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Phillips: Hey buddy, got a light?

Posted: August 11, 2015 5:30 p.m.
Updated: August 12, 2015 1:00 a.m.

I guess I’ll have to admit I am a living contradiction. That could apply to a lot of aspects of my life, but what I am specifically referring to here is my love/hate relationship with modern technology. My regular readers are well aware of this. 

I am prone to lambast computerized gadgets, especially those which are portable enough to become extensions of our bodies, like smartphones, tablets and such. Wonderful devices, but I do believe they separate us from each other just as much as bring us together. We can have a conversation with someone on the other side of the world, while ignoring those who are right beside us. Something is wrong with that. But then, I am also likely to let my curiosity get the best of me and cave in to the temptation to use modern toys for my own purposes.

Obviously, I use computers on a daily basis at the office and at home. I shudder to imagine having to write my articles or this weekly column on a real typewriter. I make too many mistakes for that. It’s easy to take for granted the capability to correct mistakes, to “cut and paste” certain passages or to delete errors. I’m thankful for my computers.

But when it comes to portability, I’m behind the times. Of course, I have a cellphone, but that’s what it is -- a phone. It has a built-in camera I have never used. I do send and receive text messages some, but I am not even a big fan of that. Texting has its place and purpose, but I still would rather talk to someone when possible.

But my inquisitive mind took over a couple of weeks ago and got me wondering about the benefits of having a portable device I could use to access the internet, check email, etc. I was with a group of family members, including my oldest nephew who is the number one information technology guy for the library system in Charlotte. When it comes to computers, he’s the expert, so the entire family turns to him with our computer questions. I took advantage of the opportunity to ask him about the various tablets on the market.

He enthusiastically endorsed the Amazon Kindle Fire and said it would do just about anything I would want, as long as I was in a place with an accessible Wi-Fi signal. He even used his own Kindle to look up Kindles for sale online and told me the latest and greatest version sells for around $150, but can often be found on sale for considerably less. OK, good to know.

Just then, my sister, who is my nephew’s mother, said she had a brand-new Kindle she would give me if I wanted it. She bought it as a gift for our mother, but mother had already received one from someone else. What luck! We went to my sister’s house and she presented the device, still in the box, to me and gave me a quick tutorial on its operation. That’s when the confusion really started.

She and my brother-in-law told me there was a learning curve for the Kindle but the more I used it the easier it would become and I just had to kind of “feel my way along” at first. My first lesson was that Wi-Fi signals are not available just everywhere. There actually are several in Camden my Kindle will detect, but they are protected by passwords, so are of no use to me. I know of some places that have free Wi-Fi, but it is seldom convenient to go to those places just to check email or whatever else online.

I have found there is very little I can do with the Kindle without a Wi-Fi signal. So, my new toy is a new source of frustration and so far has done nothing to ease my bad attitude toward modern technology. I’m also at a loss as to why it’s called a Kindle Fire. I can’t even get the doggone thing to ignite. I guess I’ll just have to keep trying. 


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