Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Luddites Unite

by Raelene Gorlinsky

I don't really want to go around smashing textile looms or laptop computers. I don't reject or resist new technology. (Don't listen to Kelli or Meghan! It's not true!) But the hardware and software are not toys to me, they are just tools to accomplish tasks--technology is not an end it itself, it is merely something I need to do my real job. And it's always difficult when the tools change, it temporarily slows down my ability to get the real job done. You need to feed me changes slowly, give me time to learn and adjust without being overwhelmed or unable to get things done. I'm of the generation that did not grow up with computers (yes, I am indeed old enough to be Kelli's, Meghan's, and Jaime's mother, sigh), that wants to read the user manual first (they don't even provide manuals anymore!), that doesn't start just pushing buttons or clicking on things--I might break it!

(And it isn't just high-tech stuff that gives me trouble. After the stapler debacle--don't ask--I wasn't allowed to order an electronic pencil sharpener. Patty gave me a little red plastic manual sharpener, the kind you had in grade school. It works great, it's lasted me four years.)

So last Wednesday was off the charts in terms of stress level. It started with a new laptop. It's a lovely laptop--wide screen, number pad, more ports. But of course I have to adjust to a slightly different "feel" to the key spacing; it took two days before I could type a paragraph not filled with typos. And who the ha-ell decided to move the Delete key?!

Of course, this laptop has a newer Windows operating system and newer Microsoft Office software. Aack! Why did they change and move everything? Shortcuts, options, menus, all the stuff I'd customized to be just the way I wanted it -- I have to redo it all. And I can't even find it in order to change it! I went through a bag of malt balls, a brownie, and two chocolate chip cookies between 10 am and 5 pm. (Don't believe that nonsense that fruit or yogurt will make you feel better--only chocolate works.)

I'll learn it all, but I can't cope with everything at once. Thursday I focused on Microsoft Outlook, so I could do email. Friday I tore my hair out over Excel. (Note to Microsoft - the new way the Sort and Filter works is a pain in the ass. Why didn't you ask me first, I'd have told you how to do it right.) This week I'm fighting through Word. Coworkers have learned to ignore the shrieks and curses coming from my office.

And then there's trying to figure out what other software I had installed on the old system, and reinstalling it on the new one. (Actually, Randy does that--experience has shown it's not wise to let me try to install software. Did you know a PC can have a nervous breakdown?) It took three days to realize I couldn't get onto the company email or server from home because I was missing the appropriate program.

By 4 pm Wednesday I was trying hard not to hyperventilate or throw the new laptop across the room. Then the day crashed into final deadly overload. Darrell showed up in my office--with a brand-new cell phone! Everyone seemed under the truly false impression that I would be delighted to change from an old phone-that-only-makes-phone-calls to this monster that seems to do everything else except make a simple phone call. Kelli was drooling, "They got you an iPhone 4!" Darrell and Randy wanted to demonstrate everything. I just wanted to turn it off, except I couldn't find the Off button.

By the time I got home Wednesday, I think my eyes were vibrating and my body quivering. I walked in the door and blurted "I got a new laptop and cell phone" to my son. He looked warily at me, did not ask to see the laptop, and gently removed the cell phone from my clenched hand. When he returned the phone ten minutes later, he'd turned off WiFi and email, set it to a gentle ringtone, and found how to make the virtual keyboard larger--he knows me well, he simplified the thing so I can cope with the basics now. Of course, there was a setback later that night. The phone rang for the very first time. I whipped it out of my pocket, stared at it, then shrieked "How the hell do I answer the phone?" Hey, I didn't have my reading glasses on at the moment, without them the screen is just a blur. I sure didn't know there was a bar at the bottom I was supposed to slide to answer.

Kelli is now allowed to show me one new function a day on the cell. So far, I can check the local weather (after she changed it from Cupertino to Akron for me), find out what time it is in London or Australia (yes, Kelli set it up for me), and make a call via my Contacts list (I put in the Contacts, I didn't know Kelli was adding pictures for them). I haven't had to do text messaging yet, that's next. I might actually get brave enough to have her show me how to get driving directions.

Oh, there was one last "technology" debacle on Wednesday. There was a very expensive case provided with the phone, and it was stressed to me that these cell phone screens shattered easily if dropped, so I must put the protective case on. But I couldn't get the case open in order to put the cell phone in it! I struggled and struggled. Do you know how embarrassing it is to have to go to the IT support guy and ask him to show you how to open a cell phone case?


Unknown said...

Technology is a means to an end. You're right a lot of us tend to forget that.

