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gadget creep

Posted Dec 28 2009 3:18pm
It's happening. Little electronic gadgets are finding their way into my life, inch by inch.

Not all of them, mind you. A cell phone that takes pictures, checks my email, does my taxes and manages my datebook is not high on my list. That said, I am finding that perhaps a tiny bit of creep may not always be a bad thing.

For instance, I just inherited Sweetie's iPod Nano. It came bundled with her laptop a few years ago and she found it useful for listening to podcasts while gardening or exercising. Recently, she upgraded to a full-size iPod and no longer needed the Nano. She asked if I would like to try using it. Before I could stop myself, I said yes. Today there's perhaps 45 minutes worth of music loaded onto it, and I recently picked up a set of ear-buds and an armband case for a total of four dollars. The point? Well, it's nice to listen to music when riding the bus. Music helps to diffuse the worst effects of 30 to 40 minutes of loud, belching diesel engine sounds. Another bonus -- and the reason for getting the armband case -- is to provide a soundtrack for when I utilize the Huffy trainer I scored for five bucks at a yard sale -- there are times when I will want to do some interval work this winter without subjecting myself to the elements. (Intervals will have to become part of my life if I want to get stronger for short-track next spring and summer.) Figuring out how to use it has taken some time but overall it's not bad. The biggest challenge so far has been deciding what to put on it. I have lots of CDs and it's just a question of taking time to stick the CD into my computer, transferring the songs I want into my iTunes file, and then "sync"-ing my computer and my Nano. Time-consuming but not impossible.

I think that's the biggest thing for me: the time it takes for me to get comfortable with the technology is probably the biggest issue I face. Maybe as I get used to the technology, learning how to use new pieces of equipment may take less time. I hope so. I don't want to waste too much of my time fiddling with stuff before I can simply USE it. In my humble opinion, tools should not require tons more time to learn than to use. I'd hate to see an hour of life slip away learning how to use something that takes only thirty seconds to utilize; and that prinicple has guided the electronic tools I've allowed into my life.

Next on the list MAY be -- sit down -- a cell phone of my own.

At present, Sweetie and I share a phone -- and so far the arguments have mostly been about who HAS to carry it, rather than who GETS to carry it. Last week, a situation arose where we both needed the phone at the same time and Sweetie's need won out. (I survived, but not having the phone did influence a slight change in plans that day.) Like I said, I'm not interested in a phone that does terribly much more than, well, make and receive phone calls. So I'm looking at models geared to the "Boomer" market -- for now, that mostly means folks older than me, since I'm at the youngest end of the Baby Boom and the oldest Boomers are now heading into their retirement years. I mostly want something easy to use, easy to program, and fairly bomb-proof -- ideally, something that folds in half so I don't accidentally dial it -- and something that lets me pay as I go, rather than locking me into a more expensive annual plan. I may  find what I'm looking for but there it is.

Readers who know of a good deal can contact me individually, and be sure to include useful links. Thanks.
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