Sparring with technology


Boomer Blog - Shirley Scott



What with programs, apps, and unseen forces operating from deep inside my devices, sparring is unfortunately as good as it gets. Although I manage to avoid most Ali-level knockouts and my ears bear no Tysonic scars, I frequently limp back to my corner to await the next blow to my fragile comprehension of anything technological …

… as recently evidenced in a simple remark not even mentioning computers. The lady on the phone explained I’d have to sign for the item being delivered. I casually described to a Millennial friend my preparation for the delivery: I laid out one of my good pens. Her reminder that I would undoubtedly be using my forefinger to sign a tablet – well, another bruise to my technological ego …

… further complicated by one of those unsolicited Pinterest boards purportedly chosen especially for me, which displayed “The Senility Prayer.” The timing couldn’t have been more deflating, but an analysis of the situation reveals routine skirmishes with my virtual sparring partners are largely influenced by age – at least my age.

Although it is unclear whether I’m in the late autumn or early winter of my life cycle, mere conversations can add years to my psychological age. Case in point: last week during two separate telephone exchanges with two separate former students about two separate topics, one united detail immediately emerged. These members of the GHS Class of 2002 both mentioned their 20th class reunion, prompting another nap in my recliner for recovery purposes!

I rely on my laptop computer for tasks that require word processing capabilities such as writing my Boomer Blog articles and saving files containing cross stitch patterns and quotations by people I admire. The device is certainly a helpful one, far more efficient than my electric typewriter and filing cabinets full of manila folders ever were.

Although I harbor a certain fear of computer karma bringing a plague down upon my laptop in view of the following criticisms I am about to type, I will soldier on. It just drives me crazy when someone or something in cyberspace unilaterally decides to change the location of a feature essential to my computer use or to add a new feature without advance notice. When I purchase a new computer, it usually takes me at least a year to find what I want and need: copy-and-paste, crop, insert, foreign symbols, and the like. Then there are those “updates” whose relocations are every bit as irritating as the frequent rearrangement of grocery items at local supermarkets! Rubbish currently cluttering my laptop screen: headlines and weather info popping up on top of my word documents and local job opportunities obstructing my view of the news coverage on the MSN page.

Then there are always unexplained operating snafus that try my patience. In the middle of a sentence last week, everything I typed began to appear in all caps for no apparent reason. I googled a remedy so complicated as to be unusable. Eventually I heeded Diana Schlater’s wise counsel from our years at GHS: turn the machine off and back on again. It works almost every time.

I no longer allow my laptop to infuriate me with its inexplicable idiosyncrasies. I have learned to co-exist with a cursor that inserts itself willy-nilly into already-typed sentences. And for a few months now my device has delighted in doubling letters at will. Oh, well!

However, I sit up and take note of abnormal television behavior. A while back I did not understand the warning screen from Spectrum that my TV’s firmware was about to be updated. I know that hardware refers to the computer itself and software to the programs used. It seems that firmware is software providing instructions allowing the hardware to communicate with the software. Huh? It sounds to me as if the Three Bears finally have Wi-Fi!

And I was left fascinated but baffled during Serena Williams’ final match a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, the score box in the corner of the TV screen is too small for my Boomer eyes. I had to resort to simultaneously watching the LiveScore function on my tablet. The LiveScore was just that – instantaneous. Play on the television, however, was delayed a few seconds. Thus, the LiveScore told me what I was going to see before I saw it. Exciting but strange!

I really freaked out when I flipped to ABC for the Ohio State/Notre Dame score. I don’t have the attention span to watch football, but I like to keep current on the score. Imagine my surprise at hearing the game commentary delivered in Spanish! Although I assumed there was a network glitch in the feed, none of my friends and family had experienced the unusual occurrence. And it was ditto for the Arkansas State game. Finally, a friend figured out the language is controlled by some option in the settings, now corrected. Exactly how my television slipped into that option remains a mystery. Maybe Halloween trolls overtook my flat screen in the spirit of the season!

As for my bouts with technology, I will try to hold my own against any jabs and uppercuts coming my way. And hopefully my trusty old tablet will continue to let me look up unfamiliar words and lyrics to my favorite show tunes. I mean, as long as I can figure out the Wordle puzzle of the day – I will be a happy sparring partner!

Boomer Blog

Shirley Scott

Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.

Shirley Scott, a 1966 graduate of Graham High School, is a native of Champaign County. After receiving degrees in English and German from Otterbein College, she returned to GHS in 1970 where she taught until retiring in 2010. From 1976-2001 she coordinated the German Exchange Program with the Otto-Hahn-Gymnasium in Springe.