Tag Archives: technology

Technology – 1/25/2018

My Dad was 93 when he passed a couple of years ago, but right up to his last weeks, he got on his computer and read emails, tried to forward some of the fun ones, but not always successfully.  He used to say, “I’m a low tech guy in a high tech world.”

As a brand new college grad, I worked at a local bank and one of my jobs was to give tours of the new highrise central offices of said bank including their computer area.  Half a floor of the building, raised cooled flooring to keep the house sized computer running.  Now I carry a “computer” slightly larger than a playing card that is probably as powerful, certainly more powerful that the guidance computer on the first manned space missions.  Soon after the bank employment, I was hired into education, my course of study in college and only a few years into that, the computer literacy initiative came in to being with first the teachers and administrators trained, then later the students.  It was a DOS system and I remember being so very excited that I could enter my test questions, draw from a pool of them and create multiple variations of my exams.  Soon we had a Tandy (1000?) at home, an expensive “toy” that allowed you to play some basic games by typing in commands. How things have changed in the past 4 decades.

About 3 decades ago, Jim was opening his own law practice after having been with Legal Aid for years.  He went to get a cell phone and was asked if he wanted a car mounted one or one he could carry.  Carry around a phone, really?  We got me a “portable” one, a bag phone I think they were called, the battery was the size of two bricks and weighed about as much too, but I was about to travel with 3 kids 5 states alone and felt it was necessary.

I type this on a tiny laptop whose screen can be rotated 360º to use it as a tablet.  The screen is a touch screen.  I carry a small smartphone that can use cell service or wifi to make calls, a near necessity in the rural area we live.

Though our cars are both more than a decade old, our daughter’s which is only a few years old has blue tooth build in and a back up camera.  Son the elder has a newer car and it has so many electronic screens that I just look on in fascination, not sure I could figure it out and technology generally doesn’t intimidate me.

Refrigerators that can send a grocery list to your phone.  Touch screen appliances, cars that drive themselves.  We were taxed to try to find a replacement washing machine recently that did not have an electronic control panel, even our decade old dishwasher, refrigerator, and microwave have those.

Is it making things easier?  More expensive?  Harder to repair?  We recently went for 10 days with no outgoing cell phone service and even called our local landline phone co-op to add long distance service because of it.  We have to keep a landline for internet and can’t call out of our county without long distance, even to the town 15 miles away.  Our cell phones had some incoming calls, internet, and texting, but couldn’t even call 911.  It took 3 lengthy chatline sessions with tech support with folks who I suspect were not in the US based on their names to determine that the problem was on their end, not our phones and that they were working on it.  Oh how annoying those sessions were with their scripted responses.

I love technology, but for a perspective on what could happen with technology failure, read Providence, VA by Michael Abraham, one of our local authors.

Olio-March 10, 2017

Olio: a miscellaneous collection of things.

March came in like a lion and the lion is roaring.  The wind is howling, the temperature has fallen 15 degrees since 6:45 a.m. and will fall into the teens tonight, for a total of more than 35ºf.  We have a very cold weekend and week ahead with 5 to 8 inches of snow predicted for Monday.

We were supposed to go to Waynesboro to pick up 16 young chicks on Monday.  Fortunately, they called today and said the chicks have all arrived and are healthy and can be picked up tomorrow instead.  Making a 2 + hour drive each way in snow is not appealing, plus it could result in a school closure or at least early release which would be difficult to deal with if we are on the road. Instead, we will do our usual Saturday morning breakfast out, Farmers Market run, and take off to get the babies.  Because it is to be so cold, the chicks will have to be in the house somewhere instead of the brooder box in the garage.  Keeping them indoors requires a secure enough box that daughter’s cats and all of the dogs can’t get to them.  It also means that the grands need a daily reminder that they are babies and are not to be handled at will.  Chicks and chickens are dirty and I don’t like brooding them in the house, but with nights in the teens, the garage will just be too cold even with the Brinsea mother table in their box.

A couple of weeks ago, my laptop began to sound like a rocket about to take off each time it was opened for use, and the battery hasn’t held a charge for months.  With a can of compressed air, the fan was cleaned out and with the help of Amazon, a factory battery was purchased.  For about 24 hours, it seemed like everything was going to be good, then day before yesterday, when it was opened to use it, it was kaput.  It wouldn’t turn on, black screen, no sounds.  Hoping that perhaps the new battery was faulty, the old one was reinstalled, and everything plugged in, but no go.  The 4 year old laptop was not going to come on.  The techie guy says that HPs that were originally loaded with Windows 7 or 8 and upgraded to 10 seemed to be dying at phenomenal rates.  The motherboard is dead, same thing happened to daughter’s right before Christmas.  That left me without a computer and my tablet doesn’t like the blog or my square up shop.  That sent us out to find a reasonably priced replacement.  We got me an Acer Spin 1.  It has a touchscreen, can be used as a tablet or laptop, and best of all was inexpensive.  It may not last forever, but the laptops seem to have a 2-4 year lifespan.  I had some folks recommend Mac books, but I had a very bad experience with an apple phone and just couldn’t go that route.  It is small enough to travel with, has a full sized keyboard, so I am set.  It seems that laptops come with a one month trial of Microsoft Office, but unlike the past, when you bought the program, it was good for the life of the computer, now it is an annual subscription.  What a racket!

