Keeping up with Technology

by Louise

Let’s have a discussion of all things Tech.

Do you think you have kept up with technology? What are you favorite gadgets? Eagerly awaiting self driving cars? Afraid of handing over your keys to big brother? Is Alexa spying on you? Do you think kids should not have electronics (or hardly any) like one of our neighborhood families?

Discuss…

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196 thoughts on “Keeping up with Technology

  1. Who else read the title and immediately starting singing, “Yes, I love technology / but not as much as you, you see / but I still love technology / always and forever” ?

    OT, I am fairly low tech, but I’m a willing adopter. My new neighbor is working on AI things and I can barely follow her thought process, but I will happily use whatever she invents next.

  2. In relation to kids, there has been a lot of talk about this in our realm of friends. Some parents are encouraging others to sign a pledge to hold off giving their kids cell phones until at least 8th grade, but preferable high school. Other parents are frustrated with the online textbooks the schools are switching too. Others are upset that the schools have issued ipads or chromebooks and they can’t take them away from their kids when the parents feel they misuse them because they are so integrated into the classroom. Yet others are frustrated because it seems like the technology has put up a barrier to what the parents can see as unless you logon as the child you can’t see the canvas or google classroom.

    In our family, the kids got their cell phones when they traveled away from home to a 3 week residential program in another state. For DD#1 that was at the end of 8th, but for DD#2 it was the end of 7th. DD#1 missed the required ipads in middle school, but her high school requires a PC that is taken/used daily. DD#2 had an ipad the last 2 years of middle school, no device was required as a freshman, but she took her own laptop last year. This year the school issued chromebooks to every student.

    Our general approach to kids and technology is to educate them and monitor initially, but then to be more hands off. When they screw up, which isn’t too often, their entire life is more highly monitored with mom and/or dad almost becoming their shadow (but not in school). This has been a huge deterrent.

  3. Is there any particular recommended headset/mic gadget that screens out background noises particularly well while you’re talking on the phone? I use these wireless earbuds both for music/podcast listening and for phone calls. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01GNYFT8E/ref=oh_aui_search_detailpage?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    They seem to work well, but one person on a phone call recently complained that he heard my kitchen clean up noises. It may have been a fluke because no one else has complained. Nothing more annoying than being on a phone call with someone and you hear the faucet being turned on or the dog barking on their end.

    A couple of months ago Alexa started to ask me to confirm that I wanted a particular station. It’s annoying, partly because I can’t walk away until I confirm.
    Me: Alexa, station xyz am
    Alexa: Do you want me to play station xyz am.
    Me: Yes!
    Station starts playing. But if I say Yes, you idiot or Of course I do, she won’t play the station.

  4. There are a number of parents who don’t give their kids cell phones or take them away as punishment. However, these same parents have no qualms about having their kids ask other kids, including my son to use the other kids’ phones. The PARENTS also have no qualms about call my kid’s phone and asking him to relay messages to their kid. My kid has taken to blocking some parents. I’m not sure how I feel about this. I don’t think it’s ok to put my kid in the middle of some other family’s punishment and I’m not sure why he should be the conduit for information because we provided him with a phone.

  5. For me – I sometimes feel it is a love/hate relationship. I saw how much more independent my mom could have been if she’d continually adopted technology as it went along rather than all at once when her eyesight failed. From that perspective and because her eye condition was hereditary, I am always asking how could that help me if I can’t see or see very well. On that note, I asked for and echo dot for Christmas.

    My SO was the technology guy for a long time, but in the past 5 years he doesn’t want to deal with it. This is hard for me because he built my computer and had set up all the electronics, so while I know how to ‘use’ it, I don’t really understand what or how it was all connected or works. I was happy with situation as we had divided household duties and this was his. However, since my desktop needs replacing soon, I will have the opportunity to learn about it all.

    I am OK with self-driving cars (see para 1), but do not like the idea of the device on my car that reports to my insurance company. I am not big on the tracking software that many use to track their kids, though I can see its benefit in certain circumstances.

  6. Some parents are encouraging others to sign a pledge to hold off giving their kids cell phones until at least 8th grade, but preferable high school.

    It’s the 21st century version of, “We don’t own a TV.” I assume it’s the same type of people.

  7. “Some parents are encouraging others to sign a pledge to hold off giving their kids cell phones until at least 8th grade, but preferable high school.”

    Seriously?

  8. I think/hope technology will make it easier to live independently. My mom would be much more connected if she had kept up/learned some simple things. She is deaf, but doesn’t/wont text. She can’t communicate on a phone anymore and it’s really difficult to communicate in person. I could see self driving cars/Roomba/voice assisted being one of those things that lets DH and I live out on the ranch a little while longer. Although I hope and assume that leaving here is several decades away, the longer we could age in place, the happier we will be.

  9. “Some parents are encouraging others to sign a pledge to hold off giving their kids cell phones until at least 8th grade, but preferable high school.”

    Seriously?

    And these are the same people who want their kids to use my kid’s phone. It’s bizarre.

  10. I agree with AustinMom about the tracking and monitoring companies do but I have a feeling that ship has sailed,

    I can’t wait for good self driving cars. As you age this is key for maintaining independence.

    I think cell phones for kids are wonderful from a safety standpoint. Parents will need to monitor their use and set limits.

  11. July – My alexa announces what it is going to do, but it doesn’t require a yes. It tells me, playing WEEI-FM from Tune In or IheartRadio It is a bit too long, but I can live with it. The Alexa world is divided into two camps – Those who want confirms and those who don’t. I think it should be a toggle in settings, but I guess they are trying to prevent accidents.

    The biggest accident I recently encountered was asking Is Santa real as a test last week and getting an honest answer. We were horrified, and tried it again a few times, and her programming kicked in to say, I don’t know Santa personally, but…

  12. ““Some parents are encouraging others to sign a pledge to hold off giving their kids cell phones until at least 8th grade, but preferable high school.”

    Seriously?”

    Yes. They are concerned about (1) lack of in-person interaction (though most of these kids go to a school that doesn’t allow phones during the school day), (2) kids seeing/hearing inappropriate things – sex, drugs, suicide, and (3) peer pressure to have the latest/greatest phone. The stupid part is that these kids all have ipads for school. Other than the fact that cellular data lets you bypass parental-type controls on the wifi at school, other friends’ homes or their own, they can access most of the same stuff through their “homework” device. And, the same people are not discouraging the use of those.

    Pseudo – I would tell those kids parents that if they take away a device that is their prerogative, but, unless it is a true emergency, neither the parents or the child may contact your child to pass messages along. It puts him in an awkward position with his friends and places an unreasonable responsibility on him.

  13. I like tech but I’m a late adopter. I wait to see how things go and work before I jump in. What I’m not on board with is the “smart home”. I like being able to manage everything old school. I’ve been betrayed enough by tech to just stick with the keys and light switch stuff. I feel about tech like I do getting together with an ex boyfriend who broke my heart – I like you but I’m leery because of what happened before.

    I also wonder how much more productive I might be if the internet didn’t exist. Or maybe i would be less so. WHo knows.

  14. The song is from Napoleon Dynamite.

    I agree that self driving cars would revolutionize old age for the vast majority of Americans who live an auto dependent life. The Alexa intercom feature is vastly improving communication in our hearing impaired multi level household. With alexa we can now check the weather in an instant, verify whether we have appointments today (DH uses a paper planner, and his phone is left home, out of juice, or off half the time). I described at length the other day the way it integrates with our high quality speakers for music or TV. I am not cutting edge in tech at all, but I ordered broadband the day my street was wired (that was in the mid 90s in Cambridge, an obvious early site). If I were away from home more often, I would do more with tech here, but it is really not necessary.

  15. Supposing you were really technology challenged…how hard is Alexa to set up? I just want to be able to listen to music and NPR.

    Meme, your description of the home network yesterday made my head spin.

  16. I have a love/hate relationship with it. I think I would be a lot more productive without it. Love all of the interesting things I read online but hate how much of a time sink it is. My oldest has an ipod which she’s only allowed to use for an hour on Sat and Sunday and not before she’s spent some time outside. I’m not inclined to get her a phone in middle school, although my concerns are more on the health side of things than social concerns.

  17. Pseudo, your son has every right to block those parents. They’re taking advantage of him.

    My stepson has a contrary streak, and he refused to get a cell phone til 11th grade. And even then he only did it because his friends were yelling at him, because his mother always called them to find him.

  18. I won’t let the 14-year-old boys get ahead of me. I’ve done all kinds of stuff, including rooting my smartphone and learning to pirate videos from Usenet and torrents. I try hard to keep up with the cool stuff. I hope my senility kicks in later than Mom’s did. She never did figure out how to use cordless phones. She’d hold the handset up to her mouth like a walkie-talkie. But then she was also the queen of passive-aggressive behavior; she probably could have learned it but it was much more fun to just make everyone around her wait on her hand and foot.

  19. but doesn’t/wont text.

    The other day MM said she didn’t want to have to talk to her stereo and she just wanted to use her phone as a phone. That’s what old people think. And yes, she’s going to have all her reasons but then in 30 years when the Macular Degeneration hits she’ll be as lost and helpless as Pseudo’s mom. “Mom, you wouldn’t have to move to assisted living if you’d just talk to the appliances and your care robot. I don’t want to talk to the appliances or my care robot!”

    Not to call out MM specifically but just as a general example of the need for all of us to be mindful of our growing crotchetiness.

  20. how hard is Alexa to set up?

    I assume you mean for you to set up for your mom? It’s super easy, the app walks you though the the process which isn’t that involved.

