April 3rd, 2008

LJ Idol

Stupid Human Tricks

I have a long affection for gadgets of all types. Buttons! Buttons! I long for the shiny, but somehow it is the shiny that leads me into trouble.

I still remember the Christmas morning long ago, when I opened the present containing a Texas Instruments Calculator. It had a bright red LED readout, and scientific calculations like SINE and COSINE! I can't remember why I dashed over the carpeted floor to the dining room; maybe to show Daddy how I had cleverly spelled hELLO. (upside-down, of course) on the display.

Newer generation calculators have static shielding technology.

I was so proud of my shiny LED bangle-bracelet watch. I was too distracted by the shiny, however: I usually had to press the button to display the time at least twice, if not thrice, to actually remember the time of day that it displayed.

It was really no wonder that I ran the batteries down three times faster than expected.

Then came the exciting years of programming. I started in the days of punch cards, and yes, I dropped my deck at least once. Years after graduation, I found a box of programs -- the cards made useful grocery lists until I used them up. I think I ended up tossing the tabbing drum. I used to spend nights at the computing center when I had a tough logic program that was escaping my understanding. I think the old close-out times were really an enforced napping period for us kindergartner-like programmers.

Computers got smaller, more personal, until they were everyday appliances in the home. Old habits from work led to the occasional fun conversation with tech support. "It seems that your spreadsheet got corrupted. You're going to have to re-build the data from scratch." "Can I use the back-up I made yesterday?" "Sure, I'm just not used to users who make back-ups."

Over the years, I started carrying a cell phone: I now can't imagine what it would be like to have kids in school, and not have a cell phone as a contact number. My son was the first in the family to get a PDA, but I was tickled with mine when I received it as a gift later on. I found more and more applications for the little box, which got smaller and smaller.

The Visor was a great PDA, but it was small enough to lose.

When I lost my Visor on a summer vacation, my folks bought me my first Smart Phone, a Treo 650. It would sync with my Mac, and finally I had a phone that had the same contact and calendar information as my computer.

My phones lead a hard life. My replacement 650s were mostly due to my quest for sound. The stereo jack on one didn't work at all; on another, it only worked in mono.

I was finally, very happy with my ultimate gadget. Then Palm announced the 680, and Cingular offered it to me for only $75! How could I resist? There were adjustments to make, but it had improvements I hadn't know I wanted!

The advent of bluetooth technology was a blessing, and a curse. I was free of niggling cords, but I frequently found myself walking off without my phone. While I was in the middle of a conversation.

And then there was the time I stood up while I was talking, and watched as my phone dropped out of my lap, teetered on the edge of the balcony, cartoon style, then crashed to the roof below, bounced, then slid with a final plop into the pool.

Water is never a good thing for gadgets.

The next time I had to replace my 680 was when I leaned down to put tied-up handkerchiefs in the soda-ash/water bath.

Water is never a good thing for gadgets.

I've managed to keep my third 680 dry. I've lost one of the most useful features, however. The Silence Switch on the top of the phone is held there was a plastic cover that came out in a bad bounce one day.

It was the loss of the Silence Switch that finally made up my mind to get an iPhone. Oh, I've wanted one ever since they came out. Mom and Dad both have them. Critter tells me that the iPhone can survive being dropped six feet onto pavement and not break.

But what I really long for is a phone that completely syncs with my Mac. The 680 pulls all the contacts and calendar events, but there are missing pieces. The picture in the Address Book doesn't transfer, even though the 680 has a picture for each contact. There is a birthday field in each, but synchronizing doesn't transfer the information. iCal has a location field, but it doesn't have a corresponding field in the 680, so I put location information in the notes field.

I've been saving up. Anytime my phone freezes up and has to be reset, I add a dollar to the fund.

Yesterday I added $10 at once. I synced my phone and didn't see the new addresses show up. I checked the conduit manager, I checked the settings in iSync. It showed conflicts in existing entries, and I chose the computer each time. But it didn't add the new information. Finally, I hard-reset the phone, and did a new sync.

Now I don't have any contact or calendar information in my phone.

I'm pretty sure I can start over, really, really fresh, by creating a new User name for my phone. I'm not sure if I'll bother installing all the third party software. Well, maybe Opera. And the LJ client. And Google Maps.

Gadgets. They simplify our lives, right?