Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Enter the Smartphone

Okay! Here I am confessing: I must be one of the last people in the US to switch to a smartphone. On a trip to Atlanta to see a stellar grand-girl graduate High School, I was overwhelmed by family--both kids and grandkids--demanding that I get a better phone. So—I caved at last, regaled with all the storied delights that awaited me once I owned such a device. I returned home with said phone tucked inside a pair of socks. We had been too busy with visiting back and forth, hanging out, and attending various graduation festivities to go searching for a case through Atlanta’s daunting traffic.   I figured this would be a good time to make the big change, as I’d have two sons, two DILs and a grand girl to instruct me in at least some of the major arcana.

I was once considered a tech savvy person, but those days are loooong gone. There’s a certain inverted pride in still using a bona fide IBM keyboard from the 80’s, hitched to an early 2004’s computer. It is, however, getting to be more difficult to lag behind than to “get with the program,” as software, and hardware too, endlessly morph. IMHO, (as I learned to say on USENET) I suspect that all the “updating” is simply an excuse to wring more $$ from hapless consumers. One of my friends has a fantasy about MS65, a program geared to seniors, which would be guaranteed to run without chronic episodes of silicon insanity (could I perhaps be alluding to MS 10??) and also guaranteed not to change or alter in any way for a decade. That’s about the right amount of time for many of us cotton-tops to learn a software program these days, I fear. 

Of course, stability/continuity is not what software developers are into these days—the more things fail to work as promised, I guess, the better it is for business, or something. Anyway, while I’m griping, what’s with their penchant for hiding the most commonly used operations three or four—or five--pull downs deep? Is it so we have to humiliate ourselves and buy the latest copy of “…For Dummies”? And what’s with that “Search” that leads you into Alice in Wonderland conversations with   ?? Couldn’t "search" just continue to do what the word indicates that it does?

This morning, I awoke to the sound of chimes—my new phone, of course. I’d set the alarm, hitched it to the wall socket and left it wakeful. Now, I leapt out of bed, and attempted to turn the alarm off without first putting on my glasses. Next thing I knew, I’d taken four blurry pictures of myself. It took a few more minutes of struggle before I managed to figure out how to put the camera back to sleep and find the clock + alarm again. 

How did I, whose first and foremost mental image of “phone” remains the graceful black candlestick apparatus in my grandparent’s living room, enter a world where a small slim box in my hand can deposit checks, take pictures, tell time, and connect me to the internet and thence to untold wonders of consumption? As Charlie Brown so often said, "It boggles the mind."

~~Juliet Waldron

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