Where do you stand? The new or the old?

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Blog entry by Don Butler posted 07-26-2010 07:23 PM 1469 reads 0 times favorited 17 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Technology – Old versus New Don Butler 6-26-10

It was a strange experience, finding myself in what I used to think of as the Older Generation. In my childhood and youth I was taught to respect older people. These days, it’s getting harder and harder to find them.
My point, though, has to do with my surprise at finding myself defending and promoting new technology to younger people. I thought the Younger Generation would be ‘up’ on new ways to do things. Much to my surprise, I’m finding that resistance to new technology isn’t the sole property of the Older Generation.
I appear to be guilty of faulty judgement.

Contest Between Old and New Technology

I was employed in a technology firm where I had my work station next to an electrical engineer. We were working on a joint project in which he was Team Leader. He proposed the project and I worked on details like hardware layout and wiring. The details were hashed over in a meeting and then I went to work on my computer to produce drawings for his approval. After a while he looked over and saw the CAD drawing on my monitor and snorted. “Huh? What’s wrong?” “You’re wasting a lot of time on that computer. I can do that job with paper and drafting tools in half the time!”
Of course, I was tempted to defend my work by pointing out the great detail and precision in the drawing, but I decided to challenge him to a race, instead. “OK, lets test that theory! Get out your board and Tsquare. I’ll clear the screen and start a new page. When you’re ready we’ll start to draw a simple box of given dimensions and a few holes in certain places. You set the sizes and start the clock. Are you up to the test?” He readily agreed to the race and gave the particulars which I noted on scratch paper. When he had his pencil, triangle, compass and whatever on the desk and taped the paper to the board and said, “I’m ready when you are”. After about four or five minutes I asked, “How are you doing?” “Good! How are you doing?” “Done.” “What?! Lemee see!” I was done. All the dimensions were there, all the necessary views and the bores where he specified. Moreover I had the full border and title box drawn and filled in with details. He had barely blocked in the three views on his drawing. “Now,” I said, “Let’s go to revisions. Finish your drawing and I’ll wait for you. Then change some dimensions and we’ll see who gets done first.” My point was made without going further. The next day he asked me to set his computer up with a CAD program.

Not Everybody Can Be Convinced

In the past months I’ve been learning how to use a new three dimensional drawing program. It’s a completely new experience, but unbelievably capable of drawing 3D objects, rotating around, in, out, over and above. The most minute details are easily modeled and dimensioned. In short, for me, it almost entirely replaces 2D CAD unless we’re talking about flat objects like maps.
I use it for my woodworking projects almost every time. It’s like building a model first and then doing the real thing. Going out to the shop without doing this first just doesn’t happen anymore.
On a woodworker’s Internet forum I frequent, whenever the subject of this program comes up there’s an obvious wide split between those who like it and those who hate it. I think the ones who hate it haven’t given it enough practice and time. One doesn’t learn to drive a car in one day, so why would they think that learning a highly technical 3D drawing program would be a snap? Every one of those who love it have given it much time, realizing that the learning curve is steep and long. They use it often and keep learning. It’s how you learn new things, isn’t it?
Rarely is anyone in the ‘nay’ camp swung over to the other side. I think some are intimidated by the difficulties and are disappointed when the program fails to produce the expected results the first time. I don’t think there are very many who did well on their first technical drawing on paper!
I’m finding people my age who don’t like computers, cell phones, GPSs and anything technical. But I’m also finding lots of young people who have the same dislike for new things. They may be good at texting their friends and playing video games, but seem strangely unable to learn a serious technology like building a website or using 3D drawing programs.

Where do you fall in this divided subject? I’d be very interested to hear more from you about whether new technologies help you or not. Email me at or you could PM me if you’re not into doing email.
I wonder if I’ll get a fair sampling, though. The very act of blogging is part of a technicality and those who are on the other side won’t even see this.

