Thursday, February 7, 2008

Kicking and Screaming into the 21st Century

Hello again everyone.

Have you ever had one of those days, or weeks, when you woke up and had your entire day planned and then something happens to dash it all to Hades?

Well, this past week, especially today, has been one of those times.

Let me give you a little bit of back history first.

I love history - just about any history. Military, Ancient (especially Roman), Colonial American and Napoleonic are perhaps my favorites. To be honest, not much newer than 1918 interests me.

Don't get me wrong, I do appreciate some of the more modern aspects of life, but I just like keeping my head buried in the past. Heck, that is one of the major reasons we bought this house! Even my ride is older then me - a 1963 Land Rover Series IIa SWB Station Wagon named 'Grover'. Grover has no heat, or air, and at the moment, the only way the windshield wipers (at least the one on the driver's side) work is if I twist the knob manually. Believe it or not, we still have the old style TVs - no flat screens, no LCD, no plasma, not even **GASP** cable!! That's right folks - we still use the ol' rabbit ears!

Anyway, to me the future is, well, the future. It needs to remain in the future. If I want to surround myself with fancy, funky gadgets, watching Star Wars or Star Trek will do it for me.

Unfortunately, SWMBO has a different view to life. She loves electronic gadgets that seem to make our lives easier. She had no problem entering the 21st century.

Me - she has had to drag into the 21st century kicking and screaming. Don't get me wrong, like all other guys, I do love my gadgets, but I've never seen the sense in all these new electronic things.

This 'dragging' didn't really get started until almost two years ago. SWMBO wanted to get cell phones.

So, Annette started looking into purchasing cell phones for us and I wanted nothing to do with it. Then one day she came home and said, "Honey, if I could get two cell phones for the price of one would you use it?". I told her, "probably not".

Next thing I know - I have a cell phone. It started with a Motorola RAZR. Grudgingly I warmed up to the idea of having one and even thought it was cool being able to take pics with it.

Well, a few months back, SWMBO dropped her phone and it developed a problem that just kept getting worse. She decided we needed new cell phones - so - off to the cell phone store we went.

Now I have one of these things - a Motorola RAZR V3xx.

This thing ROCKS!!

Not only does it take pictures, but also records video (w/sound) as well as surf the Internet and I can use it as an MP3 player.

What really astounds me is that this dinky, tiny, little piece of machinery has more memory in it than our very first PC had in it - and that does not include the 2GB memory chip (which can hold 500 songs) that I put in it.

Soon after the purchase of the new cell phones, SWMBO had the chance to start working from home via the Internet.

Before I start on this, let me just say that the PC is one of my favorite 'future' items. We bought our first one pack in 1993 (IIRC). I was even one of the first in my area to have a Yahoo e-mail account. Do you remember those old Commodore computers that you hooked up to your TV? Annette had one of these when we were in High school!!!!

Anyway, this 1st PC was the typical kind, CPU; monitor the size of a small TV; separate keyboard; wired mouse and wired speakers. For years this was our primary computer. Don't ask about what memory and RAM size it had - it's too embarrassing to mention. Just keep in mind what I said about the cell phone.

Anyway, as time went on, this PC just could not keep up with the modern demands of the Internet and the new programs that you could buy or use on line. So, this brings me back to Annette working at home.

In order for her to work on-line she needed high-speed Internet (not easy in our part of Kansas a couple years ago), but could use dial-up if all else failed. Eventually she started to bring home a laptop PC and using dial-up. Soon it became evident that this just wasn't going to work. What would normally take her an hour to do (using high-speed) was now taking anywhere from 4 - 6 hours + using dial-up.

So, with a lot of effort we finally got high-speed Internet service and she was up and running. Unfortunately, her PC was a work computer and therefore I had very little access. I then decided to just hook our PC up to the Internet using the high-speed Ethernet cable. Guess what - our PC was so old there wasn't even a port on it that would handle the new cable. I went down to the local geek shop and asked if they had an adapter. After they stopped laughing they said 'no'.

So, the hunt for a new PC started. Once again SWMBO had to drag me kicking and screaming. I wanted the traditional PC, you know, the big ol' table top models - she wanted a lap top.

Eventualy we headed out to the geek store again and went PC shopping. I could not believe what was available out there now. Guess that's what I get for living under a rock. The geek guys started asking me what I wanted this PC to do and what types of games I played. You could just about hear a pin drop when they heard me say, "I don't play computer games". Hey - grew up in the 'Pong' years and that was about as technical of a PC game I could get into. However, I have discovered a few on-line games that I like. Below is a link to one of them, it's called 'Bubbles'. Most of you will find it boring, to me, it is mental bubble wrap. Besides, it isn't that much different than 'Pong'.

Eventually we left geek vill and brought home a nice little Compaq Presario V6000. This is a sweet little PC that comes with a 17" screen, DVD player/burner, and more features than I can remember.

I use to think I knew something about PCs until we got this thing - boy was I wrong.

The best part is, we bought a wireless system at the same time. Now I can be on the computer while laying in the hammock, working on Grover's engine, or looking up a DIY 'How-to' while in the crawl space under the scary part of the house.

Now, after all this talk we come to this week's fiasco.

When I first started this blog, the only cameras we owned were a Canon AE-1 35mm; some of those disposable kind you mail in; and our camera phones.

My in-laws, on the other hand, have a digital (or should I say HAD - more on that later) camera. It's a little Olympus Stylus 300. They both use it quite a lot, but my father-in-law seems to enjoy the 35mm cameras better and gets great results with them.

Anyway, once we got the new laptop, we found out it had a port for those digital camera memory cards. So, we figured out that by using their digital camera we could up-load pics as soon as they were taken. Needless to say we started borrowing their camera to take pics for the blog. We knew that at some point this would become tedious and we would have to get our own digital camera. We have been looking at them for a while now and had planned on getting one sometime this coming summer.

Well guess what - summer came early this year. Monday night, SWMBO dropped her parent's digital camera and broke it.

So, I have spent literally the whole day researching digital cameras, primarily in order to replace her parent's but also for us. After all, do you really think they would let us borrow their camera again after killing the other one!

After many, many hours of reading info, reviews, comparisons, etc., I bought a replacement camera for Annette's parents and a camera for us.

Here it is - an Olympus 750. It's not as fancy as some, but it should suffice. And here again we have acquired a piece of technology that has more gizmos than my Land Rover!

All in all, I guess I wrote this post as a form of mental therapy. After purchasing the cameras (they will arrive next week) I tried to do some work on the house, but the research process gave me a headache and I could not get into doing anything on it. So I wrote this instead.

Something that kept going through my head while writing this was the house and the history it has witnessed. When our house was built, telephones, electric lights, and indoor plumbing were known, but they were rare - especially in our area of the state. There were no airplanes, and cars were just being developed, even radios were yet to be in use.

If the walls of our house could talk, I wonder what they could tell us of the past and what they saw. One of our goals is to restore this house to the point that (if the good Lord willing) it is still standing for another 100+ years. I wonder what technological innovations it will see? What will the owner's of our house, at that time, think of us and the future we are facing, which will be history to them?

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