  21. Pseudo – Well, I recall the blowback years ago when I said the math SAT wasn’t hard, so I guess my perspective on hard may not be everyone’s. The Amazon products with Alexa are mass market, not mass affluent, so presumably fairly simple, and I am pretty good at home level technology, and even I had trouble and had to go online repeatedly to figure out all the steps to set up the intercom feature. It was annoying, not difficult. The echo dot for information, controlling smart home and streaming, intercom and spoken radio/books is really cheap, but not much of a music speaker. You can buy them in a five pack, I think. HM has better Amazon speakers and several years of experience, so maybe she can weigh in. Google’s products are behind Amazon’s in development, and aimed at a slightly more affluent market, so you might want to wait. However, you have teenaged children. They should be able to set anything up in a flash. Just like VCRs in the old days.

  22. I care about keeping up with technology, but I agree it can be a huge time sink. Particularly for those of us who are not the tinkering kind. So it can be frustrating to have a tool that I’m not fully utilizing because I haven’t yet put in the time to activate more features. Like Echo, for example. Maybe the next thing I’ll try to do is learn to control some lights.

  23. Pseudo, just for listening to stuff Alexa was easy to set up, and these things don’t come easy for me.

  24. We understand new tech and will adopt on our schedules. Of course this means when we are old farts, we won’t be adapting fast enough to stay independent. But there is hope… my mom, the best technological Luddite around, texts and uses an ipad as her main computer. We taught her the ipad, and I think we’ll work up to teaching her the iphone. We are getting there.

    My mom is getting a kindle for Xmas. that’s going to be fun for me to teach her how to use it. I guarantee I’ll read more books off that thing than she will.

    DH and I haven’t adopted Alexa or anything yet. We will eventually, but we have no need for it now. We tend to wait for the bugs to be figured out and come in as “late adopters” but with the bug-free versions. By then we have also tested the waters with our early-adopting friends, so the learning curve is short and sweet.

  25. And my lengthy description of Sonos was for Mooshi’s benefit (and more new customers may lead the company going public or being acquired and the options will be cashed in….). I find Sonos more plug n play than the Amazon gadgets, actually.

  26. I rely on Youtube for so many instructions these days. Just this morning I was struggling with changing out a small disc battery and I thought of Youtube before looking at any written directions for the product. But sometimes it’s not easy to find the best Youtube video because some are not as helpful.

  27. The problem is that I expect to be able to customize Alexa to my taste. It shouldn’t be so rigid. But she does understand my spoken commands well, unlike my Toyota entune factory installed system, which is a POS.

    You can use Alexa to create the shopping list. In the kitchen you say, Alexa, add milk. She then confirms, milk added to your shopping list. If you want some thing on the to do list, you have to specify add x to do list.

  28. Don’t rely on your resident kids to set up your tech without walking you thru it, or you will be SOL when the youngest goes away to college.
    My dad is very adept with tech and that has helped him tremendously, both in letting him get library books without having to go to the library and also in keeping them forever after he figured out how to convert them into his own files. If he were more patient with his neighbors who are less adept, he could keep busy as the resident IT guy at his retirement community.

    I am glad that we don’t have to deal with kids and smartphones, but having arbitrary age-based rules makes less sense than giving kids a phone when they need to be able to reach you. And I would not hesitate to make my kids’ phones off limits to families who won’t get their own kids a phone.

  29. Every time I think about not making the effort to learn a new thing (we are gadget heads and early adopters.) I think about my parents, they text, do online investing, use the new car gadgets, watch shows from all kinds of media delivery, do all the online versions of shopping, paying taxes, etc. My dad is almost 90! They have left all their friends behind in this regard long ago. They have friends that refuse to use the ATM machine! Of course their daughters and now their grandchildren have helped them set stuff up, learn it etc. We are very patient as he benefits us to have them be so savvy!

  30. “I rely on Youtube for so many instructions these days.”

    I had to watch the video on how to descale my fancy coffee pot this morning. Kind of a pain. No wonder everyone just spends $5 per cup at Starbucks.

  31. They have friends that refuse to use the ATM machine!

    Why is that? Is the obstinance to mask the fear they might make a mistake, or?

  32. I’ll admit that I’m slow to grasp new technology (but not nearly as slow as my parents – wish they would hurry up and get a smartphone). It is taking some time for me to like the alexa light off/light on feature. Some times she is like a third child and doesn’t listen.

    DD1 has a school issued chromebook and DD2 uses an ipad in school. The technology in the classroom is a huge help to DD1’s 504 plan. However I hate Schoology and the fact that the teacher would rather communicate and put everything in there as opposed to email.

  33. I just want the dang software developers who make changes for their own sake to get off my lawn. Example: I hate the “ribbon” with all the icons in MS Word, think it usually results in more steps than the menu commands/key strokes used to. Still can’t figure out how to make a header that numbers pages for the whole doc, but includes name of current section. I guess that makes me old. I don’t think I’m alone in this “the old version was better” lament. Why can’t they keep old interfaces, repair only code that truly doesn’t work, and sell it right next to their spanky new version?

  34. “teacher would rather communicate and put everything in there as opposed to email.”

    Is it “rather” or that they have to? Some teachers are contracted to only communicate through one portal so everything is in one place – grades, assignments, communications, etc. They think they are being transparent, but they are adding a level of frustration to parents to need to log on to yet another portal.

    ATMs – I love those machines. But I do like visiting my local teller. Need to keep them employed too!

  35. I am not even sure what “keeping up with technology” means. Does it mean having the latest smartphone? Does it mean knowing about Echos and Dots? Does it mean knowing how to spec out a high performance cluster system? Does it mean knowing the issues with healthcare data interoperability? How about using Amazon Web Services for a computational chemistry project? Or being involved in program trading? How about a 10 year old who is really good at Scratch?

    Does technology even mean computers? Someone who is really into performance cars, and knows everything about them, is an expert in technology.

    I think it is too general of a question. You can be like my DH, an expert at high performance financial algorithms, and still barely be able to use a smartphone.

  36. Rhett by the time I am old enough to need the assistive devices or whatever, likely we will have moved on completely from the voice activated Alexa model. Having been in the high tech sector for so long, I have seen tons of stuff come and go, and it leaves me less excited about devices for which I can’t see a use. Did you see the news the other day that AOL Instant Messenger is finally dead? I can remember when that was the hottest thing around, and everyone was saying this is the wave of the future. Yeah, right. So I will put my brainwaves into things I really need, like the cool new high performance workstation I am buying off a grant. When I need the assistive device, I can learn about it then.

  37. S&M said “I just want the dang software developers who make changes for their own sake to get off my lawn. Example: I hate the “ribbon” with all the icons in MS Word, think it usually results in more steps than the menu commands/key strokes used to. ”
    Trust me, that did not come from the software engineers. Microsoft has entire teams of user experience engineers and workflow designers who come up with these things. The software engineers also wish they wouldn’t have to implement the silly features.

  38. My friends think I’m whiz with technology. My kids think I’m learning challenged.

    We MADE DS get a phone when he was 10 so that we could always reach him. There were a few instances when we couldn’t find him and I was literally driving around in the dark looking for him. If I felt the phone was being abused, I’d take it away when he was in the house but I returned it when he left for school or an activity. We have a friend who delayed getting her son a phone for until he was almost in HS. The problem is that his friends couldn’t reach him, and he was left out of a lot of activities. I think his mother was OK with that because she felt that it would keep out of trouble and questionable situations but I felt it was really wrong. Any phone calls to the house had to go through her, etc.

    I got Alexa last year when HM posted that it was on sale at Amazon. We’re not using it to it’s full potential. My favorite task is to ask Alexa to add something to the Trader Joe’s list or the supermarket list, especially when I’m right in the middle of cooking and I’ve used the last of an ingredient. I’ve noticed that Alexa has a hard time with any item that has 3 or more syllables like frozen blueberries, steel cut oats, etc.

    My parents are dinosaurs when it comes to tech. My mother is so hesitant to use it, even the GPS in the car, and as a result, she never learns how to really use a tech gadget. She has an iPad that she uses infrequently. She keeps it in the original box. When she’s done using it, she cleans the screen and puts in back in the box.

  39. I love technology and like to play with the latest gadgets.

    However, (and I’m sure Rhett will tell me to put my tinfoil hat back on), I refuse to have anything that allows people to listen in to my home (Echo or whatever) or give people access to my home (Amazon’s door lock thingy). It pisses me off to no end that there is no way to disable Starlink in the Subaru without voiding the warranty (you have to physically disconnect something behind the dashboard). Maybe I’m paranoid, but I don’t want to give anyone (especially a corporation whose objective is to use data about me to make money) that kind of access to my life.

  40. Did you see the news the other day that AOL Instant Messenger is finally dead? I can remember when that was the hottest thing around, and everyone was saying this is the wave of the future. Yeah, right.

    Um, what do you think texting, Whatsapp, Slack, facebook messenger, etc, are based on? They are just different forms of messaging.

    I just want the dang software developers who make changes for their own sake to get off my lawn.

    I don’t mind improvements, but it drives me nuts when they remove features that I use. Google is rolling out it’s new calendar interface. On the old version, the little calendar on the left bolds the dates that you have appointments on. The new version doesn’t do that. It’s a little thing, but I find it very handy, and I can’t figure out any good reason why they would remove it.

  41. I was proud of myself because I figured out how to watch the Crown on a new TV without any assistance from DD or DH. It involved a separate remote with a funky design to get into Netflix since the TV is set to the cable box as a default.

    I am not good with some technology, but I really appreciate it once I figure stuff out. BTW, I finished the second season of the The Crown and I really liked it.

