is what causes me to feel uneasy.

We may say that we’re buying new technology but we’re actually buying a promise. It’s the promise that a piece of technological hardware will make our life somehow better, more complete, but it’s a distraction and the promise is broken not long after we open the skilfully designed packaging.

My ‘old’ iPad, iPod and iPhone don’t cease to be functional when each new generation is released. They’re all several years old and several models out of date but interestingly enough, they still do what I need them to do.

It seems that we keep trying to fill every moment of every day with distractions that really don’t add anything to our quality of life and they certainly don’t answer the bigger life questions.

We feel that we need something new simply because it’s available and the thought of not have the latest causes some people to break out in cold sweats. And don’t tell me it’s about functionality. It’s about feeling that we’re missing out if we don’t have the latest. We imagine that it’s better whether it is or not.

We’ve let ourselves be duped into believing that satisfaction in life is just one more purchase away. The strange thing is that when the next new and shiny item is offered for sale we jump for it, demonstrating that the last item we thought would satisfy didn’t really improve our quality of life at all. If it did we wouldn’t need the latest version. Strangely enough, we refuse to learn the clearly obvious lesson and so we just repeat the cycle.

I’ve got news for you. It doesn’t stop and it will never satisfy.

All the latest gadgets, useful or not, are just distractions. They all cause us to take our eyes off what’s really important in life. They distract us from relationships, contemplation, relaxation, and spirituality.

So whether it’s the latest car, fashion, technology or anything else, make sure you know what you’re buying. Purchase what you need but don’t buy the hollow promises and distractions that inevitably come packaged with them.

We know that all the distractions don’t bring lasting happiness or joy but we keep pursuing them, refusing to learn that they’ll never satisfy. We keep chasing the distractions. We’re being distracted to death.

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How to Help a Hacker

WorstPasswords

Internet security firm SplashData has released their annual guide to helping, or hindering, hackers. They’ve been taking a look at the worst passwords used online last year and have come up with their list of the top 25 worst passwords.

If you see your password among the top twenty five in the picture below, you’re data is in serious danger. It’s time to change your passwords or get ready to get hacked.

As in previous lists, simple numerical passwords remain popular, with six of the top 10 passwords on the 2015 list using only numbers.

With a new Star Wars movie being released last year, many have decided to jump on board and created galactic passwords. Popular Star Wars terms such as “starwars,” “solo,” and “princess” are new entries on this year’s worst passwords list.

SplashData has announced the 2015 edition of its annual “Worst Passwords List” highlighting the insecure password habits of Internet users. “123456” and “password” once again reign supreme as the most commonly used passwords, as they have since SplashData’s first list in 2011, demonstrating how people’s choices for passwords remain consistently risky.

In SplashData’s fifth annual report, compiled from more than 2 million leaked passwords during the year, some new and longer passwords made their debut – perhaps showing an effort by both websites and web users to be more secure. However, the longer passwords are so simple as to make their extra length virtually worthless as a security measure.

You can click on the image below for a better look.

2015-Worst-Password

If you’re looking for a better solution you might like to try a password manager application.

SplashData has a secure password manager which, as they say, offers solutions for people and organizations who care about keeping passwords and other information both secure and accessible.

I’ve been using LastPass for a while. It’s another password manager which makes web browsing more secure.

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The Frightening New Normal

6Plus

I posted this video a couple of years ago. The frightening thing is that the behaviour in the video seems more normal than it did back then. What they tried to overemphasize to make their point doesn’t seem odd or strange anymore.

It sometimes feels like we’re in a sci-fi movie where some evil genius has found a way to control everyone on the planet. How do we break free from that control before it’s too late?

Try walking down any street and see if you can go more than a few metres before you see someone on their phone. These devices have become extensions of ourselves. It’s something I need to watch for myself. I don’t want to only interact with a device when there are people all around me.

What steps are you taking to ensure that your phone doesn’t take over? Could you go a few days without your phone? What about a few hours? A few minutes?

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Death by Distraction

apple

(This is an updated post, first written in 2012 at the time of the iPhone 5 launch.)

I’m conflicted. I use Apple products every day but there’s something about the inevitable fanfare of their new product launches that always concerns me. I’ll admit that it’s clever marketing but it always leaves me feeling quite unsettled.

The iPhone 6 is about to be launched and people will soon be scrambling to get their hands on the new technology. Many are guessing about what amazing features the new iPhone will have. People are also excited about the possibility of the launch of the iWatch.

I have certainly embraced new technology but I do worry about the relentless pursuit of the newest and latest. I read some years back of a young woman who loves Apple so much that she says she’d had about eight iPhones over just a couple of years. The number has probably continued to climb since then. For the life of me I can’t understand why anyone needs to be buying that many phones.

Apple is not the issue.

