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Computer-wrestling with dinosaurs


Recently, I had a conversation with a Bulletin customer who said, “I don’t do email. I don’t do texting. I still have a flip phone. I’m a dinosaur.”

He expected me to be aghast but, actually, I was amazed. How does one participate in America in 2021 when you’re technologically detached?

You can’t even buy tickets to a baseball game without downloading an app to your phone. The last Major League game I went to, I nearly couldn’t get a ticket even with the app.

Being frustrated by apps is one thing. Not having email is another. If you’re like me, you’ve had an email address since 1991. That’s 30 years ago. It’s not exactly a newfangled technology.

We’re just about shed of fax technology, but – unlike humans and dinosaurs - there were a number of years when email and faxes co-existed.

But with each outdated technology we lose, there are four or five new technologies we have to deal with. If you haven’t already had to set up your computer system with Two-Factor Authentication (2FA), get ready, it’s coming.

With 2FA, you’ll periodically be locked out of your email, apps or other technology, until you have authenticated your identity through your “Second Factor.” It could be a text to your phone, a phone call or another methodology.

And you thought it was a pain in the neck trying to remember your password.

Wait til you have 25 seconds to type in a code that’s in tiny numbers on your cell phone.

Unfortunately, these complicated procedures are increasingly necessary because of bad people. People who would steal your information in hopes of stealing your money, damaging your organization’s computer system or infiltrating it to change things.

You may be too young to remember, but in the early 1980s, a series of unexplained deaths were ultimately linked to Tylenol. No, there was nothing wrong with the Tylenol. Some evil person went into stores and planted poison-filled capsules in the Tylenol containers.

Back then, you didn’t have to have four types of sharp implements and the forearm strength of Popeye just to open a bottle of aspirin. But after the Tylenol Poisoning Guy did his dastardly deeds, over-the-counter drug manufacturers went into high gear to make tamperproof packaging.

The really frustrating thing about computer hackers is they obviously have some skills and talents. It makes me wonder what could be achieved if they used this skills for good instead of evil.

What if, instead of trying to cheat and steal to get some type of gain while risking fines, penalties or jail, they got a legitimate job, and earned the money the usual way. We might have some really impressive innovations by now.

And even the good-guy computer experts have their success stymied by the bad guys. If there weren’t so many bad-guy computer experts, the good guys could focus on things other than online security.

If you’re like me, you have a handful of apps you use so infrequently you can never remember the password required to get in. Then you have to spend a half hour going through the “Forgot Password?” process. Many of the apps have an email as the username, but often you can’t remember if you used your work email or your personal email. Or was this one of the few programs that has a different format for the username?

I don’t consider myself a true dinosaur. I can and do use technology regularly both in my professional and personal life, and in many cases find it hugely beneficial. There are some really cool things you can do that would be unheard of just a few years ago.

It would be nice, though, to go back to the day when you could operate your television with just one remote control. I’m so old, in fact, I can remember when TVs didn’t even HAVE remote controls.

I would like to be able to change the radio dial by actually turning the red dial to the number, instead of the stereo doing it for me, and not bypassing the channel I actually want.

I would like to be able to type something without the phone or the computer telling me the word I really wand. I mean want.

OK, maybe I am a dinosaur.

Richard Coltharp