  42. I think if you buy a gadget you have to spend time setting it up and testing out its features. You may not use all of the features but do try to push yourself out of your comfort zone and get to know what you can do with your gadget.
    My latest gadget is my car, so I read through the manual and go fidget with various screens to figure out what is where. Also there are helpful emails that the car company sent out which are a quick guide.
    My old car had no driver assist technology, which is a big change for me.
    We are not early adopters but I do want to keep current with the common technology available.
    My parents when they were married bought a very high end record player system which also had a single cassette deck. Then for years even after record players were outdated and smaller portable cassette devices became popular, we had none of that. In the end rather late we got a CD player.
    With our kids, we give them technology that is in line with our community norms and with their peers. Most kids got cell phones in 6th/7th grade. Chromebooks are now being issued in the 6th grade. Phones are not allowed to be used during the school day but the kids use their phones before and after school.
    I strongly disagree with not letting your kid have a phone and expecting other kids to be their personal Messanger service.

  43. Does it mean having the latest smartphone? Does it mean knowing about Echos and Dots?

    Yes – although a smart phone of recent vintage is fine.

    Does it mean knowing how to spec out a high performance cluster system?

    And I say this out of love – this is exactly the kind of crotchety logic that’s going to drive your kids nucking futs. I know you were a CS Prof mom but you really need to figure out how to use the transporter so you can stop materializing in our bedroom at exactly the wrong time.

  44. Pseudo, first of all, there’s a whole family of Echos for different purposes. Echo is the device, Alexa is the voice interface / cloud connection that comes with it. The basic Echo has Alexa (with a phone / tablet app available to supplement for when you want to dig into settings and so on) and has a speaker equivalent to a niceish bluetooth single speaker, i.e. music sounds just fine in your kitchen but it’s not going to fill a hall. The Echo Dot has Alexa with a smaller cheaper speaker, more like a radio alarm type speaker, so you either use that one primarily just to talk to (intercom, asking it the weather, controlling lights / thermostat), or you plug it into / bluetooth link it to whatever better speakers you want to use instead. It is cheaper since it has the cheaper speaker. The Echo Plus, a new one, is made for people who want to run a smart home via Alexa but don’t already have a hub — the various lights, thermostats, and other smart home stuff needs a hub to connect to that in the past has been separate from the Echo itself. With the Echo Plus, there’s a hub built in, so you have that in addition to Alexa and the niceish single speaker. And then I think they still have the Echo Tap, which is a portable version that’s sort of like a portable bluetooth speaker with Alexa built in, so you could take it to a friend’s house or to the beach and run it off the friend’s wifi or your phone wifi or something and stream your music that way.

    And then you have the newer additions to the family that bring in visual. The Echo Show, which we just got one of, has Alexa and a decent speaker still, but adds in a touch screen. Ours rotates through photos from our Amazon photo collection in the background and shows weather and news headlines in the foreground when it’s idle, along with suggestions for things to ask Alexa. Because it has the screen, it also adds the ability to watch videos, show you pictures or recipes, that sort of thing. (They’re fighting with Google so YouTube has gone unavailable, alas. Work it out, guys!)
    And of course if your family members have one too, you can do video calls. There’s a smaller version they’ve just announced called the Echo Spot which I’m guessing has a cheaper speaker in addition to the smaller screen and seems to be intended to be your new bedroom alarm clock (default when idle looks to be a clock face).

    So for all of those, when you get a new one, first thing you’re doing is connecting Alexa to your home network. That’s pretty straightforward, assuming you’re already familiar with the concept of home wifi network and wifi password. At that point, you can ask her to play say KHPR, or Christmas music (she’ll pick a playlist from Amazon Prime music), or the weather, or who won the Seahawks game, and she’ll respond. But you’ll want to go into the Alexa app on your phone / tablet and give her your home address (for meaningful traffic reports and so she doesn’t give the weather based on where your ISP is located instead of where you are), select the kind of news you want in your news feed, maybe enable some skills like Jeopardy, set up or link to the calendar you want her to be referring to when you ask what’s on your calendar, and give the account info for your Pandora or other accounts that you want her to play from. That’s still straightforward enough. It gets a little more complicated if you’re trying to set her up to control your lights or thermostat or whatnot — very doable, but you’ll probably end up googling some aspect of it. And as Meme said, the intercom feature (aka dropping in) and the phone call feature (whether video call or just audio) are fussier because you have to first set it up on the Alexa app on your phone, idk why since it’s not using your cell phone to make the call, and there’s an extra step to authorize your own Echoes to accept drop ins to be able to use them as an intercom from room to room. Very doable still, but expect to have to google when you’re doing it.

  45. DD – I agree. I also don’t like the idea of being hacked. After DS1 was born, I saw a CSI: Cyber “ripped from the headlines” about a baby video monitor being hacked and used to kidnap/sell the baby. That was enough for me to not want one. Rare, I know, but enough to freak me out.

    Plus I’ve also seen enough scary movies that having any video feeds in the house freaks me out. I’m thinking more of ghost things than watching serial killers enter my house.

  46. I saw a CSI: Cyber “ripped from the headlines” about a baby video monitor being hacked and used to kidnap/sell the baby.

  47. In the home country WhatsApp is really popular so my mother and in laws use their phones a lot because of WhatsApp. A ton of people of their generation in the home country use it so they felt they had to get on it to keep in touch. They didn’t use Facebook at all.

  48. And I don’t mean to be an ass. I just really think this is an issue that we really have to keep in check as we get older.

    I have a great deal of patience with both people and IT issue so I’ve been tasked with helping a friend’s elderly mother (who just lost her husband) deal with all of her technology issues. He did everything before. It’s really hard and stressful and scary to be in your 70s and a generation or two behind everyone else. I don’t want that to happy to any of us. It’s a very serious issues.

  49. A few months ago, at a family funeral, the sibs and I were discussing the technology aps we could and couldn’t figure out. Two of us can’t figure out snapchat. Of course, part of the problem is that it is really hard to see a potential photo and come up with a witty remark while putting on a filter. How much of not being able to use technology for older folks is the all the cognitive stuff involved? Not only do you have to figure out how to make it work, you also need to be interesting.

  50. “Um, what do you think texting, Whatsapp, Slack, facebook messenger, etc, are based on? They are just different forms of messaging.”

    They are actually all based on different underlying technologies. Texting is SMS, and bypasses phone data service altogether. It is often used in phone apps aimed at third world countries where there is likely no data service. You don’t need a smartphone or data service to text. Slack is basically a messageboard with some hip graphics. Facebook messenger is probably closest to AOL Instant Messenger. Does anyone here remember talk? That was a feature of the original Unix systems that let you do a “talk” request. The recipient would see the request on his or her computer and could accept or reject it. If accepted, you got something similar to SMS texting, but it was built on top of TCP/IP using sockets and could run on a local area network, or later on, the Internet. Do any of you know IRC? That is beloved in the open source community despite being like 30 years old.

  51. Mooshi, what’s the term for all the people you mention in your 12:43 post? Apparently “developers” translates to “engineers” for you, so I don’t know the catch-all phrase for everyone. And really, I care which of them does it about as much as I care whether I’m using a comforter or a duvet. They’re all comforters. As long as they get the job done, I don’t care to specify.

  52. Software engineers build the code. Test engineers test it. User experience engineering is a new term for what probably used to be called “user interface designer”. Those people don’t write code or know much about it. They spend lots of time working with users, measuring them, timing their responses, getting feedback, etc. They also story board the entire flow. Ultimately, though, big changes to the look and feel, like that ribbon, usually come down from upper management.

  53. To DD’s paranoia – the older lady I’m helping was crying last night because no one calls. I think part of that is because those kinds of social updates happen on Facebook these days. She doesn’t have Facebook because her late husband was convinced people would use Facebook to know they weren’t home and come and rob them. And because of that his wife is home alone crying. I could see that with DD, if MM is right that we’re moving toward a world with a lot more technology controlled by Alexa like devices. If the world moves on you really need to move with it.

  54. We don’t have Alexa etc. bc we don’t like the idea of the tracking on it and the kids asking it inappropriate things (which they would undoubtedly do). Otherwise we are up on tech. DH is now cursing himself for not buying more bitcoin back in 2012. ;)

  55. I’m all for technology when it solves a problem I have. When I was car shopping 18 months ago, I was only looking at cars that had Apple Carplay, to make it easy for me to listen to my podcasts. Only a few did at the time – I think it’s really common now.

    But Alexa/Echo don’t seem to solve a problem I have, or enhance an experience I want to have, so I’m not so interested in those.

  56. Our new DVR remote took some figuring out, but oh how do I love it. It has voice recognition and is really good at understanding me. Much better than stupid Siri who spends all her time searching the web.

  57. And because of that his wife is home alone crying. I could see that with DD, if MM is right that we’re moving toward a world with a lot more technology controlled by Alexa like devices. If the world moves on you really need to move with it.

    I would have no problem with an Alexa device that doesn’t send all my information to a giant corporation.

  58. They are actually all based on different underlying technologies.

    That totally ignores my point. They are all forms of messaging, just like AOLIM was. Messaging in general was “the future”, not AOLIM specifically.

  59. “you plug it into / bluetooth link it to whatever better speakers you want to use instead.”

    In this context, does “speakers” actually refer to speaker/amplifier combinations? I.e., does the Dot include an amplifier?

    My guess is that it doesn’t, and this comes back to a peeve of mine, using existing terms for something else, especially when that something else is something quite similar but with significant differences.

  60. “I don’t mind improvements, but it drives me nuts when they remove features that I use.”

    Like when MS changed Outlook so that the reminder window no longer pops up above other open windows.

  61. Finn, many speakers sold nowadays do not require a separate amplifier to drive them. (Sort of like how the phono preamp over time came to be included in your typical receiver / amp.) You may have seen those ubiquitous little bluetooth speakers that people even attach to their bikes or mobility scooters so they can blast their tunes as they roll. Or the soundbars people use for tvs. You can connect a sound source directly to those either via minijack cable or via bluetooth, without the need to run them through an amp / receiver.

