Five Stressful Tech Changes (and What I Did About Them)

To continue the theme of dealing with the stress associated with technology change, below are five situations that I have grappled with recently and a short explanation of how I resolved the stress for myself.

  1. Google – I used to be all-in on Google products: G Suite, Drive, Maps, and even Google+ for both my personal and professional lives, but now I’m quite a bit more selective. Fastmail is better, faster, and more compatible with iOS than Gmail. I still love Google Maps and Search, but not when logged in. I still use Drive, Docs, and Translate but only on a case-by-case basis. Duck, Duck, Go has replaced Google Search as my default search engine especially because their bang shortcuts are such a huge time saver (!g Google, !w Wikipedia, !yt YouTube, !esen Spanish-English translation, etc.). Finally, I’m much more conscious when I do search to avoid the Filter Bubble effect.
  2. Net Neutrality – Some people now swear by using a VPN for their desktop and mobile devices to prevent their Internet Service Provider from seeing (and selling) their personal information, but that is too stressful in itself. It also slows down the connection in many cases so while I do like and use Proton VPN for security on public wifi, I’ve made my peace with my boring data being sold by Comcast to the highest bidders.
  3. Facebook – There is no single negative change here, but a clear pattern of stressful abuse of privacy and personal information. It leaves tracking cookies even in “do not track” mode, abuses users’ “security” phone numbers, tracks users through the “Like” buttons (found on most websites), and does so many more negative things such as 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. My response: Gone, done, account deleted.
  4. Wifi – I wrote a long article about wifi issues about six months ago, but this was before I switched from Apple’s “Airport” routers to Eero products. Apple’s products were reliable, easy-to-use, secure, and… discontinued a year ago! After quite a bit of stress, I found that Eero’s routers are everything Apple’s products were with one massive advantage, full speed wireless mesh networking so no more ugly wires running between routers. Eero’s are expensive, but several months later they are one of the few pieces of technology that run 24/7 and have been completely “set and forget.” (Note on Feb 12th: Amazon just bought Eero. Something to keep in mind if you choose to research this option.)
  5. Television – For a variety of reasons, DirecTV was getting more and more stressful as time went on, but cable TV’s $100 / month to watch maybe two shows a week seemed wasteful. So about a year ago we went back to the tried and true antenna-on-the-roof solution combined with a Tablo DVR, Netflix, Amazon, iTunes, etc. The details can be found in this post, but the long-term surprise has been our TCL Roku TV (or to upgrade older TVs, Roku’s Streaming Stick+). Roku products are simple to use, compatible with almost all major streaming apps, and convenient. An extra bonus is that one simple remote can control everything and is especially powerful when used with the TCL Roku TV because it automatically controls the Roku TV Wireless Speakers. Seriously, the stress reduction of having just one remote cannot be overstated!

The last thing to mention is that of course, the “solutions” above are provided simply as a glimpse into how I reduce the stress associated with technological change. Behind each of these decisions is a significant amount of research, experiments that failed, and sometimes decisions between bad and less bad options. Despite wanting to save $$$ by cord cutting, YouTube TVs “Cloud DVRs” and other features weren’t for us, neither were a wide variety of products for cheap wifi, free VPN, or free email. For products central to everyday life, many times it makes sense to pay a little more up-front and reduce the other types of stress such as ads, unreliability, and compromising personal information. As the popular tech saying goes (which actually dates back to the 1970s), “if you’re not paying for the product, you are the product!”