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Improvements in Tech since the 90s

Small ways in which my tech daily life has been getting better since the 90s

Improvements in Tech
It can be hard to see the gradual improvement of most goods over time, but I think one way to get a handle on them is to look at their downstream effects: all the small ordinary everyday things which nevertheless depend on obscure innovations and improving cost-performance ratios and gradually dropping costs and new material and… etc. All of these gradually drop the cost, drop the price, improve the quality at the same price, remove irritations or limits not explicitly noticed, or so on.

It all adds up.

So here is a personal list of small ways in which my ordinary everyday daily life has been getting better since the ’90s (as far back as I can clearly remember these things—I am sure the list of someone growing up in the 1940s would include many hassles I’ve never known at all).

Progress is usually debated in terms of the big things like eliminating child mortality, or science & tech: discovering gravitational waves, creating world champion AIs, turning AIDS into a treatable rather than terminal disease, conquering hepatitis C or, curing deadly cancers with genetically-engineered T-cells. But as cool as those big things are, and matters of life-and-death for many, such achievements tend to be remote from ordinary people, and not your everyday sort of thing (or so one hopes). Small stuff matters too. What about the little things in an ordinary life?

The seen and the unseen. When I think back, so many hassles have simply disappeared from my life, and nice new things appeared. I remember my desk used to be crowded with things like dictionaries and pencil sharpeners, but between smartphones & computers, most of my desk space is now dedicated to my cats.

These things rarely come up because so many of them are about removing irritations or creating new possibilities—dogs that do not bark, and ‘the seen and the unseen’—and how quickly we forget that the status quo was not always so.

Limiting myself to my earliest relatively clear memories of everyday life in the mid-1990s, I still wound up making a decent-sized list of improvements to my ordinary life.

Since we are primarily a technology company, I have decided to list how computers have changed over time to improve our quality of life.

With computers, it’s hardly worth trying to enumerate the improvements on every dimension, and it might be easier to list the exceptions instead—if I made a list of a hundred things, someone would chime in with another one I’d forgotten, like easy rental rooms through homestay apps or food delivery apps. But nevertheless, here’s a few:

Cheap: electronics prices keep falling. These days, people whine endlessly online if a RAM or semiconductor shortage (something that happens every decade or so, as the industry has notorious boom-and-bust dynamics) means that they have to pay as much as they did a few years ago for something, but the long-term trends are dramatic.

You can buy things like top-end VR headsets or smartphone, which will cost less in real terms than a Nintendo NES did in 1983 or a Sony Walkman cassette player in 1979. Kids in 2020 can’t even imagine having to pay over a hundred bucks for a new copy of Super Mario Bros. 3 —a far cry from paying $5 these days for a great PC game during a Steam sale, or nothing at all for many of the most popular games like Fortnite. the Internet/Human Genetics/AI/VR are now actually things

Imagine dealing with the 2019–20 tech requirements in 1989 instead.
  • VHS tapes:
  • Not Rewinding VHS tapes before returning to the library or Blockbuster
  • not worrying about Blockbuster or library late Fines
  • Not Watching crummy VHS tapes, period
  • Not making a dozen phone calls playing Phone Tag, to set up something as simple as a play date
  • hotels and restaurants provide Public Internet Access by default, without nickel-and-diming customers or travelers; this access is usually via WiFi
  • Satellite Internet & TV are affordable & common for rural people
  • All-You-Can-Eat Broadband:
  • Faster
  • Indefinite: not worrying about running out of dial-up hours, liberated from the tyranny of time metering and (mostly) bandwidth metering
  • All Day: because you won’t be yelled at for tying up the (only) phone line
  • Ethernet: not needing to know the difference between PLIP, SLIP, IRQ, TCP/IP, or PPP to get online
  • 20xx is The Year Of the Linux Desktop: no, but seriously, Linux X, WiFi, & laptops now usually work
  • Hygienic Mice: no longer needing to clean computer mice weekly thanks to laser mice
  • Hearing Aids are a small fraction the size, have gone digital with multiple directional microphones (higher-quality, customizable, noise-reduction), halved or more in price, become water-resistant, and even do tricks like Bluetooth
  • GPS: not getting lost while frantically driving down a freeway; or anywhere else, for that matter
  • Universal Cables: USB cables mean that for connecting or recharging, we now only need to figure out ~10 different plugs instead of 1000+ (one for every pairwise device combo)
  • Universal Search: search engines typically turn up the desired result in the first page, even if it’s a book or scientific paper; one doesn’t need to resort to ‘meta-search engines’ to cover a dozen search engines which each index a different tiny fraction of the Internet, or gradually building up enormous 20-clause Boolean queries to filter out noise
  • Universal Storage: we no longer need to strategize which emails or photos or documents to delete to save space
  • RAM: programmers able to assume users have 4GB RAM rather than 4MB RAM
  • Smartphones: far too much to list… (eg GPS, and careless smartphone photographs are higher-quality than most film cameras from a few decades ago, particularly in niches like dark scenes where smartphone night modes can achieve things few or no non-digital film cameras were capable of)
Let us help you be part of the technological revolution, give us a call and find out how we can help your business evolve today!

