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Ask A Techie 20 Questions – Mark Lyndersay – Tech Writer

How would you define a techie?

A techie is anyone who embraces the potential of technology, whether it be for work, pleasure or simply curiosity.

Tell us about yourself (short bio).

I am a professional photographer and writer, offering services to editorial and commercial clients. I’ve written a column about personal technology, BitDepth, for the last 21 years.

How has tech improved your life?

In some ways, I’ve intersected with technology since my late teens when I began to take photography seriously. You couldn’t do photography properly on your own in 1978 without a basic understanding of chemistry and physics. Since silicon became commonplace and Photoshop became the standard digital darkroom; it has moved to a more central position in my life.

How can technology be used to improve Trinidad?

The specifics are myriad, way too many to consider, but the first step must be to get politicians to understand that they won’t get electable campaign buzzwords out of the real work that must be both encouraged and funded.

It’s notable that the big statements about technology by governments have had no serious backbone. TTConnect is a glorified download site, the laptop programme wasn’t backed by proper technical support or pedagogy and I don’t know what to say about WiFi on buses, except, as the young people say … Really?

Projects like eTax and SEW defy ready politicking and so get deprecated in the political conversation.

How did you get started as a tech writer?

It was 1985, and I was deeply interested in technology and nobody else was doing it. It started at the Express, in the TV Guide, and I wrote 18 of them for free before Keith Smith noticed the work and moved the column to the editorial comment pages.

What’s the story behind your online handle macmark?

When I began to need a handle, all the “mark” options were already gone. I used (and continue to use) Macs as my main computing platform and that was pretty rare back then, so it made sense to anyone who knew me. Now? Not so much.

Do you still own and use a printer?

Three of them. A personal class networked B&W laser printer for receipts and invoices. A photographic quality 13 X 19 Epson 2200 that drinks ink and a small HP colour printer for class projects. The ink is way cheaper on that one.

Your thoughts on the CARICOM Single ICT Space?

My thoughts on that are my thoughts on Caricom. That regional agency needs to rethink the way it evangelises commonly agreed on initiatives. It cannot force member countries to adopt its suggested policies, but it also can’t just sit back and hope commonsense will prevail. Because it often doesn’t.

Most prized gadget you own?

I try not to get attached to gear. It really makes no sense. Hold onto things for too long and the resale value plummets.

That said, I really like the Logitech keyboard case I use with my iPad, which gives me a functional word processor when I travel light and the Odin trigger, which allows me to control multiple speed lights from camera position. I’m getting ready to sell a really nice wide-angle zoom that I haven’t been using, because I’m an unsentimental SOB.

What tech would you like to own?

Oh. I have to wait long months for the Andromium I bought on Kickstarter. That looks set to lighten my shoulder bag even more and it’s just such a funky concept. I wrote this using my cellphone’s keypad and the idea of having a full keyboard and screen for a pocketable device when I need it very cool.

Would you choose a million dollars or a year with Bill Gates?

I’ll take the million, thanks. Bill is interested in saving the world now, and there’s no shortage of videos available to hear him talk about those plans, as admirable as they are.

The best advice you have received?

Two things, really.

Wealth isn’t what you make; it’s what you keep.

Never ascribe to evil that which can be explained by stupidity.

What are some of the challenges of being a tech writer in Trinidad?

It’s much better now than it used to be. I talk directly with more vendors and readers via the website than the mechanism and filtering of newspapers ever allowed. I spent years working with people in print who neither understood nor cared about the column. Some did, so it survived, but to this day BitDepth remains a curiosity in the lineup of weekly columns.

What sports teams do you support?

None at all. I am sports numb.

What is the next number in the series? 7645, 5764, 4576 …

6457? I am rubbish at riddles.

What tech event would you like to attend?

At least once, properly, CES and Photokina.

How would you invest a million dollars?

At this point? In my retirement. I’m not a young whippersnapper anymore.

What future technology interests you?

I’ve kind of given up on that. Every sexy thing I remember from my youth turned out to be a dud. Flying cars never happened (I doted on Gerry Anderson’s Supercar and I should have seen the end of that dream when the Corgi model had hidden wheels). Jetpacks and phasers are still not part of my life. Stuff that even the most inventive Sci-fi writer never imagined litters my desk. It’s all so exciting and terribly disappointing.

What are you doing to give back while going up?

I’ve kind of been doing that all along. My personal photography projects, which earn virtually no money, are chosen for both their potential impact on T&T as well as for the satisfaction they bring me. And nobody who writes a column for the newspaper is doing it for the money. I started doing it because I thought it needed to be done, and it seemed like it might be fun.

What question would you ask the next techie?

Evangelise useful, empowering technology always and everywhere.

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