Digital Minefield

Why The Machines Are Winning

Vampires To Overlords, Part Three

In the beginning, electricity-sucking vampires were a good thing. Although standby power was promoted as “instant on,” the “on” wasn’t “instant,” but it was quick. More important than quicker startups of ancient televisions, continuous electricity extended the life of those big cathode ray tubes. How? By shrinking the temperature gap between warm up and cool down.

Vampires use a lot (10%) of power. Today’s digital devices don’t really need standby power, but all our modern solid-state hardware gain longevity from smaller temperature variations. They last longer using vampire juice. My computer gets power from a wall switch, but I let it warm up for 10-15 minutes before turning it on.

With the expanding world of digital choices, we must learn to be more judicious. For example, there is no vampire-like advantage in continuous connection to the Internet. Yet we do, whether online or off, whether our devices are on or off. It’s merely a habit born of convenience.

It’s why a device’s camera is always at the ready. Anyone in the world with permission (overloads) or know-how (hackers) can take a snapshot of you and where you are. They can even use your GPS (or WiFi triangulation) to get a fix on your location—and verify it with a quick wink of your camera.

The last post asked “. . . a machine couldn’t turn itself on, could it?” Actually, it can—and so can other machines (used by other people). While writing this post, Amazon updated my Kindle without asking if it was convenient. (It wasn’t.) If updates fail (and they can), why aren’t we offered cloud-based restoration?

We are captives of our habits and conveniences. Vampires may take a cut, but they extend the life of our devices. Overlords offer more but take more. They want control of our devices to manipulate our digital lives. I only wish this was an April Fool’s joke.


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