Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Only A Bit Geeky!

Apologies to my loyal readers who are complaining about the high-tech talk in my last post. You might want to skip this one too, though I hope I’ve included some clarification this time. I’m really not that big of a geek — honest. I only know how to use things, not how they actually work! After all, I’ve had a computer since the early 1980’s. That’s almost 25 human years or 100 computer years. We started with a Commodore 64 in 1982. It didn’t even have a hard drive and only 64 kilobytes of memory in total, about enough today for one small picture or a couple of emails. My little Palm TX is many times more powerful! I could tell you some stories about the beginning of the Age of Cyberspace too, but I’ll spare you. Suffice it to say that I first got online with good old CompuServe in about 1994. Email addresses were long strings of numbers then instead of words and modems were very slow. Ah, the Olden Days! Give me my highspeed cable modem and my Pentium 4 computer, please! The biggest advantage I have over other people is my very computer-savvy husband. He can fix almost anything and if he can’t fix it, he knows pretty much exactly what’s wrong. He does it for a living though so sometimes it’s hard to get him to do it at home. See? It’s his fault. I caught a bit of geekiness from him.

With a perfectly good computer at home, why would I want a PDA you might ask? Well just for starters it’s a phone/address book, to-do list, several shopping lists, a knitting (or other) pattern book, a note pad, a clock, a calculator (with conversions), a calendar/datebook, a word processor and spreadsheet, several novels, a bunch of games, an MP3 music player, and a photo album. Plus it could (if I had the right cell phone and paid for the service) send and receive emails and surf the Internet. All this and much more in a device that’s only 5” x 3” x 1/2” big.

Sounds good but how do I use my Palm in Real Life though you might also ask? Some scenarios, all true. I’m in Chapters and I can’t remember if I have that issue of Handwoven magazine, so I look it up in my Palm. In the Fantasy/Sci-Fi department of the book store, I look in my Palm and see that I’m looking for the final book in a good series so I search on the shelves for the author’s name. I’m heading over to a friend’s house and can’t quite remember her street number so I look it up. I missed the bus and I don’t have my easy knitting with me so I play several games of Solitaire or Taipei while I’m waiting for the next one. I get to the grocery store and run down my shopping list, checking things off as I go. I’m at my birth mom’s and need to know the code for her to open the gate to get into the parking lot and the other code at the main door to get her to buzz it open. Neither code has anything to do with her phone number or her address and I’m lousy at remembering numbers. I’m ordering something online and want to use T-Man’s Amex for the purchase. He’s got the card at work so I look up the number in my Palm in a password protected file. I’m at a slide lecture and want to make notes in the dark. The screen is lighted so I can see what I’m writing. I’m eating lunch with DD at our favourite sushi restaurant and want to split the bill and figure the tip. (I’m lousy at math.) I’m at the flower show at VanDusen Gardens and want to make a note of the exact variety names of the interesting plants to look for at the nursery. I’m sitting in a boat while T-Man is fishing, knitting a complex lace scarf and need to check row 9 of the pattern.

OK, you get the picture! Remember I’ve had 6 years to get used to integrating a Palm into my life. Now I can imagine some new scenarios. Somebody wants to see a picture of my granddaughter for instance. My new Palm already has lots of them at different ages! I could even make a fancy Powerpoint presentation on my computer and put it in my Palm to bore people with. Ah, the new possibilities.

FYI, My Loyal Readers, WiFi is a wireless local area network system that you can access with the right hardware. You also need to be in a “hotspot” where there is a WiFi network running. There are starting to be more of these in public places like airports, cafes, and hotels or you can set up your own. (You can’t access a secured hotspot though without a special key code.) Using an open WiFi network you can access the Internet and send and receive email. A home system can let different computers talk to each other or a printer or other peripheral without wires. It’s not something I really need right now though. Especially when I would need a different ISP service and a new email address if I wanted to use it. Shaw is accessible through cable only — no dialup available. If I traveled more it might be worth it, but I’m pretty much a homebody.

Bluetooth is yet another wireless method of connecting devices. You can have an earphone that connects to your cell phone, a cordless phone that connects with its base, or have a Palm dial out through a cell phone and modem to access your email account. I can’t use this system either because of the same Shaw problem above and because my cell phone doesn’t have Bluetooth. However, Palm has a third wireless connection method with infrared which I can use. I can beam files from my Palm to T-Man’s Palm for instance. We already did that when I had a fun game on mine that he didn’t have. You have to be close together though so the narrow infrared beam can go straight. If I had an infrared-capable printer, I could send files to print. Mine isn’t though. See, I don’t have all the bells & whistles.

So maybe I’m a Lot Geeky. Who knew? I thought everybody knows this stuff since there’s a lot of people who know a heck of a lot more than I do. Enough tech-speak for today. We’ll see what subject I’m onto tomorrow. Time for some more high fibre content?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thanks Damselfly! I'm a whole lot smarter.

Just noticing that we have a pentium 4, adsl and a router for the comp downstairs. I guess your level of knowledge is in keeping with what you 'need' and get used to!

My Dad started with Commodore 64 and did amazing things with it.

We had an '088' and no hardrive... it was all floppy discs being switched and swapped back and forth and that was 1987.

As an aside: I have been to a bobbin lace class and making some beginner lace while my back heals. It's a wonderful armchair activity.