Saturday, May 29, 2010

I am an old man.

The other day I heard a younger father getting on his son’s case.

He said, “I buy you a laptop, I send you to school and you still don’t learn.”

In my day, it wasn’t a laptop, parents bought their kids books, sent them to school and they still didn’t learn unless the parents sat their ass down at the kitchen table and made them do their homework under pain of nine from the sky, which was socially acceptable for use in getting children to learn their lessons at the time.

Times change.

Things right now are changing at an astonishing rate and I will not even begin to say that I can come close to keeping up with them.

I-pods, X-boxes, smart phones and everything else is totally overwhelming. The technology is incredible.

A while ago my shipmate took a cell phone picture of a little bird we rescued. We wanted to see the picture on the computer, as the screen of the cell phone is so small. Having no USB cable made it difficult.

I got on a website I know of and had someone on the web site send me his cell number and we sent the picture to him. He downloaded it and emailed it to us.

It should be carefully noted that the person that took the call was over 3000 miles away.

The total time from the snapping of the picture to opening it on my email was under ten minutes.

Back in the day, one would buy a Kodak Brownie camera, load it with film, shoot the roll of film up and take it to a drugstore. They would send it out for processing. Times ranged from about a week to maybe two weeks or sometimes even more.

Today I had an instance where somebody needed a copy of a document as quickly as possible. It was not a typed document, to clarify things, this was a handwritten one. I mention this to make it clear that the writing on the document was not small, fine type. I don’t know if I could have reproduced fine type with the tool I had.

I grabbed my cell phone/camera and shot the documents with it and sent it to the person I was supposed to send it to. He was supposed to download the picture from his cell phone and put it on his computer and print it up.

There were three pages, the first try one of them reproduced clearly. It took me a couple more tries to get all three to where they were clear enough to print up.

Still, it’s incredible when you consider that I was doing that with a unit that cost me under $20 at Wal-Mart.

As a kid, there were a number of ‘secret agent’ shows on TV, most notably one called ‘The Man from U.N.C.L.E.’. In one episode they were trying to steal a secret document from their adversary and instead of stealing it, the secret agent pulled out a camera about the size of my cell phone and photographed the documents.

I have to admit that when I was doing that I felt a little like a secret agent. Then I realized one thing. The secret agent had to take HIS film back to headquarters for the lab process it, whereby I was sending them to the recipient as soon as I took them! Astonishing!

Now all of this stuff is all well and good and makes life a whole lot easier, but you do have to put it into context and step and look back.

This new technology isn’t a replacement for old technology by any means. It is nothing more or less than another tool to work with. There are times when the right tool for the job is a simple hammer.

Life requires both high and low tech tools so you can bet that I’m not taking the lowly P-38 can opener off of my neck-chain and toss it out anytime soon.

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