Monday, October 27, 2014

New (and Improved)?

Another week of technology overload:  A new car and upgraded phones have made me long to live in a lighthouse.

I am a relatively simple person. I appreciate all of the wonderful things that can be done with electronics, but I only want what I want–or need–and only when I’m ready for it.  
Take the new car. It passes the basic function test–it is immediately drivable by using a key, as I have done with countless cars before. It has the same basic components–engine, seats, tires, radio. It has lights and windshield wipers. It is the most recent model of what I have been driving for ten years.

So why am I completely thrown off the first time I drive the car and it happens to be dark and raining?  Because car manufacturers can’t leave well-enough alone. Do they think that moving the wiper switches will amuse me? Or that enabling me to tune the radio on the steering wheel is less distracting than dealing with knobs on the dashboard radio?

And what is with the touch screen? First, it tells me that I shouldn’t pay attention to it while driving because that would be distracting. No kidding. I’m not sure that it has a whole lot of use in my driveway or parking ramp either. I don’t want to diagnose a crack in my block, a leaky hose, or whatever else might be wrong with the car (if I can’t figure out the pictures on the photocopy machine telling me where there is a paper jam, I am hardly likely to figure out what to do under the hood). I don’t want to program the temperature in a gajillion different locations. Either I don’t really need to know, or I will roll down the car window when I get there.

I just want to pre-set my radio stations, turn my lights on and off with my ignition, and go from Point A to Point B without the temptation of trying to find directions to the lowest gas price in the next 100 miles.

The phone is much worse. I finally let go of my beloved Blackberry. You laugh, but it was simple, dependable and exactly what I needed. Maybe not everything I wanted from time to time, but everything I really needed.

My new phone–a Samsung Galaxy S5–is a significant upgrade. Or so I’m told. I’m having trouble getting past the initial screen which pops up an Amazon advertisement with each minor touch. I know that with each passing day, I will master a new button or feature and will learn to love the phone. But for now, I’m panicking about whether or not I will ever speak to my husband again (I have no idea what his cell number is and have lost my “frequent calls” list) and desperate to figure out how to change the annoying alarm tune which only heightens my naturally cranky morning disposition. Most importantly, I do not want the app that will tell me that my blood pressure is going up. I know that without being told.

In the midst of this, we adopted a new dog. A one-ish year-old Staffordshire Terrier, commonly known as a pit bull. He looks like Petey of Our Gang/Little Rascals fame, sans the painted circle around his one eye.

“Teddy” is pure sweetness. Within minutes of bringing him home, he charmed our elderly lab with respect and kindness, and held his own with our border collie by letting her win the toy battles. There is a learning curve with this guy–just like with the car and the phone. But while he can raise my blood pressure (such as when destroying his second remote control), he more often brings it down with a mischievous grin, a lick, or the old I’m-not-sure-what-I-did-but-I’m-sorry-anyway stare. He is complex, but not technologically irritating. Best of all, his touch screen is warm and cuddly, and usually produces a wag instead of an annoying beep.

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