Post was last modified: October 15 2021 17:35:58 CST

Does your business need a PBX system?

Find out what a PBX system is and how your business could benefit from having one.

PBX systems

PBX (Private branch exchange systems), are business-grade, private phone networks. The three+ types of PBX systems are: analog, digital and cloud-hosted. Cloud-hosted PBX is the most popular as of late and offers almost unlimited flexibility.

This blog post is for owners of a business interested in installing a company phone system that offers employees a wide selection of calling, collaboration, tools and mobile features.

What is a PBX?

A PBX is a business-grade phone system. These types of systems give the added functionality businesses need in a telephone solution, such as being able to offer employee extensions, and they have automated attendants that answer and route calls to the proper people or departments. A PBX uses various communication channels, such as VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and ISDN (Integrated Services Digital Network).

An office phone system is different than residential or cell phone services because of its service offerings; such systems offer features like extension dialing, call conferencing, customer waiting queues, business-hour settings for routing off-hours calls, and hold music.

Key takeaway: PBX stands for private branch exchange and allows businesses to manage multiple calls on a private telephone network.

How does a PBX system work?

A PBX system is monitored using a switchboard, which processes the connections between telephones to facilitate a call. This system allows your company to provide multiple phone lines that are connected to a public switched telephone network or VoIP network, which is how calls are sent and received.

A PBX system also controls the many features business phone systems have. Besides allowing for communication with outside callers, a PBX system allows your business s phone lines to be connected so employees can easily communicate with each other.

Features of a hosted PBX

PBX features are what differentiates business phone systems from mobile or home phones. Here are some of the more valuable features:

Voicemail-to-email: In addition to traditional voicemail service, many PBX systems offer voicemail-to-email, which provides phone system users an audio file or transcript of the message left on their phone.

Auto attendant: An automated attendant gives callers the option of pressing a specific number so their call is directed to the right person or department. For example, the attendant may say, "press one for customer support," or "press three for the legal department."

On-hold music: Rather than clients or customers waiting in silence while they are on hold, PBX systems provide businesses with the option to play hold music. Some systems play preselected music or custom music selected by the business.

Paging: If a worker wants to send a message to the entire team, they can use the paging system to record a message using their phone, which is then broadcast through a system of speakers to all employees or sent to a select group of employee phones.

Presence: This feature allows employees to check whether their co-workers are available or on a call.

Call reports: These types of reports break down your business s call data. It includes information on your company s phone usage, which can be additionally detailed by user or department.

Online management: This feature allows you to manage the phone system via an online portal. Administrators use the portal to add users, set phone numbers, review call reports, create ring groups, and see monthly statements. Employees log into the portal to check their voicemail, view the company directory, and create call-forwarding routes.

Call forwarding: This lets you have your company phone forward calls to another number when you do not answer.

Call recording: This gives users the option to record their calls for playback at a later time.

Call queues: A call queue helps you manage calls that come in simultaneously by allowing you to place them in a line until someone is available to speak with them.

Extension dialing: Callers can plug in an employees extension to reach their direct line.

Ring groups: This allows companies to put employees with similar roles into one group, which is helpful when customers are trying to reach someone within a certain department. For example, if you allow callers to press two for sales, the call will be forwarded to the employees in that ring group.

Call transferring: This option lets employees transfer calls to their co-workers.

Key takeaway: Through a range of features like auto attendants, call queues, and ring groups, PBX users can efficiently field multiple outside calls between numerous employees.

Call us today to see how we can help you set-up a PBX system for your business.

Post was last modified: October 13 2021 04:16:50 CST

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