In response to this feature on Mashable, here is my take on that list. Keep in mind that I’m too young to have known about many of the things that were supposedly replaced by modern technology.

1. Call theaters to get accurate movie times

I’m not much of a movie person, but if there was something I did want to see, I’d check my newspaper’s entertainment section. Can’t say I miss it, though, due to the convenience of being able to access the information online.

2. Visit a travel agent’s office to research vacations

I’m definitely too young to remember that, but I still sometimes go to travel agents to book flights.

3. Record your favorite programs using VHS recorder

I honestly didn’t know you could do that until well after VCRs became obsolete.

4. Dial directory assistance to find out someone’s number

Apparently, the phone exchange operator (the one that you connect to by dialing “0”) doesn’t help with that anymore. That sucks, but I didn’t use operator assistance much back when it was available anyway.

5. Use public telephones

I didn’t get a cell phone until freshman year of college. Before then, it had become frustrating for me to see payphones being taken down everywhere at such a rapid rate.

6. Book tickets for events using the phone

I don’t really book tickets for events much, but when I do, there’s a thing called the box office.

7. Print photographs

Don’t really see the point of this one, since a studio can do it fairly cheaply with much better results. The ink and paper (not to mention a decent printer) required cost a small fortune.

8. Put a classified ad in a store window

People don’t do that anymore? But what about the bulletin boards on bus shelters, telephone poles and community centers?

9. Call the 24-hour operator to get the exact time

Sounds really cool, but not something I would actually use.

10. Carry portable cassette or CD players

Never had one.

11. Handwritten letters

I’m kind of conflicted on this one. I think real letters are awesome. But while I love the concept of a real object making a journey over physical distance to its destination, I can’t help but appreciate the convenience of email. Also, my awful handwriting meant that I wasn’t much of a letter writer. I can still see myself typing out a letter, printing it and then mailing it, though.

12. Buy disposable cameras

I never really understood the point of this one, and still don’t. I’m pretty sure pocket cameras have been around for at least several decades now.

13. Take plenty of change for pay phones

See 5.

14. Make mix tapes

Not enough of a music aficionado to do this.

15. Pay bills at the post office

I thought that before the days of internet billing, you made pre-authorized payments for your bills?

16. Use an address book

I kept a few addresses in a document on my computer, but never used a physical book for it.

17. Check a map before or during a road trip or vacation

I love navigating with maps. GPS satnav devices are great for long stretches, but nothing beats a good old map for finding your way around a neighborhood. I try to avoid Google Maps if I can help it.

18. Reverse charges in payphones, collect calls

Never used it before. You can still make collect calls, can’t you?

19. Go into your bank to conduct your business

Depends on what kind of business. There are still things that I have to go to the bank to get done.

20. Buy TV listings

Again (see 1.), isn’t that what newspapers are for?

21. Own an encyclopedia

While I would love to, those things are just too expensive and bulky to be practical for a nomadic college student.

22. Renewing your car registration by visiting your DMV

Last time I checked, people still did that here.

23. Develop and send off film for photographs

While holding physical photographs is a pretty cool reward for your work, digital photos are just more convenient and cheaper in the long run, not to mention safer.

24. Read a hard copy of the Yellow Pages

I love phone books (White Pages more than Yellow) and still use them when I can. I just hope the author/artist/person who made that list didn’t mean reading one in its entirety.

25. Look up something in dictionary

As with encyclopedias, I really have no room in my stuff to carry around a full-fledged dictionary. I have the full edition of Webster’s unabridged dictionary on my phone, though, and use that instead of or other online dictionaries. I have to say, though, that one reason I really appreciate dictionary software is that I’m terrible at recalling alphabetical order.

26. Remember phone numbers

Funny story: of my two best friends in elementary school, I had no problem remembering one’s phone number (I still remember it, even though he changed it a while back) but could never remember the other’s (still can’t, even though it’s never changed). But overall, I’m pretty bad at memorizing phone numbers.

27. Watch videos, DVD and VCR

Not VCR, but I still pop in the occasional DVD when at (my family’s) home.

28. Have pen pals. Write letters

My entire sixth grade class was assigned pen pals from Italy. It was pretty cool, I’ll admit. I wouldn’t mind having one again.

