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Technology Fails According to Heather

When great gear promises go unfulfilled.

I’ve been driving a leased Rav4 hybrid for just under three years, and I love it. Well, I love most of it. The electric truck sounds like it’s dying a slow painful death while opening (and for those of you who don’t think seconds matter, I welcome you to visit me in Buffalo where it was recently a balmy zero degrees for three days).

The car has some cool sensors that allow it to adapt your cruise control to the car speed in front and will tell you if there is a car hiding in your blind spot. But when the sensors are covered in snow and ice, the car screams at you. Perhaps they forgot to test it in foul weather?

Lastly, the technology, being three years old, is fair at best. While a reasonable person may purchase a car for its ability to hit 60 miles per hour in fewer seconds, I’m interested in an automobile with a great sound system and killer tech first and foremost.

Knowing my lease was coming to an end, I had my heart set on the 2019 Rav4 with built-in CarPlay. I waited months for my dealership to acquire one of these beauties. When the moment arrived, I set up a test drive. Thrilled, I climbed in.

The touchscreen interface is clunky (but does have CarPlay), and the new vehicle design makes the console feel overwhelming and claustrophobic. The vehicle drives like a large SUV instead of its peppy predecessor. I was crushed.

Disappointed I began the unexpected hunt for a new car that would tickle my fancy. After a bit of research and test driving, I’ve settled on the Subaru Crosstreck, which is a bit smaller, with a Harman Kardon sound system and excellent interface. This sporty car handled well and was fun to drive.

Technology is everywhere in today’s world but is often an afterthought when creating a device. Here are other recent technology fails I’ve encountered.

The New Apple MacBook Air: Even my kids will tell you that mommy’s favorite tangible love is her laptop. It was the first thing I ever bought with money made from writing. Needing a new device in the home as the kids needed something more for homework, my dear husband suggested I get the new Air.

While I still love its light, portable weight and size, and it now has retina display and fingerprint touch, I’m disappointed by its new power cord. The MacBook Air has two USB-C ports, one needed for power. Apple, always known for the little things that made their products better, lost me with this one. I loved that if I was charging my laptop and one of my dearest children tripped on the cord, the cord popped out and my computer lived. Today, this same mishap would break my device.

True technology fail? Perhaps not, but enough that it makes me cringe every time I plug it in and makes me much more aware of it being a tripping hazard.

Also by Heather L. Sidorowicz: The Redesign of an AV Company

Built-in TV Streaming Apps on your TV: End-users seem to think they’re winning a small lottery, but why do I need to purchase a third-party streaming app when it comes FREE on my TV. Let me tell you, Mr. and Mrs. Customer: TV companies want to sell TVs, and they’re going to add all sorts of pretty bells and whistles to get there. They add these apps, but don’t often support them, especially to the extent a third-party device will such as Apple TV, Roku, Fire TV, etc.

Have you tried using the interface to watch your favorite streaming show? Okay — if you are reading this, you are probably in the tech industry — but has your mother tried using it? The TV streaming experience is often clunky, and when the end-user does run into problems, they’re not calling Samsung — they’re calling YOU. I’ve been to CES, I’ve seen the promise of better. I have not seen it in reality.

We always recommend Apple TV to our streaming clients; we have found that end-users find it easier to use, and I will happily take a $5 profit with no unhappy calls. Plus, you can’t beat the 4K screensavers!

Also by Heather L. Sidorowicz: A Disappointing Dining Experience That Reminded Me of Our Industry

The Internet: As part of a generation that went from written papers to word processors, to computers, to the world wide web, I’m saddened by how we have “broke it.” In high school, if I wanted to know about Africa, I had to go to the library and could only find a few pages, but factual ones, nonetheless. Then when the Internet began, I could “experience” Africa and, for the most part, that still exists today.

But as I begin to look for articles regarding the truth of internet speed tests in the home, I’m bombarded with paid advertising, no longer able to find the truth of the subject. How many times has someone shared an article on social media they not only didn’t read, but did not pay attention to its source? Sure, we can just as easily blame social media, but it is our current internet design that lies at the heart of the issue. Google are you listening?

What technology fails do you see in our everyday life? What are we as technologists (or integrators, if you like that word better) able to do?