    If you have traditional stereo speakers that are made to connect via speaker wire to a receiver / amp, then you will still need to connect to the receiver / amp to use those speakers.

    Really, Finn, do you find it puzzling and wonder where the amp is when people talk about plugging in or connecting a phone or ipod to a speaker?

  62. “I don’t mind improvements, but it drives me nuts when they remove features that I use.”

    This! I am STILL mourning the death of Word Perfect and reveal codes! I miss all the Function keys F7, F4, Ctrl-Alt-Delete

    I get the need to stay on top of things but I understand how you could get behind. It happens so fast and it is hard to develop competency with something you don’t have cause to use like SnapChat since it is really just for the kids and I know that it will change probably right about the time I learn how to do it.

    The funny thing about technology is that it is AH-MAZING, TOTALLY AHMAZING until it doesn’t work and then it is absolute CRAP – at least for me there is no feeling in between! My kids know to skedaddle when something goes wrong with the tech because I turn into a lunatic which I know is not rational but I get so frustrated and feel so powerless.

  63. Finn – if you have high quality “classic” speakers already, Sonos makes a wireless amp to use as part of the system. So you can have your cake and eat it too. Their wireless speakers, which can be set up in multiple configurations including stereo and surround sound for the tv, do of course contain an amplifier. There would be no way otherwise to govern the volume otherwise, as well as drive the voice coil.

  64. I just want to be able to keep up and not be the 70 year old lady who is sacred and can’t figure things out. My mother in the home country has a tech guy who sets gadgets up for her and shows her how to use them. She also calls him up when her computer, iPad won’t connect etc. She goes and visits her Apple dealer who showed her how to work her new iPhone.
    When my parents visit here, they regularly go to the mall where they will go to the Apple and Microsoft stores and check out the devices. It is not so great when grandparents eagerly discuss the latest gaming systems with your kids and both generations eventually want you buy it :-).

  65. HM, I can figure it out, but as I mentioned, it’s a peeve. It’s also good to know before buying stuff. BTW, I can remember when such devices were referred to as “amplified speakers,” which was much less ambiguous.

    I can also imagine some undesired results when someone confuses the two, e.g., connecting a power amp output to the input of an amplified speaker.

    I’m impressed that you know about phono preamps. I’m not aware of a time at which phono preamps were commonly standalone devices, although I do remember such devices for very high-end systems.

  66. As for being “hacked”, at the age of 11 (1962) I read 1984 and pretty much since that day assumed that sooner rather than later there would be a viewscreen or equivalent everywhere I went, and that my only consolation was to assume Big Brother was uninterested in watching me. I am not willing to live off grid. And frankly, although marketers are trying to figure out ways to tap into aging Boomer wealth, in general, no one is interested in scrutinizing the month to month changes in shopping interests of anyone older than 45-50.

  67. Mémé, how do you control the volume on those Sonos speaker/amplifier systems? I’m assuming they also include wireless receivers and D/A converters.

  68. “They are all forms of messaging, just like AOLIM was. Messaging in general was “the future”, not AOLIM specifically.”

    And they are also the past, as in old Unix talk, and IRC. Heck, the mainframe at my undergrad university sipported a weird amalgam of messaging and social networking in the early 80’s – we all could adopt online identities and shoot each other messages at will. It was always fun looking around the big computer center, trying to figure out which person was “ratboy” sending you a weird message.

    Also,Slack is not in the same paradigm at all. It is really a message board, like good old Usenet, ultimately related to (remember these) online bulletin boards.

  69. Finn – I doubt you remember much about anything before the early 70s, when the modern non audiophile stereo system for the middle class first became available.

  70. Couldn’t you get used to the genuflection?

    I could but you should give posters a pass on there spelling.

  71. Yes the speakers have a wireless receiver and and all digital input audio output devices have a DA converter. The wireless amp has to generate analog output, so of course it has a DA converter. I can ask alexa to increase the volume if I have an echo device in the system. I can use the smartphone, tablet or pc/mac app to adjust volume on any speaker in the house or to group speakers to play the same thing in multiple rooms. The TV surround sound system can be controlled from the FIOS remote. Or I can walk over to the speaker and toggle the volume switch, just as I would turn the dial or toggle the switch or press the remote control for an amp or receiver or cd player.

  72. Louise, sorry, I wasn’t criticizing your spelling. I know what you meant, it’s just that what was actually posted was humorous, at least to me. I appreciated that humor and wanted to share it.

    And I never assume spelling errors on the part of posters here. I’m assuming some posts are made on phones, and most phones have keypads that make typing difficult, and ‘autocorrect’ also sometimes changes things from what was really meant.

    When I’m using my phone keypad, sometimes I won’t bother correcting typos because that’s too much of a hassle, and I know that the people reading that will know what I meant.

  73. “trying to figure out which person was “ratboy””

    I can guess at the identity of ratgirl.

  74. Mémé, thanks for the Sonos info. That tells me that besides the amp, speaker, wireless receiver(s), and D/A converter, they have a preamp that controls the volume.

    I’m guessing that when you ask Alexa to change the volume, a signal is sent to the Sonos unit telling it to change the volume.

  75. Mémé, right, it was in the early 70s when I first became interested in ‘audiophile’ equipment, i.e., separate units for the various functions.

    I do remember the old box-style record players from my childhood, with the integrated lid. Then we upgraded to a Zenith system that had real stereo audio and a record changer.

  76. “And I don’t mean to be an ass. I just really think this is an issue that we really have to keep in check as we get older.”
    I really have to work on this. I’ve been watching my mother, who last learned something new in 1987, struggle to function in a tech heavy world. Like Rhett’s elderly client, she refuses to use a cell phone or open the email on the computer, which she also refused to upgrade from Window’s HP and so it really isn’t functional, anyway. She resents that her friends are always texting their grandkids and looking at pictures on their ipads. It is sad because so much enjoyment in life is just lost to the stubborn belief that Nothing Must Change. I’m convinced the next broken hip will occur when she is rushing across the apartment to answer the corded phone in the kitchen, that will invariably be a solicitor. But she “doesn’t need” caller ID.
    So whenever something new comes along, I try to learn something about it. So if anyone wants to tell me the function of “Pocket” …. My browser really wants me to use it, for whatever it does.

  77. DD- The new Goog calendar. Blech. I can’t figure out how to quickly add an appointment – everything defaults to all-day, or (with a click) goes to start at the current time. So, I used to be able to write “STC 3p-11p” and get an appointment at those times called “STC”. Now if I do that, I get an all day alert called “STC 3p-11p”. Otherwise, I can unclick all-day, then scroll through to a start time, scroll through to an end time. It’s probably 10 clicks. As I write my daily schedule on the calendar, my kids’ events, and the Au Pair’s hours, it not functional. Looking for something new.

  78. For the really technology unsavvy – there are picture frames you can buy for them that auto-upload pics from your phone (I’m sure there’s some controls or approval, so you don’t send them inappropriate things). The old-person can have a rotating digital picture in their home that you can control. It’s super cool. (Though does require home wifi, I think).

  79. I could but you should give posters a pass on there spelling.

    I find Finn’s observations endearing. He just likes to point out amusing malapropisms.

  80. One other observation – I think the median Totebag age may be in the mid 40s. It’s quite possible that some of us will live to our late 80s or early 90s. It’s also possible and even likely that the world will change more in the next 45 years than it has in the previous 45 years.

  81. One of my elementary school classmates is the dean of undergrad at UT Austin. Another classmate, friends with the first, spent time in San Quentin for various offenses. The latter classmate was the sole black classmate in my school. The two were both really nice little boys and I remember they played together. God, I’d love to talk to each of them and trace their journeys.

    (And of course it’s not all about race; classmate #1 was the smartest kid in my class by a large margin.)

  82. Rhett- you are right! I am in my mid fifties and already have tons of friends who laugh about how their kids have to do everything technical for them. Or that crotchety attitude where the new thing is “stupid” or “not useful” NOT COOL. You have to fight this! It will really affect your quality of life and interactions with younger people. Or make you dependent on others. It’s like exercise or learning about nutrition- you can choose to ignore that for only so long…

  83. “It’s also possible and even likely that the world will change more in the next 45 years than it has in the previous 45 years.”

    That’s terrifying, like when the trainer stands by the treadmill and just keeps bumping the speed up!

  84. That’s terrifying, like when the trainer stands by the treadmill and just keeps bumping the speed up!

    See, that’s why I don’t have a trainer.

    I think you have to pick and choose a bit. I will always focus on the technology that facilitates communication. I don’t care so much about the perfect audio experience, or some of the other stuff.

  85. “who laugh about how their kids have to do everything technical for them. ”
    not an issue for us. Well, except for setting up Minecraft… I let my oldest set up my daughter.

  86. My parents bought an Accoustic Research stereo system in 1968. It had a big amplifier, a nice turntable that we kids were never allowed to go near, and two big speakers. The next year, they bought a used reel to reel tape system so they could put together their own party mixes. We still had cardboard boxes serving as endtables, and we kids slept on cots, but dang it, they had their stereo system. It was a very 60’s attitude. They kept the system until the 80’s.

  87. “It’s also possible and even likely that the world will change more in the next 45 years than it has in the previous 45 years.”
    This is precisely why I don’t worry about whether I am familiar with the latest hot tech. If it meets my needs, fine. But I am not going to waste time learning something new if it doesn’t solve a need. Why? Because it is wasted time – whatever the hot tech is, guaranteed it will be gone in 5 years.

    I also don’t like vendorlock. So I don’t want to get too emmeshed in Apple tech, or Amazon tech, because it is constraining. I am annoyed that our music is stranded in iTunes, but if we spend lots of time migrating it to Amazon, then it is just locked up there.

