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Technology Gone AWOL (Or, Does Size Matter?) November 18, 2006

Posted by Brian L. Belen in Ramblings, Technology.

My iPod Shuffle (the stick, not the stamp) doubles as my flash drive. When I do bring it with me to class I usually keep it in my pencil case. Yesterday, however, when I remembered that it needed charging, I opened the pencil case to find that it wasn’t there.

This set off an episode of momentary panic. After a frenzied search that included emptying the bag and looking everywhere else in the apartment where it could not possibly be, it was clear that the Shuffle was missing. This meant three possibilities: one, that I left it in the economics department’s conference room on one of the public use computers; two, that I left it at the terminal I used in the computer lab the night before; or three, that it was pilfered from my bag on my way home after class.

Of these, I had doubts about the first two. I was pretty sure I hadn’t left it in the conference room because I vaguely recalled having it in hand later that evening. I was less certain about having it on me after class, though I could recall very clearly that the last thing I did before I left the room was to look back at my computer terminal to make sure I hadn’t left anything. That left the the subway scenario. This seemed the most plausible because I’d fallen asleep for most of the trip back to the city. Also, there was an additional item missing from the pencil case: my white eraser, which an unscrupulous individual intent on a quick score might also mistake for an iPod Shuffle, given its size and shape.

Regardless of how it had gotten lost, one thing was for sure: my Shuffle had been missing for at least 21 hours.

That thought didn’t quite console me. After trying to find anyone I knew who might still be in school, the futility of it all began to set in. Then, for no particular reason, I concluded that I’d never be able to live with myself if I didn’t know for sure, so I took off to search for it in school.

First stop: the conference room. No sign of it. The USB hub I’d stuck it in was empty, and there was no indication that anyone might have found it and set it aside.

That left the only other place I might be able to find it: the computer lab. Realistically, this was a crapshoot: given the number of students that use that classroom across levels and disciplines, the likelihood that someone would find it and turn it in as “lost and found” were extremely minimal.

So it was just my luck that, when I got off the elevator to the appropriate floor, there was a janitor closing up the computer room for the evening. Thankfully, he was kind enough to let me have a look inside the room.

There, underneath the keyboard of the terminal I used the night before, was my iPod Shuffle. And my white eraser.

I was beside myself with relief that I think I smiled at each and every person that made eye contact with me on the way back to the apartment. (I must have seemed like such a creep!)

Looking back, this got me thinking: is smaller necessarily better? When it comes to technology, innovation always means “less is more”, and tech companies fall over each other to make their products smaller than the previous model with at least the same functionality. Everything from computers to cellular phones or automobile engines are becoming smaller. Indeed, in many cases the “smallness” of these technologies have become their selling point: as an example, the latest incarnation of the iPod Shuffle is ridiculously small, which is precisely its appeal.

But at the same time, people seem to have an innate predisposition to losing things. On the one hand, people keep misplacing things such as umbrellas or forgetting where they parked their car in a crowded lot, and these are relatively large and hard to miss. On the other hand, we seem to want those things that we do have to become more compact, presumably to save on space. But this is inevitably the same reason they become just that much easier to lose.

Would it be so bad if some of the technologies we like to have with us from day to day – celphones, MP3 players or what have you – were manufactured just a little bit larger? Given the sizes in which they come today, “a little bit larger” can’t be that big a deal (pun intended). While it won’t serve as a guarantee, there must be some ideal balance that can be struck for gadgets such that they’re small enough to remain portable but remain bulky enough that one would notice more easily if they’ve been left behind.

For my part, I wouldn’t mind if my Shuffle were a little bit larger, if for no other reason than to notice whether or not I have it on my person. But I don’t know how I’d feel about lugging around a huge white eraser.



1. Chichi - November 20, 2006

If you lost it again, maybe it was meant to be replaced. Hahahaha. By the way, I’m moving to another office next month. I guess piracy does not only happen in the private sector. Hehehehe

2. Jason dV - November 20, 2006

Get the new one, Brian. That would make a nice pre-Christmas gift to your self, 😉

3. Brian L. Belen - November 20, 2006

Chichi: “Again”? Is there some other iPod I’ve owned and…lost?

Jason: How I would love to buy the new one! I’ve seen it around already and it does make me green with envy. But I prefer the stick as it doesn’t require a cradle to be used as a flash drive. And as you’ve already noticed from my other post, I already have my pre-Christmas gift to myself. =D

4. Chichi - November 21, 2006

If you ever DO lose it again (which I hope does not happen), then, maybe its a sign that you should get the new shuffle.

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