Thursday, July 26, 2007

Technology and Me

I don't claim to be a technology expert, nor do I want to be. I must admit I don't even understand some cell phone commercials these days. I find myself thinking, "What the heck is a V-Cast, and why would I need it on a phone? "

I guess if I don't know what it is, I certainly don't need it. I have never felt the need to get "the latest" anything. Seeing all those people lined up for the Apple i phone made no sense to me.

I do know I'm better with technology than some people. The school I work for entered the technological age when I began working there 8 years ago. All our paperwork is done on computers - great for me (when the computers are up and running), not so great for others. I have to input one of my co-workers grades every quarter, because she is terrified of the computer. I tried to teach her once, but it is much easier just to do it myself. She would say, "What do you mean scroll down?" and "Hit what button, I don't see any buttons". She was constantly picking the mouse up, waving it around in the air, and then putting it back down, rather than sliding it on the mouse pad. This drove me nuts. She kept saying, "where'd that arrow thing go?"

I have tried to get her to embrace the internet, by explaining all the things she can do online. All that did was add to my duties. I now request her library books and order rebates for her online. She likes what technology can do for her, but wants someone else to deal with the actual technology. She takes me out to lunch often to pay me back for doing all her computer work. Although, she always gets to pick where we are going to eat.

My husband gets more excited about technology than I do. Jeff got a GPS last Christmas. A GPS, for those who don't know, is a global positioning device that uses satellites to track where you are and where you want to go. The unit goes in the car with you and basically is a virtual mapquest. My parents and I took the GPS with us on a recent trip to New Jersey and Pennsylvania. We really got a kick out of "Marcia" telling us where to go. We especially enjoyed ignoring her on purpose, which challenged Marcia to "recalculate" and find a new way to get us where we were going. The problem was, you get so accustomed to her telling you what to do - "turn left, exit right, drive 10 miles" - that my dad at one point almost missed stopping at a red light. I think he was expecting to hear Marcia say,"Stop, red light ahead." Maybe in a few years, she will.

My main technological requirement is that the tech things I do own need to work effortlessly.

Now, a VCR is a practical dinosaur in this technological age, but a few years ago it still served a purpose in my life. Being a person who is asleep by 9:30 every night, I was missing out on some of my favorite shows. "Real Time with Bill Maher" was originally on at 8:00 PM on HBO, and I watched it live every week. When it got switched to 11PM, I knew I would have to record it. There was no way I was staying up until midnight.

I know how to set the clock on a VCR, and how to program it to record a show. So, I got ours set up to record Bill Maher. I was excited to watch it the next day, at a normal hour. How disappointed I was when all the sound was delayed. No one's lips matched what they were saying. It was annoying, but I suffered through it. The next week, I hit play and all the peoples' voices were being dubbed over in Spanish. Now, I was getting upset. I don't know Spanish. Why couldn't they have been dubbed in Russian?

I began experimenting by recording various shows. It seemed the only shows being recorded in Spanish were the ones on HBO. I had no idea if the VCR was broken or if HBO was secretly sabbotaging my machine. I eventually gave up recording Bill Maher.

Jeff saved the day when he bought me a TiVo for Christmas. A TiVo is like a VCR, but it is an actual hard drive with fabulous software. It is very user friendly. You basically tell it what shows you want it to record, set up a "season pass", and it does the rest. You can even ask it to record any show with the word "sheltie" in the show's description, and it does so. Then, you can watch all your shows when you want and by pass all the commercials. It is just a fabulous invention. One I'd be lost without.

The only problem with the Tivo is that it needs to be updated quite often so it knows when your shows are on. This is done through your telephone line. Now, most people hook the Tivo directly up to a telephone line and the TiVo automatically updates itself by making phone calls every few days to TiVo Land. I didn't have a phone in my living room where my TiVo is located. So, I have to get a really long phone wire, drag it from the TiVo, across the living room, and then connect it to my kitchen phone. I do this about once a week, to keep the TiVo up to date. I've been doing this for 3 years, and last week it just really annoyed me that I had to do that. I thought something better must be out there than this dinosaur phone cord, which I have to drag a whole 8 feet from living room to kitchen. Yes, I'm getting lazy in my old age.

I get on the Tivo website and find they have a device available to improve my life. It will eliminate those 2 minutes it takes me every week to connect to the TiVo Service. Halleluliah! Now, all I have to do is plug the cell phone size unit into my TiVo, and it downloads all the program info through my wireless computer modem automatically. No more phone cords. Plus, I will now be able to download all my shows onto my computer, and either watch them on my computer or burn them on a DVD so I can bring them with me. This will allow me to watch Oprah on my laptop while sitting on our deck. How cool is that?

OK, I will probably never download any shows onto my computer or DVD, but just knowing I can is pretty thrilling.

Did I say I didn't feel the need to have the "latest thing"?

Ok, I lied.


Betty said...

Are you an admirer of Andy Rooney from 60 Minutes?????

Sara said...

I do love Andy Rooney. I watch him every Sunday and read his column on Saturday.

b said...

I guessed it.