The difference between the Apollo 13 space capsule and the technical marvels that we carry around in our pockets, wear on our wrists or strap to our bikes is often held up in amazement as a yardstick to measure how advanced we are, but the real difference between our modern gadgets and the tiny capsule we flung around the moon isn’t in the silicon. Its the people behind the technology that make the real difference. These technically marvelleous devices that are now almost commonplace in today’s 21st world offer a dizzying spectrum of features and possibilities, but often lack a critically important feature; support.
I recently purchased a new cycling computer from leading GPS maker, Garmin. The Edge 500 is a compact and stunningly svelt blue and grey device that packs a bewildering number of features into its two inch by two and a half inch, two ounce rectangle. It can track your timing, speed, distance and cadence like most cycling computers, but since it also has a GPS inside it also provides detailed information on position, elevation and progress on a course. The stream of data doesn’t stop there. This little super cycling computer also monitors heart rate, temperature and how many calories you are expending as you spin those wheels. With a relatively large display and three pages of information available, the computer can display all the above information at once as well as all the derivative data like average speed, climbing rate, max heart rate and even how much power you are exerting. All this information from a wonder of a device that attaches to the handlebars of your bike and can also sync with your computer for seemingly endless analysis and planning. We certainly live in the rocket age and the only shortcoming seems to be the human side of these devices.
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