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Technology: Making everything better

  • Published
  • By Maj. John Dines
  • 90th Communications Squadron
As a cyber-operations officer, formerly known as communication-information systems officer, I hear on a daily basis the capabilities and issues technology brings to the world and the Air Force today. With the explosion of computer software, web-based services, cellular phones and apps; what once was accomplished by the person on the other end of the desk or phone, can now be accomplished by the user themselves, with the swift click of the mouse or touch screen.

These conveniences tend to both be an enhancer to someone's life as well as a hindrance in times when technology fails us. For example, it can be an enhancer when the research paper is due in the morning and a wealth of information is available instantly at your fingertips. It also allows people to socialize with friends and family without having to take the time to physically strike up a conversation with someone, which allows us more time to continue with other tasks of the day. On the other hand, technology can be a hindrance to our lives when we develop a dependence on it. Using the example of the research paper, let the Internet go down when you need to do that last minute research what do you do? In my previous units, when the server would crash, it would essentially equate to an early release for the base, given most business had been accomplished via the Internet or e-mail.

Additionally, with the environment of constrained budgets and shrinking manpower, each of us ends up becoming the finance/personnel/administrative subject matter expert through the addition of technological capabilities. As a result, an increasing amount of our data and information is residing online, and it opens everyone up to an escalating amount of threats to both our personal and professional lives.

I believe that the top priority for technology users is to ensure they always consider security. Technology is an amazing tool; however, there must be a balance between the use of technology and old fashioned communication, in order for businesses to succeed and people to not become overly dependent on the use of technology.

To get a local point of view on the way technology has taken such a large role in our lives, I passed out some questionnaires on base. Here are some of the responses:

Q: What do you do when the Internet is down?
- "I have to talk to the wife or do yard work."
- "I always have internet access with my phone (unless I'm in Nebraska!)."
- "I write stories, listen to music, play games, watch TV, and read."
- "Ride bikes, hang out with friends."
- "Cry, get angry, shout obscenities at tech support - in that order."
- "I've never seen the Internet down at my residence, only on base."

Q: When you are your parents' age, how do you think you'll communicate with others?
- "Through my watch-sized tablet worn on my wrist."
- "Carrier pigeons once the machines rise up, following the zombie apocalypse."
- "Ignore people unless they're my wife or friends."
- "After judgment day occurs and Skynet controls all computer-based communications, Morse code will finally come back into fashion."
- A significant number of responses think implanting a computer chip in the brain is the way to go.

One child interpreted the question to read "How did your parents communicate when they were your age?"
- "Tin cans and string; dinosaur rides to their home."

Tips to help protect your information:
- Only go to websites you trust
- Don't access banking or personal info sites from public "Hot Spots"
- Secure wireless router with WPA encryption, hidden SSID, MAC address registration
- Don't click links from e-mails - go directly to the website yourself