4.27.2010

Techno-Love (but only as a friend)

I don’t know if this is a male stereotype or not… but I do love my Tech. Maybe not to the extent that some guys, or even some women… but in my very own way, I do.

I’ve never really had a problem figuring out computers and technology. I tend to figure out the basics pretty fast, really just by playing around. (Manual? Who needs a manual?) But I also have never really gone out of my way to acquire it quickly, so I can always be on the “cutting edge”. Usually, I’m at the tail end of the parade.

For me, when I make a decision about acquiring new Tech (or really any decision in life, come to think of it), I mull it over and think for a long time, and then when I finally make a decision, I stick with it.

The first computer I ever bought was a Commodore 64, and even then it was not that long before they stopped making them, and long after its heyday of popularity. I even knew that at the time, and my reasoning was, “well, if it’s not that popular anymore, all these hundreds of games will probably come down in price.” It was good logic, actually… our house was well-stocked with a large variety of games. The first of which is still one of my favorites: Maniac Mansion. (LucasArts made some great games back then) That computer got the holy hell beaten out of it over the years… with the floppy disk drive (with an actual FLOPPY disk) and when computer monitors were heavier then me. You could easily see how it was a definite upgrade from the Pong and Atari systems the family had… but maybe not so much compared to the original NES my brother had. But I liked it… and when it came to the end of its useful life, I eventually resurrected it… and gutted it to make a sci-fi looking prop for a show.

The next… was a word processor. Yes, an actual word processor. A weird missing link between typewriter and computer. It had a disc drive, and a small internal memory and programming, that wasn’t compatible with anything else in existence… but it wasn’t a computer in the normal sense. It was basically a printer with a small keyboard tacked on. It was a gift from my parents as I headed into college, for the purpose of writing papers. And since it was the ONLY thing it could ever do, it did it pretty well. It got me through the 4 years pretty well. When most everyone else was going to the computer labs, I could do it in the comfort of my dorm room. (and I had to… because as mentioned, the discs couldn’t be used anywhere else. It was not only technological freedom, but prison as well.)

I started Grad School with a hand-me-down desktop computer from my Uncle, which did me pretty well. When I had the chance to upgrade to a decent laptop a few months in, I did so… after careful consideration, that is. (Its compact nature was appealing to a guy in a small apartment) And I then kept that computer for the next 8 years… long after its expected life-span. (That thing died and was resurrected via miracle on a couple of occasions.)

But after Grad School… the next bit of Tech I got was probably long overdue; I finally got a cell phone. This was in 2002, and most other people had gotten cell phones already, and now… EVERYONE has them. Even high school kids, and younger! That kinda blows my mind… yet, it also blows my mind when I realize that I can’t conceive of NOT having my cell phone with me. If I leave the house and realize later that I forgot to grab it… I’m hitting myself and saying, “Oh crap!” Now, I don’t get phone calls that often, (I’m not even that good on the phone!) and I do get a half-decent amount of text messages… but after going 27 years without a constant direct-communication-line to the world, (and surviving, by the looks of it) why did I now HAVE to have it near me every second? It’s sitting 10 inches to my right at this moment while I’m typing!

When I was seeing my first therapist, I remember mentioning one session how I kind of missed going around WITHOUT a cell phone, and sometimes, if you think about it too hard, you can feel kind of trapped by it. (Sometimes, you don’t WANT to be found so easily) She responded with, “Well, you don’t have to have it.” “Listen, lady… don’t go using that new-fangled voodoo brain logic with me!” Okay, I didn’t say that last part, but as much sense as it makes, and how true it is… I still keep my cell phone fairly close by.

And I’m on my third cell phone right now. As the contract is ending soon, I might look into getting another upgrade… or at least a comparable replacement, because I can’t think of what I would get that’s better then this one. It’s got a 2 Megapixel camera, plays music, has an audio recorder, has a calendar, I can check e-mail, has some games, not to mention… now get this: It actually makes *and takes* phone calls. (You knew that gag was coming, admit it.)

I was considering of getting an iPhone, or one of the comparable Android phones… but you know, to make those worth it, you need to buy a data plan for the phone, which would end up tacking on another $2000 or so by the time the contract is up. No thanks… I don’t have that much disposable income.

