Tiptoeing into technology

We aren’t a technology-ignorant family. There are computers and DVD players in our household, a programmable coffee maker and assorted other electronics whose buttons we push with some measure of confidence. My hubby, however, has never had a good word to say about such things as iPods, Blackberries, tablets or smart phones. He prefers alternatives that don’t require dependence on rechargeable batteries and won’t lose his list of addresses and phone numbers by fatally crashing.

So when he suddenly announced last week that an eReader appealed to him, we were shocked. He had taken a hardcover library book to the hospital but found holding it up to focus on the fine print took more energy than he possessed. The advantages of his visiting daughter’s 6”/6 oz. eReader with its adjustable font sizes became apparent. After two days of researching eReader features, he had his new Kobo.

His doctor had suggested he ought to be carrying a cell phone with him when walking alone out here in the countryside, and the same day as the Kobo was acquired, our son produced a new cell phone – at least, newer than my failing twelve year old basic one. He transferred our coverage and data, gave a tutorial, provided a manual and handed it over.

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Now my hubby not only has a renewed lease on life but has also stepped willingly into the digital age… at least, he’s tiptoed a few paces in.  It hasn’t been entirely seamless. There’s a learning curve as he figures out such things as how to download books and assign quick keys to new phone numbers. The benefits of this technology for him are already obvious although I don’t expect he’ll be investing in an iPod or iPad anytime soon.

It has me re-evaluating certain attitudes – notably my reluctance to embrace aspects of social media. I’ve been one step behind everyone else, creating a blog and joining Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Google+ slowly and one at a time, only when every writer, agent and publisher I encountered insisted they were valuable tools for an aspiring author. I’ve resisted Pinterest, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, YouTube, forums, cyber games and any number of other activities designed to keep me online and away from my writing.

Their time may come, but for now I have other priorities. I’m trying to be selective in where I choose to spend my time and energy, because otherwise the really important things will get squeezed right out of my schedule. If I’m establishing a platform at the expense of not getting my writing completed, I’m hardly accomplishing anything worthwhile.

Like my hubby, I’m willing to take on new challenges but only when I recognize their value. Here’s my current checklist:

  • Know when a need exists
  • Do the appropriate research
  • Make wise and timely choices
  • Add one new venture at a time

You obviously spend some time reading blogs or you wouldn’t be here. What other ways do you participate in social media? Did you jump into several types at once, or which one(s) did you undertake first and why?

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Will Christmas cards become obsolete?

WooHoo!!! I’m done! Yes, I’m smirking. Every year about this time I begin to panic as I face the inevitable postal deadline for mailing out Christmas cards. It’s not like the middle of December doesn’t always arrive in the middle of December. It’s just that the date always sneaks up on me.

But not this year. With the help of my hubby, our little stack has been written, sealed, stamped and is ready to drop into the postbox today… before the middle of the month. How’s that for efficiency? (I don’t want an answer from those of you who amazingly mailed yours off on December 1st.)

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I like this annual tradition. I don’t like to be rushed with the selecting, composing and remembering as I write.

I know there are people who have given up on Christmas cards, finding them a chore, or preferring to save the cost of purchase and postage and avoid writer’s cramp in favour of sending an e-mailed greeting, and I don’t see anything wrong with that. I send the occasional Hallmark e-card myself. However, on the receiving end, unless I print out those messages, I can’t sit down with a coffee at my convenience and enjoy browsing through the cards multiple times, admiring the different designs and re-reading the messages from family members and friends old and new. I’m one of those oddities who savours Christmas newsletters, loves to catch up on the year’s happenings and study photos of everyone’s grandchildren.

Communication has seen a major overhaul in the past couple decades. I treasure Skype and iChat visits with my family, and adore the e-mailed digital photos taken one minute and delivered to my inbox the next. Instant text messages by the hundreds have replaced many conversations, reducing personal interaction, and yet I see how convenient they are.

I wouldn’t want our current technology to disappear, but neither would I like ‘the old ways’ to be discarded. Like print books and eBooks, I think there is justification for both methods to complement each other – times when each can meet a personal need.

When I mail these envelopes later today it will be with the hope that each recipient will share the same pleasure from the greeting that I get out of writing it – the same pleasure that I do when theirs arrives here. It is a cherished tradition, this age-old form of communicating our good will at Christmas.

(Did you notice that communication has ‘commune’ as its root?)

Do you think writers might enjoy this form of communication more than non-writers? Do you still send out traditional Christmas cards? Do you think they will eventually become obsolete?

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Another Use for Technology

Technology gets both kudos and criticism, depending on the perspective. Yes, we spend too much time on our assorted computerized toys… sometimes to the detriment of health and home life. But here’s one application of Apple’s new iPad that has to be a benefit nobody can deny.

I knew there was a reason why I love technology!

The iPad Is Coming

I think I’m in love! Well, yes, I have been all along with my hubby, but we’re talking about electronic toys now, and they do more than help with the dishes and clean the garage! While its name has been controversial, the Apple iPad’s introduction last Wednesday substantiated the claims of those who said it would be out of the ordinary.

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The new iPad is described as a cross between the iPhone and a MacBook laptop. It weighs just 1.5 lbs. and is a half-inch thick. Navigation is done with the flick of a finger on a 9.7” (measured diagonally) multi-touch LED-backlit screen that rotates between landscape and portrait positions. Thanks to IPS technology it has a wide 178-degree viewing angle.

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It does just about everything, functioning with a powerful but efficient A4 chip custom-designed for Apple. It apparently has up to ten hours of battery life. With a starting price of $499 for the basic 16GB of storage it will be more affordable than many expected.

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That’s still $499 more than I have to splurge on another toy, of course, so, love it or not, when it appears in March I’ll just be ogling it from a distance. But it sure is cool!

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UPDATE:

Prior to writing the above I’d been out of touch for a few days. I’ve subsequently discovered lots of conversations about the iPad and its e-book/iBookstore implications. Two excellent articles can be found on recent blogs of Rachelle Gardner and Kristen Nelson.