Nerdy Pete on Tech: Technology is Great!
(Except when it isn't...)
Anyone who knows me knows I've been a tech guy forever. Of course, if you combine that with my extremist sci-fi views, you might think I am one of those tech-utopian types who thinks technology will save us all and solve all of our problems.
I am definitely not that guy...
It's a funny thing technology... it's created by humans and if you've ever had an experience with those guys, you know how unreliable they can be! So, it follows that anything humanity makes is going to run a high chance of being less than 100% reliable, too. And of course we users aren't perfect either. Sure, you may think "I've never cracked my phone screen!" but I can assure you--you will (or you'll break something else).
And I'm sure you probably realize all of this on some level. However, throughout my existence on this planet, I've run into a LOT of people who are still shocked when their computer dies, their hard drive craps out, or their phone decides that they don't need their photos anymore.
Here is a pro-tip: trust that your devices will fail on you.
Yes, even your Apple device. They don't have the Genius Bar in all of their stores* for nothing. I should know--I worked at a Genius Bar for just short of three years. Not long into my time there I started passing this tip onto my customers adding the phrase: "Technology is great! Except for when it isn't and you never know when it's not going to be."
People think I'm exceptionally nerdy for having a back-up phone on me at all times. I've actually never had a phone completely fail on me out in the world but even before I was at Apple, I had already come across plenty of folks who had dropped their phones on the subway, cracking the screen. I've dropped my various smart phones numerous times but only once did a display actually crack. It was my back-up phone, luckily, but it still sucked because I had been using it as a music player due to me never being a fan of Android music player apps and cracking my display caused Siri to bug out so no music for this guy on the way home. See the photo above to see that it wasn't even that bad a cracked screen.
A couple years earlier, my wife and I were in Europe and I saw a van with one of those big rear view mirrors on the outside of the passenger-side door take out a fellow tourist's iPad. She was just standing there using it when the driver of the van sped off, knocking it clean out of her hands.
Ugh... as a techie that was a tough thing to watch happen. Poor iPad didn't see it coming! Neither did its owner!
And sometimes hardware just fails.
I've personally had two 3TB external desktop hard drives fail on me each within three months of buying them. The manufacturer replaced both of them, but with refurbed drives. The replacements never died on me but I also never trusted them with anything too important. I also never bought a Seagate drive again.
My point is this:
ALWAYS BACK UP and if you can afford it, always get some kind of insurance**. Even if it's not AppleCare+ or some kind of actual insurance, have a back-up device that you can use to communicate. A whole separate phone or a smart watch that can make calls via your cell service or over wifi are some options.
Your back-up device doesn't need to be another high-end device like your iPhone 65 Pro Max Titanium S. You can buy a crappy Android phone for $20-$50 and it will do in a pinch. In fact, for many years my own back-up phone was a pre-paid LG that I got at Best Buy for $30 on Black Friday.
All it really has to do is make emergency phone calls--which all phones in the US, under FCC regulations, must be able to do--even without a cell phone plan from a carrier or even a SIM card.
I should say that the most important thing the back-up phone has to do is make emergency calls. Imagine you're on vacation at Disney World and you drop your phone while riding It's A Small World. First off, what a lame ride to drop your phone on! Second, at least It's not an emergency--but it is your vacation. So, with a crap phone you can still take photos. Of course, the cheaper your crap-phone is, the crappier the camera sensor will be which means your vacation photos won't be great but they'll be better than nothing. I've heard that there is a saying among photographers: "The best camera is the one you have with you."
At the end of the day...
What I'm saying is this: your tech will fail you. So, keep these simple tips in mind:
1) keep the data on your mobile devices safe by backing it up regularly. Its worth paying for Apple or Google's back-up services just to know your photos and videos are safe somewhere.
2) keep the data on any computers you have backed up as well, but cloud services can get on the pricey side. So, I recommend just backing them up to a local drive and backing up really important documents, wills, proof of jury service (been there!), tax records, along with photos and videos backed up to a cloud service. I pay for Microsoft 365 and get 1TB of storage for $10. It's not the most secure service, but if you're concerned about privacy, go with Mega.nz or some other cloud service that is more privacy-focused.
I catch flack from folks about always looking on the dark side of life. As a writer, it is my job to imagine the absolute worst case scenarios, but as a tech guy, I've seen the results of too many real-life, tech-related worst case scenarios up close.
Ever see an iPhone after it got run over by a truck? It's not pretty. Though, the one I saw still turned on!
So no, tech won't save the world but if we take care of our tech and the data we have on it, tech will definitely help us lead better lives!
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*They actually don't have Genius Bars in EVERY store, but the number of stores without them is teeny tiny!
**I would not recommend Asurion or any insurance company that won’t pay for a completely new phone or send you a completely new phone—when I worked at the Bar, the replacement phones Asurian would send to their customers were refurbished and, at the time, Apple refused to fix Asurion phones because genuine Apple parts could not be guaranteed to be found inside. This policy may have changed, however. That said, I don’t think it’s cool to call it “insurance” when you don’t get an identical replacement phone. We used to call those refurbished Asurion phones “Frankenphones.” Honestly, I’m not a fan of insurance. I don’t worry about trashing my phone because I have a back-up! (It’s a pretty good Android phone, actually.)