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Posts Tagged ‘technology’

I had forgotten how funny it is to watch little kids try to tell jokes. They know jokes are supposed to make people laugh. So they say some random sentence then start cracking up.

I think the first time I noticed this was when I was first married and my ex-husband’s niece, who was about six years old at the time, tried to tell us jokes. She would say something like “Do you know why we don’t see the sun during the night time?” Pause. “Because he’s tired and has to go to sleep.”  Then she would cackle away, thinking it was funny.

Well, Anderson is at the same stage these days. He’s 5 1/2. I have an Amazon Echo that will, when asked to, tell jokes. (The Echo does a lot more but this is about jokes so that’s all I’m telling you right now.) So Anderson comes over and asks me to ask Alexa (that’s the name the Echo responds to) to tell a joke. So I do and when she tells the joke, Anderson cracks up.  He can’t tell you why it’s funny or what it means but he knows it’s a joke so he’s supposed to laugh.  Last night I tried to explain to him why certain jokes were funny (to most people) and I tried to teach him some knock knock jokes because i think those are the easiest for kids to learn to tell. I don’t think he caught on. He laughed but that doesn’t mean he understood it or learned it.  I think I have my work cut out for me.

__________

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Figs.

Figs who?

Figs the doorbell. It’s broken.

__________

Why do witches wear name tags?

To know which witch is which.

___________

What do you call two witches living together?

Broommates!

___________

“Excuse me waiter. This coffee tastes like mud.”

“Yes sir, it’s fresh ground.”

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In 2009 I found the perfect laptop.  It was small, about the size of a sheet of notebook paper, and weighed next to nothing. I had been carrying around a full size laptop that weighed about 9 pounds with the battery in it (like I’m going to use it without the battery, right?).  It was huge and when carried in a case on my shoulder, it was way too heavy.  With my back issues, I really needed something more portable. It didn’t matter that my new lightweight HP had no optical drive because I rarely use one and when I do, I have a desktop top with an optical drive or I can put files onto a flash drive that I can put in my laptop.

Then it died.  Well, not technically.  However, it takes about 6 minutes to boot up.  It plays sound when it wants to.  It is super slow, even though I have had it looked at and optimized and updated drivers, etc., which meant that sometimes I would have to wait over a minute for a page to load, lots longer if it required Shockwave or Flash.  I had to face it…I had to get a new one.

Last week I found a new one.  Small, 11.2 inches.  Lightweight, 2.8 pounds.  Very portable, can use (touch)screen as tablet.   Large hard drive, 500 GB.  And it was at an unbeatable price, under $270.  I really like it and the frustration level when using my laptop now, is way, way, lower.  It speeds everything up, including blogging.  However, with a new device comes a lot of setting up and “getting used to”.  Here’s my top ten that I dislike:

1. Registering everything before you can even get to a start screen.  This includes setting up passwords which I will probably forget.

2. Having to learn a new operating system.  My old one had Windows Vista.  This one has Windows 8.1 and I am told that I will get a free upgrade to Windows 10 when it releases (in a month or two?).

3. Setting up a browser to work the way you want it to with your chosen plugins and add-ons.  And in my case this meant going from Firefox on the old laptop to Chrome on the new one.  Might as well make the change now!

4. Having to remember passwords for sites that I use everyday but don’t know the passwords because they were remembered by my old browser.

5.  My mind doesn’t remember all the passwords so for many sites I had to choose the “Forgot my password” option and then wait for a link to set up a new password.  Sometimes that didn’t work and I would have to guess at the screen name I might have used to register for that site.

6.  Getting a new case for the laptop.  I didn’t use one with the laptop I replaced but I want to protect this one as I carry it around a lot more and often while also carrying a 2 year old with me!  So time to protect this one.

7.  Deciding which files I want to move from the old laptop to the new laptop.  This means hours of going through pictures, documents, downloads, videos, etc.

8.  Moving those files which involves a lot of time and patience.

9.  Figuring out which programs I have to move from one laptop to another, like my photo editing software and my writing software, etc. and copying the files to a flash drive and moving them to the new one (neither of the laptops has an optical drive so I have to use a flash drive to transfer and install.)

10.  Then the icing on the cake…you wipe the old laptop to see if it can be fixed or optimized so I can give it to someone that has nothing better then you realize that you forgot to transfer some files and they’ve been trashed so you can’t get them anymore.  In my case, this meant a few photos and a folder of old writing.  Now I’ll have to go through tons of CDs on the desk top to see if I can recover some of those files!  More time.  More patience.  More frustration.

