Taking Things Back (How to Spend Twice as Much Time Learning Anything)

I’ve been in computer class for the last week. I need to know about computers because I’ve come to depend on them for paying bills, keeping in touch with everyone, expressing myself to the world, finding out how to get places, … way too many things.  I tried to get along without one last week when my Dell darling started freezing at the worst possible moments.  It was hard, and I relented and took it to the computer doctor. It was suffering from hard drive failure – not completely dead yet, but time to call hospice.

Shall I buy a new hard drive? Shall I get a tablet? Shall I get another small laptop? I asked (begged) for advice from all three experts in my family and then went impulsive instead and bought a tablet at a big box store. After all, I had to check my bank balance and there’s no way to do it without some kind of computer, right?

After a couple days of frustration and a learning curve which was curving completely in the wrong direction, I called the computer doctor again. 

“So what operating system does it have?” he asked.

“I think it’s SOS, stupid operating system. It doesn’t have any of the buttons I’m used to seeing/”

“Well, what kind of tablet do you have?”

“It’s the same kind as my phone. I got it so they would sync.  But where are all my email addresses?”

“You have an android. Your Windows contacts won’t sync.”

My computer vocabulary was already stretched to the max. Everything after that sounded like blah, blah, blah… but the bottom line advice was “take it back”. 

I’m starting to see a common thread in my buying habits.  I need something. I don’t know much about the thing I need. I get tired of trying to figure out the best buy and just go buy something (usually something cheap). And then I learn that I shouldn’t have bought that thing and I take it back.  It’s a way of learning. 

The bike I bought at the pawn shop had a gear lever which I discovered later had no cable attached (what?! no Bluetooth gear shift?)

The used car I bought had unexpected surprises (only one key!?!! and a new one costs $500?!)

After two trips to the computer doctor, four trips to the stores and about six hours of tearing my hair out, I know a little more about computers today, and obviously I’m back typing in words on my newest purchase. We’ll see if I got the right thing this time.  I’m just asking, isn’t there a better way to learn? Maybe not.

P.S. The computer doctor told me that I was not the most tech ignorant person he had run into. Just thought I’d mention that.


Airport perks

I am sitting in the Lindbergh terminal in Minneapolis, Minnesota, land of 10,000 lakes (all of them frozen over at present). In some ways airports are similar to each other but there is usually something unique about each one. 

I have never noticed this about MSP before so maybe it is only the case at this newest gate, but they have iPads everywhere.  There aren’t the usual rows of plastic chairs with tables here and there. It’s like a computer bar everywhere – low booths, high bar chairs with counters and all with iPads on stands ready for use. Some are free but I also see places to swipe credit cards.  There is a restaurant and bar across the isle and all the ordering is done on iPads. The waiter is only there to ask if people know how to use the gadget. Some travelers are using their own computers, like me, but many are taking advantage of the tablets and watching movies or checking their stocks (probably, I don’t know…)

I’m just saying – the world is changing, isn’t it?