Parents and Technology.

My daughter is stuck at home tonight with two parents who are not only technically challenged, but who also just switched from Androids to iPhones. She has had an iPhone for a year now. The conversation sounds a bit like this:

“Why is there no back button? My Android had a back button.”

“How do I sync my email?”

“Just a minute, I’m helping mom make the screen letters bigger.”

“You’ve been helping her for a half hour, it’s my turn. Where the heck is the internet?”

“It’s called Safari”

“Leave her alone she’s helping me”

“SAFARI? That’s stupid.”

For the first twenty minutes, she seems somewhat pleased that WE, the parents, are so dependent upon her to perform even the most basic of functions on our new smart phones. But as the night wears on, she becomes less amused at our ignorance.

“Where’s my contacts list? Why isn’t it right down here at the bottom like my other phone?”

“DAD, I’ve told you four times how to get to your contacts list! It hasn’t changed since that last time five minutes ago!”

“How do I get my songs on here from iTunes?”

“I want to turn my picture into a zombie like you did the other day. What was that app called?’

“Why does it keep saying that I need an Apple ID? That’s stupid!”

Unfortunately, all across the globe, scenarios like this are being played out in living rooms, night after night.

Like my wife and I, many parents our age did not grow up in a digital, computer dependent world full of smart phones, email addresses, and WIFI. These are all things we have had to learn and to adapt too. At times, our analog, pencil and paper geared minds can get overloaded. A new smart phone can be horrifying as opposed to the excitement my daughters would feel. I just barely learned how to operate all the functions on my old phone, and now you want me to throw it all out and start from scratch?

In our day, if you learned how to use the U.S. Postal Service, you could reasonably expect that the skill would carry you through the rest of your life without needing to alter how you use the Mail system’s OS (operating system, I just learned that one from my daughter). If you learned how to look up a number in the phone book and dial the telephone that hung on the wall, you were pretty much set. But then all this new stuff comes along and ruins everything.

Kids nowadays were born into this cyber world, and their brains are trained to think that way from day one. They adapt to changes in technology and operating systems so much faster than I can.

Gone are the days when a father could proudly teach his son or daughter the simple life skills they needed to be able to interact with the world around them. Most of the technical learning that goes on in our household is daughter teaching parent.

We recently switched from cable TV to satellite TV. This change required that I learn a whole new OS. This change was a creator of much stress for me. I felt like a turtle on my back. I couldn’t make a TV show even appear on the screen, let alone one I wanted to watch.

But I have learned to cope with my technological disabilities, and overcome them. When the new satellite box was fired up for the first time and I had spent the ten minutes required to determine that I had no idea how to operate it, I simply handed the remote to my daughter Hannah and left the room. This is known as step one.

After an hour I returned, and just as I suspected, she had mastered the system. She could perform any and every function available. In fact, she had already set up her own channel favorites list and had set the DVR that came with it to record her shows.

Step two is to have Hannah simply show me how to turn the channel box on and off.

Step three is an on-going step. Step three is to use Hannah like a voice controlled remote for the next month or two as I slowly learn each satellite TV skill one at a time.

“Hannah, make it go to The Discovery Channel.”

“Hannah, make it record Wildest Police Video episodes.”

“Hannah, make Netflix come up on the screen.”

This system has helped to eliminate much of the anxiety and fear that can be the result of trying to learn a new technology or OS. I’d like to think that over time, my ability to adapt to such changes would become easier and easier. But I’m beginning to realize that all the gains I make as far as becoming fluent in the computer-digital-cyber world, are being countered by my memory becoming duller, and perhaps a touch of senility setting in.

WordPress mobile app makes me want to bite my phone sometimes. 

Is it just me, or is the WordPress mobile app quirky and unruly? I mean I know that my level of tech savvy is slightly lower than that of a large pile of gravel (I could make a typewriter crash in high school typing class long before computers took over the role of my victim), but my level of frustration with this app seems even higher than my normal level of angst.

The mobile app constantly refuses to obey my spacing commands while drafting a post. Sometimes the draft doesn’t even match the published post, making me think I’ve become delusional, or more delusional than normal.

Sometimes when I hit the little “follow” under a bloggers name, it turns to “following” for one second, and then returns to “follow” . . . . I played this game for ten minutes one time before deciding that it just wasn’t in WordPress’s will for me to follow the particular blog.

The typing of posts seems more glitchy than typing texts or any other typing I do in other apps . . . Or maybe my frustration with the WordPress app causes my thumbs to swell?