    Hot tech that I cannot live without: cloud based backup that runs every couple of hours. It has saved me so many times.

  88. So, I don’t think this is about understanding some kind of high technology. It’s really about doing things the “new and improved” way. It means using text messages to coordinate a carpool, not email or voicemail. It means using the Internet to purchase things, print postage, track packages. It mean signing up for direct deposit. Renewing your drivers license online.

    There are lots of people in the 50 and over who cannot do any of the above things. In another day or two, there will be a new list of things that should be done a different way. You don’t have to be the first to jump on the bandwagon, but don’t be alone at home wondering why nobody calls you anymore.

  89. Sidenote. We have moved all of our text messaging to what’sap. It is superior to other instant messaging programs I have used, and is used extensively by nonAmericans which is how it was introduced to us. I like that I can see when the last time the person checked the messages was. I can also tell when the message has been read. Additionally, because it works over Wi-Fi, I can send and receive messages at work even though I am outside of cell service.

  90. A new technology that I would definitely embrace is one that facilitates a more usable telephone keypad.

  91. Drift– I just got an email that our 2018 property tax bill is available.

    Given the likelihood of changes to the deductibility of such taxes, do you think I should pay it this month? Normal due dates are half in mid-February, the other half in mid-August.

  92. Given the likelihood of changes to the deductibility of such taxes, do you think I should pay it this month? Normal due dates are half in mid-February, the other half in mid-August.

    The head of the estate planning department at DH’s firm sent out an email suggesting that folks pay any taxes they can before Dec. 31 for just this reason. I went ahead and paid the state quarterly estimated instead of waiting til January.

  93. We have moved all of our text messaging to what’sap.

    I use multiple texting platforms at once — mainly SMS, Google Messaging, and the work one, but also regular Skype or FB messenger if someone wants to talk that way. This is how I texted my 8th grader a question I intended for my co-worker earlier today . . .

  94. “It means using text messages to coordinate a carpool, not email ”
    Could somebody explain to me why this is superior? Text messaging is an ancient technology, pretty much as ancient as email. Email applications have evolved to do all sorts of really useful things that text message apps don’t handle well. And once they do, they will look remarkably like email.
    I do use text messaging all the time. But I have colleagues who will not use email. Everything has to be text message, which is really annoying when I want to compose a long and rational response, or easily insert a document which is on the computer, or even do simple things like categorize messages or run a search on all reply threads.

    As for setting up carpools, it isn’t better or worse than email. We all can read email on our phones, as well as text messages. It just seems weird to me to think you are somehow more with-it if you use text instead of email, because they are both equally old dinosaur technologies.

  95. One of my favorite new apps is MightyText, which routes all my phone texts to my gmail account. That way, I can use a real keyboard to reply, and display the message in a font big enough to read. And I can coherently reply to my colleague who refuses to use email

  96. “text instead of email, because they are both equally old dinosaur technologies.”

    Many people have been using email much longer than text, and thus they consider texting newer technology.

    I agree with you on email being preferable.

  97. One other thing that peeves me about text messaging, and this has nothing to do with the technology itself. For years, I have been really careful about separating personal stuff from work stuff. I keep my personal email in gmail, and all my personal stuff on my home computer. My work emails go to my work email address, and my work files live on my work computer. I do use Dropbox when I need to shuffle things around, but I mainly keep things very separated. If I don’t want to read work email, I just shot down the work laptop, or close the work email application. But now, with colleagues insisting on text messaging, I have to use my personal phone which means they have my personal phone number, which I do not like. I don’t want my work messages mixed in the same application as my kids messages about getting picked up. When my phone buzzes at 9m, I feel like I have to look because maybe it is a kid, but now I see it is my chair, and I feel like I now need to answer it. It feels like an intrusion of work into my personal sphere, and I don’t like it.

  98. “Many people have been using email much longer than text, and thus they consider texting newer technology.”
    That is because they know little about the actual technology that underlies this stuff, and they also know nothing about the history of technology.

  99. “I can also tell when the message has been read.”

    Oh, I do not like that. On my text message program I can disable that feature. I do use whatsapp as a back up or when traveling sometimes.

    I still view texts as more urgent than email so I have notification alerts set up for texts but not for emails. I can probably set up so that texts from my kids and other important people trigger a notification but other texts do not, but I have haven’t gotten around to that. It’s annoying to get alerts when unimportant texts come in. And of course group texts can be horrible.

  100. “So, I don’t think this is about understanding some kind of high technology. It’s really about doing things the “new and improved” way. … You don’t have to be the first to jump on the bandwagon, but don’t be alone at home wondering why nobody calls you anymore.”

    Yes. Some of my relatives can only be reached by phone or snail mail. It’s much harder to stay in touch and keep them in the loop about any family updates.

  101. Mooshi, re your 1:42 comment. You probably can list off more types of people who work in hospitals in some kind of health care role than I can, because of your experience with your son. But if someone came in to draw blood and then someone else brought meds and someone else came to check his vitals or set up tests or treatments with you and eventually someone in the room said something about the kid not being able to sleep because of all the nurses running in and out all day long , you’d know what they meant. They don’t need to list out phlebotomist, dietician, lpn, and the rest, because in that statement, it doesn’t matter. Believe it or not, for end users, all the fine distinctions you drew out in response to my request for one word that includes them all really aren’t what I’m looking for. I’m a perfectly intelligent person, but when it comes to this stuff, I’m perfectly happy to be a dumb end user. I don’t care if you’re wearing a blouse or a sweatshirt or a T-shirt or turtleneck or mock turtleneck, there are times when all that matters is you’ve got a shirt on. And I don’t want to hurt your feelings, but when talking about all the people behind the software I use to write a document, they’re all programmers. Or a different group term if you want to give me one.

  102. “But now, with colleagues insisting on text messaging, I have to use my personal phone which means they have my personal phone number, which I do not like.”

    Well, there is a brute force way around this, which is to get a work phone in addition to your personal phone.

    Or is there a text messaging app that would work on your work computer?

  103. “they know little about the actual technology that underlies this stuff, and they also know nothing about the history of technology.”

    Exactly. Most people who aren’t in loved in making it are not interested, except perhaps in the human stories.

  104. Ada, I agree that it isn’t highly complicated tech, or else it wouldn’t be so popular, but I also think that most of the things you called “new and improved” in scare quotes actually are an improvement. Loosing my drivers license over ten years ago in Georgia was a major pain in the neck, because the DMV was far, and had limited hours of operation. I recently renewed my Florida DL online, approximately 1000 times faster and more easily.

    Add me to the list of people who reads texts as they come in on my phone and takes more time for emails. We also have a computer program (see a Mooshi, I do listen to some of your corrections, even though it makes no difference to me) that lets us read and send text messages on the laptop.

  105. Finn, I thought of two phones too. Aren’t there phones that let you use two SIM cards, so you have two numbers on the same device? I thought I’d heard of such a thing years ago, but maybe they decided not to develop it further. But I’m pretty sure a Skype number can be added onto a regular cell phone, so that it effectively has two numbers, which could then have different ringtones. Talking through it I realize there’s a much easier way—assign people their own notification sounds for texts &/or set up “priority” numbers on your phone, so only some people get through.

  106. “Talking through it I realize there’s a much easier way—assign people their own notification sounds for texts &/or set up “priority” numbers on your phone, so only some people get through.”

    That would address part of Mooshi’s problem, allowing her to ignore work texts when she’s not working, but still means her coworkers have her personal number.

    The Skype number/separate ringtone combo idea sounds very promising.

  107. “Or a different group term if you want to give me one.”
    Try “product managers”, or even “top management”. Because they’re the ones who are making the decisions to change the interface to a ribbon.

    If a hospital decides to eliminate a service that you had been depending on, you wouldn’t blame the nurses. You would probably blame the hospital management. Same idea.

  108. Having a separate ringtone doesn’t help, because I still hear it and know that someone from work wants to communicate with me NOW. I can’t just turn it off.

    My husband has a work phone and for a while he tried to manage having his own personal phone plus a work phone but it really sucked. He had to carry two devices around at work. Now he just uses the work phone and we all have that number to reach him at. But that isn’t great either because he isn’t allowed to install any apps on the workphone, so it is kind of like a really dumb smartphone. A low IQ smartphone, as Rhett might say

  109. ALERT RE PREPAYMENT OF TAXES. I’ll put this on the political thread too. Latest news report I read says that they threw in an “anti abuse” rule in the conference bill that will disallow a 2017 deduction for prepaid property taxes, and that would likely include personal property taxes ( boats?) due next year. So don’t bother until your accountant can read the final text next week. Paying your 4th quarter state income tax installment before Dec 31 is still fine AND advisable.

  110. I find Finn’s observations endearing. He just likes to point out amusing malapropisms.

    I’m glad someone likes them because some of us find them incredible annoying, pompous, and condescending.

  111. I am annoyed that our music is stranded in iTunes, but if we spend lots of time migrating it to Amazon, then it is just locked up there.

    Just export them (or manually copy the files if they are already mp3s) into a folder on your laptop, or an external hard drive or memory stick or whatever. Then you’re not locked into any vendor.

  112. Mémé, what would be the downside to paying the 2018 property taxes this month?

    I guess that really depends on what the final bill looks like. Last I looked, it sounded like a $10k limit on deduction of property, sales, and state income tax (I wonder how that affect my state, where we don’t have a sales tax but we have a GET (general excise tax) that looks and sounds like a sales tax) (I also wonder about those who have local income taxes in addition to state income taxes).

    So I’m thinking if I’d have $10k of deductible taxes without our 2018 property taxes, then the downside of paying this year is if the deductible amount goes up before the final bill. But the downside of not paying this year is losing that deduction if the anti abuse rule gets added.

