Saturday, November 28, 2009


Wow! As I'm sipping my coffee I'm hearing about new "apps" -- to run your small business, to run your life. Hey, I need an app on how to get a good night's sleep, not see the clock at 1:30 a.m., 4:10 and 6 :15 a.m. and think about what to write about today.

Apps are the latest got-to-have thing for people with state-of-the-art cell phones. "These days, keeping up with apps can be a full-time job," said Daniel Sieberg, CBS Science reporter on the morning news.

He seemed knowledgeable, nice -- as he gave us the statistics. Two billion apps have been downloaded from Apple's App Store. Back in July 2008, there were just 500 apps. Today there are more than 100,000, including apps to keep lists of your apps.

His guest, the slightly freaky looking, knowledgeable CEO of Tapulous, the maker of "Revenge" games, bragged -- "We're providing mindless distraction -- what I call disruptive technology. Our dozen "Tap Tap Revenge" games put your rhythmic skills to the test in all new ways, as you tap with the beats, or shake left and right as the arrows fall, and you're taking on your friends in the game's head-to-head, two-player mode."

(It sounded like a mindless, disruptive, boring, waste-of-time game to me.)

The not-likable CEO and the nice reporter agreed -- technology was providing innovations that improved our lives, like the automobile did, like the Internet did, and now -- "Ta Ta! -- our every day, more amazing Smartphones.

"Phones with apps are the future," they said at the end of the segment. "Phones are bringing you everything, including friends, social networking, fun and games."

I heated my cold coffee and took a gulp that burned on the way down. It sounded as if we're going to be saying goodbye to books, the few remaining newspapers that haven't gone under, magazines, PC's, even laptops.

Whoa, I'm thinking -- what happens to me -- a proudly up-to-date, skilled, computer literate writer?

I don't have a Blackberry, IPod, IPhone, or any kind of "Smart" phone -- just a dumb cell phone that doesn't work inside our home, and land-lines (thank goodness we've got two of 'em -- one is often out of order, or staticky).

I hit the TV's off button. The broadcast made me feel not good, not merely old-fashioned, but light years behind the times, out-of-date, obsolescent.

I try to stay in the know -- I've read about the latest new things. Some sound good, most sound like non-essential, complicated gizmos, for which I'd need an instruction book, a "help" number, and patience -- waiting in a queue for a techie.

I've read the ads in Facebook, for the games you play with your friends. Click "Farmville," and you're buying a plot of land, planting crops, harvesting, selling them -- earning points you trade, or spend -- when you're playing "Mafia Wars," as a don -- building your business, doing favors for your family, earning points to spent on gifts for your friends, or for yourself.

Whoopee -- you can buy more fish for your virtual aquarium in"Fishville," (the latest new game that got ten million players in ten days ) -- breeding, feeding, selling and trading fish with your friends. Click, and buy whatever you want -- virtual goods -- that's what "Farmville" is actually hawking. (Bargains from Netflix, and other advertisers, with rewards, discounts, inventive incentives for you to buy what they're offering, but most of the time you're charging a lot of nothing on your credit card.)

I can't believe it, but it's true! That's what the game is -- players (an awful lot people), are handing over real money for make-believe merchandise.

... THIS is a game ... ?

Alright, okay -- I guess we're already in the new "World of Today," where rubber is made from dandelions! It is -- guys in Germany's Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology & Applied Ecology did it! They switched an enzyme, and they're getting great latex (a fungus is ruining the world's rubber trees).

Phew! All we need now is one of those hats fitted with electrodes, that can monitor brain activity. and enable you to use EEG to send Tweets.

I'm not kidding -- tweeting by thinking has already been done by a University of Wisconsin doctoral student. While wearing that cap, he focused on one flashing letter after another on a computer screen -- he tweeted "USING EEG TO SEND TWEET." ( 23 letters.)

It was slow going -- he can currently do eight characters a minute. How soon he'll be able to do a 140 character Tweet isn't as significant as the fact that the invention is going to help paraplegics.

(In case you haven't noticed -- "Em" is not a fan of Facebook, My Space, or Twitter. I can't even consistently manage to sign in!)

Anyhow, I don't need electrodes in my hat to focus and send this message ... Life without apps and cyberfarming is plenty full, tangibly rewarding, and fun -- as far as I'm concerned.

More stuff? Virtual other stuff? I've got no room, no space, no place -- no use for it.

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