Just in case you think this is a rant against Apple, it’s not. I love music so I love the iPod that I received as a gift some years ago. My wife won an iPad and gave it to me. I use it all the time and find it very handy for a variety of purposes. I currently have an iPhone 4, the model before Siri. Most people would consider it prehistoric but I find it both fun and functional. It still does what I need it to do and if at some point it stops working, I’ll look at an upgrade. Apple isn’t the issue. The relentless push to have more and more of the very latest is what causes me to feel uneasy. Our constant need to cast off what is still doing what it needs to do simply to have a newer version with a few tweaks is troubling.

My ‘old’ iPad didn’t cease to be functional when the next generation and the one after that were released. My iPod is quite a few years old and several models out of date but interestingly enough, it still plays my favourite music. I actually wouldn’t mind a new iPod but not the latest and supposedly greatest model. If I get the chance I’m going for the classic. It’s bulkier and has less features but it will fit heaps more music and strangely enough, that’s what it’s about for me.

It seems that we keep trying to fill every moment of every day with distractions that really don’t add anything to our quality of life and they certainly don’t answer the bigger life questions. We feel that we need something new simply because it’s available and the thought of not have the latest causes some people to break out in cold sweats. And don’t tell me it’s about functionality. It’s about feeling that we’re missing out if we don’t have the latest. We imagine that it’s better whether it is or not.

It’s like the Emperor’s New Clothes all over again. We’ve let ourselves be duped into believing that satisfaction in life is just one more purchase away.

The strange thing is that when then next new and shiny item is offered for sale we jump for it, demonstrating that the last item we thought would satisfy didn’t really improve our quality of life at all. If it did we wouldn’t need the latest version.

Strangely enough we refuse to learn the clearly obvious lesson and so we just repeat the cycle.

We may say that we’re buying new technology but we’re actually buying a promise. It’s the promise that a piece of technological hardware will make our life somehow better, more complete, but it’s a distraction and the promise is broken not long after we open the skilfully designed box.

I’ve got news for you. It doesn’t stop and it will never satisfy.

All the latest gadgets, useful or not, are just distractions. They all cause us to take our eyes off what’s really important in life. They distract us from relationships, contemplation, relaxation and spirituality. We know that all the distractions don’t bring lasting happiness or joy but we keep pursuing them, refusing to learn that they’ll never satisfy. We keep chasing the distractions. We’re being distracted to death.

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I Want to Escape

IMG_0231

It was the late 1920s on the French Riviera. He was a handsome and very famous illusionist. She was an attractive young woman who claimed to be a clairvoyant and mystic. Would he uncover her secret and expose her as a fraud or would he discover something truly supernatural?

It was just at that moment her mobile phone rang and she ran from the room. No, not the attractive ‘mystic’, the woman next to us in the cinema.

Was it really too much to ask that for the 97 minutes of the movie we all agreed that we would escape into another world? Shouldn’t there be some kind of unwritten contract that as soon as you enter a cinema you not only allow yourself to escape the constant, urgent demands of technology but that you let others in the cinema to enjoy that escape too?

Magic in the Moonlight

We went to see the latest Woody Allen movie Magic in the Moonlight starring Colin Firth and Emma Stone. While it probably won’t make my list of all time favourite movies, it was certainly enjoyable. The scenery, the story, the era all combined to make it well worth seeing.

I don’t ask too much of a visit to the cinema. I just want to sit in a large dark room and be transported to another world for an hour or two. I want to escape for a little while and enjoy the power of story. Obviously that’s a little hard with a phone going off on our right and a phone to my left with a constant flash every three seconds.

As well as the ever present technology, people in cinemas, theatres and concerts seem more likely to think it’s OK to have a conversation at any chosen time. It’s not. If that’s what you do in your lounge room during the Sunday night movie, fine, but when you’re in a room full of other paying customers … show some respect and shut up.

Who is pulling the strings?

Talking during an event is annoying enough and just plain rude, but this constant attachment to technology is something else. Why do we, or at least why do some people allow themselves to miss the moment so that they remain available to march to the beat of someone else’s drum? We know it’s rude to interrupt people when they’re in the middle of something yet we often let people from all over the world interrupt us at any time they choose.

One of my brothers rang me during the movie. My son texted me during the movie. Strangely enough the earth didn’t collapse because I didn’t respond until later. They had no way of knowing that I was in the middle of escaping to the French Riviera with Colin and Emma so it was completely up to me to decide whether I’d stay in France or to allow myself to be dragged back to a dark room in suburban Warwick.

The Challenge

So here’s the challenge. While you can’t control what others around you are doing, take control of your own life moments.

If you’re in a cinema or spending time with others, decide who you’ll allow to interrupt you. If you’re not good at allowing calls to go to voicemail or ignoring someone else’s texts or notifications, switch your device off completely for a while. If you’re already breaking out in a sweat thinking about doing that or saying you don’t need to go that far, you’re probably just the sort of person who needs to do it.

If you allow the ‘fear of missing out’ to control you, I fear that you’ll truly miss out. You’ll trade a shallow connectedness to the world for the deeper and more satisfying connection to those closest to you.

How well are you managing technology? Is technology managing you? Are you in control of your own time and of who interrupts you?

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