29. Use a telephone book

See 24.

30. Use pagers

To this day, I still don’t quite understand what they were for or how they worked.

31. Fax documents

I’ve still had to do it occasionally.

32. Buy CDs/have a CD collection


33. Pay by paper check

Still plenty of uses for checks. I wouldn’t call them phased out yet.

34. Make a photo album

My family used to do that all the time. We still do that, just with digital photos.

35. Watch TV shows at the time they are shown

To me, this just feels better than watching a recording.

36. Warm drinks on the stove

Considering that the microwave oven’s been around since the 70s, I’d say I’m definitely young enough to have grown up with it.

37. Dial *69 to find out who called you last


38. Try on shoes at the mall

How else would you do it?

39. Hand wash clothes

Oh boy. This is getting into REALLY old-fashioned territory. However, since I don’t have enough clothes to warrant going to a laundromat when traveling, I do hand wash them.

40. Advertise in newspapers

This one’s far from dead.

41. Send love letters


42. Hand write essays and school work

I’m only three years removed from high school, but it never ceases to amaze me how much more technology they integrate now. Only three years ago, we had no course website, mark updates were posted on the classroom door or the back wall, and teachers didn’t use Facebook to communicate with students. Students most certainly did not submit assignments online. My awful handwriting once again means that I don’t really miss hand-writing assignments, but I could certainly do without the online classroom portals and stuff. High school is supposed to be a simple time in one’s life.

43. Buy flowers from a florist

…as opposed to what? I’ve never had to, so I don’t know.

44. Use a dictionary to find out how to spell something

I suck at alphabetical order (see 25.), so electronic dictionaries are a godsend to me.

45. Keep a personal diary

I do sometimes wish I could pour my heart out in a little notebook which nobody else could see, but overall I’m not much of a diary person.

46. Send post cards

I occasionally buy postcards as cheap souvenirs, but there are better ways of communicating with people back home now.

47. Buy newspapers

If I could motivate myself to actually take time to read them, I definitely would. I used to love reading the paper, but never get around to it anymore.

48. Hang out laundry to dry on clotheslines

I’m sure plenty of people still do this. Dryers aren’t exactly cheap to buy or maintain.

49. Keep printed bills or bank statements

Moving around as often as I do, I appreciate the convenience of online billing.

50. Visit yard sales and flea markets

I still try to take some time to browse around whenever I come across one, and sometimes when I’m free and feel like it, I actively seek out one around the neighborhood.

Most of these things really haven’t been replaced by modern technology, just made more accessible. A lot of them still exist in their original forms, albeit enhanced by modern technology, of course. The Internet, smartphones and other devices can potentially be very useful utilities, but sometimes the old-fashioned way just works best.


As the CSC300 course winds down, we spend some time talking about the future of human-computer interaction. We are at a stage in the progress of technology such that every gadget one uses can conceivably be operated by methods such as touch, voice and motion sensing, things that even a few years ago were in the form of impractical prototypes. In just a decade, personal computers have gone beyond desktops or laptops and have taken many forms, most notably mobile telephones and tablets. In 2011, Apple and IBM made waves around the tech community with their claims of the post-PC era.

However, as exciting as it is for this new crop of innovative consumer products, we must ask ourselves the question of whether the new devices with their non-traditional user interfaces are as good as handling some tasks that we have been doing on desktop PCs for decades. It is undeniable that touchscreen devices are better at many things than the PC, such as drawing, and some programs are simply more intuitive with touch-based interfaces. And of course, there’s the added bonus of portability, arguably even more so than laptop PCs. With that being said, however, I don’t think many people would like to write code on a tablet. Or do heavy word-processing. Or HD video encoding. In response to the post-PC claims, PC World wrote an article about why the desktop PC will always have a place alongside the newer gadgets.

While few will dispute the importance of pushing for innovation in our world today, we have to be careful not to lose ourselves in the hype surrounding new technologies, and to not change just for its own sake, but for the sake of making a certain task easier to perform. If some things are still best done with existing technology, then until we find a better way (which I don’t doubt), it’s best to just stick with it for now.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or have an extraordinarily large amount of spare change, you’ve probably at least heard of piracy in some form, if not taking part in it. Unfortunately, pirates are always looking for new ways to circumvent modern copyright-protection measures coded into software, and it’s an ongoing battle between the two sides.

