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Handling all of the hi-tech stuff

September 5, 2012
By Larry DeHays , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Johnny Carson used to say his VCR always showed 12 o'clock, because he couldn't figure out how to reset it. If you don't know who Johnny Carson was, I doubt if we can have much of a conversation here, because you are too young to sympathize with the problem. If you don't know what a VCR is, just put the paper down. No, wait, that would be to delete this screen on your I-something.

The problem is the conflict between our mature, experienced brains and the exploding technology that virtually ignores our past experiences. Our telephones go through generations faster than rabbits do, and new cars have navigation systems with voice recognition features. You say where you want to go and it tells you which way to turn. That used to be the spouse's job. At least the sexy voice doesn't yell at you when you make a mistake. If we never learned to re-fold a road map, we can now forget about it.

People bring cars in because the windows don't work, and it's because the "lock" switch on the driver's door is on, locking the other windows. Or the rear doors won't open from the inside, and it's because the "child locks" have been turned on, keeping kids from bailing out. A mechanic goes to the car and touches the door handle and the alarm goes off, and the only way to turn it off is with the key fob, which is in the customer's pocket, and he's gone fishing. A customer's Porsche dies on the interstate and is towed in. After a very long time, it is discovered that the rear hatch has popped up, and the theft system thinks someone is breaking in and kills the engine. Another car has an after-market, or non-manufacturer approved theft system, and it has shut the engine down. The company is out of business and nobody in the world has any technical information on the system. I get in a customer's car, start it up and the stereo practically blows me out the window with a crashing, screeching thumping noise which is today's substitute for music, or maybe a helicopter crash. Worse than that, there is no volume control knob on the dash unit. I don't know if it's a VCR, of DVD, or AM/FM or satellite radio but there is no identifiable volume control. It's no wonder I'm nearly deaf. My youngest son used to have one of those super-loud systems. He showed me his secret. He wore earplugs.

It's not just cars. Have you noticed all the "fat" screen TV's? That would be the flat screens on which a normal sized picture is squashed out to fit the width of the screen. Everyone looks short and fat. There are ways to correct it, but no one over age 20 knows how. Don't get me started on phones. On my last "free renewal" which cost the usual $200, I asked the clerk for one with a dial on it. He didn't see the humor. I doubt he knew what a telephone dial was. I am getting better though. I recently took a picture with my phone and tried out the blue-tooth feature. I aimed it at my laptop and hit the button and the picture went to my wife's printer on the second floor. It took me a while to find it. I weathered Isaac in the Keys recently and took some actual videos with my phone and proudly sent them to my sons. One was on its' edge and the other was completely up side down, but I sent them.

I'll keep trying, but these things do so much more than I need, and I don't see why I should increase my need level. I'll just work on mastering the basics, though I still think radios and other noisemakers should have volume knobs.



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