When you have a problem in the United States today, often the conventional solution is to throw and app at it.

Need help with your banking? Try your bank’s app or an account aggregator. Cannot keep track of your social media accounts? Try a social media app or an aggregation app. Etc.

Sometimes, apps do a great job. Other times, not so much.

I am in Senegal, and I have found here at least one situation where “apps” not work for me: keeping track of my malaria pills. When it comes to reminding someone that they need to take their pills today, I am totally convinced that nothing can beat the pill box, for one reason primarily: it has your pills in it, and it is self-documenting.

I tried tracking my pill intake with my smartphone for the first couple weeks, just because I was used to it. I ended up missing a couple days by accident, and I might have even taken two pills on one of the days. Not only that, but I wasted a bunch of time opening my phone, adding a note, and (sometimes) getting distracted with whatever else is on my phone. I was not happy with the results, so I decided to try something new.

Using the pill box, I have saved time and not missed a day yet. Even better, I can plan when to take my vitamin at the same time. All it takes is loading the pill box once a week and keeping it visible and handy.

How many apps are inferior to low-tech solutions? In how many cases are people using swiss army knife apps like a note taker or to-do list to remember things that should best be remembered by the real world, like I was doing with my note-taking app before I switched to a pillbox?

One great thing about reality is that if you leave a rock someplace, barring some outside force it will be there the very next day. Or in totality, the memory of the universe exceeds the memory of any computing device, however great, because computing devices are a subset of the universe.

To use a highway metaphor – if you have all the signs you need alongside the road, you may never need to look down at your GPS. You can keep your eyes straight ahead.