    So I guess I’ll go with your advice to wait and see. I still have two weeks to decide.

  113. Mooshi – you can stream music over your home wifi from apple devices even in its proprietary format to Sonos and I am sure to other cheaper options if you upload it off all those ancient Ipods to a slightly less old device running Itunes, even someone’s outdated discarded but functional Macbook. The website for whatever speaker system or bridge you choose will give you details. If you only consider products or interfaces that haven’t yet decided to work with Apple, you will have to convert the files to mp3, which can be done, either to an old pc used as a storage device or to a cloud music service. I bet your daughter could handle the project.

  114. Finn Just Wait and let the professionals explain it to you when we see the final text. Your tax understanding is pretty good, but not quite good enough to avoid all traps for the unwary.

  115. “But Alexa/Echo don’t seem to solve a problem I have, or enhance an experience I want to have, so I’m not so interested in those.”

    Ditto. And I’m not interested in moving all my stuff from Apple either.

    I hate android.

    I agree that the right time for a kid to get a phone is when you, The parent, need them to have one. DS has had an iPad since he was 4, so I think him having a phone is basically just going to mean he will have data to use away from WiFi, and it will cost us another line on our plan. It seems like the norm with his peers is 6th or 7th grade for a phone.

  116. Mooshi, On an iphone, edit your contacts and when selecting ringtones/text alert tones, click the button to make give your kids emergency access so they’ll get through when you set your phone to private. Then set it to private on weekends.

    Rhett, I agree with you that it makes no sense to remove that. That things that are driving me insane with my new phone are that it no longer vibrates to tell you when Siri is “listening”. To know if the thing you use so you don’t have to type is working, you have to look away from what ever you were doing, which is contrary to the point of using it. Not that Siri is very good about that anyway—seems half of the responses are pulling up text for me to read. But the other thing I hate, hate, hate is that the keyboard doesn’t have forward and back arrows, just a back delete key. Drives me insane, because it makes it so much harder to fix typos.

    Anon, that’s really rude to sling arrows from the dark. Tell the man straight up. Every once in a while I’ve agreed with your comment, and when it gets to me, I’ve told him. I hope that saying it directly and giving him a chance to respond or at least consider the source is the kinder, less hurtful approach. Because causing pain isn’t the point.

  117. One of my favorite new apps is MightyText, which routes all my phone texts to my gmail account.

    I like MIghtyText too, enough to use the paid version. But I wouldn’t call it new ;-).

  118. Because it is wasted time – whatever the hot tech is, guaranteed it will be gone in 5 years.

    And that will be your excuse why you can’t get the transporter to work when you’re 92. “I don’t know why I need to use the neural interface….” And it may very well be that it won’t happen to you, but it sure as hell happens to a lot of people.

  119. Because it is wasted time – whatever the hot tech is, guaranteed it will be gone in 5 years.

    The only thing constant is change (wrongly attributed to Heraclitus per Wikipedia).

  120. Could somebody explain to me why this is superior?

    The hierarchy of urgency.

    Email: Dave’s 40th Birthday Invite (although that’s migrating to Facebook…)

    Text: Would mind driving Billy to school tomorrow?

    Call: Kate was in an accident. I need to go to the hospital. Can you take the kids?

  121. SM – like you, I’m only an end user of Microsoft Office, but I appreciated learning Mooshi’s insight about the varied roles within the company for how a new version is developed, and that there are employees who are solely focused on the user’s experience and interaction with the software.

  122. Milo, granted, that background can be interesting to know. But in daily conversation, do you find it helpful to make such distinctions? How would it strike you if someone referred to all the people in one of your stories about life on a sub as “sailors”?

  123. Last night I wasted a few minutes trying to add a song twice to an Amazon playlist. This was something I could do in iTunes but apparently not in Amazon. So if I have a 50-song playlist but there are one or two favorite songs that I’d like to play twice (or more) in the rotation I used to be able to add multiples of those songs. After I spent a few minutes silently bemoaning this Amazon glitch, I reflected that it wasn’t that many years ago that the only way to create a customized playlist was to make a cassette of favorite songs. So I still come out ahead.

    This seems to describe a way to only allow text notifications from a few important people to come up on my phone. Not sure if it’s a legit fix. (I accidentally discovered DND mode on my phone one time when I was missing texts and finally figured out I had somehow activated that mode.)
    How to receive messages from specific contacts in Do Not Disturb mode on iPhone and iPad
    https://www.imore.com/how-receive-messages-specific-contacts-do-not-disturb-mode

  124. I use a do not disturb feature on my phone. No calls or texts will ring through except those on a favorites list (close family) OR if the same number calls 3 times in rapid succession. I really need to get the (custom loud) text noise at 6 am from my DIL if one of the kids wakes up puking and I have to drive out to babysit. I also have a media mute on my tablet from 11pm to 8 am so if I am using the device before bedtime and an annoying video starts to play no one is disturbed. When we get alexa in the bedroom we will probably have to set dnd on that device, too.

  125. Catching up a bit, I am amazed at how high tech all of you are. All of this information about music, speakers, streaming, ripping, etc. I know nothing about. But then again music is not important to me. I rarely choose to listen to music.

    I don’t see a need for Echo/Alexa or smart home stuff at this point, so we don’t have one.

    MM – my work has a separate app on my iPhone and all work emails go to that. Work colleagues do not use my personal number (except for absolute emergencies, not the typical work emergencies). [In fact most people simply email instead of calling and most don’t use voicemail at all. My firm does not like texting – all communications must be saved and auditable, so only email is used.] I turned off the notifications feature on my work app so I can detach from work and check it only when I want.

    Rhett – I do take your point that I do need to keep up. In fact DH is our computer tech guy, but he is not really an expert. He’s usually just more patient. (Most times DH has lost his temper is when dealing with crap technology.) I will ask him to explain the wifi, router, systems kind of stuff to me. I too need to better understand the functionality of the stuff we already use – the TV, Google Calendar, etc.

    My kids are turning 10 and we expect to get them phones probably next school year, when we won’t have a sitter after school any longer and they’ll be more on their own. They do have iPads, but don’t realize that they have email, texting capability. They play games or watch You Tube and that’s about it. I do play many of their games with them, so am at least up on lingo and understand with whom they’re playing and communicating.

  126. Kerri, I’m 90% with you on the music. Only difference is that I do sometimes like to listen to music, especially now that the news has become so horribly depressing day after day (they didn’t elect the violent homophobe accused pedophile—yay?). But I usually just want a type of music—low fi if I’m trying to concentrate, Speed Metal to pick up stuff around the house, Afropop to clean the kitchen—so I’m fine with Pandora and other sites that have stations for various things. It turns out I have a couple stations of my own, made when I wanted to skip songs. It turns out that some music is important to my son for getting in touch with/dealing with emotions. It’s a classic teen thing that never clicked for me. I’m glad he has it.

  127. Voicemail and calling someone for non family matters are two things that I hardly do. For work I prefer people to send me their long questions and scenarios via email rather than call me. And I hate when people copy a bunch of other people on work emails. The extra recipients don’t add anything useful and one annoying woman who is copied totally derails the conversation by raising useless objections.

  128. I read the text of the tax bill and posted some stuff at the bottom of the politics thread. You may be able to prepay one or two installments of prop tax to the extent your local authority will accept the payments.

  129. There are also legal reasons why you really don’t want work related texts coming to your personal phone. In many ways, that was the crux of Hillary’s issues. In a corporate lawsuit situation, they could demand your phone records, and all your texts yelling at your kids or saying sexy things to your husband will now be in lawyers hands. I think mixing the two is a really bad idea.

  130. A couple of years ago, it was popular for conservative groups to demand faculty emails from public universities, using FOIA. You wouldn’t want to have mixed personal emails into your work email in that situation. I think people need to learn to be careful about mixing work and private communications.

  131. Kerri, the separate app for work email sounds like a good idea, but it doesn’t solve the text issue (probably because your company discourages texts, for good reason).

  132. I almost never use the phone. My work phone has voice mails on it rarely, usually when they send out a group voicemail to advertise some campus event.

    My chair loves to gab on the phone and when I was tenure track and couldn’t do anything about it, he would call me at home and stay on the phone for hours. The current tenure trackers tell me he does the same thing to them. Once I made tenure, one of the changes I made was making it clear to him that email would be the only way I would respond to him.

  133. “there are employees who are solely focused on the user’s experience and interaction with the software.” Milo, I have a local friend who does that for a living. I think she works for one of the big hotel chains.

  134. Get a Google phone number. Link your cell phone and whatever other phone numbers you want to it.

    Now tell your colleagues the Google phone number. Let them text to that number. Now those texts will show up in your Google email (if you want; you don’t have to). They will also show up in your text messages, thought I think that’s configurable too. They will show up in Google Hangouts. Now you can use Google Hangouts to text colleagues and use your regular phone number to text your family. Your colleagues don’t know your real cell phone number and you can detach it from your Google phone number whenever you wish. And you can answer your texts from Google email.

    Other options: Install MySMS on your computer and your calls and texts will come through to both your phone and computer simultaneously. That only solves the keyboard problem, but it solves it quite well.

    The Google phone number solves all the other problems enumerated so far.

  135. “How would it strike you if someone referred to all the people in one of your stories about life on a sub as “sailors”?”

    That’s what we were.

  136. Texting is a much newer technology than email, as defined by “things people use every day”. I didn’t have a cell phone until 2001, but I was using email 5 years before that. Our first two Au Pairs had restrictions on how many texts they were allowed to send, because our generous phone plan was limited. That was less than 10 years ago. So, widespread, daily use of texts for things like “pick up some milk” didn’t happen until way more recently than widespread email use.

