Sunday, June 9, 2013

Change is good, right?

Anybody who reads this blog will not be surprised to hear me say I'm a little suspicious of technology. It's not that I don't like technology, mind you. Obviously I've written this blog on a computer and posted it to the Internet. I don't have anything against technology, as such. It's just that there's so much of it, and there's always something newer and shinier than what I have, and the people selling the newer shinier toy are always so enthusiastic about it until you buy it, after which you get relegated to customer service with someone who doesn't speak your language.

So I'm a little suspicious of it all, and I tend to hold onto things. I had my last cell phone for six years. It was a cute little red clamshell phone that could make a phone call, and it had a calendar and a section for notes. After I put a card game on it, it was just about perfect for me. Sadly, the phone finally broke and I had to replace it. I had been eyeing my son's smart phone for a while and borrowing it to play tangrams, a Chinese puzzle of seven pieces that can be used to form over one thousand different patterns. Totally addictive, but I couldn't get a tangram game on my old phone. You need a touch screen.

Now, if there's anything I hate, it's a touch screen. Touch screens get fingerprints. My son bought me a Kindle, over my strong protests, and I wound up liking it very much, but I refused to even consider a touch screen. I wanted the one with buttons. What do I care if my students in elementary school say it's a fake Kindle because there's no color and sound like a Kindle Fire? It has buttons, and that's good enough for me. But tangrams are totally addictive, and with the lure of putting a tangram game on the phone, I opted for a smart phone.

So there we were, in the store, and I asked for the dumbest smart phone. Really. I know there are phones that do everything but walk the dog, but I just couldn't go from a cute little red clamshell to a superphone. I was willing to get a phone with a touch screen-that was enough for one decade. My son bought me a Go phone. Did I say the touch screen smart phone was enough for one decade? While we were in the store, the salesman tried to talk my son into switching from Cox to Uverse. It was a good deal-fifty dollars less a month, three hundred dollars to switch, and a bazillion channels to choose from. Well, when you're willing to say goodbye to the clamshell and hello to the touch screen, I guess you get a little crazy, so we went with Uverse.

It hasn't been easy. True, the phone has tangrams. It also has a Kindle app, which lets me read my books on the phone, and it has a music player, so I can download all those old songs from people no one has ever heard of, like Glenn Miller and Jimmy Durante and Frank Sinatra. It has a radio, and a button I can push to see the weather for the next week. It's not any more accurate on the phone than it is on the news, but it's pretty cool to push a button and see what the phone imagines the weather is going to be like. It's also got a nice little camera and I can even record a video. The phone is fun, when it works.

There have been growing pains. I accidentally deleted all the music at one point. Don't ask me how-I must have pushed a wrong button somewhere. And the music downloader doesn't always cooperate. This morning I had to cancel a download, kill the task, force stop the app, power off the phone, and take out the battery to get a download to stop. It seemed advisable to stop it, since the phone was heating up, the battery was draining, and the song wasn't downloading. My son just nodded sagely and said that happens to his phone sometimes. Why don't they warn people about these things?

Then there's the TV. We have hundreds more channels, we can set things to record, we can even pause a broadcast, which is all great when the TV turns on. For some reason it takes three remotes to turn on the TV now, and if you hit the wrong button, it will just sit there, stubbornly telling you it has no signal. I don't really miss the TV we had when I was a little girl-the one that only had seven channels and had to be turned on fifteen minutes before the program so it could warm up. But those were the days-it only had one cord that plugged into the wall, and while you had to change the channel by hand, at least you could get a channel. You might have to adjust the rabbit ears on top of the set, but it didn't tell you there was no signal if it wasn't working. It just stayed black-it didn't sneer at you.

I think I know how to turn on the TV and turn off an app well enough now to be confident that I can watch a show and make a call without trauma, but this has been some learning curve. My students keep wanting to look at the phone because they can't believe I got a smart phone. One of the teachers said I no longer look like an old lady, now that I've joined the 21st century. My son has a new hobby-showing me all the wonderful things the TV can do now with its three remotes. The only downside is the fingerprints. I have to keep polishing the fingerprints off the touch screen. As a matter of fact, I think I'll go do that now.