But as sort of a “compromise”… I did get an iPod Touch instead. It can hold ALL my music, shows video (so I can share neat things I find with friends), has some pretty cool “Apps” (some of which are actually useful), has Wi-Fi connection for places that offer it free. Really, the only things it can’t do is: be a phone, or take pictures on it. That’s okay, my regular phone does that. And I can live without the cellular Internet. So, after a few weeks of considering, I treated myself, and have been pretty happy with it.

One thing I don’t like doing with my gadgets is trying to “one-up” or use it as part of a Penis-Size Competition. You know what I mean, too. If you get/do something, someone has to point out that THEY got/did something cooler, shinier and more impressive. (My oldest brother has been known to do this) Personally, I figure, “I need mine to do A, B, and C. Can it do those? Yes? Great, now I don’t give a crap that yours can do D, E, F or G. No, no… I get it. F and G are *really* peachy keen. I still don’t care.” Penis-Size Competitions: No actual phallus needed.

I was looking into getting an E-Reader, like the Kindle or Barnes and Noble Nook. I especially thought the Nook was the neatest between the two… but when I went into a store to play around with one (prior to ordering), I wasn’t able to see how a .pdf looks on it, plus the touch screen was a little slow to respond, and a few other concerns. But between those two, it still looked to be the better product. But then that Apple iPad was announced.

Now, I didn’t start drooling over the iPad like a lot of people did. I did find it humorous though, that within minutes after its announcement, all the males on Twitter were excited for it… and all the females were making Maxi-pad jokes about it. Personally, I didn’t see the big deal. Now, yes, I’ve been wanting an E-Reader, but I liked the size of the Kindle and the Nook. The iPad… way too big for my liking. That’s not exactly “portable” to me. (Portable to me means, it can fit somewhere on my person, out of the way, and I get to have both hands free. The smaller the satchel, bag, backpack it can fit in, the better.) But the iPad is in color, with better touch response, its faster, etc. Frankly, it’s an oversized iPod Touch. (Which was another point that leaned me towards getting that) If they had the exact same thing… only the size of the Kindle/Nook… I’d probably have gotten that. I’d even wait for the 3G version. The only thing that the iPad has done, is convince me to keep waiting, because now none of it looks that appealing to me. (Also, it’s surprisingly easy to read on the iPod Touch… or iPad Nano, I guess.)

Not all technology these days is interesting to me.

I’ve yet to get completely excited by Blu-Ray, or Hi-Def. Personally, I don’t mind that theatrical movies are at 24 frames per second. Yes, it’s ironic that the higher quality resolution and framerates look cheesy and fake to us (The webcomic XKCD just did a bit about this the other day.), but I still like the gritty, muted look to a lot of movies. Call it nostalgia, but I find it easier to get lost in a story when I’m not being distracted by the detail on every blade of grass or hair on someone’s head. And it’s only going to be seen on movies made in the last 5 years, maybe. Everything before that? They weren’t intended to be seen at that resolution. So… it just seems pointless.

The latest gadget I bought, is going a bit old-school. Actually a lot old-school. It’s a camera. Not a digital camera… and actual film-load 35mm camera. I was hanging out with a friend of mine in Boston and saw this assortment of “unique” cameras. All film-ones, construction was plastic and a bit cheap… one model was strictly a “fish-eye”, it distorts all the pictures like you’re looking through a peep-hole on a door. Another looked like a 1920s box camera… and the one that interested me, had 4 lenses on it. It takes 4 mini sequential pictures on one frame of film. Each photo is divided into quarters, and you see 1 full second of an event, broken into four frames. They call it the “Actionsampler”. Now, sure, I could probably take one of my digital cameras, put it on “sequence burst” so it takes 3 or so pictures one after another, and then photoshop them together… but somehow the nostalgia of doing it the old-fashioned way is a bit on the romantic side for me. Yeah, I never had much luck with actual film cameras in the past, but I do know a little bit more, (at least where NOT to take pictures) so hopefully some of these can turn out a little better.

Hey, it was cheap, novel… and interesting to me. And I’m not dating anyone, so why not treat myself? It’s a better reason then some people have when getting new toys.

What are some gadgets YOU love or hate?

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'll have to give this some more thought and post back later, but first I have to share that I find it very interesting that every guy I ever dated (yes, all 3 of them) was a computer nerd. Yet if you'd asked me what type of guy I was drawn to, I never would have chosen computer nerd as my type.

