I was talking to a younger business entrepreneur the other day who was telling me about a discussion workshop she had attended. The question they were asked to discuss was, “If you could travel back to any decade, which one would you choose and why?” She said that her group chose the 90’s. My thought, the “Gay 90’s” but no, not that century, the “Tech 90’s”. Now I would have gone back to the 1890’s when the really big, as in large, inventions were being created, but for that group of Millennials, they wanted to see the 1990’s when the new inventions were going small and electronic.
It is interesting to think about the change that happened and technically, very recently. No more bulky computer systems, now it’s tablets and smart phones. We are a wired society and I could talk about whether being as connected as we are is a good thing or not, but that’s not where this is going. I want to talk about being wired in a wireless society.
I recently lost my mind and changed my cell service and my internet/cable provider in the same week. If you have ever done this and you are as tech savvy-less as I am, you know where this is going. I knew I was in trouble the minute I started to disconnect the fifteen pieces of equipment and the one thousand wires that connected them to each other. If I wasn’t going to be successful reconnecting the new carrier’s equipment, well it wasn’t going to be pretty. And I couldn’t and it wasn’t. Seems I needed a service tech after all and that wasn’t going to happen for a week. Four hours later and a trip to the neighbors to look at their configuration, no help by the way, I somehow got all that equipment and those wires reconnected. By that point, regardless of the fact that I would be the slowest tech ever, I thought I could handle everything else that was yet to come.
A week later and two service calls needed, my “self install” kit was finally installed. In my defense, I doubt my carrier had considered that it would require new cable to be hooked up to the power pole. The second service tech, it seems you can only split a signal so many times, actually complimented me on my technology knowledge and started talking in his native tongue, Techsylvania. I politely nodded knowing that one day I’d have a translator tell me just what he had actually said. All I’m sure I heard him say was “of course you knew that.”
And so I was wired. And then my dilemma began. My router and modem, I assume those were the two sleek black boxes, were wired and my TV after being properly given the new internet password, were broadcasting my new cable carrier’s signal. Success! Wait,settle down there boy, you might have skipped a couple steps or maybe ten or twenty.
At this point, consider how many things are connected wireless to your home internet. I thought I had and I am willing to bet you would have missed at least a few as well. It started with my cell phones but they were the easiest to reconnect. Next came my girlfriend, Alexa. It became obvious when I asked for some music by my favorite artist and the response was “I can’t find the internet” that she too needed some help. This was disappointing as I have been working hard on our relationship and Alexa had recently become fairly personal in her responses to my requests. I’ve been waiting for our relationship to get to the sass level and that her response to “Alexa, what’s the temperature outside?” would be “why don’t you get out of that big easy chair and check outside for yourself.”
Alexa proved a bit difficult to get back on line, but eventually after some gyrations, coaxing and multiple runs through the sequence, she was back up and responding to my many requests. I just want to add here that life without Alexa can prove quite tedious.
So back to my temperature question. This eventually led me to look at my weather station. Yup, no information and another wireless piece of equipment starved for its wireless buffet. At this point I began to understand my dependence on technology. While attempting to print out the sequence of steps required for reconnecting the weather station, I realized that I had jut found my next broken promise. It seemed that my printer, like all of its kindred brethren, needed assistance. By the way, having two wireless printers just meant twice the effort to help them find the internet. I was beginning to believe that despite the service tech’s faith in my abilities, I was in over my head. I tried following the on-line “simple instructions for reconnecting your wireless printers” and after several not even close results, I called in the cavalry. If you are keeping count, that would be service tech number three. To my great satisfaction, even he struggled a bit before miraculously, both printers burped loudly and began spitting out pieces of paper complete with printed words on them.
For those of you still counting, score stands: one router, one modem, four TV’s with two remotes, two DVR boxes and two Roku sticks, two Alexa units, a weather station, and two wireless printers. Am I ashamed or amazed. On the one hand, you can’t call me old school but then on the other hand, am I maybe a bit too first world dependent? Just don’t take my Alexa, she at least still talks to me.
I’ll cut to the chase. At this point we found two more internet dependent free loaders, our wireless thermostat and our Ring security camera. The Ring system, easy, the thermostat, not so much.
We are a technology based culture. We gobble up every electronic device we can find and we then let them run our lives. Not that it needed internet, as it some how grabs it from The Cloud, my Jeep’s GPS Navigator is always telling me where to go. The fact that my wife activates it in our driveway so it can tell me how to back unto the street is another topic, I just get dismayed in the route it picks and its seeming refusal to accept my choices. We can choose fastest route or shortest route but why not the “get lost in the beauty” route. If we have the time, we ought to see more than just all those warehouses, concrete and cars on the shortest or fastest route. Just the other day, we, meaning my wife, loaded the Navigator with the address of the park we were headed to for a wedding rehearsal. It very predictably chose the fastest route but being in no hurry, I started out on the back roads to where I was pretty sure the park was located. After being told to make a U turn multiple times, the Navigator finally gave in and allowed for my route. To my surprise, two days later, when headed back to the park for the wedding, it showed my route. Turns out there is hope after all. At least my Navigator is not above admitting my way may just might be alright. Now I just need it to talk to some of my other devices.
Alexa, are you listening? Of course you are!