Technology

Caution: I'm bluntly honest here, so if you can't live without your smartphone, better back out now.


Welcome to one of the lowest-tech new homes you're likely see. Aside from LED lighting, about the most sophisticated aspect of it will be the heat pump system, but even this is based on relatively old tech.

My choice to go low-tech is not because I'm some technophobe or a Neo-Luddite; I've actually been a technogeek from my earliest years. I was an early adopter of Betamax, MiniDisc and Videodisc, I had top-drawer digital photographic gear, high-end PCs, and so on. Professionally, I've worked in a broad array of technology fields, plus I'm generally very science- and technology-oriented.

That said, I also adhere to the KISS Principle, and so I'm adamantly opposed to making things more complicated than they need to be. Unfortunately, with the virus-like spread of ever-cheaper microprocessors and related tech, not to mention altogether too many fad-driven tech trends, unnecessary complexity is growing exponentially. Products are emerging that nobody asked for; tech developers now do many things merely because it's profitable or, worse, it's fashionable, not because it serves any real need.

And so, with my house I've consciously and deliberately gone low-tech. Here are some highlights (lowlights?) and the reasons for my choices:

No cable. I don't watch broadcast or cable-distributed commercial programming—i.e., television. While I do have a voracious appetite for film and enjoy a select few TV series, I purchase them all on disc, so I saw no need for a cable connection. And cell phones have finally become robust enough to make landlines unnecessary, so the only wires entering the house carry 200 amps of electricity.

No broadband. No cable also means no hardwired broadband internet access. I don't do all that much online as it is, and I don't bother with streaming. For the limited amount I do online, I have a hotspot tied to my cell phone account; it's proven to be perfectly adequate for my needs, and costs no more than cable-based broadband, even with unlimited data. It also means having to deal with only one big, greedy corporation instead of two or more.

No dish. See "no cable." Besides, being surrounded by trees, a line-of-sight shot at a satellite is out of the question.

No wiring. Other than electricity and a doorbell, the house is not wired for anything. No cable, no Cat-6, no inter-room audio/video feeds, no nothing. No want, no need.

No smart home devices. I tend to regard any product that's branded "smart" as usually just the opposite. Consequently my home will be 100% "dumb," as I've absolutely zero interest in or need for any "smart" devices, many of which are utterly absurd. What happens when tech devices become obsolete, as they inevitably do? And the Internet of Things is worse than stupid: it's seriously frightening. Hackers are aggressively multiplying, and I refuse to put my privacy and security at risk just for the sake of being able to open or close my garage door from my living room. Besides, I do not—and never will—own a smartphone.* Consider all of the horror stories about people losing control of their smart devices because of bugs or Internet service interruptions; how embarrassing is it when you can't turn your lights on and off while standing in the same room?

Not even a "learning" thermostat. It's just me and my cats, at home 99% of the time. A Nest or other "smart" thermostat is overkill.

*I owned a top-of-the-line "smartphone" for one week, and took it back. Couldn't stand using it. My "dumbphone" cost $50, does everything I need, and has worked fine for years. I just hope something like is available when it finally dies. Recently I came across a post on a message board that was supposed to be funny, but is instead alarming: "I have more apps on my phone to block other apps than I have apps!" A perfect summary of why I won't own one!

/rant

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