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Keeping in touch with modern life (up to a point)

I suspect in common with many Rusters from time to time as an oldie I find myself engaged in an unequal and often unsuccessful struggle with the inevitable onward march of developments in modern technology.

My contributor colleague Michael Stuart has blogged in the past about his watershed moment in terms of his appreciation of popular music when – taking part in the third of his brother’s hobby surveys of the ‘top ten songs and top ten albums’ of his friends and acquaintances (conducted every five years) – he noticed that over the previous decade his own nominations had remained unchanged.

After a primary career as a musical journalist and having eclectic tastes ranging from classical to jazz, “world music”, rock and ‘pop chart’ genres, Michael amusingly described his dismay in appreciating that, whilst having always prided himself upon his ability to keep up to date with modern trends in fact, for all practical purposes, he had given up listening to “new music” in 1985 or 1986 at about the age of forty-five.

He described this as the moment when he realised he was “on the downwards slope of life”, in other words (as far as music was concerned) he could no longer be bothered with listening to new music, basically because he had reached the stage where he was perfectly happy at the prospect of listening only to music produced up to the mid-1980s for the rest of his life.

In the past fifteen years or so I have been conducting ongoing similar skirmishes with modern communication technology and the world of social media.

One of my issues with computers and smartphones – quite apart from the main one of their complexity – is that passwords are required for everything and, my memory being what it is, I can never remember what my passwords for different things are.

It’s not just that I cannot remember my current password(s), I cannot remember those I was using two or three generations before that.

In my youth, technology was sufficiently basic that it only ever did what you asked or commanded it to do.

With a typewriter, for example, you could set the columns, or sub-headings, or new numbered paragraphs etc. wherever and how you liked.

Try doing that with a modern computer or smartphone – its software has a set number of different options (sometimes a bewildering number of them) – but the one thing it will not allow you to do is set your own!

Talk about frustrating!

Now fast approaching my eighth decade, I find that computers and smartphones these days are so sophisticated that I very much doubt that the tasks I use them for – i.e. emailing, researching online, texting and tentatively now sending messages by the WhatsApp app that my kids have made me sign up to last year – utilise no more than 5% of the total range of facilities that these devices are offering (and which everyone in the generations after mine habitually use every day instinctively and/or as easily as they might fall off a log).

I alighted afresh upon this subject overnight when I spotted the following piece written by Jack Rear reviewing the current best laptops and notebooks on the market.

It highlights the difference between notebooks, which to my mind just allow the user to do “the basics” (which is all I use a computer for) and laptops – the all-singing, all-dancing versions of portable computers – which naturally costs significantly more.

I thought I’d provide readers of this august organ a link to it, in case it might just provide them with a valuable insight upon this area of technology, see here – as appears today upon the website of the – DAILY TELEGRAPH








About J S Bird

A retired academic, Jeremy will contribute article on subjects that attract his interest. More Posts