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SPOTLIGHT
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Trials and tribulations of technology

Published on -8/28/2013, 10:15 AM

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My friend Charley is so fed up with technology he threatens to come out of retirement to get away from it.

I don't blame him. When I met him on the street the other day, his hands trembled and his shoulders twitched. It was obvious that he was feeling lots of stress.

"Charley, what's the matter?" I asked.

And he told me, "It's all of this gosh-darned technology!" he shouted. "If I have to remember, one more password or make one more gadget operate, I don't know whether I can stand it!"

I knew just how Charley felt, because I tried to watch a ball game on TV this afternoon, but dropped the control, which pushed the wrong button. The first thing I knew, that accidental slip had ordered a $7.95 movie. I missed half of the ball game before I figured out how to cancel it. "Yes," I told Charley, "technology can be trying when it gets out of hand."

"Trying," he snorted. "It's worse than that. It's nerve-shattering. These cute little electronic contraptions are ruining my life, not to mention the god-awful pictures they take of my grandkids."

When he recited the details, I could see what he meant. His bank card password didn't work at the ATM, and he couldn't get any cash. He tried to telephone the bank and, when they answered his call with a voice mail, he couldn't remember his password to check his calls. Then, to add insult to injury, he found another bank card (did I mention that Charley is rich?) and he couldn't remember its PIN number either.

I understood his predicament because I recently bought a digital wristwatch, which I couldn't set, and I had to ask my granddaughter to set the time for me.

Over a glass of iced-tea, Charley and I chatted as we approached the problem more calmly.

I described the new Kindle book reader that I just bought from Amazon.com. It'll replace all of the books in the world eventually, but in the meantime I can read larger type without going blind. Of course, it cost me $17.50 to have Amazon send two books to my Kindle. Worse yet, I still haven't made the connection to the device's wireless WiFi, so I'm really upset I can't download any more books, but relieved it recognized my bank card.

Charley had other problems. He ordered a new computer and it came with Windows 8, which he's still trying to learn to use. It wouldn't work with his $600 Photoshop software, so he ordered new software, and it wouldn't operate his scanner and that cost him $400.

On top of that, I had to admit that my new scanner won't work on the big glass negatives that I'm trying to copy for the local historical society.

"But I still don't understand why you want to come out of retirement," I asked. "Won't you have to handle all of those gadgets if you're working?"

"Not at all," Charley grinned. "When I'm at work, I have employees to do it for me!"

Darrel Miller lives near Downs in rural Osborne County and is a retired weekly newspaper editor.

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