"Modern Electronics Are So Frustrating"
By Capt. Fred Davis
Published: Saturday, March 25, 2017

I am quickly outgrowing any patience I ever had with modern electronics. I know, everyone born in this century thinks they are the salvation of all mankind, but I just can’t agree.

The biggest and worst offender is the telecommunications wonder called the smart phone. It’s called that for a very good reason, and knows what that reason is: it is smarter than its operator.

In the dim, very dark past, using a cellphone was simple. Flip it open, pull out an antenna and dial the number you wished to call listed under the cover.

The first cellphones were a wonder: call anywhere, anytime with any cell phone and you reached the number you called. Along came advancements. You can still call anywhere, anytime to any long distance or just to the desk across the room. The very puzzling difference is all the activities one has to participate in to make a simple call. Of course the advancements allow you to whisk your finger across the screen and, presto, you can see who you called, or who called you, or what calls you missed. If you missed one, a simple push of a button and there it is. The caller’s message is broadcast via voicemail (after which it is hidden never to be seen again).

No one, not a single person actually wants to buy a new phone, or even have one given to them. That is the reason every man, woman and child clutches their phones to their chests. That is also why they put them in salt-filled baggies to dry out after dumping them in the toilet. There is a paralyzing fear of losing all their numbers and videos and very special messages. Perhaps some not so special ones (being planned to use as blackmail) may be lost forever.

If you have to get a new phone, be advised there will be no book with it to guide you through the maze of “new and improved” features. You can however download 50 or so pages, using up your printer’s ink and your paper. Or, you could make an app or put it on your desktop to clutter that up a little more.

Speaking of the computer, how about those security programs we all must have, under threat of its exploding or simply melting down. Once installed they like to talk to us, almost daily and do updates, and if we choose not to, dire consequences will occur. If something goes wrong, after your computer’s warranty expires, just buy the service contract. When you call for help, a person you cannot understand will pop right into your computer (gaining access to all that very private stuff you have there). They will almost fix it after you spend several hours languishing on hold with them. During this time, you cannot use your computer or your phone. That’s why so many of us have dis-functioning computers because we just can’t carve out that big block of time to chat with a tech.

Cellphones aren’t the only electronic device that makes you work to learn how to use it. My wife likes to walk with a simple pedometer which, as the manufacturer explained, outlives its life in a year and needs to be replaced. This worked for a few years until, yep they “improved” it with updates. She received the “Ultimate” pedometer which defied all efforts to be programed. All she wants to do is count the steps she takes, not re-invent the way to do so.

Even though my wife can do about anything on her computer, because it is a PC its operation bears no resemblance to the Apple I-Pad her kids got her four years ago. She is going to classes on it and expects to graduate and be able to use the device sometime in the next decade.

I think the electronics have been designed by bankers. You have to pay to acquire a new unit, obtain a service contract, get a provider and if you have a problem a person on the other side of the world will connect you to someone you absolutely cannot understand. If you get lucky and can understand them, they will simply direct you through a process of moves where you fix your own equipment.

Sounds like a banker’s operation to me.

There is one reason we are grateful for the electronics we can use: a new member of our family arrived and we get photo updates almost daily. We do however need to learn how to Skype so they can see us.

Actually, if we had a grade schooler in our family that lived nearby, we would be all set.

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