An Analog Curmudgeon In A Digital World

The new world of communications is owned by the young.  The younger the person, the more and better they are connected to the rest of the world.  I value my peace and solitude.  To a large degree I do not wish the rest of the world to be connected to me.

I suppose, like many other things, I’m communicatively in the middle.  Unlike people like my brother, I own and use a computer, and have for years.  Unlike some of you young whipper-snappers out there, I don’t Face Book, I twit people, but I don’t Tweet, I don’t Pinterest, I don’t pingback.  I don’t include photos with my posts, although I’m on the slow train to learning how.  The wife is trying to learn how to embed videos, and when she figures it out, she might get the whip and chair, and train me.

The younger the more likely but, what many of you have learned about computers and other electronics, almost by osmosis, continues to elude me.  I’m a light-switch kind of guy in a serial-thinking world.  I can do 1/0 easily, but 1011010011100101100 makes me work for it.

Continuing with the light-switch analogy, (see, I told you I was analog.) I remember twist light-switches, before the up/down, on/off version became standard.  If I want a light on, I flip the switch up.  If I want the light off, I go flip the switch down.  Simple, easy!  Even light-switches are becoming “computerised”.

I had a new garage door installed recently.  If I push the button to raise or lower the door, the light on the motor comes on….and stays on for a minute, after the door is up or down.  I could (maybe) reprogram it down to 30 seconds, if I just climb up on a ladder and remove the housing.  I probably won’t go broke paying for a minute’s electricity, but my cheap Scottish OCD wants that damned light off when I’m done.

To turn the light off, I have to push the light button.  Not an ON button, or an OFF button, just a light button.  The light’s already on, but I have to *turn it on.*  I push the button, and wait two seconds for it to recognize.  Now the light knows it’s on, so I push the same button that I just pushed to turn it on, to turn it off, and wait two seconds.  If all goes well, the garage goes dark.  If all does not go well, the neighbor kid learns some new words.

Speaking of lights, these new twisty fluorescents that they’re pushing us to replace our incandescents with, are not an unmixed blessing.  Oh, they do save money by using less power, and they will give the equivalent amount of light….if you wait for them to warm up.  All you have to do is go into a dark room five minutes before you need light, and turn them on.  The ones outside the front door and garage take forever in the winter.

In our garage, we have our garbage pail, a blue recycling bin, and a heavy-duty paper bag for kitchen waste.  I open the door/step out a half-dozen times a day.  All four cats are fascinated.  Two have learned to squirt out for a look, as I drop stuff in the pail.  One has been squeezed by the rapidly closing door a few times, but still makes the run whenever he can get away with it.  Oh well, the light’s out, let him stay out there in the dark for five minutes.   As the weather gets colder, he’ll stay warm inside more.

I stepped out a couple of weeks ago and pushed the up-door button….and it didn’t.  Great!  A brand-new closer, and it won’t work.  It took me a week to figure out why.  The old door went up and down!  If there was something under it on the way down, too bad, guillotine!  The new door has an infra-red sender/receiver combo mounted 6 inches off the floor.  If they don’t talk to each other, the door don’t work.

One time, when the cat was prowling around in the dark, he must have stepped on the receiver unit, and popped it off the rail.  I snapped it back into place and, Viola, the door works fine, finally.  I only learned a couple of years ago about drag-up and drag-down menus on computer screens.  Actually, they’re not on the screen.  If I can’t see them, how in Hell do I even know they’re there?!

We bought a new stereo receiver a couple of years ago.  The demo model in the store worked fine.  I took mine home and connected the Gordian Knot to the back of it and turned it on to AM.  Nothing!  Switched to FM.  Nothing!  Switched to CD.  Nothing!  Back to AM.  Nothing, nothing, nothing!  I took it back to the store and said it was defective.  The little sales clerk, who was younger than my socks, soon had it working perfectly.  Apparently, this unit has a five-second recognition span, and I didn’t have a five-second patience span before I changed functions.  Duh, never mind.

