RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. – I have a confession to make. Even though I write about high tech, when it comes to using the latest and cutting-edge gadgets and software I have trouble.

Actually, I used to say I was “all thumbs” when it came to using some devices, but that was before text messaging and the required adroit usage of thumbs. Count me out.

What triggered my confession was a perfect storm of events:

  • Steve Jobs’ introduction of the new “iPhone” on Tuesday at Apple’s Macworld Conference.
  • The ongoing onslaught of new toys and tools inundating attendees and the press at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.
  • Recent “outages” of service.
  • Performance of existing services.

Personally, I’d rather see the pace of inventions, enhancements and new services slow down a bit with more attention being paid to improving what is already available.

Jobs, as brilliant as he is, can talk all he wants about leapfrogging current “smartphone” technology with a handheld that provides every form of communication known to man, but I won’t buy one until I get better performance from my existing cellular phone.

I’m hardly alone in this regard. One of my technology mentors and smartest guys in the world, Paul Gilster, expresses similar thoughts much more eloquently than I can attempt in today’s News & Observer. “The irony of this technology is that as carriers try to incorporate more features into phones, the basic service isn’t up to speed,” he writes.

Amen, brother.

Dropped calls aren’t the only problem. What about the voice quality of the calls that don’t “drop”?

And how reliable or safe are other forms of our high-tech culture?

This week, thousands of people and scores of businesses in the Triangle lost service when Verizon underground cables were cut by a construction crew. The outage is expected to last several days.

Not hours. Days.

Amazing. Frustrating. Costly.

Remember the recent Time Warner Cable outage in the Triangle and points east? Not pick on TWC and Road Runner, but one dump truck driver forgets to lower the screen on his truck, snags a cable and – poof – there goes TV, digital phone and cable Internet access for a lot of people.

This is hardly a local problem. That recent undersea earthquake near Taiwan caused devastation of undersea cables, and now Verizon and other companies are going to have to spend millions of dollars to build more redundancy into international connectivity.

So what’s the point of this diatribe?

As much as I love the Internet, as necessary as I find my cellular phone, and as much as I enjoy some cable programming, I’d like more reliability and performance, especially additional redundancy in the event of an outage.

In compiling the daily Local Tech Wire report today while working from home, I’ve had to resort to some shortcuts in production because my remote connection isn’t performing worth a hoot. (Hint: Either the coyote must have finally captured the bird, or Ma Bell ain’t what she used to be.)

Proficient in using the latest toys and services, I concede I never will be.

But given current performance and service delivery levels, I’m in no rush to spend even more money on tech until the industry delivers better performance of what already exists.