Discover more from Jon Watson's Death by Tech Newsletter
Nobody cares about that sweetie...
Also in this edition: Free Netflix and how to lose money even faster with Bitcoin mutual funds.
I know how a lot of things work. If it has a network connection or a CPU, there’s a really good chance that I have a decent idea of how it works. But recently I’ve come to realize that knowing how things work and knowing how to use things are not the same thing. And, arguably, the latter is the better skill to have.
Learn how to use things
I came to this realization while watching my wife show my Mom how to use an Amazon Firestick. I was hestitating to do so because I thought it was going to be too complicated. We have to hook it up, then download apps to watch stuff, and then even if we get through all that, I find all the streaming device interfaces to be a big learning curve when your starting point is the standard channel guide that we’ve all become accustomed to since birth. But my wife effortlessly showed my Mom how to get Netflix and YouTube by simply ignoring all that stupid technical stuff that I get hung up on. Which totally works because, let’s face it, nobody but us nerds care about how things work.
As my wife leaves the room and my Mom delightedly discovers Lawrence Welk buried in You Tube all by herself with her newfound skills, I ask my departing wife “but..but what about the difference between 4K video and things like the subscription levels?” “Nobody gives a shit about that stuff, sweetie…” her voice trails off as she sails away down the hall.
Knowing how to use things is the goal, so spend time on that instead of the inner workings of things unless you really want to know for your own knowledge. There's a seemingly unending list of parallels for this attitude, one of the most obvious being today's cars. None of us have any clue how a car works any more, but we can drive the hell out of them. And even more; despite the fact we don't know how they work, we gleefully train other small humans how to operate cars, too. Knowing how things work is totally overrated.
Did you know that Netflix offers a (very) limited list of free programs? I did not until I stumbled across this page on the Netflix website (which may or may not be related to the Netflix shenanigans in the first section). It looks like you have to watch it in a web browser, but many of the streaming devices come with browsers these days, so that is not a deal breaker for most people.
Bitcoin for the rest of us
Investing in cryptocurrency is generally a confusing and high-friction endeavour for normies like you and me. Yes, I have dabbled in traditional crypto markets using an app named Bread, but I only did that so I could share in the crushing defeat of losing $14,000 over night. OK, that didn't really happen, but my point is that crypto currency is a crappy investment for almost every human being. The risk profile is so high it's in the stratosphere and no sane human invests in cryptocurrency as part of a legitimate financial plan. But it's hard to avoid the lure of the days when you don't lose $14,000. There's also days that you can wake up to equally massive gains.
If you are OK with the unlimited volatility of crytocurrencies and want to dabble in an easy way, check out Bitcoin mutual funds. Yup, even in Canada. This Motley Fool article has some tips about the available Bitcoin mutual funds which are easy to buy with a few clicks in any self-directed equity account, even that little pile of cash you haven't yet invested that is sitting in your RRSP. Note that I'm not a financial advisor and even if I was, I'd tell you this is a terrible investment. So don't buy any cryptocurrency with money you actually need.