Ahhh!  The joys of new technology!

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My less than two year old top of the line android has been on the blink for some time.  It shuts itself off.  The ringer works when it chooses to.  Text messages sometimes take two or three DAYS to come through.  Phone calls sometimes don’t go through yet there is a voice mail message from that missed call (which doesn’t show up in my call log at all).  I do not want to pay $600 for a new phone.  I don’t really want to sign another two year contract either (not to mention that I’m not eligible for the upgrade til May).  Then I found the phone I want, brand new, from Amazon…and unlocked!  Only $100.  So I ordered it and figured it would take care of all the problems.

However, there is one thing I really dislike doing…setting up a new phone.  I read on the amazon site how to do it but the app I needed would not load on to my Galaxy so I couldn’t do it.  Then AT&T said take it in to get the new nano SIM card and they would back everything up from the old card to the new one.  So I did that, even though I don’t go to malls and AT&T just moved into the mall, closing the location I used to use.  And today is the two year anniversary of a shooting at that same mall and I didn’t want to go but I did.  So the guy I got after waiting for 25 minutes gave me the new SIM card but did not back up my old data onto the new one, saying he “wasn’t an expert” at that.  What a jerk!!!

So now I have the next four or five hours ahead of me booked for merging contacts and all that stuff.  Then I have to download my apps.  And learn a new phone.  Then maybe I can test it to see if I like it.  I have 30 days to decide.

And you better believe I am going to let AT&T know what poor service I got tonight!

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Just a couple of days ago, I read a blog post titled “Twelve Reasons Why I Don’t Use An E-Reader” and it reminded me of how I felt before I got my e-reader.

I did not want to pay cover price for a new or recent release and not have a physical copy of it.  I wouldn’t be able to lend it out.  I didn’t want to read on anything like a computer screen because computer monitors make my eyes hurt and water which causes me to not be able to read for very long.  I also didn’t want to read on a “cold” piece of electronic hardware.  And I didn’t want to pay the high price of the fragile hardware.

Then, for Christmas two years ago, I was visiting my son and he asked if, while he was at work, I could go to his apartment to wait for a couple of packages that were arriving vía Fed-Ex and would require a signature.  I agreed to do it.  When the packages arrived, one was definitely from Amazon.com and the size of a small-ish hardback book.  I signed for it.  Then I thought about it and wondered if perhaps it might be a Kindle, which my son had mentioned months before that I might want to get one day because of my love for reading.  I felt really bad because I don’t ever tell my kids that what they got for me was not what I wanted.  I don’t even tell them if it doesn’t fit.  I just smile, and thank them and deal with it.  I also knew that a Kindle was, at that time, $260.  That was a lot of money for any of my kids, or even for all three of them together, to spend on me and I was sure it was not something I would use.  I thought I was going to have to smile and accept it and then let it sit without using it.  I almost cried.  I was really upset and the next day was Christmas so I didn’t have a lot of time to adjust to the situation or to figure out a way to solve the problem.

On Christmas morning, the package indeed turned out to be a Kindle from all three of my kids.  My son sat with me and explained how it worked and how simple it would be for me to order a book straight from the device.  He also explained that all Kindle books were priced at no more than $9.99 (this was true at that time but the “Big 6” publishers have changed that even though Amazon.com fought for the consumer) with many being a lot less as the price went down once the book was no longer a new release or a bestseller.  He also showed me how the capacity of the Kindle was about 1500 books (at least of the Kindle 2 which is what that model was) My son set up the device for me with my email address and my Amazon.com account information.  The kids had also gotten me a $30 gift certificate to use on Kindle books.  He showed me how to search the Kindle Store directly from my Kindle device.  He also showed me how the Kindle does not have a back-lit screen which means that it does not cause eyestrain.  We bought my first Kindle book at that time (Edward Kennedy’s True Compass: A Memoir).

I felt a little bit better after he went through it with me and I felt better about the price of the books.  Before getting my Kindle I only bought used new releases and those were always at least $6 for a used physical copy.  I would not have to have more and more bookshelves to fit my new books.  I started to get used to the idea but thought I would only use it for special books, not for every day reading.   That night I started reading my book on my Kindle and lo and behold I read for about three hours straight without eye strain. Reading in bed, holding the Kindle in one hand was so easy and so comfortable.  The e-ink display was wonderful for my weak eyes.  I will still a little iffy about the whole thing but I breathed easier after that first Kindle reading session.

