One of the joys of having children is that, once you have exhausted all your knowledge teaching them new things – like how to walk, talk and feed themselves – there comes a time when they can teach you new stuff.
I speak, of course, of technology.
It was the kids who forced us to get new smartphones, even when we thought the dumb phones were sufficient. No longer could we be satisfied with placing a call, or answering one. Now, we can also text, email, Facebook, Snapchat and Instagram one another from a device smaller than a deck of cards.
We can take pictures and store them, play games, get weather alerts, find ourselves on a map, record an interview, calculate large numbers and hold up a fake lighter at a concert.
They taught us how to save photos from our smartphones to our computer hard drives. When we run out of space, we are not to worry, because they will go to “the cloud.”
I have no idea where this cloud is. Neither do I understand how it works with technology. Back in the old days in the Lowcountry, when the clouds came along, the phone service went dead.
I fear I am beginning to get left in the dust of lightning fast advancement. And I know I am not alone. Columnist Sallie Collins and I shared some thoughts after she sent in her column (see page 14A).
I told her about the snazzy digital thermostat our elder son bought for us and set up a few years ago. It’s called a Nest, like where birds live. I think it really is for the birds! Clark moved out two years and I still can’t operate it.
It has an “auto away” function, whereby if a body doesn’t walk past the thing every couple of hours, it assumes we are on vacation and resets itself to a higher temperature to save energy.
I suppose it doesn’t realize that we tend to sleep for eight or so hours every night, so the house gets very warm about 2 a.m.
The younger son brought home a new gizmo recently that is affixed to the big TV screen. We haven’t had cable for a decade, but we like to see the old stuff on Netflix. (Can you say “binge-watching”?)
This new gadget, called Chromecast, connects our computers, tablets and even smartphones with the screen, so we can tune in without hooking up a cable from a laptop to the TV.
Chandler tried to explain it to me. I think he said it detects a wireless signal and uses it to “cast” whatever you access from your device to the screen – Netflix, photos, music and such. Does that make sense? Not to me, but I do know how to turn it on and off.
Sadly, I think we “old” people are about done learning new stuff. I am not sure how much longer we can keep up.
Last week, I walked into the living room where my husband was struggling with his new iPhone 6. “Siri,” he said to the thing, “how do I disconnect you?” The voice replied that she didn’t understand what he was asking. “How do I get rid of you? I don’t need your services!” She still didn’t understand. Then he got irritated and said “Siri, I don’t want you anymore. Just turn yourself off.”
I didn’t hear her reply, but if the Chromecast had been activated, I could have read it on the big screen.
Or maybe it’s still floating on the cloud.