Monday, December 22, 2003

Tech travails

Early this year, my point-and-shoot camera entered its digital dotage. And in casting around for a suitable replacement, I was forced to confront a long-standing adversary – technology.

At the risk of sounding anachronistic, I’ll admit I’m extremely distrustful of gadgets, gizmos and anything that comes with an explicatory manual. Distrustful because these ‘thingies’ amble into your life pretending to be your best friends, and then when you’re slavishly dependant on them, they find the most (in)opportune moment to betray you. Distrustful also because they brag about adding value to your life, when in effect they only add clutter by offering you a bewildering bouquet of unnecessary options. Worse still, by the time you’ve finally figured out all their arcane functions, they’re obsolete, which means you’ve got to start all over again!

Sure, technology has its merits. But it’s the insidious invasion into every aspect of life that I’m holding out against.

But coming back to the camera, another point-and-shoot wasn’t an option. Scanning pictures to post on the Net was becoming too much of hassle. Then, there also was the proliferation of albums at home. My friend recommended a digital camera and suggested I consult her brother. Our conversation…

Me: I want to buy a digital camera.

Friend’s brother: What resolution are we talking of here?

Me: Erm… to buy a good digicam!

(Long silence. Chuckles. Then very slowly…)

Friend’s brother: I meant picture resolution!!!

What followed was a flurry of words… megapixels… flash card… optical zoom… all of which drifted in the hollow space above my head.

I tried another tack – the Internet. In the weeks that followed, I worked my way down a few of the 6,807,551 sites for digital cameras. The fog began to clear as I studied and compared features, decoded jargon and read reviews. I received weekly updates about new models, downloaded data and made notes. At the end of 6 weeks, I’d not only shortlisted 3 models, but had even turned consultant for another tech-challenged friend.

“Try X model’, I told her jauntily, ‘it’s got 3.2 megapixels, with 3X optical zoom and with 32 MB installed memory you should get about 110 pictures of 1600 x 1200 Resolution.’

Once she got over her amazement, she paid me a rather dubious compliment – ‘Wow,’ she said, ‘you talk like a guy!’

Next was the actual purchase. I purposefully strode into the camera store and rattled off the model I wanted. The dealer, as he is wont to, pulled out another model saying, ‘This has a longer warranty and has built in speakers… better than… .’ I slipped back into indecision country.

‘I’ll go for a walk and come back,’ I muttered. A few gulps of fresh air and I decided to stick to my original choice.

The last weekend has been spent poring over the manual and sizing up the many options. Where once there was point-and-shoot, now there was point-select mode-select scene-decide image size-check ISO equivalency-check sharpness-and shoot (if the ‘Kodak moment’ still lingered, that is!)

How the mighty ranters have fallen! Guess I've just validated the 'insidious invasion' argument...