I have always been vulnerable to adapating to new technology as soon as it becomes available. I went through all the generations of computers from the original IBM 650 which took up a huge room of vacuum tubes on which I computed hundreds of multi-variate equations for my doctoral thesis at the University of Michigan. The best calculator then was the Monroematic, a true gem of a little machine, and data preparation meant having a crackerjack key punch operator and hauling boxes and boxes of punch cards to the computer room. From there we went to mag-cards, 54 MB wonders, and innovation after innovation until we got to today's miraculous computers. I bought one of the first black and white TVs, a big square black box that we could get 5 channels on and which I had to install an antenna on top of our two story house to get them. We hauled this little black box from Fort Collins to Cheyenne to Ann Arbor MI to Washington D.C. and then back to Wyoming. And then we graduated to color TV and a few more programs so we no longer had to endure Lawrence Welk and even Ed Sullivan became more interesting.
Our miraculous typing machine for my doctoral dissertation was a wonderful IBM Selectric with the little magic type ball. If you needed to revise page 23 of a 300 page dissertation, and that meant shortening the following page, that meant retyping the entire dissertation one more time. And then another. Which my long-suffering wife uncomplainingly did. Once I received my Ph.d., I have never looked at this dissertation again and do not intend to do so.
But I feel today's students are spoiled beyond redemption. I also fear they are not any smarter nor are they solving the world's problems with any more grace or skill. Try looking up stuff in acres of card catalogues. Write down references you want and either hand to a librarian or spend hours hunting the stacks of a mammoth library to find your golden references. Now look at today's lazy grad student who just asks the Wizard of Google, then accesses the references on an iPad or computer, and goes on his or her merry way thinking they are getting educated. Ha!
So here are a few examples of how technology affected me and my wife in 2014:
- My iPad saved my life after being moderately incapacitated for several months recovering from vertigo. Movies, Netflix, email, Google all occupied my worthless days and may even have made my hands hurt from overusing some fingers.
- I had bought my wife the first generation Kindle which she read one book on and then discarded the clumsy ancient relic, never to read another book on it again. She insisted she did not want a new Kindle but I bought her a Kindle Paperwhite and she has never been separated from it since.
- We no longer have to haul boxes of books back and forth from Salt Lake to St. George. We have at least 800 books on something called the Cloud, which sounds like something so mysterious we will never be privileged to know how it works.
- A new bread making machine replaced the clunker I had years ago. Now I make great bread several times a month. Takes 3 1/2 minutes flat to make a loaf.
- New computer software and better access to photo processing software through the new Adobe system have made it possible to stay up to date on all of the best and most advanced photo software available.
- I continued to take thousands of photos on my Canon 7D after a few months' lapse while recovering from vertigo. While an amazing camera, I am lusting after the new Canon souped up 7D which I intend to buy by summer.
- Blogging continues to occupy a lot of my time and, I think, mostly for the good. Once in awhile I get some encouragement or a comment that shows that what I am doing occasionally does some good for someone else. But it has been hard to bring my viewer base up to where it was before I got sick last summer. Nonetheless . . .
- Since I couldn't get out to do much shopping in stores, I was able to do everything online. Mostly, this effort worked like a charm. Now, after Christmas, the biggest problem is to get rid of all the bubble wrap, paper stuffing, boxes large and small, packing peanuts, and wrapping paper that all the stuff came in. But I'm still glad for the online shopping, without which my wife would have had a very slim Christmas.
- Pinterest has changed the way I do my cooking and grocery shopping, although I keep telling my wife that I don't know what I need when I go the store until I see it. Pinterest has become, for me, by far my most favorite and useful social media and I actually have 105 followers, not great, but considering most of them are women, not bad. You can check my Pinterest boards and see for yourself.
- I follow Twitter, but hurriedly and don't spent much time on it. Too much trivial stuff, hash tag stuff, insider comments that remain a mystery. But now Twittr includes a lot of photos and other stuff that makes it more useful. I actually have 415 followers on Twitter, I know not why.
- I was never a big fan of Facebook until this year. Too many Facebook posts were too trivial, too time wasting, too many used it to vent on politics, and some posts were even repulsive. This year I discovered that I could link to a series of historical photo sites as well as travel sites, photography sites, food and recipe sites, and get a whole host of new information every day that actually was captivating and useful. And of course we have to admire the postings of family picture and the captivating smiles of great grandchildren.
Now all I need is to go to Panda Express and get a batch of walnut honey shrimp and orange chicken. I hope technology is working for you as well as it has been for me. Have a nice day. The Curmudgeonly Professor.