Monday, 21 June 2010

Let me on the techno bus!


I like to think that as I go about my day-to-day life I cope quite well with modern technology. I listen to my MP3 player on my phone on the way to work, I use wifi when on trains and in cafes, I can carry out basic tasks in Microsoft Office and even produce a newsletter at work on desktop publishing software.

But beneath the fa├žade is a technophobe desperately trying to hide her panic whenever someone starts talking about the latest gadgets on the market that are said to be the “next big thing”.

It’s not that I don’t like technology. I think modern technology is great. I love my little netbook, and can’t wait until I am due a new mobile upgrade so I can get a BlackBerry (I have one for work and it’s AMAZING!). I think my problem with it is that by the time you have got to grips with something, those boffins at Microsoft or Sony or NASA decide to introduce a new and improved version and, before you can shake your Nokia at them, all your techno treasure is once again outdated, null and void.

Take DVDs for example. I will never forget the day I walked into my Blockbusters to find out that they no longer stocked movies on VHS. “What???” I screamed. “What if you don’t have a DVD player?” The assistant chewed his gum nonchalantly. “Well, maybe you need to go out and buy one.”

I was outraged. OK, so you can buy DVD players for about twenty quid, but that wasn’t the point. I had a perfectly good VHS player, thank you very much, and a nice selection of videos to go with it.

I didn’t bother to buy a DVD player. In fact, technically I still don’t have one. I just watch my DVDs on the fella’s Xbox, and have a portable CD drive to use with my netbook if I want to watch one in the bedroom. You see, I have made progress. It has been slow going, but I am getting there.

About three years ago I went to work with a floppy disk. You remember them, right? I was nearly laughed out of the building when I complained that my work computer didn’t have a floppy disk drive. Sulkily I went to Argos on the way home and bought one of those USB memory sticks. I admit it was a revelation. I haven’t looked back. True, I still have only one and should possibly look at getting one of those hardy ones you see on the Gadget Show, but I made that leap of faith and was rewarded.

Thing is, even though I feel I am making progress, I still keep missing the techno bus. Take Facebook for example. I finally signed up to it about two years ago – and about two years after everyone else. And I think it’s great. I even have my own blog  – as well as contributing to this one – and I managed to set up my account on Blogger all by myself (well, once someone told me how easy it was). But even now I feel I am falling behind.

People keep going on about Twitter. I went on the website once and didn’t get it. Then there’s Flickr. Sounds fabulous but I haven’t dared even go there. A few weeks ago I got talking to a journalist about how to break into the writing market. I told her about my blog. She suggested I send my e-newsletter to magazine editors. I smiled and nodded, panicking that I didn’t have a clue how to set up an e-newsletter, let alone mail it out to prospective eds.

It doesn’t end there. I still buy CDs and have never bought a download in my life. Although I have an MP3 player on my phone and have inherited my fella’s iPod shuffle, it still takes me about three hours to figure out how to change my playlists on them. And as for uploading my photos from my phone onto my computer, well, it’s a task I put off until I absolutely have to. Like when my phone is finally being replaced or it has run out of memory.

Speaking of mobile phones, mine recently came up with an error message telling me to contact the manufacturer. I took the phone into my local O2 store and they sent it off for me to get it fixed. I got it back yesterday, with a little note telling me they had upgraded the software. And making a point that I could actually do that myself as it’s all very simple really. No need to be patronising, Mr Techie!

So, despite my ignorance, I get by. I have nearly replaced my VHS collection with DVDs and even though I haven’t quite figured out how Sky works a year after having it installed, nor figured out how to use my answer machine (or 1571), I live a relatively pain-free existence. That is until Blu-Ray takes over the world, we go digital and CDs go obsolete.

All I ask, techies, is that you give me a little bit of notice so I can figure out how to use your new equipment before it’s too late and I fall into techno-hell oblivion. Read more by Shelly.

Image (DVD drive): Gregory Szarkiewicz /
Image (flip phone): Francesco Marino /