Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Rage Against the Machine

I am absolutely fed up to the back teeth of computers. Or rather, I’m fed up of my inability to control their usage. These ubiquitous boxes, now cunningly designed in attractive shades of brushed steel, seemingly rule our lives.

Well, not any more. Not here.

For too long I’ve been addicted to email and the internet, using it as a convenient escape route to avoid knuckling down to work. For too long, I’ve allowed computers to rule the way we live, using them as a central hub in our lives which, of course, is exactly what those who design and sell them want us to do.

But it doesn’t need to be this way.

This whole situation came to a head last night, when I argued with Alice over how to print out a piece of homework. The said piece had been created on a PC (we’re a Mac household with a PC machine the girls use for gaming and occasional homework) which I couldn’t get to ‘find’ my printer. I hate PC’s at the best of times with their user-unfriendly interface and, add to that a twelve year old girl telling me what to do and I lost my temper.

And here’s the thing. I lost my temper with Alice. When, in fact, I was annoyed at the black box under the desk. But here’s another thing. The homework didn’t need to be done on the computer. It could have been done faster and more efficiently in an exercise book. But no… everyone’s taught to ‘use the computer’. Why, exactly? What’s wrong with writing in a book, getting the work done and moving on, rather than wrestling with formatting and picture sizing and all sorts of font garbage that eats into the precious time available to children. So from now on, unless it’s crucial, computers are for back-up and essential research only. If something has to be done on a computer then it will be, otherwise it’s done by hand.

Likewise with me… and I’m a big culprit here. I’m off line now, typing this in ‘Word’ and it’s taking me a third of the time than if I were on line. Why? Because I’m not fiddling around visiting websites or ‘checking my email’ or leaving messages on forums. I’m focussed and frankly, all the better for it.

Fiona’s been preaching this to me for ages and I’m only sorry my epiphany came last night and required a falling-out with my daughter. I went to bed reeling at the effect that computers have on us. I have a computer in my phone, a computer in my car, a computer on my desk, a computer on my wife’s desk, a computer that can be mobile anywhere in my house, a computer in my library room, a computer in my television, a computer on my wrist, a computer when I go out training… for goodness’ sake, there has to be a point where surely we don’t need so many computers?

Of course, they're useful when we need them but that’s exactly how they should be. I use my computer for writing. It’s an essential part of my life and work and I wouldn’t change that for the world. But had computers not been invented, I wouldn’t be sat around a typewriter when I wasn’t writing. From now on, my computer is a typewriter and I’m limiting the time I do other stuff at its keyboard. And that’s going to happen to the girls too (except Fiona, who’s always been suspicious of the infernal things and only uses them when she needs to).

I shall Twitter occasionally, check my emails only when I’ve done the work I set out to do and visit the internet for short periods only several times a day.

I feel better sharing this with you.

I want to play scrabble with my kids. And read books. And go for walks or bike rides with them. I don’t want to be constantly opening up a laptop to ‘check my mail’ or grabbing my mobile phone to see if there’s anything on such and such forum.

I could go on but I’m sure you get my drift.

Let me know if you think I’m losing my marbles or finally getting back to being human again.

Last week marked the commencement of my taper, although, due to being fitter than last year, my taper resembles more a list of strenuous activities than a relaxation period. Here’s what I did:

Monday 2km swim drills session in the pool
Tuesday 1.8km open water swim
Wednesday 50 mile bike ride, 10km back to back run
Thursday 5km run
Friday 65 minute hilly bike ride and 30 minute run off the bike
Saturday key session - 60 mile solo bike ride at 21.4mph and 74% max heart rate plus 4.5 mile back to back run at 7:30 min/miles and 80% of max heart rate.
Sunday Day off

I’ve not measured times or distances apart from the key sessions as, for most of this and the next two weeks, I’m trying to work on ‘feel’.

And, to be honest, I feel good.

But I’m keeping it real and focussing more and more on the event.

I’ve bought a new Zone 3 Vanquish wetsuit which is making me feel great in the water. Assuming it gives me no problems I’ll wear it for the Ironman and I’m pretty sure it will give me an extra minute or so in the water as well as allowing me to exit the lake having used less energy due to it’s high performance design and materials.

Well done again this week to Boxy… who placed 30th in his first ever Olympic Distance Triathlon at The Dambuster.

And, with that, I must now turn on my computer and copy and paste this into the blog.


Sheila said...

Well, you're right. I have been thinking these last 2 weeks about how much more I could have accomplished in my mornings (my time of day off from work) if I hadn't been sitting around the computer. Sigh. I need to take stock here because I need to accomplish more stuff. Thanks for the read.

runtilyoudrop said...

Welcome to the neo luddites. Your numbers and figures look great so dont hold back on the run this time and see if you can do a sub 3.40!

where you going next year?

H said...

Completely agree Jev, Tom 'saw' the light with this malarky a while ago. We'd stopped plugging ourselves into the tv so we could have more quality time on an evening, yet what we found was we'd plug ourselves side by side into our computers in the office, so we try to ban them after 7pm. They can steal your life...bloody things! Happy tapering petal xx

Tom said...

great post mate... although it's not the computers in your life that are at fault it's the way you use them. People like you and I are what could be called 'digital immigrants' i.e. people who spent the large part of their formative years sans computers - whereas the younger generation are growing up largely as 'digital natives' i.e. people who have always existed in that world. At the moment no-one really knows how to best use the technology available to them in order to free up valuable time to do things like play scrabble with the cat. Tools like Facebook and Twitter have phenominal potential with regards improving communication, increasing productivity and most importantly increasing the amount of free time in our daily lives, however, those of us in our 30s and 40s are typically somewhat resistant with regards embracing these new ideas. Those people occupying the two younger decades waste most of the potential by playing tetris on facebook or twittering the colour of their t-shirt.

However, this is an area that I have increasingly become interested in and using myself as a kind of experimental subject I've explored some interesting techniques, which once Switzerland is done I hope to share in some way or another.

For the moment though it's all about the 5th and 12th respectively ;)


Colin Bradley said...

Doubt Jev will read any of these posts, now that he is staying clear of the PC...;-)

Khara Mills said...

Hi Jevon

First time reading your blog...interesting timing considering the main (other than IM training of course) topic as I discovered you on Twitter and other people's blogs!!!!!

Any way, great read. I might not comment often (my attempt not to spend too much time on my brushed alu/steel folding box) but I will be reading with interest.

Best of luck on 5th July
Khara :-)

Adrian73 said...

Hi I just found your blog and read the last few posts.
Very interesting concept about the time we spend on computers. I noticed that if I added up all the "minutes" I spend on tritalk and spend them training / properly relaxing, I would definitely be hitting my training targets (which I often don't do). Easier said than done ;) .
Good to see the preps for IMD are going well. I will be there spectating (I am driving from Manchester to Roth visiting some friends along the way so I expect to be in Frankfurt on Sunday).
I will be cheering for you assuming I can recognise you!!!
All the best