With the advent of broadband Internet, web-based distribution of software became feasible, and services such as Steam and GameFly have made buying PC games much more accessible. Many companies are also putting their software products online for direct download. Another way to encourage people to buy games instead of download copies is the locking of updates and online play in pirated copies of the game, and for non-game software, online registration and activation.

One fairly creative copy-protection system I’ve come across is that of the Bohemia Interactive games ArmA and Arma 2. If the game detects that it is a copied version, something like this will happen. Pretty neat, I must say. It’s a really great game, too, so if I had a better PC that could actually run it (my old one was able to), I would definitely buy it.

The trade deadline has once again come and gone, and this year the rumor mill was churning fast as ever, especially with many teams still reeling from the effects of the 5-month long lockout on player conditioning and wanting a fresh start. We have access to extremely “rapid” forms of media (e.g. Twitter and Facebook), where updates, once posted, are accessible instantly to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. As a fan, I couldn’t tell you enough about how exciting it is to be able to follow the action, almost live, via these services. The advent of internet-enabled mobile phones only add to the accessibility of these forms of media. Contrast this to less than 20 years ago, when we got this kind of news once a day via newspaper, and maybe twice or three times by television news. The only way to receive more frequent updates short of being in the newsroom would have been to subscribe to a dedicated sports television network.

While it is great for the fans to be able to keep in touch with their favorite teams and players, do you ever wonder about how players feel about this kind of openness? While there are still a few examples of some transactions being conducted behind completely closed doors (e.g. the Blazers-Bobcats deal that brought Gerald Wallace to Portland, of which even Wallace himself had no idea about until it was finalized and publicized), more often than not, as soon as a word is uttered by an agent, manager, or player, it is immediately published to the world and picked apart in speculation. All of this happens usually before anything is ever made official.

We also must remember that the players that are subject to the trade rumors themselves have access to everything that us fans do. For some, the possibility of being dealt to another team and the loss of perceived stability that comes especially if he has enjoyed a long and successful tenure on his current team, is serious enough to affect his play on the court. One big name in this year’s rumor mill was Pau Gasol, who’s perhaps best known as Kobe Bryant’s number-two man on the Laker’s 2009 and 2010 NBA championship teams. His name has been tossed around since the beginning of the season, and it has lead to a noticeable decline in quality of play this season. In the end, those rumors amounted to nothing. We hope that a renewed sense of stability will help his game improve to his previous peak levels.

Another hot player on the trading block, Jamal Crawford of the Trail Blazers, stated in a radio interview that while he didn’t like hearing about the trade rumors, the ubiquity of media today makes ignoring them impossible:

It used to be a time… that that you could kind of shut out from reading the papers or reading the internet, but now it’s everywhere… So it’s kind of hard to be oblivious to the whole thing.

While it’s impractical to suggest a wholesale ban on social media for the agents and managers involved in trade rumors, we have to remember that NBA players (and athletes of other professional team sports as well) are people too, and are affected by emotions. Unfortunately, other than being more mindful of players’ requests for privacy, there is not much that we can do to quell their uneasiness, but Crawford has his way of dealing with it:

So you just try to do your best to stay professional and worry about the things you can control.

Just a little musing on how we take technology for granted today. A lot of people raise the question of whether computers and modern technology really benefits society. When I think of that question, the first thing I think of is that society functioned perfectly well without much of the technology that we deem to be normal and even necessary today. People had forms of entertainment before television, and managed to communicate before the advent of email or even telephones.

But when you really think about it, there is no denying that modern technology, especially the Internet, is extremely beneficial in the sense that it just makes communication so much easier for people with access. And with the number of people with Internet access growing at such a great rate, I don’t think it’s unfair to say that this benefit has permeated every level of society. Yes, it can be, and has been, abused, but it is humans that abuse technology and use them for evil, analogous to the almost-cliched, but true, saying, “guns don’t kill people, people do”.

Everything has its pros and cons; we have to weigh them and take advantage of the pros accordingly. And the advantages of our digital age for communication is far too important to be marred by abuse. Anyway, as hackers find ways to defeat systems, so can security experts who maintain and patch them, to keep problems to a minimum.