    Yesterday I totally spaced a tutoring appointment with my kids. The tutor emailed me when we were 10 minutes late, and then called when we were 20. I suspect she is not at all comfortable with texting, because this was the moment one would text. She is also 60+ and I doubt she will ever be comfortable with texting. However, she is quite proficient at email.

    FWIW, the fidget spinner was invented 15 years ago. However, it will always be a 2017 phenom.

  137. Ada — how’s the homeschooling going? (Missed tutoring appointment notwithstanding.)

  138. Texting is a much newer technology than email, as defined by “things people use every day”

    Yup. Email became common in the 90s. Texting didn’t become widespread until the 2000s, and it really wasn’t until smartphones came out that it really took off.

  139. Feeling impatient after spending 20 minutes trying to figure out a good solution for a “smart” outside front door light that can be set with a timer. I tried to follow HM’s explanation, but I somehow couldn’t easily find a hub. And then in my search I came across something that doesn’t require a “hub”. https://www.amazon.com/TP-Link-Required-Anywhere-Assistant-HS100/dp/B0178IC734/ref=sr_1_10?ie=UTF8&qid=1513460626&sr=8-10&keywords=amazon+echo+hub So hub or no hub. And I don’t even know what a hub is. :)

    Sometimes I think I make it harder than it should be. :)

  140. Am I the only who is frustrated with trying to figure out people’s preferred contact methods? Some people prefer texts, other emails. Some people assume a missed call requires a call back and get annoyed if you leave a VM, other people don’t call back unless you leave a VM. And the expectation that people will always be available and respond right away.

  141. As DenverDad noted earlier in this chain (in response to my noting the death of AOL Instant Messenger), texting is no different from messaging in general.
    “Um, what do you think texting, Whatsapp, Slack, facebook messenger, etc, are based on? They are just different forms of messaging.”

    I assume people used IMs back in the 90’s, and perhaps other messaging applications like talk or IRC even earlier. The difference for you guys is more the phone than the messaging. Messaging/texting applications have been common since the 80’s, and SMS text was invented in the 80’s. If it just the phone that makes it new and shiny, then wouldn’t email on the phone feel the same way?

  142. Internet competition arrived in my neighborhood this afternoon- we’ll be trying out Century Link, after 17 years with Comcast. Everyone’s service should get better, because the overall demand on Comcast should decrease.

    We were the only people at a nearby house the other night with fast Internet- other people had Alyrica, a small local provider. I don’t plan to increase my usage, because like Mooshi, I don’t try to improve things that aren’t bothering me, but it’s nice to see new technological capability finally arriving locally.

  143. Am I the only who is frustrated with trying to figure out people’s preferred contact methods?

    No! Drives me crazy! I have one friend (well, someone I deal with through volunteer work) whose sig file on his email firmly tells you that he only reads his email on Thursdays and Sundays, so if you want to reach him, text or call. It really puts me off. I want to say, “fuck you, I’ll email you if I want to.” I have to check text and email and WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger, why shouldn’t you?

  144. I have a friend who uses the phone old school – she calls for everything, mistakenly believing people like “the personal touch”. Drives me crazy but I would never tell her that. It isn’t that hard to listen to her voicemail if I don’t pick up.

  145. I have a relative who only reads Facebook on weekends, but mainly reads email during the workweek. She gets very pissy if I mess it up. After several mistakes, I think I have it right now.

  146. Anyone of you have Google Home? I am stumped as to what to my oldest for Christmas, and am thinking of this, since he could take it to college too. What can it do exactly? I also looked at the Echo, but it is too uncool looking for a 17 year old boy. Would a nerdy teen boy find any of these devices fun?

    Also, what do you think of Google Chromecast audio? It looks like it might be a good way to try out streaming to our existing speakers

  147. Mooshi, I am guessing your DS likes music so some type of great headphones.
    My DH bought DS gaming/chat headphones that he wanted.

    My DD had me get her a squeezy scented cute animal character toy. I am trying hard to see the appeal of this, but I am not keeping up and still don’t get it.

  148. No, he is not a music geek. Right now, he mainly listens through junky headphones from a Nano.

  149. I thought he might find the voice thing amusing. I am at a loss as to what to get him. He likes books but doesn’t have time to read. He likes to draw, but every relative out there is giving him art supplies. He already has Photoshop and Illustrator and a wacom tablet. I have already gotten him some effects lenses for the camera on his phone, but those were $20. I am looking for something a little bigger.

  150. I am looking for something a little bigger.

    VIP tickets to the new Weird Al concert. :-)

  151. Al is playing in Westchester because he is playing small venues for this tour. I just read an article that was discussing why this tour is different from his other stuff. He is playing one night in Tarrytown.

  152. I got all excited about the Weird Al idea until I read the description at the venue closest to me in which it said the focus is “original (non-parody) songs”. I thought the point of Weird Al was parody. DS probably doesn’t want to hear AL singing unfamiliar ballads.

  153. Rocky, thank you. That’s helpful!

    Back to the question what “keeping up with technology” means. To me it means taking advantage of technology to improve my life. So I may have some advanced tech knowledge about a particular topic. But if I’m still struggling with the front porch light’s wonky mechanical timer because I am not up to date on how Alexa can control my lights easily and remotely, then I am NOT keeping up with technology.

    And speaking of communication styles, I really don’t need your text telling me you can’t respond because you’re driving. I realize it’s meant to be helpful but to me it’s just another annoying notification.

    Regarding music, I observe that some older folks have a more possessive fervor toward it than younger folks. Maybe millennials don’t feel the need to own and “hoard” music because they’ve only known a world where their favorite tunes are easily available at the click of a phone. OTOH, I remember how hard it could be to find a particular song or album that wasn’t readily available at my local music store. Once I found it I needed to keep it in my collection and be sure to safeguard it so I would never lose it.

  154. Show in Tarrytown is sold out anyway. ANd I think the date conflicts with something else. Interesting that it is sold out because we didn’t have trouble getting tickets when he played in Port Chester a few years ago

  155. July said “I observe that some older folks have a more possessive fervor toward it than younger folks.”
    This is really true, and it isn’t just about ownership of music. In our day, we felt possessive of the style of music that we liked – it was all very generational, but even within a generation, people who liked disco, for example, saw themselves very differently than people who liked metal or punk. There was more identification with the style. I have heard it said that the last style to attract that kind of generational identification was grunge, with Nirvana in particular. After that, no one cares.

  156. HfN, Al has original songs on every album. They’re funny, like the parodies. But it still might not be exactly what you’re looking for.

  157. RMS, Ah. I was envisioning something like when Rod Stewart put out an album of old standards like he was Frank Sinatra or something.

  158. Speaking of old singers, here is a legendary Bollywood singer in her eighties performing recently.

  159. And speaking of communication styles, I really don’t need your text telling me you can’t respond because you’re driving. I realize it’s meant to be helpful but to me it’s just another annoying notification.

    This goes back to the point that people expect an immediate response now. So they are fulfilling their duty to provide one, even if the response is “i can’t respond right now”

  160. I think July put it very well at 609. I still have unlinked hand adjusted digital timers on my lights and the cat feeder. They are a pain to program and I usually have to YouTube the instructions because it is not intuitive also I have remotes on my night table for bedroom lamps and an unlinked programmed thermostat. All that was tech savvy some years ago. With Alexa, it is time to consider upgrading a bit. If I stay here in old age I’ll upgrade further to something that my kids can monitor from afar.

  161. Thanks, RMS! Those are the analysis methods we use to determine exactly what sort of crap is causing yield loss, when we have yield loss. I’ve spent hundreds of hours in conversations just like that with people whose age and personality are within a standard deviation of Finn’s. Good times.

    I would have guessed “mostly citric acid” without even doing the analysis, because you want something with a low pH that is not going to hurt a child who eats it for a product like Lemishine. When one of my toddler twins grabbed a handful of powdered Tide and ate it, I went straight to the MSDS, where I learned you have to eat a kilogram of powdered Tide for it to be bad for you. I breathed a sigh of relief, thinking, “Those P&G engineers always think ahead.”

  162. Have any of you bought from DHGate? It’s in China. They apparently have new Kyrie Irving 4 shoes my kid likes, even though they are just being released for the first time, in one of those slow 1 “colorway” per day drips, and I don’t see the ones he’s requested.
    https://sneakernews.com/tag/nike-kyrie-4

  163. WCE, I think it was Tide that my kid ate. The National Poison Control Center was concerned enough to call back a couple times over the next few days to see how he was doing.

  164. SM, my understanding of DH gate is that they sell high grade knockoffs, often made from the same molds, sometimes in the same factory and with almost the same designs as the legit branded originals. They are certainly likely to last one season till his feet grow another size or fashions change.

  165. “Am I the only who is frustrated with trying to figure out people’s preferred contact methods?”

    Apparently, I’m guilty of being high maintenance. DS had an appointment today. He texted me from the place 20 minutes after the appt asking me if he had the time right. I checked my email, because I”m the one who set it up, and the person had emailed early this morning to see if it could be changed to an hour later. I don’t check my email on weekends very regularly because its not that important to me. I don’t think the screw up today will change that, though, because i just don’t get that much urgent communication.

  166. I’m late to this thread, but agree wholeheartedly with Rhett on the idea that we must keep up as we age. My mom still thanks me for the iPhone I got her a couple of years ago, and my sister was amused to see my mom giving her 15 yr old grandson some tips on things he could do on his phone that he did not know. My dad uses an iPad, and my brother and I are replacing my mom’s old laptop with a Macbook Air for Christmas, which I know will make her so happy. She knows how important it is to keep up, and is delighted literally every time she orders her bagels from the Panera app and they are waiting for her on a shelf when she gets there. My MIL used to make whoever was in the room change the channel on the TV or adjust the volume, because she didn’t want to learn how to use the remote. I will fight like hell to not become that person as I age. My experience is that things keep getting easier to use, so I don’t think it will be hard. Where I used to have to figure out how to switch between appliances connected to the TV, now my Smart TV lets me just push the right button. More things seem to be voice controlled, and I imagine they’ll just keep getting easier.

