Mastering modern technology requires the mindset of a techie. New operating systems, constant upgrades, and the explosion of new apps all make ‘keeping up’ a full-time job, even for the expert. For me, becoming comfortable with multiple devices and learning how to use what they already make available is more than enough.
So why have multiple devices at all? Writing my blog, I have learned that various devices have particular uses for which each is best suited. The home desktop computer is the old stand-by, the go-to for extended work manipulating documents, photos, and everything else best done on a big screen. By definition, desktops are stationary, tethered to an external hard-drive and moveable only at one’s peril. For travel, or for work elsewhere, as I do in Vancouver, a laptop is essential. Meshed by ‘the cloud,’ most everything that I do on the laptop gets added instantly to the desktop, and vice versa, so they are in sync. Work in one place can continue seamlessly in another.
And then, the iPhone and the iPad. I now cannot fathom how I survived raising a family and working as a lawyer and a judge for 35 years without even using a cellphone. In my view, the smart phone is the most wonderful device ever invented. Apart from the cellphone, there is the calendar, the contacts, the maps, the email, the internet, and all those other apps right at hand.
Thanks to my daughter-in-law, I have learned the utility of texting. Like most young people of her generation, she texts all the time. I now understand the differences between texting and email. Texting is more immediate, more intimate and cryptic, meant for a speedy exchange of quick messages with the expectation that the text will be received instantaneously. Emails give a platform for composition at leisure, at a time convenient to the writer, and with the understanding that the recipient will pick up the message eventually, but not necessarily right away. Email allows for more extended thought, and perhaps a more elaborate exchange of information. Both have become basic to contemporary communications.
Not so long ago I questioned why anyone would want a telephone with a camera built into it. How could I have been so obtuse? The smart phone camera is a wonderful tool. Why write notes when you can take a photograph? Why haul a heavy camera when good quality (if not great quality) pictures can be taken with a device lighter than a wallet? Sharing programs built right into the smart phone permit instant uploading to texts, emails, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever the latest new program is, all the better to make it easy to keep in touch with family and friends. We may live apart, but these modern communication techniques spread joy and build solidarity across the miles.
One of the first applications I used on my smart phone was the ‘little yellow stickies’ or Notes function. How better to track mileage, costs, books to read, movies to see, names of people and places, all those tidbits of information that come our way which formerly required a pen and paper? This function met my compulsive need for a permanent place to store ‘clippings’ – all that I read or saw and wanted to remember.
Until recently, I used the keyboard to enter this data. But no. A woman I met in a Vancouver food court, Canadian actress Jayne Eastwood, taught me that I could dictate and produce an instant transcription of what I said. Sure enough, on recent models of the iPhone, the old voice memo function has given way to the ability to dictate texts, emails, notes and more. Although the device takes a little while to adapt to one’s voice, and one must check to make sure it’s a correct transcription, the dictation capacity is an amazing function.
All those years in the legal profession, I never learned to dictate. Now I embrace it with a passion. All the better to avoid aggravated arthritis in aging fingers and wrists. Sometime soon, I am going to give up keyboarding on the computer completely and change to dictating. The capacity is there. I just have to learn to use it.
And then there is Siri, the artificial ‘assistant,’ accessible at the press of a button, to answer all questions, and direct where to go. I still haven’t learned how best to use Siri and when, but that will come. When I looked for the calculator on my iPad, I found that there isn’t one. Siri is the calculator. Give her the numbers and she will tell you the result.
As for the iPad, there is a reason why everyone is using them, including young children and with-it 90-plus-year olds. But that’s a story for another post.