Tag Archives: technology

Time was…

Time was, I was the one assisting people with their computers and IT problems. I was the one, coding, building websites and even building a computer or two. I was as familiar with motherboards and Y connectors as I have ever been with motherhood and Y-fronts.
I may be a bit rusty here and there with the coding, but generally, I still pick up new technology quickly.

So, what has happened to change this?
First, I decide to top up with petrol on my way to the bank. I drive into the petrol station and pull up beside the pump. The first one has a large notice stuck to it, “Out of Use” I have to reverse to the next in line. The pumps seem to be new. Very smart, I think as I pick up the nozzle and prepared to insert it into the tank. I click the lever. Nothing. I click again. Nothing. Is this one out of order too? I check, no, no out of order notice has been attached. There is a touch screen I see, a little belatedly. I press to notify cashier I want to pay at kiosk, I want to use the pump.
“Kiosk waiting to activate…”
Nothing happens. Two cars ahead of me drive away, successfully filled up and paid presumably.
Doubtful of the pump’s ability to activate, I jump in my car and reverse again, driving round to the next line.

This time I go straight to the touch screen. I notify kiosk, I wait for activation. Nothing. I am puzzled to put it mildly. Someone else who arrived after me, drives off, apparently happy. I stare at the screen. I must be missing something. I could attract someone’s attention or go and ask but the cashier is miles away, there are no attendants around.
I decide to start again. I put the nozzle back in its holder and press to activate pump.
“Kiosk waiting to activate” pops up.
I stare at it for a moment before I notice that there is something else to press, something that I had not noticed before. It is now obvious I must press this before anything will happen.
I press the relevant tab.
The pump gurgles into life. I fill up my car.
I am the last car left on the forecourt.

Second, I drive into town having finally filled the car up with petrol, to pay in a cheque at the bank. Now it must be said that with online banking and card payments, I rarely use a cheque these days and rarely receive one. However, my 91 year old mother regularly sends me a cheque for my birthday. It is this I am about to pay in.

I walk up to my bank which looks comfortingly familiar on the outside. Inside, it seems to have undergone a transformation since my last visit (now when was that? A year ago?) I walk over to the machine where you can pay in cheques to save time.
I go through the usual motions. I insert my bank card, I choose to pay in. I look for the part where it asks if you are paying money in by cheque. That option does not appear to exist. I see ‘pay in by card’ does that not mean transfer money from card to account? How confusing. I am loathe to dabble given my recent trauma with the petrol pump. I decide to cut to the chase and ask for help.
I turn and walk to the counter except there is no counter. There are a lot of work stations and a sort of lectern but no counter…no line of cashiers waiting to assist. Luckily, a kind lady banker, waiting in the wings, sees me and asks if she may help.
I smile at her and wave the cheque in her face,
“Just trying to pay in a cheque but I am not sure which option I need to press,” I say reminding myself of some IT illiterate soul.
“Oh, we have changed those, want me to show you how they work?” she asks. I look around at the unfamiliar landscape that was once my bank,
“You could tell me where the rest of the bank has gone, too,” I quip. She laughs. (at me or with me?)
The paying in a cheque thing is simple of course, I should choose pay in by card because there is nothing for cheques. She runs through it and it is pretty painless to be honest but I am totally taken aback by the changes that have happened since I last had to actually go into the bank.
On reflection, I am not sure it is a lack of IT knowledge that is to blame but rather too much knowledge that makes dealing with the simple stuff, offline, so difficult.
As for the banks, they are beginning to look like those alien space ports depicted in science fiction movies. How long before the staff hovering in the wings are replaced with robots? I give it a couple of years…

To step back in time a little, this is the Castle we stayed in for my 60th birthday at the beginning of November.
Situated in the middle of nowhere…no technology to speak of and a Halloween birthday dinner to boot. What more could I want?

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A World Without…

I dreamt I had had my iPhone and purse stolen, two possessions integral to my daily life and needs. The dream was surreal, as most dreams are, in that I was stranded at Waterloo Station, without means to propel myself home again.

