Technology: Where will it go?

I used to get tickled at the thinking of my mother, who marvels at the technological advances that most of us accept without question. To her, some of the things are akin to magic. I imagined her sense of wonder as being the result of having grown up in different times. Not to make too much of it, lest she chide me for calling attention to her years, but she has more than once described time spent in the “outside bathroom,” which she says was a two-holer. (I believe she says with a sense of pride.) That, I offer as evidence of a different time.

Her family was probably considered well-off during the Great Depression.

Lately, I’ve been experiencing my own sense of wonderment. I didn’t grow up during the tough times of my mother’s childhood, but it is increasingly apparent that I have joined the ranks of those with memories far exceeding the general public. When I was born, there were only 48 stars on the US flag. Hawaii and Alaska had yet to be admitted to the Union. Dwight Eisenhower was president of the US. He’s one that the younger folk have never even heard of. It was a time before HP.

A Hewlett-Packard printer served me well for more than a decade. I hated to throw it out, but the print quality was no longer what it used to be, the ink was expensive to replace, and the machine that I paid so much for so long ago can now be replaced at a cost less than burgers and fries for the family. Even at McDonalds.

After a great deal of research, I determined that buying a new printer is a crap shoot. Even more expensive models, including those given high reviews by Consumer Reports, are the subject of derisive emails and online postings. Cusswords are involved in many reviews. I had a budget and stayed well within it.

What I brought home (for eventual transfer to the bookstore) is a newer version of that dinosaur I finally let go. The sense of wonderment comes from the fact that the new printer is not even connected to my computer. Wireless. Ooooooh.

I plugged it into the wall outlet, followed the simple instructions on the touchscreen in front of the unit and in a few moments – voila – the darn thing is ready to go. I recall the days before ‘plug and play.’ The younger-set out there doesn’t even want to know what problems were involved in installing new hardware back in the day. Those older than me – well – you probably wouldn’t have even been in my situation. That era, in computer archeology, was confined to geeks with intent. I was among them, at least as far as computers were concerned. (I refuse to believe I was an overall geek, but then all of us of the computer-ilk of that time have the same hope.)

My daughter, from her smart-phone (of which I possess great envy), sent a photograph that immediately began printing on the new printer. She was across town, but she could have been across the country and it would have worked as well. I thought of my mother and her sense of wonder. Cool, I told my daughter by text message.

In withholding nothing, I will also admit to having that terminal awe regarding the tablet and its capabilities. Watching a feature film under a down-filled comforter in the dark of night on a Kindle Fire – to me, having roots in the dark ages – is amazing. High resolution, even if the screen is somewhat smaller than Cinemascope. I am of an age that remembers huddling under the covers with a crystal radio (Google that, you whippersnappers!) to listen to late night drama presentations. That was awe-inspiring back then.

Now, I have to admit my almost-disbelief at having the capability of watching live, a football game transmitted from Stillwater, Oklahoma by way of camera and magical devices beaming data into space, where it is rerouted and relayed and targeted to some device that makes it appear on my laptop computer. I can stream HBO on that same machine, watching episodes of those dramatic series presentations that I missed earlier. On demand.

As we used to say, back in the day – far out!

(That means, it is admirably and somewhat surprisingly more than acceptable.)

I am at an age that I still possess the understanding of technology and lack the fear of trying out the patently absurd and creatively impossible.

Bring it on, technology!

I can certainly enjoy it – even if wondering how it is all possible.

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