Kaily Hart said...

Nothing useful to add :). Just wanted to say your post gave me a chuckle. OK, a lot of them LOL. I come from the IT industry so it's nice to be reminded that all these new techno gadgets, tools and applications don't come naturally to everyone. And I agree. I see all these things as simple tools as well. Course, it doesn't hurt if they're fun too!

lynneconnolly said...

Am I with you on the phone!
The time came for me to lose my nice, simple Sony Ericcson, and my son said, "Get that one, you can read ebooks on it!" Music to my ears. So I ended up with a Blackberry Storm 2.
I still can't always answer the thing. Do I press the screen, the green thingie or just take it out of its holster?
Ebooks? Ha! I'm still working on the basics, and I've only had it six months! I've turned off the Internet, because that just gives me a headache, and it runs down the battery like woah and damn. I turn it on to browse the apps store, which I can just about manage.

ECPI Editors said...

I have two ereaders. I love them, but I'm still struggling to learn them. I know I'm not using most of the capabilities.

App store? Just saying that makes me run screaming! The only app I've coped with so far is the Kindle for PC one, and that I downloaded from Amazon. I cover my ears when Kelli and Meghan start chatting about the zillion apps they use. (Angry Birds - huh?)


Madelle Morgan said...

I can emphathize, and I'm an engineer. Six years of university and I could not figure out how to turn on my new Blackberry! I started out in high school in the 70s learning to use a slide rule (the standard for at least 100? years in science), and the technology learning curve just took off vertically from there. It is really rather awesome that we over 50 are still sane!

Laurann Dohner said...

I feel your pain! My husband is Mr. Techno Geek. He not only took my 5 year old flip phone from me to buy me the Iphone4...but had me get Ipads. I'm so lost with that phone. I did learn how to text recently. My oldest daughter keeps telling me I should give her my phone because I don't deserve it since I'm not using 95 percent of what it can do. LOL. I am enjoying the Ipad though. I used to have an ebookwise. I can go online with the Ipad at home since we have wireless and check my emails and facebook from anywhere in the house. The color screen is nice too. You'll adjust. Just take it slow. That's what I do. Good luck!

ECPI Editors said...

Madelle, my soul mate! I still have my slide rule from high school. I don't remember how to use it anymore, but it's stashed in a desk drawer. However, I did gladly get rid of my typewriter years ago once I got a home computer. My 25-year-old son has never used a typewriter, commented that he doesn't remember ever seeing one in person.


Cori said...

I'm so glad your blog staff is back from winter break! :)

I just got a phone call and thought of your post. My husband and I teach a marriage class and a woman in Atlanta called me to see if she could do the eight-week class over Skype while the rest of the class attends in person.0_o

I'm familiar with video conferencing, but I'm not sure the distraction would be fair to the rest of the class. We really are living in the future.

Barbara Elsborg said...

Raelene - I am your twin. I have a very old pay and display phone - I can make calls but can't text because I can't work out how to get the right letters to come up. I used to be able to do it but I've clearly altered some setting by accident. No problem reading texts because everyone knows not to text me. I think the phone will take pictures but that is rocket science.I have to write out the numbers if I do try to text. No idea where they are hiding. I have on more than one occasion cut off a caller to my husband's phone because I pressed the wrong button. I can't make a call from his phone because I can't switch it on. He bought an ipad - I can't switch that on either. I can't program the alarm clock, nor the underfloor heating. I use one program on the washing machine, one on the tumble drier. I've only just learned how to watch programs on the TV that husband has recorded. I can't play a DVD on the TV because it involves pressing the remote in some complicated way that last time lost us all programs.
- pause for applause
I CAN set the heating to work on an automatic program and he can't.
Well, it was that or freeze.

Joanna Waugh said...

I too am one of the dinosaurs who need a phone only to make actual calls. I spent Christmas with my son and we decided to replace my five-year old model. All I wanted was an old-fashioned "feature" phone. There were only two choices. The sales clerk gave me a pitying look and informed me they're being phased out and will soon disappear altogether.

ECPI Editors said...

Boy, I sure understand, Barbara. For three years while my son was away in the Navy, I could not record TV shows on the DVD. I couldn't adjust the brightness or color on the TV. I had to pay the monthly estimate for gas and water usage, because I didn't know which meter was which or how to read them to report actual usage. I still can't do any of those things. I did manage to work (and break) the lawn mower, but couldn't start the weed whacker. I had to beg the IT guy at work to help me with my personal laptop whenever it had a problem.