Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Technology - Keeping up

"The picture is terrible!" so says my son. And then my daughter chimed in, "Yea, Dad. It is bad. You need a new TV." It was the day before my 69th birthday. The annual family gathering was just getting going and technology was coming to call once again.  I responded to my daughter's agreement with, "Oh no, not you too?" I knew I was sunk. The next day there was a wide screen HD TV given to me on my birthday. It was a combination gift from the kids and my wife. The 'I Got Junk" truck was soon in the driveway and my old faithful TV disappeared.

My old TV was exactly 10 years old. I thought it gave me a good picture until I saw the picture on the new set. Amazing! It is so strange how we get use to something and don't recognize the usual wear and tear or deterioration of it over the years. This is one of the best things about having children. They recognize when the old chair sags or the picture on the TV just isn't doing the job.

Keeping up with technological change is not easy for anyone today. And the tendency has to be that the older folks get left behind.  My son always says, "You want to keep up, Dad, or you will just get left farther and farther behind". I know that it is true. I also know that "keeping up" can make life much more interesting.

Just today I communicated with a friend via Twitter concerning his culmination of a solo bike ride across the country. He biked from Bellingham to Bar Harbor and his tweets were fun to receive. I had joined Twitter about a year ago but never used it. Then he told me that he was going to use it to keep people posted about his trip. It was a great way to share a bit of his experience on a daily basis. I found myself looking forward to the short description of his experience. I never thought I would use Twitter but I did and it was fun.

Just a few minutes ago while drinking coffee in a Vancouver, BC coffee shop I took a call from him on my cell phone ( I just got one in April of this year). We arranged to meet in two days and talk out his bike trip. Again, technology that I had refused until just lately came to be of value. I sure look forward to hearing some stories and without the connection it may very well not have happened. Disconnecting our land line and going totally cell phone has it's advantages.

The day after my birthday both kids mentioned that my wireless signal in the house was not working well. It seemed to be irregular. A new router was needed. A quick trip to Best Buy solved the problem. My son set up the new Apple router which he said transmitted with more strength and reliability. So far so good.

I recognized it's importance one evening when our usual conversations paused for just a minute while we sat around the living room. There were seven of us in the room and at that very minute there were seven screens lit. Everyone was on a different site. There was conversation but everyone was doing something different. I know it sounds sort of weird but it only lasted a minute or two. I guess it would be no different than a family gathered around watching one particular program on TV...football for instance. Only in this case, everyone was watching whatever they wished. It did seem a bit weird and when I mentioned it everyone laughed and the screens soon went dark.

The last bit of technology that came my way was an Apple TV that he bought and put in our condo. We have had a TV there for years but it was never hooked up to cable or anything other than a DVD player. We used it for watching movies. He thought we  might really enjoy this thing called Apple TV. I had no idea what it was. Last night we found out. We downloaded and watched our first movie through itunes. Then just today I looked under podcasts and found that he had downloaded some of my favorites including this one, Retirement Talk.

Along the bottom of the screen were several podcasts that were suppose to be similar to mine. They were under the heading of Personal Journals. There was one called, "Thinking Allowed" put out by the BBC. I read the brief description and there was the name of one of my former students from 40 years ago. Gordon Mathews a professor of anthropology at the Chinese University in Hong Kong was to be interviewed. What a treat! He sounded just like he did years ago. I will be writing him tonight and sending an email.

"Keeping up" with technology certainly has it's advantages. It makes life more interesting. It allows us to communicate in ways most of us can't imagine. It keeps doors and windows open. It ties families and friends together as past generations could never imagine.

Source: Episode 242 of the podcast Retirementtalk by Del Lowery. You can read or listen to his podcasts at retirementtalk.org or find his podcasts on iTunes. They're great.

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