Wry & Ginger: Keeping up with the speed of technology
The first time our television screen flashed the name and number of somebody calling on the telephone, I thought I was seeing things. Now, it’s old hat. That’s the way it is with technology, especially in this age of corporate one-upmanship in the world of electronic communications.
You’re sitting there watching a ballgame, a sitcom or the news or — with any luck maybe, a commercial — and you hear the phone ring. At precisely the same moment, on the left upper corner of the TV appears a phone-shaped icon and the full identity of the caller. How does that work? Don’t ask me. All I know is I get my TV, phone and internet service from the same source, Time Warner Cable. They’d know, I suppose.
The interconnectedness of almost everything today is nothing short of breathtaking, sometimes even scary.
Today, as I write, I couldn’t find my cell phone, which has a Florida number. I guessed I might have left it in the car, so I dialed its number with my home phone, which has a Maine number. As I walked past a coat rack in the hallway, I heard the cell ring. OK, mystery solved. It was in a side pocket of a jacket I’d worn only once in the last 10 years, albeit a fortnight ago. If one phone hadn’t been smart enough to find it, the other might never have been recovered. So, two cheers for progress.
Only two weeks earlier, as my daughter and I made the long trek from the Sunshine State to the hills and chills of New England, her husband watched our progress by following our cell phone on his own, even texting a “tsk-tsk” when we turned the wrong way on a street 500 miles away. OK, but maybe a little too close to Orwell’s Big Brother for real comfort. One cheer, let’s say.
Yesterday, I did myself a favor by unsubscribing on my iPad to an unwanted sender whose missives always end up in my trash mail anyway. Three cheers, you might think.
But no, as it turned out. A bulletin appeared on the screen, warning me that something had “detected” a possible infection in my computer — a “major security risk,” it called it. I could get it fixed, I was informed, by calling “online security immediately!” Though I sensed a scam, I couldn’t rid myself of the warning or regain access to the Internet.
Despite my doubts, I dialed the number offered. My worst doubts were confirmed by the responder. “This sounds like a serious problem, but we can help you with that,” he promised in a distinctly foreign accent. “First, you must connect your iPad to your computer by using a cable.” In the background I could hear a multitude of others giving advice in the same unfamiliar accents. “I’m sorry,” I said after a long pause, “I guess I’ll just try fixing it myself.” Zero cheers for anybody. Further research proved my suspicions warranted. And a visit to Apple iPad support offered a one-minute exercise that unlocked things like a charm — for zip.
Thinking back on it, my entire life — like yours I suspect — has been one long succession of meeting and marveling at the constant changes, especially in communications technology. When I first heard about TV, I imagined that televised games when they started would show us only the announcers describing the action on the field. It never occurred to me, at least, that we’d get to see the action first hand.
What next? Who could possibly guess? Gutenberg probably thought it was all over when he invented the printing press in 1454.
Reach Sid McKeen at firstname.lastname@example.org.