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Editor's Note: No More Computers For Me!

Jun 20, 2009, 00:02 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Carla Schroder)

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by Carla Schroder
Managing Editor

I'm heading out on vacation for a week, so I'm counting on you fine readers to behave yourselves and not make my substitute editors cry. Anyway they're both tough, grizzled old grouches who don't care, so you're in good hands. I intend to spend the entire week nowhere near a computer.

I love tech and computers, and would probably stay glued to a computer screen for all of my vacation if I didn't make myself do something else. But I have a lot of interests and a change of pace is always healthy. There is plenty of outdoor work to do here on my little spread, and I like taking care of my place. If I didn't have to work for a living I could easily spend my days puttering like an old person. Have a perfectly-groomed lawn, and plastic daisies and Bambis.

I think more computer geeks and industrial designers of all types should broaden their horizons. How can anyone design products for other people to use if they don't know what types of tasks their customers do, and how they do them?

This is farm and ranch company, and high-tech has been creeping into agriculture for some time. Wheat growers use special GPS units to control seeding; more seeds are deposited on hilltops and fewer in the gullies because they tend to get washed or blown downhill. GPS also gives the tractor drivers precise positioning so they don't overlap or miss spots.

Big herbicide sprayers have special weed-recognition optical gadgets that apply herbicide to the weeds rather than spraying everything. I think this a much superior solution to breeding herbicide-resistant plants; that is just begging for bad consequences.

The one downside to electronics is they tend to be all-or-nothing, they either work or they don't. If an electronic component breaks you can't jury-rig a temporary repair; it has to be replaced. You can't improvise interesting customizations with simple tools like a welding torch, hammer, and anvil. Huddling over a warm real-time operating system just isn't the same. There is always a tradeoff, it seems.

Have a great week and I'll see you when I get back!