The garden box purchased earlier this week was set yesterday.  The larger sized one came with 6 extra boards so that it could be set up three boards high, but 2 is high enough.  If one more 4 x 4 box is purchased, with the extra boards, it can be made as a 4 x 8 box using the extra boards.  It is too cold to plant even the onion sets for the next week, so garden will just have to wait.  It is almost time to start the pepper seed in the house.  In a couple more weeks, the tomatoes as well.  We aim for the second week of May for putting the plants in the ground.  Another month we can plant the peas.  The anticipation makes the wait hard, but we are always rewarded with the garden goodies later.

Maybe, the header will represent Monday, but we hope not. Five of the past 8 years, there has been measurable snow in March.



Horse Carriage and Smoke Signals

This has not been my week for modern conveniences.  As I posted a few days ago, http://wp.me/p3JVVn-zq, I have been having cell phone issues.  We don’t have a land line as the service from our cooperative is sketchy at best, we can’t even call the next county without incurring a toll and the signal is so full of static that we can’t hear the party on the other end of the line.  We rely on our cell phones.  Both of our phones are  about 8 months old and mine won’t hold a charge and gets extremely hot even when everything but calls and texts are turned off.  I had it factory reset, which was supposed to cure it and didn’t.  They have ordered me a warranty phone which is being mailed from Texas and will be here some time next week.  Then I have to go through the set up process again.  If this wasn’t enough for one week, two trips to the cellular store, I also started having car trouble.

When my 91 year old Dad was visiting, http://wp.me/p3JVVn-xj, we used my car as Jim’s is the pup mobile and we realized that every time we braked, it shimmied and pulled to the left.  I had front and rear brakes replaced last May when it was inspected, but it obviously was a brake issue.  I took it in for it to be checked and it was determined that the front rotors needed to be re-machined which fortunately they did not charge me.  Shortly after, I drove it 4 1/2 hours northeast to babysit for our eldest grandson for a week and back last weekend and was concerned that the brakes still didn’t seem quite right.  Wednesday evening, I had the radio off and the windows open and could hear a metallic squeal as I accelerated and more as I braked coming from the right side of the car.  Again, I scheduled a maintenance check with the dealer, 40 minutes from home.  The car was delivered Friday morning and the inevitable call came that the caliper was stuck and had eaten the brake pad and damaged the rotor on the right rear, so 11 months later, the rear brakes were again replaced and not for free.


Perhaps a simpler life isn’t so bad, it would certainly be cheaper.  I know bad news comes in threes if you are superstitious.  I’m glad I’m not, I don’t need anymore bad news this week.

Midweek Issues

ACKKKK! I have been having cell phone issues, heating up so hot I can’t carry it in my pocket, holding a charge for only 4 to 5 hours with the Data turned off and the phone is only 8 months old. Yesterday afternoon on my way to my knit group, hubby and I returned to the cellular phone store where it was purchased with the idea that we were probably going to have to purchase me a new phone.  The agent said that our model the Samsung 3 did develop those issues with the update, but that resetting it to the factory settings would probably cure that.  He asked me had I ever done a factory reset and I said no.  He backed up my contacts to the SD card, we checked that all my photos were on the SD card but never, ever, did he ask about my calendar.

I figured any of the other apps that I use could easily be reinstalled.  He reset my phone and worked me through setting up the google account.  As the store is 2 doors down from Starbucks, I immediately added that app and rewarded myself with a glass of iced roibus tea.  The phone held its charge though the evening with my friends, didn’t get warm.  I was excited, until this morning when I checked my calendar to see if we had anything scheduled today and discovered nothing but national holidays and family and friends birthdays.  ACKKKK!  I have a paper calendar on my fridge with that info.  I don’t carry a paper calendar anymore since I retired, when I used to carry a Franklin Planner every step I took.  I am a retired senior citizen, but I do like my electronics and have been frustrated that my phone calendar did not sync with my Google calendar, but not wanting to input the data in both, have just used the phone calendar.  I know I have appointments scheduled 6 months to a year ahead and now I don’t know when.  Perhaps I am going to have to revert to the old fashioned paper calendar on the fridge.  If smart phones are so smart, why am I calendar free now?


I have now installed the Google Calendar app and will hide the default calendar and hope that it will sync to my other devices.