But it would be good to expand my thinking. If you know a “techniphobe”, would you read this to him or her and send me a note on what happened? lolfotf

Best regards,


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

17 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


115171 posts in 2996 days

#1 posted 07-26-2010 07:56 PM

Hey Don
I like to try some new technologies but find I’m sadly lacking. I made up my mind to try and learn sketchup so every night for a week I thought I would spend the 3 hours trying to learn this program only to get repeatedly getting stuck at the same place. I might ad that in conceptual areas I have trouble . I’m usually not a quitter but these types of programs seem to escape me. I have some dyslexic tendencies I don’t know if that has anything to do with it.
Some other things like using more moderns finishes and woodworking techniques seem to stick.
In short it’s great to try new things and I salute you for bringing them into your work and proving your point in a most ingenious way.

-- Custom furniture

View nailbanger2's profile


1041 posts in 2562 days

#2 posted 07-26-2010 08:13 PM

I’m with you, Jim. I have not given up on SU, but I definately haven’t “gotten it” yet. The sketchup for woodworkers website that was posted in Steveinmarin’s cry for help looks promising.

I guess I have too many other things going on at one time, and I usually learn things better by blocking everything out except my objective. This never happens when SWMBO is home.

This is not the same as scoffing at a new method.

-- Wish I were Norm's Nephew

View Dennisgrosen's profile


10850 posts in 2534 days

#3 posted 07-26-2010 08:16 PM

Don thats a fair question and need a fair respons/answer

I have goofed around with pc Things since 1980
and I don´t hate or dislike new programs to the computer
and even thow I own the big officepack and a realy big busines program so I cuold pay less money
to the accountant and has done that the last ten years
it always seems to me I just don´t have enoff time to realy learn it good enoff
so today I have more or less skiped them except for word
I just accept I´m a neanderthaler on the computer and don´t expect reseneble result
the first 100 times I try a new program maybee never but that hasn´t give me an escuse
to hate a program
becourse if I realy take a year out of the kalender I wuold proppeply be able to use it very well
even the 2D-cad and 3D-cad/moovie didn´t freighten me when they arived

but what I hate is when I can´t get that #!@$£%&@¤#plane set for a desent cut ….. :-)
get it , it goes both ways I think

Take care Don


View Darrel 's profile


65 posts in 2553 days

#4 posted 07-26-2010 09:03 PM

As a retired computer guy (Data/Computer Analyst) I used to be all about the latest and greatest in new technology. I used to want new technology for a few different reasons. I enjoyed the new stuff because I thought it was cool technical gizmo or because I thought it would allow me to do things in a more efficient way. I can relate to the people that like doing things the old fashion way. Some are just set in their ways and don’t like change. Others may find them self just sticking with what works for them and not wanting to put forth the effort to learn some thing new. Maybe not because they can’t learn it but rather spend their time just doing things the way they know how. Technology changes so fast and there are 1001 different ways to do things now. If I need to tell some one something I can send them an email, text, post it on facebook or twitter etc. I prefer a good old fashion phone call. Kids today are losing personal communication skills because all they do is email, text or tweet or anything other than making a phone call. My personal opinion is I think technology needs to be kept as tools to get a job done and people need to start making phone calls or visit to communicate with each other. I don’t feel that families bond very well when all they do is text each other. Just think about a much money people would save if they didn’t have every option available on their cell phone. People don’t need to know every thing as soon as it happens. To Much Info too fast is nothing but flushing money down the drain. Okay, I’ll quit rambling now. Technology has its place and its applications for the people that want to embrace it. Good subject, I think people need to rethink the way some things are done it could save them money. Faster is not always better. Ok now the rambling ends. Thanks for the topic.

-- Magnolia, Texas

View mpounders's profile


821 posts in 2314 days

#5 posted 07-26-2010 09:38 PM

I have worked with computers for over 30 years and no matter how much you learn, you can never be an expert on everything. What you tend to become “expert” on are the tools that help you do your job, just like in woodworking. You use certain tools more than others and pretty soon you no longer have to refer to the manual. The Internet has been a tremendous tool for me, from reference research to contacts worldwide that have helped me learn different skills, that I couldn’t learn from anyone locally. I have struggled with Sketchup in the past, but I am going to give it a try again. I have found out how to do some differnt things withGIMP and other photo-editing programs that have improved the quality of photos that I post on my website. Oh yeah, I have a website that is open 24 hours a day, all for potential customers to browse. Technology has been very, very good to me! (Although I consider myself too old to Facebook or Twitter).