Now, a little more than two years later, I carry my Kindle with me wherever I go.  I have a special cover that I made for it and it travels safely in my purse wherever I go.  I have over 800 titles on it.  I get most of them for free or with gift cards that I earn from taking surveys online or using swagbucks.com.  In the past two years I have spent less than $100 on these  800+ books.  And the bonus is that my mother and my sisters, all avid readers, each have their own Kindle which we registered to my account so we all have access to the same books.  That’s better than lending them the physical copy.  If we want, the four of us can read the same title at the  same time!

There are so many reasons for loving my Kindle.  I can’t name them all here.  However, not a day goes by without using my Kindle!  And because it does not cause eyes strain, I can read it for hours and hours, unlike a physical book which I can read only for a half hour at a time due to the eye strain.  Oh and one of the best things…you can change the size of the font very easily which means that I can read a book with the font size set at the third from the largest size which is comfortable for me and my sister reads it at one size smaller than I do and my mom at the largest size (which is two sizes larger than I need).  Talk about a fit for everyone!

So this is my answer to the post I read the other day.  I’m sure there are lots more reasons why I cannot let go of my Kindle but these are the ones that readily come to mind as I take a few minutes to write this between chapters of Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot, which is the title I am currently reading.  I cannot imagine not having my Kindle!

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Christmas is a time of miracles.  I think each year that I have been alive there has been some small miracle at Christmas.  This year my extended family got our Christmas miracle early and I think it is making the season so much more special for us all.  Yes, there are many problems.  Life is not perfect for anyone in my family at the moment but when we stop and think about our little miracle, we can all be thankful that things are not worse…after all, things could have turned out differently and that would have been horrible.

Two Sundays ago, I was settling in for a relaxing evening and bundling up on the couch when I got a text message from one of my sisters asking if I knew if anything had happened at our mom’s house because our uncle had texted her saying our nephew had been hurt seriously.  I had not heard but I called my sister immediately (another sister).  She answered her cell phone and I could tell from the background noise that she was at the hospital and then there was her voice.  I knew my uncle’s text message had been right.

My niece’s five year old boy was at my mother’s house with his dad.  His dad was trying to fix the garage door which was stuck in the open position.  Canaan, the five year old, was supposed to be inside the house when the garage door came crashing down.  Canaan, who is tiny for a five year old, was caught under the door.  His head was smashed and he was unconscious and in shock.  From past experience, my sister knew that an ambulance would not respond to that part of town for at least an hour and they had no time to spare.  They got Canaan in the car and she drove to the hospital where he was seen immediately.  It was determined that he had a badly fractured skull and possibly other injuries which they were not attempting to diagnose until he could be stabilized.  Because the local hospital (in Hemet, California) was not equipped to handle this kind of injury, he was air lifted to the region’s Level One Trauma Center which also specializes in pediatric trauma.  At the time that he was air lifted, he was not responding very well and there was great concern that he might have suffered some degree of brain damage.

In the meantime, two of my sisters and I had posted it on Facebook and asked our friends and family to pray long and hard for our Canaan.  Within minutes we had responses from all over the country where our friends and extended family were all praying for him and he had been placed on prayer circles in several cities.  The amount of love and concern and prayer for him was unbelievable!

Over the next several hours, we all waited for word from the hospital.  Canaan had been air lifted but his parents had to drive an hour to the trauma center so for at least the first hour, we had absolutely no word on his condition.  Then once the family arrived at Loma Linda, there was a lot of waiting while the doctors examined Canaan and did CT Scans and MRIs and other tests.

During these hours, I kept in touch with friends and family on Facebook and through text messages and phone calls.  Again, the amount of support and prayers was mind boggling and comforting at the same time.

Finally, many hours later, the word came that there did not appear to be any brain damage and no significant injuries other than the skull fracture which is near the left ear.  He was in a great deal of pain and heavily sedated through the ordeal.  He spent the next day in ICU and then was moved out of ICU where he stayed for another two days.  Then he was released to home and hospital care for the next three months.  He will not be returning to kindergarten until March.  He cannot run and play outside with is brothers.  He wears a motorcycle helmet at all times to prevent re-injury.  He is antsy.  He wants to go play.

