My trusty old laptop is in the shop; a victim of my clumsy attempts to make her run better. A pox upon that British guy on Youtube and his quick fix video that resulted in me firing some longtime guardians he claimed were unnecessary and slowing me down. In following his instructions, I apparently left myself open to strangers who were only too happy to exploit my computer ignorance and vulnerability..leading me down dangerous paths where only the experienced should dare to venture.
The HP laptop was a parting gift from Keloland at my retirement 7 years ago and has served me well for both writing Lund at Large and recording Voice of Keloland assignments when we are out of town. I have left it in the capable hands of the Keloland I.T. guy in hopes it can be salvaged at least enough for me to retrieve stuff from my hard drive and maybe apologize for allowing her to be violated because of my selfish choice to seek speed over safety.
The laptop incident has not been the only sobering reminder of how little I really know about communication technology.
For the last several months it was clear that a trip to the Verizon store would be necessary. After three years, the lid on my flip phone had cracked to the point it wouldn’t stay open when answering or during a call which led to numerous unintentionally rude hang-ups on people when my hand would accidentally let go of the top causing the lid to slam shut. It was time for Linda and my free upgrades. Now, we’d been thinking about getting smart phones like most everyone else on the planet but really couldn’t justify the cost. (Double what we’re paying now) Plus, we don’t text..nor care to. And, (the main reason really) I’m afraid we might be too dumb to learn how to operate a smart phone. So, it was pretty much settled, we’ll get our new flippers and be out the door.
Two hours later, however, we were exiting the building with puzzled looks on our faces carrying a bag containing two Droid RAZR smart phones wondering aloud “what in the hell did we just do?”
I had been wooed into submission by the clever young salesman I guess.
It’s not the first time people have tried to intimidate me technologically. Newspapers had been using computers for quite a while but by the mid 1980’s everybody in TV news realized it was only a matter of time before they’d be invading our territory too. We got to see it first hand in 1987, when Dan Rather took the CBS Evening News on the road for a week of broadcasts on the farm crisis from our Keloland studios in Sioux Falls. Rather was only here a couple days before dashing back to New York but, to our good fortune, Charles Kuralt was brought in to finish out the week…which is a whole other story. The point is, we got to see, first hand, how reporters and producers utilized computers and how it would forever change the format and speed in which news is assembled and presented.
It still took a couple years before the inevitable happened; ours was to be the first local TV newsroom to bid the old typewriters adieu and become totally computerized. Of course, all of our younger colleagues were overtly and covertly convinced that Hemmingsen and I were too stuck in our ways to ever adapt to the new system which only made me more determined to outshine all of ‘em. I paid close attention during our ten day orientation classes and was as ready as any of them when we hit the air live after a few test runs. Hemmingsen did too..although he refused to give up his old Olympia typewriter, keeping it under his desk for several months in case of emergency. We actually did have a couple computer malfunctions in those early days in which the typewriters were dragged out of storage and brought brought back into temporary service. I don’t think that’s even an option today and I don’t know anyone who would have the finger strength to operate a manual typewriter or change a ribbon.
So now, I sit here and stare at this ..or one just like it.
It’s been over two weeks since we got our RAZR’s..well past the point of going back on our commitment and even though I’m learning a little bit more about them every day, the process is slow and, considering the lapse in judgment that sent my laptop to the hospital, I’ve tried to be extra careful about what I touch. The trouble is, many errors are unavoidable because my fingers are too fat or arthritic or something. Even though I widen the keyboard to maximum, a simple request for my email address comes out something like dlu@#dorkmufl . I have sort of figured out how to avoid typing by using the voice commands for both Google and the phone but sometimes I get a rather ass-chewing electronic reply like “Are you still there?” or “Next time try..blah blah..” In frustration, I have..and I’m not proud of it..occasionally..talked back to my Droid using expletives that would make them think twice about asking me to narrate the Christmas Cantata at church ever again.
Well, I see a little green light flashing on my phone. There was a time when that meant a change in weather foreseen. Now I think it means I’ve got a message of some sort. Guess I’ll turn her on and start pushing some of those tiny little icons with my Incredible Hulk hands and see what happens.
Wish me luck.