Archive for Wednesday, January 23, 2008

A dinosaur in the electronic age

January 23, 2008

Yes, I know how the dinosaurs felt as the ice age started. Everywhere I looked, I found evidence of just how much of a technical dinosaur I've become.

During Christmas, with seven grandchildren around I certainly noted vast changes in entertainment, communications and, yes, I saw some of the benefits of modern technology. With that said, I'm not sure that I'm ready to step forward. Well, yes, I have basic computer skills. I use e-mail, word processing and I can find information. Still, my electronic knowledge is about like a third grader playing basketball. Sometimes I get the electronic ball in the hoop and other times I miss.

Once during the Christmas break, grandchildren had electronic games hooked to every TV in the house. Every outlet was being used to charge an electronic gizmo. I'm not sure that I could name any of the games, nor could I play them. There were laptops, i-pods, a blue tooth, games, digital cameras and the list goes on and on.

In addition, everyone has a cell phone, too. To me, a cell phone is just a tool to be used to stay in communications and for emergencies. To young people, it is far more than that. You can have the Internet hooked to your phone, you can download a gazillion songs, you can take pictures and what is most important you can send text messages.

We were looking to purchase a new cell phone and the salesman spent lots of time telling us about the pictures that could be taken, the texting that could be done, the many, many other electronic miracles that were available. I think he was a bit shocked and disappointed when I told him all that I was interested in doing was making and receiving calls. I think that, in itself, puts me in the dinosaur class.

Rarely have I played electronic games. I believe about the only time was when one of my grandsons got a football game. I still remember the shock when he asked me to name a team from any era and I thought I'd be clever and called for the 1978 St. Louis Cardinals. To my shock I had a team composed of Jim Hart, Jackie Smith and a lot of other players only a few fans remember.

I have a perfectly good Nikon camera that is obsolete because it uses film. Now, like almost everyone else, we use a digital camera. Digital cameras are simple to use and take good pictures, however I draw the line at the electronic frames. I let someone else worry about that.

To a person my age, an adventure is going into one of those big box electronic stores. Not only is the music blaring, there are a variety of other beeps and boops which are part of some electronic wonder that is changing the world.

Some changes aren't beneficial to those of us who are technology challenged in my opinion. It took me a couple of years to feel comfortable with video tapes. Just as my skill level with tapes reached the middle of the competency scale everything changed to DVDs. Now, when I substitute teach, the middle school shows education videos using the computer. After struggling a couple of times, I came up with a good solution. I find a kid in the class who loves technology and is dependable and I name them the "designated video operator" for the class. It works really well, too, since I don't have to show my ineptness.

I don't want to be like the Chieftain editor of a century ago who railed against the automobile. He was sure it would never replace horses. No, there is a lot that is good about the electronic age. I love word processing, it is a lot better than banging on a typewriter and trying to use correction tape to get rid of mistakes. I wish that spell check had been available for my entire newspaper career. I think e-mail is great, too. If you get a meeting notice, you can RSVP with an instant reply. In Central America or in Scandinavia I could check my messages and keep up with things in Bonner Springs. During the week of Christmas, my son-in-law who operates an insurance agency was able to provide services to his customers and even sell policies using his laptop. I was in California when I got a call on my cell phone and was able to provide a reporter with some information.

Yes, I guess I'm changing, too. I'm writing this on a wireless laptop and my rough draft will be reproduced on a printer in another room. When the column is corrected, I'll e-mail it to the Chieftain. Maybe I'm a dinosaur that is slowly adapting to the new electronic ice age.

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