-- Mike P., Arkansas,

View Gregn's profile


1642 posts in 2402 days

#6 posted 07-26-2010 09:46 PM

Well Don, its kinda like hand tools vs power tools its what gives you the most pleasure. Granted if your on a schedule new school has its advantages over old school. Like you said our youth is of a different interest and work ethic from the way we were raised. So what we may deem as essential and important most youth don’t.
I know there are some of us ol dogs who prefer not to switch from their ways of doing things, and I’m not afraid to change. New school technology is great its just a learning curve to deal with that can be frustrating to deal with as mentioned by others. Since we both kinda went the long way around the bush at getting to sketch up, I will get on track here. I have sketch up on my computer and have yet to make sufficient progress in learning how to work with it. However I haven’t given up on it either, and can see where it could be a great asset in the shop.Since its free its smart to embrace it and learn to ride that bike again. I see sketch up becoming a tool I will love once I can do something productive with it.

-- I don't make mistakes, I have great learning lessons, Greg

View Jordan's profile


1396 posts in 2544 days

#7 posted 07-27-2010 01:36 AM

Well, I have learned to love all of the technology that I can “afford”! I’d say user friendliness and affordability pretty well shape my preferences. I love to hate the 3D machines because they can pretty well make everything I do, just a lot faster – which is pretty well why I try to master the art of ‘texturing’ wood instead of just carving it.
But if I had the money, I’d probably buy a laser to inscribe certain things, a cnc machine to carve certain foam things, more computer graphics programs…but I have not yet gotten attached to cell phones, with or without all of the apps and video etc. Possibly because my eyes aren’t so great without my glasses and they are so small.


View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3945 posts in 2583 days

#8 posted 07-27-2010 02:34 AM

Old guy, approaching 70:

Sketchup…...........yes, essentially all projects designed in SU before I build. I like to design things on the computer. Used to use CorelDraw before Sketchup came along. SU is definitely more fun and I like the 3D.

Photo Graphics, a little programming, games in 3D…..........yes

Facebook, Twitter, my own website…

Cell phone yes, but neither I or anyone else knows the number. Used to respond to the beeper.

Portable computer and GPS….......yes.

Kindle for reading novels, not stuff like woodworking.

I guess I would be considered techie, especially for my age. First computer was a Commodore Kim board computer with 1000 bytes of memory, programmed with machine code, but had a cassette interface. Late 70’s. Had two Commodore Pet’s, then an IBM XT in 1983. And a zillion computers since.

Power tools are important to me, because too much hand work incapacitates me for my job.

Guess I am almost a NERD…...............(-:


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3945 posts in 2583 days

#9 posted 07-27-2010 02:46 AM

Oh, and at work I do my own 4D ultrasounds, and when ultrasound first came out in the late 70’s, I took tables of measurement of fetal gestational age equivalents, put them through a regression analysis program on my Commodore Pet, and programmed a programmable Radio Shack Calculator to convert the measurements to fetal gestational age equivalent using the equations I derived. Now the ultrasound machines, running Windows, do all the interpolation for you.

Sounding more like a NERD…...........(-:

........oh, and did I tell you about my new maxed out hot rod 3D gaming computer that I am typing on….............

......beginning to sound GEEKIE now…........(-:

Funny, it doesn’t type any faster than my old one…..................


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View patternmaker's profile


13 posts in 2284 days

#10 posted 07-27-2010 03:23 AM

Hello Don,
I’ll take new technology any day. As an old school patternmaker, I didn’t think I would like it, but after learning cad, I can make a layout, include all pattern allowances and plot it out full scale to the plotter in a fraction of the time it takes to make a layout by hand. Now I can make a 3D model of a job and have another tool to use to inspect jobs using a cmm. I use 3D for projects in my home shop as well. But with all this technology, you can’t beat seeing a piece of wood with your hands. A competent woodworker has a certain finesse in his hands that can’t be digitized.


