I need a new computer.
The idea terrifies me. I realize that technology is logical and orderly, I just can’t seem to figure out how it all works. I write down and memorize the steps to accomplish what I need to. And then they change them and I am at a total loss. Again.
My worst computer experience was when someone convinced me (I’m pretty gullible) that I needed Skype. For the longest time, the computer would randomly start making Martian-landing-craft-invasion noises, which could only be silenced by unplugging the speakers or turning off the computer. A friend fixed that somehow, and I like my uninterrupted sleep. I have absolutely no desire to experiment further with Skype or anything like it.
It’s not just computers. I have a clock/radio that baffles me. Most of the time it sits there, blinking “12:00” like a nervous owl. I finally got the time set (although I won’t dare try to change it from daylight savings time)
I find car alarms truly alarming. My “new” car has a battery operated opener. Hit the wrong button at your peril! The lights start flashing and the horn starts honking and the doors lock. The only thing I know to do is to open the door with the key and start the engine—that seems to quiet the ruckus. In the meantime, though, every dog within earshot is barking and the neighbor’s donkey is braying. Usually at 5:30 AM when I’mleaving for work. I can only see one door on the car that has a lock that will take the key—I’m waiting for that lock to malfunction and leave me with a honking, flashing monstrosity. I’m sure AAA will have a two hour wait for assistance at that point.
My old truck sometimes goes into some type of security mode, when the steering wheel won’t turn, but I can wrestle with it and the ignition and sooner or later it releases. And it doesn’t make noise or flash its lights. Its main problem is a “lock doors” button on the armrest of the doors, and it’s all too easy to knock that getting in or out of the cab. After one time when I had to climb into a load of mulch in the bed and squeeze my arm through the back window, which was fortunately not latched—the rest of me wasn’t about to squeeze through—and hit the “unlock door” button with a long stick, I try to always put the window down if I’m getting out of the cab when the engine is running.
At one point, with another car, I got out of work at 2 AM into a heavy snowstorm. I turned on the car to warm it up and carefully hit the “unlock” button, then climbed out to scrape the windows. Unfortunately, the lock mechanism was frozen, and it let me get in, but now the car was locked, the engine was running and the gas tank almost empty. I stood blinking at the car in the snow-filled lot when one of my coworkers on this very temporary factory job took pity on me. He opened the trunk of his car to reveal an entire set of burglary tools, took out a huge ring of car keys and had the door open in no time. “Don’t tell nobody, okay?” he said. I figured I owed it to him to keep my mouth shut. But I never told him where I lived.
Cell phones are another problem area. I don’t get a reliable cell phone signal where I live, or at work for that matter, and my land line doesn’t have long distance service, so it gets a bit tricky. Sometimes I can get a signal up in one of the bedrooms, but it usually only lasts long enough to hear someone say “Hello?” before it cuts off. I can hike or drive up the road—at the top of the hill I can usually get service. Most of the time I leave it turned off. Right now I have 132 messages on it. I’m not entirely sure how to access them, and whenever I manage to get one, it’s some kind of an ad and costs me a minute of my cell phone time. Once I forgot to turn the phone off and the battery got low. We spent most of the evening trying to track down the “deedle-lee-dee.” It was intermittent, and when we got close to it, it would very uncooperatively quiet itself. The noise didn’t sound like a smoke alarm. It didn’t seem to be coming from the carbon monoxide alarm. The sump pump looked fine. We gave up using a water softener years ago. As far as we knew, the electric system didn’t have any alarms, and the well pump was fairly new. It seemed to be coming from—the kitchen table? Finally I was able to sneak up on it when it sounded. The phone in my bag, hung on the back of a chair. I dread the idea that at some point I may have to join the 21st century and get something besides a basic phone for emergencies.
As far as I can see, the TV remote controls are totally beyond me. I deal with that one by never watching TV. At all. So I don't have a problem with that.
Now I’m dealing with medical technology. It seems unfair that, when I’m not feeling well anyhow, they should spring this one on me. I have to wear a heart monitor. It's attached to me with three itchy little gel-covered pads. I have a sensor, which hangs around my neck and is attached to the little pads by wires that alternate between getting tangled up in my bra and threatening to strangle me. And the blasted thing beeps unexpectedly. So does the monitor. The monitor has to spend most of its time in a charger, since it never seems to get fully charged no matter how long it’s been in the charger, and I know from sorry experience that it won’t last a full night before it goes into frantic beeping mode. I finally realized one of its major worries was that the sensor and I would get too far away from the monitor—the sensor worries about that too, but it beeps discreetly—and would quiet as I approached it. Now I just have to worry about getting sticky little pads stuck to things other than me, which drives the monitor crazy, managing to unplug the wires and keeping an eye on whether the sensor needs a new battery or the monitor needs to be charged. I did suggest to the doctor that if I were strangled by the wires (I may use that in a story sometime) this entire venture would be in vain. She told me that wasn’t true, she’d still have her data. Thank goodness this is a time-limited thing.
And I still need a new computer. I’m dreading the whole thing.
How do you deal with technology? Or does it come easy to you?