Of course, now I can't imagine my life without my resident computer expert...who admittedly isn't really that much of a gadget freak. He'll drool over the latest and greatest laptop configurations when it's time to upgrade, but he doesn't really care about the cell phones, e-readers, etc.

S.fritz

King's Rabbit said...

I'm much like you -- not that interested in tech, but willing to get tested and proven items. After lots of consideration. But I'm looking at Blu-Ray players, for two reasons. First, my DVD player's almost 10 years old, and it's showing its age. So an upgrade is coming soon. Second, I have a serious interest in audio -- so while the video isn't a big selling point, crisp sound is.

But I think my favorite tech is still the book. Yes, print, hard copy, however you want to describe it. I only got a cell phone when my commute became 45 minutes into the city... before that, no interest. Even now, little interest in using it.

And, in keeping with the spirit of your question, I think I'd be hard-pressed not to use my portable CD player when grading. But no ear buds! They drive me nuts!

Anonymous said...

When I was still young and wearing my hair in braids I purchased a small cassette player/radio/alarm clock. I know.....cassetts? What are those again??? But I LOVED it-every night, while the rest of my family slept, I stayed up late to read and listen to Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly,and other 90's artists who I try to pretend I don't know about today (I also blame them for my rediculously unrealistic romanticism....)

Anyway, this little radio was the best thing I've ever bought (I still have it on my bedside table and it sings me to sleep every night and wakes me up every morning with that unbelievably annoying BEEEEEEP). Sadly the cassette player door lost a hinge so it hangs loose, but the cassette player even works if the tape is put in carefully. Since then I've upgraded to a "boom box" (also in working order despite being ruffed up by a lot of crazy kids). I college I got a CD player and my classmates endlessly made fun of me since they all had ipods-but I loved my old school CD player and it worked-so why replace it. When it did eventually die (it was dropped into a giant puddle) it was on to an ipod of my own and a laptop to organize my itunes on.....Despite all of this, I still love my first radio and will love it until the day it dies....at which time I will probably have a ceremony and a very touching eulogy.....but that's another story altogether.....So I guess I'm old school too....I don't replace something until it brakes (my cell phones look brand new when I exchange them every 2 years for free)..... alright, enough rambling....to bed to bed!

Anonymous said...

So a week later, we're thinking of upgrading our cell phones to ones that can access the internet...or at least traffic data. Being stuck in an informational vacuum sucks...which also might prompt our upgrading our Garmin to one that can tap into real-time traffic.

The first car fire (garbage truck under an overpass) on the drive down was fine--we had access to Wi-fi, so we could see when they reopened the freeway from Subway. The second car fire on the way back...they only updated the phone message once an hour (which is better than never). Both times both lanes were shut down for at least an hour and a half.

Oh, and I just bought a portable CD player. Now I have to find the waist belt so we can wear it while moving around. Staying low-tech is hard work!

I'm still a little bitter that DH ditched our VHS player when we left CA....

And I'm another hardcore fan of paper books. I like the feel of the pages and even the smell of the ink (not the glue!).

S.fritz

Sher said...

OMG! Thank you for blogging. I've read a couple of your posts so far. I'll have to come back later when I have more time. But I just wanted to make a few quick comments:
1. I am soooo glad I am not alone in the whole late on the tech band wagon thing.
2. Periodic evaluation of people inthe category of Emotionally Supportive is a must... like regular oil changes (which I suck gizzards at doing too). This is a category to win not just be content with a nomination.
3. W00ts to you for the New Jib. Keep up the good work.
4. Nostalgic endeavors, while a bit on the romantic side, are a good way to stay grounded in reality. I say celebrate your skills and the ocassional (feel free to correct my spelling)niggling problem with a well earned deep-down-contented feeling. I get that way translating German successfully. Talk about hard fought and well earned!
Can't wait to read more from your blog.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I know this is probably the wrong place to post this....but oh well. Cher-I Love that you've compared Victor to Castle...I've been thinking the same thing since I started reading the posts. Because I lack that very endearing quippy humor and cross-content knowledge, I really appreciate it when others do it well....and both these great guys are story-telling masters!! It also makes me think of a genious character from Jasper Fforde's hillarous books...but she's a female character....so there probably aren't many more similarities after the conversational forte.....