And as far as WordPress in general, I originally couldn’t figure out how I could end up with more likes than views on a post. I was then told that when posts are read in the Reader, they do not show up on a hit counter . . . . So what in the actual $?@! is a hit counter for? It’s more like a “some of your hits” counter. I don’t have what I would call a mass following, so I value seeing all those views lost to Reader. Is this some way to cheat people who have ads enabled out of money?

And while I’m in rant mode, why doesn’t WordPress send me a free Tshirt that says, “Born to Blog”, or a coffee mug? Why don’t they file my taxes and scoop up the dog poop in my yard? 

WORDPRESS!!!! WHY DON’T YOU STOP WORLD HUNGER, WAR, AND JUSTIN BIEBER ROASTS????!

. . . . Ok, maybe I’m getting a little carried away. That’s why I tend to avoid ranting posts.

There is no room in this world for people who can’t handle change . . . and I’m one.

At least once a month, if not more, I bring up my email on the computer, or open some app on my phone only to find that the creators of said email or app have deemed it in my best interest to completely re-arrange the layout and change how you perform different functions. Google, Windows, Itunes, Facebook, even WordPress . . . . . all guilty.

I suppose for the very forward thinking tech lovers, this might be akin to opening a present at Christmas. Or maybe it has the feel of rearranging the living room furniture into a new and exciting configuration.

But to me, a computer and smart phone dullard, this is no different than taking me in my sleep, transporting me to an unfamiliar house in a small town in Albania, and having people whose language I can’t speak act as if they are my wife and kids when I wake up. No different.

It is rare that I that I have even mastered the previous versions of apps and emails before they decide to change them.

Not too long ago, it was Gmail that decided I had become way too accustomed to how it operates. I woke up one morning, and all my emails had been sorted into categories like “important” or “work” and then the plain old “in box”. Once again, I found myself in the Gmail version of Albania.

Worse yet, I could not for the life of me figure out how Google determined which emails went to which folder. In all honesty I felt violated. Not just violated, but embarrassed as well, because shortly after the new sorting of my emails began, the ones with the subject “Penis Enlargement” began to appear in my “important” box.

HOW DOES GOOGLE KNOW IF PENIS ENLARGEMENT IS SOMETHING THAT SHOULD BE IMPORTANT TO ME????

Could Google see me getting into the shower through my phone? Had my wife secretly been communicating with Google concerning this issue?

The older I get, the harder these little email and app adjustments become. The only thing worse, is getting a new phone or TV or something like that. A new phone or a new “smart TV” causes me great anxiety and can take me months to learn.

Luckily, I have two daughters who grew up in this digital age. They seem to know how to work all these apps, programs, phones, TV’s and every other manner of gadget. It’s as if they were born with the instinct I just use my daughters like little voice operated remotes until I am able to learn the technology myself.

“Make the TV record all the Simpsons” or “find out when Axe Men is on.”

……

I will see you all on Monday, I’m taking a weekend off from blogging 🙂

Let’s have coffee!

For some unknown reason, perhaps just boredom, I decided to scroll ahead in the calendar on my iPhone. After a few minutes of some serious scrolling, I was surprised to have made  it to the year 3000. 

This seemed amazing to me. There was no practical use in me having a calendar for the year 3000, but it was cool. Now I just had to know, how far does the iPhone calendar go into the future? So I began scrolling . . . . And scrolling. 

After about fifteen minutes of solid scrolling, a show about The Loch Ness Monster came on the Discovery channel and I lost interest in scrolling. But before I quit, I made an appointment for February 9th at 2:00 pm to have coffee with a friend . . . . In the year 13854. Anyone care to join me? I mean, if you don’t have anything else planned.

More blogging frustrations from a middle-aged technophobe.

It is a glorious miracle that I can make any letters and numbers appear on the computer screen in the form of a post. I certainly couldn’t tell you how I manage to get them there.

Forget about posting those fancy links that appear as the words of my choosing instead of showing that long “http” type address thing. This capability is above my pay scale apparently.

I have managed to post a few pictures, but predicting their size and location within the post is like throwing Lawn Jarts at dog poop piles blind folded.

WordPress keeps inviting me to join a discussion group called “The Commons” but every time I try, nothing happens. Can they tell if I haven’t showered? Can they smell me through the computer screen?

And there is still a few dozen options in settings that I have no idea what they mean or what I should have them set on, even after I attempted to read the little explanations that are provided. My current method of dealing with these options is to turn it on if the name of the setting sounds like something good to eat, and leave it off if it sounds like a disease.

Luckily, my wife just happened to be pulling in the driveway as I was dragging the computer by the cord out to the place in my yard where I burn things that refuse to work properly for me, and made me take it back inside.

If you are kind enough to attempt explaining one of the items mentioned above, please realize that you are wasting your keyboard typing. You would have much better luck trying to explain these things to a brightly colored Easter egg.