  167. SM – you probably already know this but Nike on their website allows you to customize your shoes. DS did that once but IMO, the off the shelf shoes had better color combinations that his customized shoe he put together. The customized ones were not much more expensive than the off the shelf ones.
    Those shoes on the website you posted look great !

  168. “I’m all for technology when it solves a problem I have. . . . But Alexa/Echo don’t seem to solve a problem I have, or enhance an experience I want to have, so I’m not so interested in those.”

    This. Exactly. AFAIK, I can already do everything that Alexa offers — and in fact, I *am* already doing all of those things that I care about via my phone. So why spend time or money on a redundant system? Plus, you know, the whole HAL9000 thing.

    I used to think of myself as a Luddite, but I really don’t think that’s true. What I am not interested in is change that requires more time/effort than it provides in utility/enjoyment. I mean, I taught myself 6 early word-processing systems to be qualified for more jobs when I was a Kelly Girl. I *hated* DOS with a passion, because I had to memorize meaningless strings of letters and punctuation marks to do something that should have been simple and intuitive. I *loved* my first Mac, back in the ’90s, because, hello, it WAS simple and intuitive! I *hated* MS Windows because it was trying to be the Mac but didn’t do it as well. I continue to hate all the MS Word updates, because they change how I need to do things without ever actually providing some new functionality that I need or find useful. I love my new TV remote because I can press one button and get pictures for the DVR or Netflix or Amazon video or YouTube or whatever, instead of “press, this, then press that to scroll, but do it quickly before the screen goes away, then remember whether Netflix is HDMI 2 or HDMI 3, but don’t linger too long or it will select that one, oops, you remembered it wrong, start over and go for HDMI 3 this time.” I love Overdrive, because now I can download new library books and have them available to read instantly and never have to make the trip over to the library. I love Outlook because DH and I can keep track of everyone’s schedules and change things without needing to talk or coordinate in person. I love the way DD’s car integrates the maps and playlists and such from her phone and now want that in my next car (or would, if I ever intended to get a new car). And online bill pay, managing my accounts, all that stuff — awesome! Basically, I am happy to spend my money and energy on new tech stuff. But only if the company invests in awesome “user experience” engineers and focuses their efforts on solving a real problem I have or providing a real service that someone else doesn’t (or at least does it in a better way).

    I also have to say, the rigidity goes both ways. For every grandkid who is rolling his eyes that grandma won’t text, there’s a grandma who is pissed/hurt that Junior can’t bother to email. And frankly, so much of what is “hot” at any given moment is based on passing fads and trends, *not* on any actual utility or better fundamental tech — there is no reason on God’s green earth why Junior can’t email, he just doesn’t want to, because it’s not cool. Just as older generations can be rigid and fixed and refuse to learn, so younger ones can be just as rigid and fixed on their quest for new/different.

    The real question, in *both* cases, is whether you are going to let your preconceived notions interfere with your ability to enjoy life and your relationships. And that goes both ways. So, yeah, I will text DD when I can, because I know she prefers that. But when the orthodontist emails me an appointment reminder, and I forward it to DD, and she misses the appointment because she didn’t bother to read her email, that’s on her. When I missed the fantasy football group notifications because I wasn’t on Facebook, I joined Facebook rather than whine and moan (or more accurately, in addition to whining and moaning). OTOH, I reject the notion that my refusal to chase DD from Instagram to Snapchat means that I am doomed to spend my days as a crotchety old fart yelling at kids to get off my lawn.

    Well, I mean, the latter is a given anyway. But Snapchat has nothing to do with it.

  169. I love my new TV remote because I can press one button and get pictures for the DVR or Netflix or Amazon video or YouTube or whatever, instead of “press, this, then press that to scroll, but do it quickly before the screen goes away, then remember whether Netflix is HDMI 2 or HDMI 3, but don’t linger too long or it will select that one, oops, you remembered it wrong, start over and go for HDMI 3 this time.”

    What remote is this?? I MUST have this remote! We currently juggle four remotes, because none of the universal ones has ever actually worked universally.

  170. Louise, I had forgotten that, thank you!

    Meme, that’s what I was starting to figure out…

    Laura, I’m right there with you on the payoff per unit of effort. What’s that formula Rhett likes to use? I was with you on you Mac/Windows comparison too, but when I advised my parents to switch over to Mac nearly ten years ago, I think they were at a low. I caved this fall and got DS a Surface. It can be a tablet or a laptop, and has a touchscreen. There are now similar models by Dell, Asus, and others. I’m not sure how well they stack up next to Surface. Some of its higher price is likely due to the name, I’d like to know if part of it is related to quality.

  171. Becky, in that kind of situation, where the info needs to be read and acted on soon, I think email is the wrong choice. I get it that they didn’t want to use up staff hours making repeat phone calls, but a voicemail or text message is much more likely to get through. This sounds more like CYA than actually trying to get the message through.

  172. “What remote is this??”

    @Rocky, alas, it is the one that comes with DH’s new TV. You point it at the TV, and it gives you a red dot; you press “back,” and it gives you the list of options you have watched recently, and then you just move the red dot to the appropriate one and press “ok,” and there you are. It doesn’t make you guess which is hooked into what, and it doesn’t auto-select for you if you hover too long.

    @S&M: I can see it would be hard to switch from one to the other once you’ve gotten used to one. I sort of went the other way: when I started working, there were still multiple different systems being used, so I never really got “settled” into one particular software until I got my Mac at home. Then the stupid DOS version at work felt like stepping backwards oh, about 7 millennia, and I spent the next 10 work-years catching up to where I had been at home for a decade.

    The thing that I am excited about is that we have apparently given all of our associates tablets that you can keep handwritten notes on with a stylus, and then save them directly to the client files (either in original handwritten form, or converted to searchable typing format). The biggest thing that is still keeping me from being almost entirely “paperless” is the various times I have to handwrite things (some out of habit, some because there are places/times I can’t use a computer — like on client calls when I can’t have them hearing clacking keys). I heard about this at our recent retreat and turned to the tech guy and said “I want one. Gimme.” Still waiting, but boy that would be cool!

    DS also finally reached the “everyone gets a device” phase this year at MS. DD apparently missed that wave by about 5 years, but I am learning about the joys of Google Docs through her — way cool that it’s just always there, no matter what computer you are on (we still can’t do that at the office, too many confidentiality concerns, dammit). Plus it autosaves all the time, which is a major fubar-prevention device. Although, given the law of unintended consequences, it means I have to remind her 800,000 times to save when she is working on something on our system!

  173. Oh, and update: DD did her first speech tournament this weekend, and it went FINE. She didn’t win — she didn’t expect to — but she got through it and was pretty psyched about her performance. I was very happy to see the bounce back, and she even called after the first round to tell me how happy she was and how well it went. Hell, DH and I were saying Saturday that we can’t believe she even got up there and did it in the first place — much less jumped right into solo when her partner bailed. So all is right with the world again. :-)

    She also got a fast lesson on the unpredictably of judged competitions: she thought she did well the first round (forgot a few things but covered well, while one girl drew a complete blank and another guy had major delivery issues), blew the second (totally forgot some big stuff and got out of order), and nailed the third. But her scores ended up 5th (out of 5), 3rd, 2nd. Well, honey, that’s what happens when you have amateur judges — you just can’t tell when you’re going to connect with someone*, or what a particular judge is going to give more or less weight to.

    *The judges are apparently instructed NOT to respond or give indications that they like/don’t like the speech. So we new round 3 went well when she made the judge laugh out loud.

  174. I love that DS has Google docs with auto save for school. And in the unit of effort column he has taken to dictating things he doesn’t want to type using Google Translate.

  175. Apparently, I’m guilty of being high maintenance. DS had an appointment today. He texted me from the place 20 minutes after the appt asking me if he had the time right. I checked my email, because I”m the one who set it up, and the person had emailed early this morning to see if it could be changed to an hour later. I don’t check my email on weekends very regularly because its not that important to me. I don’t think the screw up today will change that, though, because i just don’t get that much urgent communication.

    That’s on the place to follow up if they haven’t gotten a response to the email. Or a response to whatever communication method they used.

    What remote is this?? I MUST have this remote! We currently juggle four remotes, because none of the universal ones has ever actually worked universally.

    We use a Harmony Hub. It works great on our whole system.

    I am learning about the joys of Google Docs through her — way cool that it’s just always there, no matter what computer you are on (we still can’t do that at the office, too many confidentiality concerns, dammit).

    We used Google Docs for a while at my practice and were able to set it up so it’s HIPAA-compliant, so I’m sure if your firm really want do, they could set it up to meet your confidentiality requirements.

    Oh, and update: DD did her first speech tournament this weekend, and it went FINE. She didn’t win — she didn’t expect to — but she got through it and was pretty psyched about her performance. I was very happy to see the bounce back, and she even called after the first round to tell me how happy she was and how well it went. Hell, DH and I were saying Saturday that we can’t believe she even got up there and did it in the first place — much less jumped right into solo when her partner bailed. So all is right with the world again. :-)

    That’s awesome!

  176. I guess I’m a Luddite on google docs—I’d much rather not have my stuff on faraway cloud servers, tyvm.

    Laura, love that news about the speech competition! I wish I could convince mine to do something like that, expect he’d do really well. But no, he refused to do a French class presentation. The Devices your associates have sound very similar to the ones I mentioned. If you could pass on any research they’ve done into them, it’d be great.

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