But he is alive!  And he is well!  And he will be back to normal in three months!

Certainly sounds like a miracle to me.  And add in the fact that so many people, friends, family, and strangers, sent out their positive energy, prayers, love, and support to our family and you have a very precious miracle.

A perfect Christmas if you ask me.

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This past decade has been filled with technological advances.  These have been both good and bad.  In my case, I think they’re good!

In January of 2002 I had a car accident which left me unable to go back to work.  That meant that I was pretty much stuck at home.  My son was in college hundreds of miles away and both of my girls were doing an independent study curriculum.  This meant that I didn’t leave the house except when I had to drive them to the learning center to meet with their supervising teachers once a week.

I had already been online for many years (since 1993 and the early days of CompuServe with the black DOS screens and long user IDs that were numbers, not names), however I needed the computer and the internet a lot more during that time period.  Without the internet, I was pretty much isolated and shut out of everything.  So I started to pay more attention to my blogs (I had several at the time) and joined some graphics groups.  Later, I also reconnected with lost friends and began emailing and chatting with them on a regular basis.  This kept me going during the solitary times.

Without the internet and blogging, I would not have met a lot of amazing people who, although most of us have never met, are friends just as many of you are friends with people at work or from school or your neighborhood.  I’ve also met many of my internet friends in person and they have proven to be just as genuine in person as they are online!

One day I came across a MyPoints.com recommendation to visit a new site called “Gather.com”.  I logged in and lurked in the background for a couple of months before jumping in and becoming a part of the Gather community.  I made a lot more friends there, too!  That lasted for a while and around 2008 my visits at Gather.com became less and less frequent and in fact, since April of this past year, I don’t think I’ve been there except to read maybe four or five articles.  However, I am grateful for having stumbled upon Gather.com as a lot of my friends and blog buddies are a result of Gather.com.

Then came Facebook.  I joined a long time ago (around 2005) but didn’t do much there until the past year when a lot  more of my friends became active in Facebook and I resurrected my presence there.  I’m now spending a lot of time at Facebook although since I stopped playing any of the games there, I don’t spend that much time there but I do visit it a couple of times a day.  Facebook also has the advantage of being a meeting place for a lot of my family members (nieces and nephews mostly) so that’s an added bonus!

In October of 2008 I discovered Twitter and what a discovery that was!  I originally joined in an effort to meet some of the local PDX twitter community as I was new to the area and knew only three people here and one of them was my daughter!  It was a lot of fun to follow the elections on twitter and to watch the Proposition 8 fiasco in California politics.  Twitter allows me to keep up with the local newspaper and broadcast news in some of the places I’ve lived so that I am still informed of what is happening there.  I don’t visit Twitter much because I didn’t really meet many people through it and although I have a lot of followers there, they really aren’t friends and most of them wouldn’t know my name if it was branded on my forehead.  Perhaps at some point Twitter will again play a larger role in my internet life but not at the moment.  There just doesn’t seem to be a friendly or welcoming presence there.

And my blog.  What would I do without my blog?  This blog?  I think I would be lost and would have no creative outlet.  Blogging here makes me feel like someone is listening and reading and cares about me and what I write, what I have experienced.  It has been a driving force.  Over the past two months, I have blogged every day in November and every day in December.  I’m going to try to continue as long as I can without a break but that is sometimes more and more difficult!

As you can see, technology has allowed me to make friends, reconnect with others, and keep in touch with my family and friends.  That’s pretty much a HUGE role in my life, especially as the years go on and I find myself living alone with no one to talk to, sometimes for days and days.  So I talk online.  I think I’d go crazy if I couldn’t do that.

In the coming decade, I’m sure I will still be actively dependent on technology.

So, in the coming ten years, I hope to see you all on the Internet(s)!

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I usually feel quite comfortable with most technological issues, using them at least.  I’m not a know it all by any means but I’m a quick study and I can pick things up the first time through, okay maybe twice for some things.  I’m usually the one that helps others to figure out both their hardware and software.  I’ve gone shopping with people before they decide on which computer to buy.  They take me along to answer questions and help them figure out what they need and what they don’t need.  I always add what they might need as well.  I’ve helped people take the boxes home with them and have plugged in computers and peripherals and then helped them learn how to use everything.

I’ve always enjoyed it.  It makes me feel competent (as opposed to incompetent which is such a horrible feeling).