I’m learning new things and getting more proficient with the computer all the time.  With my attention-span and crappy memory it’s a struggle.  Just when I get barely competent, version 7 of some program comes out, and I start learning all over again.  Click on this icon.  Open option box, choose and enter option.  Pull up currently invisible menu, activate function initialize.  Choose desired function, place cursor on box and right-click twice, while holding a piece of Edam cheese between your upper lip and nose.  Perform all these actions with a hand with Parkinson-like tics, and three cats crawling all over the computer desk.

I don’t want to have to train the computer.  I want one that’s already smarter and has a better memory than me.  That’s the whole point.  Shouldn’t be that hard; the light-switch and his friend the doorknob can already outwit me.  I’d go back to the Freddy Flintstone sheet of slate, with hammer and chisel version, but it’s no longer compatible!  Aaggh!  Insanity, version 3.0.  Failure is not an option.  It comes pre-installed.

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21 thoughts on “An Analog Curmudgeon In A Digital World

  1. kayjai says:

    Yeah….best to be patient, even though I realize that’s not your forte. I have to write everything down on various materials and hide them in different places in case I forget where I put one, I will be sure to find another. See? My memory is leaving me, but my brain is somewhat still intact….

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    • Archon's Den says:

      Of all the things I’ve lost, I miss my mind the most. I’d write shit down too, but I’d find a note saying, “Remember, they’ve upgraded to Nexus 4.2!” Wuddya mean, patience isn’t my forte? I’m very patient! Unless there’s people or technology involved.

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      • kayjai says:

        Said the man who can’t wait five seconds….and you haven’t lost your mind. It just goes on the missing list sporadically. I can relate and I’m a few years younger.

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  2. whiteladyinthehood says:

    Another great post, Archon. I have a vague recollection of the twist light switches. The oldest part of my house was built in 1960 and we have a light switch over a bar that is a push-button one.
    We have ‘smartboards’ at work (gone is the chalk board and even dry-erase boards)..they can be wonderful or a nightmare! If I have problems, I just get one of the 10 yr olds to help me..they just click.click.click. and away we go….

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  3. Tell ya what, Archon. I gotta write my dad a note about some stuff anyway. (His most advanced technology is the rotary-dial telephone.) I’ll see what it’ll cost to get his 78-rpm phonograph and 8-track recorder, and I’ll send ’em to you for Christmas – unless you’d prefer a few of my dozens of kerosene lanterns. If you’re willing to wait a bit longer, I’ll find you a few of my WW2 field phones (the kind that Radar used on MASH). Those would only be a loan, until you don’t need ’em anymore. No WAY I want those gems going to some Googling Twitting little Social Media-using 20-something! (But I will NOT surrender my Apple 2 – either of them. :p )

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    • Archon's Den says:

      My dad sold his 78 RPM and an 8-track player about 15 years ago, so he could move into a retirement home. Neither of us missed them. I have a couple of propane lamps, and a couple of wind-up units, for when the Mayans come to party. We’re on our fifth computer, a couple we’ve hopped up. Started about ’89 with a Tandy/Radio Shack. Had internet for 15 years. Live in a city and my supplier finally got high-speed out to me three years ago. I got nothin’ against tech, it’s just the constant change, right when I’m getting too old to keep up.

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      • Oh, I know how ya feel. More than half the tools in my toolchest are more than 20 years old, most of them being equal to or greater than my own age! I haven’t trusted Windows since Win98, though I preferred Win95. And yes, I do have my pair of Apple 2s, my field phones (with a pedal generator) and my collection of kerosene lights. Them Mayans might get my Internet, but I’ll still be warm and able to read all my books! 😀

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  4. Archon's Den says:

    I know, ain’t it a shame. Comes Daylight Saving Time, I change all the windy-up clocks, and the son gets the digital ones. Sometimes he has to wait for the grandson to come over.

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  5. When I married you 45 years ago, you had all the patience……..over the years I have siphoned off most of it for my personal use………sorry.

