Tech Talk by Martha 'Marti' Knight

August 18,  2011


Kodak is offering $50 off on several inkjet printers, bringing their prices to $50, $100 and $200. The latter two are all-in-ones.


The $50 off is conditioned on the customer bringing in a “swap” printer, any make, any condition. Best Buy is a major retailer offering this; Kodak says other retailers are doing so as well. Obviously these are in-store deals.


Kodak still claims that it offers the lowest total cost of ink replacement. I wonder. It sounds as if they have black cartridges and color cartridges, coded B and C. Cartridges containing three or four colors doesn’t seem like a good path to ink cost reduction. The colors are not all depleted at the same time. Replacing a cartridge because one color is gone seems both costly and wasteful.


True, not long ago all color inkjet printers used unitary all-color cartridges, and black.


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One of my Luddite friends called me (using communications technology he seems to embrace, at least in its landline, POTS form) to talk about a number of topics. Of course he got around to the usual horrible happening that would not have happened were it not for evil “high-tech gadgets.”


Those riots in London! Would never have happened but for wireless devices and Twitter and BBM and RIM Blackberry’s free Messenger.


You betcha. Jungle drums figured somehow or other in every Mau-Mau attack. Native American drummers and war whoops and commands must have helped defeat Custer and his men. Recordings of Ravel’s Bolero, played over loudspeakers, were used by Hitler and his generals to whip Third Reich troops into a killing frenzy before battles.


For that matter, those who tried to assassinate Hitler but failed and were caught were strung up with piano wire. Blame pianos!


The guy who was in high dudgeon over tweeting and texting as riot incitement has been known to proclaim that guns don’t kill people, people do.


“Is technology to blame for London riots?” asked the teaser for one story I saw. Apparently some politicians, reporters and columnists and police were blaming the popular communications tools.


Well, I would have to agree that sometimes communications can be maddening, and they can be a riot, but that doesn’t mean they cause riots.


Some opinion writers could not decide, let alone agree, on whether Twitter was more to blame than Blackberry, or vice versa.


I have taken secret satisfaction in theories we used to hear expressed concerning the power of the press. I would sit at my typewriter (in the old days) or my keyboard (more recently), fingers poised over the keys, reflecting that I might be able to write something so compelling that some trend would be reversed, or some candidate would triumph while opponents would be pounded into the dust of history.


Ah well. The only specific instance in which I have been charged with having and misusing such power was when there was a large gathering of people who had turned out for a school board meeting, and the meeting had to be moved to the auditorium. A bemused school board member asked me, “Is this YOUR rabble?”


Just imagine, if I had had e-mail at my disposal, to say nothing of Facebook and Twitter. Why, there would have been people picketing by day and leading torchlight demonstrations by night. Or, worse, writing lettitors.


But in reality, communications tools don’t create civil unrest, let alone revolution. Maybe the message does, maybe conditions that lead to unrest inspire the message, and whatever communications methods are at hand help mobilize people.


Likely Blackberry and Twitter accounts are used by law enforcement, in London.


Recently people were explaining to me how coaches now wear and use wireless communication gear to help coordinate strategy during games. No more cables all over the place. As useful as this technology may be, not to mention safer, I doubt that wins will be credited to, or losses blamed on, the wireless communications devices.


RIM felt compelled to tweet, “We feel for those impacted by the riots in London We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can.”


I suspect that means that some of those who were criminally involved in the riots will be identified through their encrypted BBM communications, if RIM agrees to turn over the data in its possession. RIM is based in Canada.


A common sense view was posited by Chris Matyszczyk of CNET, when he mused, “Technology does have a negative role—when those who use it have a negative purpose. In a literal sense, it helps them with that purpose. But does it really give them a negative purpose?”


I admit that I have seen some very negative stuff tweeted and texted and blogged and e-mailed—unfair and untrue, but not necessarily understood to be, by poorly informed readers.


But there’s a lot of positive stuff online, and in all these same venues. For that matter, the social media have been used to great effect, for disaster relief efforts and other worthy projects—and even to organize the cleanup after the London riots.


I like to imagine how some of the great communicators would have used these media. Paul the Apostle. Martin Luther King. Cicero.


Don’t just tweet—communicate. Let us know how you are using your favored communications methods. E-mail; Call 814.642.7552.