When I gave my son a new iPod for Christmas a few years back, he gave me his original first generation 10 GB iPod when he got his 30 GB iPod loaded.  I hadn’t had one before that.  He showed me how to use iTunes as far as loading music to it and synching the iPod to iTunes.  I learned how to update it, too.  One day he came over and noticed that I didn’t have any playlists set up on iTunes and he showed me how to do that and how functional they were (I hadn’t realized until then how playlists would add to my iTunes and iPod experience).  Then about a year later, I decided to treat myself to my own black 30 GB iPod.  I loved it.  And I used it all the time.  At home I used it all the time.  Then I got a new car that had an auxiliary input for an mp3 player so I began to use it all the time, for reals this time.  I used it at home and in the car.  In the car I loved that I could load audio books and listen to them on the long drives between the SF Bay Area and Portland or Los Angeles or even just the 90 minute drive from Santa Rosa to San Jose.  I loved, loved, loved my iPod.

Then one night when I was getting ready for bed, I put on my iPod to listen to the end of an audio book I had started on my last trip from California.  It was fine for about ten seconds.  I realized it wasn’t in the same spot where I had left off so I fast forwarded to find the right spot.  When I stopped it, I pushed play and it played but no sound came out.  I checked the headphones to make sure they were plugged in right.  They were.  No sound.  Strange.  It had just been playing a few seconds before.  I tried different headphones.  No sound.  I took it to the computer and tried it there.  No sound.  I went out to the car and tried it there.  No sound.  I plugged it back in to my desktop to restore it.  Still no sound.  Nothing worked.  I took it to the Apple Store.  They were unable to either get it to work or to figure out why it had no sound.  They suggested I buy a new one ($249) or buy a refurbished one ($129).  Although it isn’t that old, my iPod was out of warranty by about two months.  Not good.  There was absolutely no money allotted for such a purchase until after the first of the year, or with luck, maybe for Christmas.

I was so upset.  I decided to send out a Tweet to see if any local Tweeps worked on iPods, thinking that maybe it was fixable for less than a new or refurbished unit.  No luck however a friend, Lydia,  said she had one, a new to her refurbished one that she was not using that she could send me.  We went back and forth on it and in the end she sent it to me.  When the box arrived I was ecstatic and when I opened it, it was like seeing my own iPod because the one she sent me was also black, like mine and was also 30 GB.  I charged it up to get it synched.  I waited.  And waited.  Then finally it was ready to synch.  I thought I was going to burst of happiness!

It would not synch.  It would begin to synch then freeze.  It would stay on and I was unable to turn it off at all until the charge was completely depleted then I would have to recharge it completely before I could try again.  Finally, after trying to diagnose the problem several times and going through the charge, deplete charge, charge, synch, freeze, deplete charge, charge thing about ten times, I gave up.  My friend tweeted that it was probably because I was trying to synch multiple iPods from one set of playlists and sent a link that explained what I should do.

That was a week ago and the iPod has remained next to my bed waiting to be hooked up to the computer and filled with music.  I just haven’t been able to tackle it.  The whole ordeal left me feeling defeated.  I look at the iPod dressed in a hot pink silicone glove to protect it from any scratches and I wish I could just cross arms-close eyes-wriggle nose-and nod my head to get it to work.  I know what I have to do.  I have to set up a whole set of separate playlists for this second iPod then drag and drop those to add to the new iPod and not try to synch.  That’s supposed to work but I’m reluctant to do it because I’m afraid I will still not get it to work and I’ll feel defeated all over again.  I know it’s not me.  It’s the hardware.  But it doesn’t help.  I still feel useless and helpless.

I’ve actually gotten to the point where I’ve deleted all of my playlists and created new ones to add to the new iPod but I still can’t get myself to actually hook it up and try it.

I think that at this point the only thing that is going to get me to actually hook it up and see if this tactic works is the fact that I now also feel like a terrible friend.  Lydia sent this to me wanting to do something wonderful for me.  She did.  She really did do something wonderful for me.  However, in the process, we were both betrayed by the hardware and now not only do I feel defeeted, she feels bad about having sent me something that I had so much trouble with.  It’s not her fault.  Or mine.  It just is.

But this too shall pass.  I may feel defeated now but I’ll get over it.  Like all those bumps in the road of life, I’ll get over this and be on my way to different things, different triumphs, and yes even different defeats!

Wish me luck.  I think I may work up the courage to try it tonight.  Or maybe tomorrow.  Or maybe…

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