We all have to stay up to date and ensure we have the latest and greatest apps and gear installed. That is the 'Tech' rally cry these days. For to ensure we are up to date and our software is patched to the latest release, is to ensure our safety. But at the end of the day just how much does it cost us?
As I am sure most readers would be aware of, our economy is not doing so great these days. The cost of items, especially in the professional technical realm have doubled since 5 years ago, easily. We are also facing a society where the generation entering the workforce are people who lack any real motivation to work hard and put thought into what they are doing. Let's face it, the Millennials and Gen Z both were raised in a society where it was normal for them to rely on computers and the internet for knowledge and learning. Compare their work ethics with generations who were raised to work in the real world, and learn with their hands, and you can easily see the difference.
There are so many ways I could spin this post, but I wanted to touch on a recent example. Ah yes, the fare box. At one time, a simple mechanism, which was sometimes just a clear box which you would deposit a token into. A bus driver would see this and allow you entry. Simple. There are also versions which would take a token, and using a weighted mechanism, the token would then unlock a turnstile and allow someone entry into, let's say a subway station. It is amazing how simple this is, and that it actually worked fairly reliably over the years. It never really needed a software update. Maybe some general cleaning and maintenance on the mechanism was needed, but that was it.
Now sure, you could have some advanced machines that could dispense tokens. You could buy them with credit cards on said machines, or with cash. But in the end, the token would be what allowed you entry. I experienced this on the TTC, and it was wonderful. Eventually however people wanted Monthly Passes. So we needed a separate system just for the monthly passes, or you go to the ticket collector, and show them to allow you entry.
But we now have a system which costs surely thousands of dollars more per gate, and each gate is running an operating system. And each device in the gate requires firmware, be it the control system PLC, or the card reader or the visual scanner. And that all has to be kept up to date! So of course reliability suffers. And for what benefit? So we could easily track people on a spreadsheet? So we can instantly have accounting data on revenue? The benefits really outweigh the frustrations. Now I watch people with passes who stand there and attempt to access the fare gate for a minute or two before the gate finally opens - or maybe it doesn't open. And to think of the money spent on this system, and the years of R&D and implementation, and it still sucks. When a simple turnstile with token slots, or even a card punch system, and a ticket taker in a booth, would work just as easily.
Nah, technology isn't all it is cracked up to be. Often we find the old ways are the more foolproof and reliable ways.