As is the way with dreams, I soon found myself in a taxi worrying how I would pay the fare. This worry was compounded by the driver appearing to lose his way. I duly noted that there was no SatNav in the car and the driver relied on a walkie-talkie for communication with his base. It was all, most strange.

Stranger still, when I eventually arrived home, (Taxi driver must have been very kind) I seemed to have walked back in time as though the disappearance of my iPhone and bank cards signaled the end of technology as we know it. Hence, my husband appeared circa 1990, super slim with hair flopping onto his forehead in place of his normal grade 3 cut, wearing clothes from the last century. My children, also considerably downsized, ran around happily enough. I began to wonder what had actually happened to my mobile and looked around for another, surely there was one here? Alas, there was not. Worse, there was not a computer to be seen and certainly no iPads. I did not immediately think how wonderful it was to be back in the days when the children were small and the wider family circle might be intact, though this would certainly have been the case had I stopped to think. I was more concerned with finding my iPhone for I sensed that this alone could return me to the present.

Thankfully, I woke up from this nightmarish experience at this point but the dream stayed with me all day. It caused me to muse on the amazing leaps in technology that have happened in the last ten or twenty years. I pondered on how dependent I have become on these developments.

The dream, it seemed, had removed all from me in one fell swoop.

What would it be like to go back to those times now? How would we cope? Would we adapt easily? I sit at my computer and type. I suppose I could still be doing this at my typewriter with little or no regrets. But no internet? Only a few short years ago we all wondered at the coming of internet shopping – that too would be gone.

How would I communicate so quickly with the outside world? You don’t miss what you have never had but I fear I would miss all that I have grown used to.

I am relieved that the dream did not remove electricity or any of the fundamental major advances of modern times. It merely removed personal computers – and my purse for some reason. We wont dwell on the reasoning behind the latter!

Perhaps the dream was triggered by news of the latest addition to the computer stakes: A Raspberry Pi. Yes, we have had The Apple, The Blackberry and even Orange, now it is the turn of the humble raspberry.

The latest concern of the UK government is that the next generation will be so attuned to having electronic devices work for them at the press of a button, that they will not stop to consider how they work or what goes on beneath the shiny fascia. We could be left without anyone to pick up the gauntlet from our current crop of programmers and software developers. My own grandsons seem quite adept at using their parents’ iPhone. The 16 month old can turn it on, scroll through photos and accidentally phoned me the other day. The eleven month old is following in his cousin’s wake and both are fascinated by my iMAC.

Meanwhile, schools stand accused of setting boring and uninteresting computer classes. What was once seen as innovative and exciting, now seems humdrum and mundane.

The Raspberry Pi is a tiny computer without case, screen or mouse. It plugs into an existing motherboard externally and allows the children to experiment with both programming and writing software. It is already a big hit wherever it has been applied.

The Raspberry Pi

"The next generation must learn to control computers and not be controlled by them"

The Raspberry Pi Foundation is a UK registered charity who say their aim was to make “a BBC Micro for the 21st century”. They used the technology from smartphones to produce small, low-cost units. A Sky news report suggests it is being sold at £22 per unit. Currently the size of a credit card, the unit will eventually be the size of a small pack of playing cards according to its creators. This incredibly cost-effective computer is capable of word processing, gaming, video playback and internet browsing.

Surely it will inspire a whole new wave of classroom entrepreneurs!

http://www.raspberrypi.org/

http://www.raspberrypi.org/faqs

I cannot wait to see what these young innovators come up with.

Getting back to the dream, what really triggered it I do not know. Dreams tend to have meanings attributed to them. Maybe, deep down, I do yearn for simpler times. I confess to buying a writing pad and a pack of envelopes this week because there are some people in my life who like to be written to still but, on the whole, I am happy to have so much technology within my grasp.

So, welcome Raspberry Pi and may your reign be both fruitful and bright!

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