-- Mark

View longgone's profile


5688 posts in 2727 days

#11 posted 07-27-2010 05:43 AM

I am not sure what type of CAD or computer twitter gizmos were used by woodworkers like Sam Maloof, Gustav Stickley, Greene & Greene and on and on.
I have a computer and a cell phone that I use for phone calls only. I use my computer for emails and looking at websites…and I have bought tools through websites. That is about the extent of my technology endeavors and interests.
Just because someone creates and invents new technology doesn’t mean that everyone has to jump on the bandwagon and get involved with it just because it is there.

I have not seen any new technology that would improve the things I really enjoy…like having a great conversation with my wife or friends, taking a nice long walk, going fishing or getting in the SUV and going on a long spur-of-the-moment trip with my wife.

View Don Butler's profile

Don Butler

1081 posts in 2814 days

#12 posted 07-27-2010 02:36 PM

I certainly don’t think for a minute that everyone should jump on every new thing that comes along and I applaud all who work with their hands. As Greg the WhoDat points out, being well grounded in reality is the most important thing.
I guess what worries me is when some who choose not to adopt a new thing or a power tool rather than a hand tool, they sometimes seem to be aggressively opposing it. For instance, I try to encourage woodworkers and others to take advantage of SketchUp because I experience an increase in skill and productivity in my owm work. But I don’t want to give the impression that I detest hand drawings or that they are somehow wrong. I grew up making sketches on shirt cardboard and every other sort of drawing surface I could find. I was trained as a Tsquare and pencil draftsman and I have been engaged in fine and graphic arts for over sixty years. I even make the occasional quick sketch with a carpenter’s pencil on a bit of scrap wood.
Working the wood is the end product for me and I sometimes have to skip the middle processes to get to the result, something made of wood with my hands and my tools.
Just don’t skoff at those of us who choose different tools!
Thanks to everyone who made this an interesting and lively discussion.
Good stuff!


-- No trees were damaged in posting this message, but thousands of electrons were seriously inconvenienced.

View Jim Bertelson's profile

Jim Bertelson

3945 posts in 2583 days

#13 posted 07-27-2010 05:06 PM

..........a little rambling stuff about…........mostly….....diversity….......

It’s different strokes for different folks. Sometimes our avocations are a reaction to our vocations. Put another way, when I am done with work, I am tired of relating to people. The computer puts me at arms’ length from people. I am way too close to people in my job. The computer is an old friend.

For me, the phone is a stressor, when I am on call, every time it rings I have to change mode of thinking, drop everything I am doing, say everything with precision, medically correct, politically correct, marketing smart, and legally defensible, even from the courtroom predators. I hate phones. I am expected to make a free diagnosis and treatment without seeing the patient, without access to their history and without an exam and without tests, and if I screw up I can be sued. Hate phones. I have a conditioned response to ringing phones. When I am on vacation, I will never carry a phone.

........point…......our use of tech is selective, and varies from person to person according to their needs. Don’t give me a smart phone as a gift. There are no smart phones. Get my point?.............(-:

Sketchup, a graphics program that is fun and capable. There are still some things I can do better in CorelDraw, but not much. In 10 years I suspect Sketchup is going to be extraordinary. It still has lots of room for improvement, and new versions come out regularly. But the bugs are pretty much under control, and with my new computer my complex drawings will undoubtedly display better. My old computer, no slouch, burped and hiccupped on the complex drawings. SU begs for new fast technology.

