Read Candace's bio and previous columns
May 19, 2008
Help! The Mobile
Technology Borg Has Assimilated Me!
Dr. Jekyll – the Boomer
who shunned the entire mobile work/play movement – has morphed into Ms.
on-the-fly Hyde, who can now place and receive phone calls, send
e-mails, surf the Internet, write a column and even read an entire novel
while never setting foot inside her office.
What a pity that all
these fancy new go-go gizmos – cell phone, laptop, e-book reader and
digital MP3 file recorder – can’t do something really useful, like whip
up a gourmet feast, put away the laundry or mow the lawn. Or something
luxuriant, like a full body massage. (They do, however, thoroughly wear
out the wallet and leave it on life support.)
to keep the economy from slipping into a coma, I purchased all the
aforementioned gadgets in a one-month fit of mobile techno-madness. And
voila – among the multitude of accompaniments to these shiny new
devices is a 96-page instruction manual on how to read a book and play
music (on an e-book reader). I used to be able just to flip open the
cover or push the radio “on” button to accomplish these two tasks. Such
There are volumes upon
volumes of other highly complex instruction manuals to decipher as well.
Forget trying to recall any of the actual directions. Just punch a
button somewhere and see what happens. That’s always amusing, and
usually the best way to learn about operating any electronic device.
With a laptop, this MO becomes a true adventure.
Another curious thing
about mobile computers. Owning one is like buying a Barbie doll. It
isn’t possible to purchase only the doll. There are all manner of
must-have accessories, not one of which is cheap, of course. There is the
suitable carrying case. The cooling platform, to keep the little
darling’s circuits from overheating. The USB laser mouse, for those who
cannot adapt to a trackball. The wireless modem for times when WiFi
access is not available. The AC power adapter and the auto/boat/airplane
power adapter, the extra power supply, and more. The care and feeding
price tag for these smallest of computers is larger than the GDP of many
Southeast Asian island nations.
Then there are product
registrations to fill out (online is much better than cards through the
snail mail). Hardware and software to install – especially thrilling
when the change screws up something that was working five minutes
before. There are physical files to set up to keep the manuals and other
product data in some sort of order.
The head spins and the
At times I sneak a
longing look back to the Pre-Mobile Era (something akin to the
Pre-Cambrian Age), but there is no return. Resistance ultimately was
futile. The Borg won. I have been absorbed into the portable collective
not with a bang and barely a whimper. I’m simply too overwhelmed.
There were warnings.
“You will get so spoiled” by the cell phone, a friend remarked,
explaining how she and her husband use theirs to locate each other when
they get separated inside a “big box” store. Whatever happened to bread
And rumblings. For more
than a decade I had contemplated acquiring all these mobile devices.
Always, I had some excuse or another not to take the plunge. Nor do I
loathe technology simply because it is technology. Word processors are a
God-send to a writer who cannot type worth beans (mentioning no names).
Heck, in that Pre-Mobile Era, I was using desktop computers, faxes and
email on the job more than a decade before this technology first seeped
into the wider workplace.
After resisting so hard
for so long, something just snapped, and I went off the deep end of
mobility with a vengeance. Supposedly all these new gizmos will make my
work life easier and more productive. Still struggling up a learning
curve steeper than Mount Everest, I waver between doubt and hope.
For now my modest goal
is to keep my mental circuits from overloading and shorting out.
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