Cowardly new world

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

I just arrived in the 21st century this week with my new smartphone, a Droid 2 Global. It took me more than 16 hours just to figure out how to activate it, but once I did, I got a bit obsessive. I’m not going to be one of those people who get new technology but can’t figure out how to use its most sophisticated features.

Needless to say, I’m blown away. I’m not talking about using the Google Sky Map or the other empty calorie apps, but the bigger picture: All the known information on the planet Earth is now at my fingertips. I guess that’s simple web access, but when I think about the technology involved, connecting to computers on the other side of the world, sending it through the atmosphere multiple times, from satellite to satellite, repeater to repeater, to my little device—no matter where I happen to be—my mind is boggled.

The phone, of course, has its frustrations. The system comes preloaded with apps that are memory and battery wasters: Amazon, Blockbuster, City ID, Skype and VZ Navigator. It pisses me off that I pay good money to have useless (cr)apps shoved down my throat. But with a little patience and internet searches, I can see it’s pretty easy to get root access. These phones are tools, and as a human being, I should be able to use my tool as I choose. Of course, if I decide to pursue these mods, my warranty will probably be voided.

I went to the Verizon store to ask a simple question, which the employees, although they were very nice, were unable to answer. What was funny was, as I looked in one particular tech guy’s eyes, I could see he knew the answer I was looking for, but he would have probably been risking his job to tell me.

I find it worthy of note that as customizable as these things are, these corporations work so hard to disable our ability to be individuals. They allow us to change superficial aspects of items we pay for, but when it gets down to the deeper levels—like moving from consumers to self-determinate users—they’d like to see each of us as identical as the hardware they mass-produce.