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Sharpening the Saw
Low Tech Beats High Tech, Hands Down
by Matt Gerrans
April 13, 2004
Why do we believe that computers have made us more efficient and productive? Is it really so, or just wishful thinking?


Modern technology is a boon to worker productivity, right? If this is so, why do so many people in the tech industry work ridiculous hours?

I've pondered this question numerous times in the past, but what really brought to mind recently was an interesting example of centuries-old technology proving itself yet again.

I did my taxes with a program called TaxCut this weekend (I had used TurboTax for many years, but their incredibly user-unfriendly and buggy web torture system forced me to switch this year -- a story for another rant). When I finally got through all the mind-numbing details and time-wasting stupidity that is our tax system, the software asked me whether I want to file online, or print out the documents and mail them.

It tells me that doing it online is more error-free, efficient and easy and it only cost $14.95. I'm sold! ...Wait a minute. $14.95? Why?

I can have someone come to my house and pick up the papers and deliver them for only 2% of that cost. (Looking at it from the other direction, filing electronically is 4,142% more expensive). More efficient? If it is more efficient, they should be able to charge less than the old technology and still make a tidy profit. What a boondoggle!

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About the Blogger

Matt Gerrans is's C# columnist. Matt began his professional life as an electronic engineer but quickly saw the light and switched to software development. He now has more than 12 years professional software development under his belt, including work in C++, Java, Python, and yes, even JavaScript.

This weblog entry is Copyright © 2004 Matt Gerrans. All rights reserved.

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