My view of SU is the reverse of my view of phones. SU is a tool for me to design things I would like to create. Things that solve problems. I am not trying to create a masterpiece, I am just having fun solving problems in novel ways. You don’t want to get too novel in my day job. That’s why my focus at this point in woodworking is to make my shop better so it can make my shop better yet. Yes I wrote that right and you read it right….........(-:

I sought out a computer shop in San Francisco in the late 80’s when I was there at a conference. Why? To buy one of the first graphics programs available for the IBM PC’s, with their arcane and fuddy-duddy DOS operating system. Later, I got one of the first versions of CorelDraw Suite, and have purchased about 8 different versions since. When I was doing flightsim, I used 3D modeling programs to produce scenery. When I started woodworking as a hobby a year ago, I picked up Sketchup to do my design work on the computer. What I am getting at here is, the SU learning curve for me was quite short and gentle. I am used to graphics, computers, and 3D design.

So, I use SU because it is fun. The computer is relaxing for me, SU is a fun tool. But I know from what many people on LJ’s have posted over the last year that a lot of people like SU about as much as I like phones.

What is pleasurable to one person, is an anathema to another. Reactions formed by years of experience in life, good and bad, heredity, culture, vocation, education, etc.

One of the things that makes LJ’s a great site, is the breadth of interest, experience, and ability. Professionals and amateurs. When I come up here, I expect to see a lot of stuff I am not interested in, things I am interested in, and expect to find new things to interest me. This is where I learned about Sketchup.

...........interesting topic Don, and touches all of us in one way or another…..........


-- Jim, Anchorage Alaska

View NBeener's profile


4808 posts in 2593 days

#14 posted 07-27-2010 06:43 PM

If I could find a SINGLE THING to argue with, in JimBertelson’s posts … believe me … I’d argue with them.

But I can’t.

Jim and I have been personal computer owners for a similar length of time.

After working for a few years on the IBM VM/370 mainframe, my first OWNED machine was an Interact

Never been without one, since, and have used them in business—including being a SQL database programmer—since.

But … for me … and for many that I know … adoption OR non-adoption … of additional technologies seems much more correlated to what one’s whole life is like, than to many other factors.

I hate the phone, too. I tend to hate it because EVERYBODY has gone cellular. I tire … immediately … of dropped calls, dropped words, and … the notion that quantity of communication seems more worthwhile than quality.

SketchUp ? If my crappy eyes would let me, I’d use it. No doubt. I’ve tried, though (thanks, again, DaveR!), and … they won’t.

I don’t view ANY technology as inherently good or evil. I do, however, wonder about our reliance upon it, the “Information Overload” mode that it’s putting us all in, and some societal implications that come out of that.

I worry that we’re creating a permanent state of anxiety, where … we MUST feed the beast. Anybody ever see a driver, on the cell phone, endangering others ?

Anybody believe that person is USUALLY Dr. Jim Bertelson, trying to solve a medical crisis ?

Not me ;-)

I once heard it said that … cell phones … bring us closer to people half-way around the world, and … leave us FARTHER from … the person right next to us.

I buy that.

I value a certain measure of peace in my life—not always, nor easily found. For ME, that requires that I make thoughtful choices about how I welcome technology, .... to what level … and … which technologies … into my life.

But I MOSTLY agree that … to each their own ;-)

-- -- Neil

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 2359 days

#15 posted 07-27-2010 09:59 PM

Greg the WhoDat and NBeener says MANY things I can identify with.

The new or the old? A bit of the new, a lot of the old, although I get it mixed up in weird ways. How is this for a laugh: I still do drawings by hand, but then I need to get them into cyberspace for Emailing to clients. Lacking a scanner, I fax them from my phone to my computer! Well, at least that way they become a PDF file!
My clients actually enjoy my old fashioned drawings. I even do isometrics with some rendering. I think the drawings go well with the custom commissions I do. Kind of in the same league.
I also enjoy making the drawings. I know it takes much longer, but so what. I don’t have a TV by choice, and it is amazing how much more time one has available when rid of that brain washing device. All the new gizmos are supposed to make our life simpler and quicker. Does it? Do we really have all this extra free time available?
My father always talked about balance and moderation. Amen.

PS. The latest time thief in my life is LJ’s………..

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

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