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  6. Jim Wheeler says:

    I recently complained to Apple because after changing ISP’s and, hence, email addresses, I had begun getting dual emails from all correspondents, including word press commenters. I thought it was because they had given me two different addresses, one ending “me.com” and the other ending “icloud.com”. They tried to help but all the stuff they told me didn’t help much. While it’s easy to delete double messages it takes a little extra effort, and it looks confusing and crowded on the email window – it was frankly driving me nuts. I finally realized it was mainly a wordpress problem. I found I was subscribed to various blog sites under both of the two new email addresses and the only way to correct it was to unsubscribe by clicking on the unsubscribe link at the bottom of a comment or post from each site. It couldn’t be done from the wordpress.com subscription page. I felt a touch of satisfaction at having discovered something the whippersnappers couldn’t figure out. Hmm. Was I wrong? It’s a jungle out here. 🙂

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    • Archon's Den says:

      We all have areas where we excel and lots of others where we know less than nothing. I know about coins and edged and pointed tools. Despite being a decade older than me, you seem highly able, electonically. Trying to make sense of that comment is like watching Bones, on TV, when she starts talking about skeleton bits and pieces. I know there’s important information there, but it’s like Charlie Brown’s teacher, Bwaa, Bwaa, Bwaa. Down with whippersnappers.

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  7. Sightsnbytes says:

    Too bad I never lived closer to you, I could really help you out. If you or your missus need any tech advice, feel free to ask away

    Like

    • Archon's Den says:

      We’re SLOWLY getting the hang of technology. It’s just my shitty memory that keeps me from remembering multiple steps. You’ve already posted a couple of tutorials which helped us, and others. Thanx for the offer of further assistance, but, improved memory is my greatest need. There’s a program you can buy and install which remembers all your on-line passwords for you, and applies the correct one when necessary. I bought two, because I forgot I bought the first.

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  8. I’ve encountered the old push button switches now and then, but we never had them in the house. By the time we got power in flipper switches were in vogue.

    I wholeheartedly agree that all this electronic wizardry is confusing. I intensely dislike having to read the operator’s manual to figure out how to turn on a car’s heater.

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    • Archon's Den says:

      This was really just a rant about how much us older folks have had to adapt. In the last hundred years, technology has come so far, so fast. We can shoe a horse, but have to stop and think about getting a cell-phone signal. I had forgotten push-button light switches. We didn’t have them, but some friends did. At least it was one button for OFF, and another for ON. You didn’t have to push and hold and push again twice.

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  9. […] post was inspired by Archon’s laments on being an old fart in a digital world. Life may have been a little harder before computers got into everything. You had to get off your […]

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  10. benzeknees says:

    Hubby just went out & got us new smart phones & we’re both struggling to figure out what we’re doing. Instructions – almost none! Hubby has been missing calls for the last couple days, finally today I asked him to check his ringer for volume & guess what the volume was turned way down! Except I’m thrilled to have a keyboard now – I wish we still had the old phones that I knew how to work.

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  11. Argus says:

    I don’t mind progress if it would only come with a manual One written in English. One that takes the tyro by the paw and leads him gently into the topic and explains what to do, and how (the ‘why’ doesn’t interest me).

    There’s a brilliant business opportunity for anyone capable of translating manuals—no, not the ones already ‘translated’* but the ones written in ‘English’—from geek-speak to people. Geekers write only for themselves and the cognoscenti; for people who don’t need the blasted books.

    * I still remember the old “If a passenger of the foot comes in sight, tootle him. If he stay tootle him with great vigour” (How to Handle Pedestrians 101 in a Japanese car manual)

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    • Archon's Den says:

      That would be a great idea, except old fogies like me would be the only small market. Kids pop out these days knowing how to operate BlackBerries and access “the Cloud”. I’m getting better at finding/using information and technology – but first, I have to know what it is that I don’t know. And I remember those crazy Japansie tootlers too.

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