Monday, March 21, 2011

I Understand My Mother

I've understood my mother's seemingly irrational fear of technology on some level, but it wasn't until today that I really, really felt her pain. Ironic that it should come on a day when she called me on her cell phone. My mother has had two cell phones before, both purchased under duress at the urging of someone in the family. She never used either, even when she needed a cell phone and went looking for a pay phone.

But somehow she saw an ad from AARP that spoke to her and all on her own, she ordered a cell phone. When it came, she learned how to use it all by herself. She asked me to add some phone numbers to it and today, when something happened to her land line and she had no phone, she actually figured out how to call me on the cell phone. Good Mom!

My understanding of my mother started yesterday when our issue of PC Magazine arrived. We have been receiving this magazine for years. It was a selection originally as a substitute when another magazine went out of business and we still had months left on our subscription (I'm not sure, but I think it was Ramparts magazine).

We've been getting PC Magazine now for at least 15-20 years. Each month, I glance through it, but more and more I'm understanding less and less. PC Magazine to me now is like reading something in French or Portuguese. I can recognize a lot of the words, but I don't have a clue what they mean in context.

There was a time when we were all learning how to use computers, when I read all the computer magazines, but you find that the more technology advances, if you don't need to know all the latest software or gadgets, you begin falling more and more behind at faster and faster speeds. And here is where I begin to understand my mother. She has no need for all the gadgets that we all use, so she scoffs at them and makes fun of us for using them...but today, when she needed a phone, she figured out how to use her cell phone and discovered it wasn't so difficult after all.

Now, I am going to tell you about my afternoon. I fully expect that this is going to be confusing to everybody including me, but I want to describe my pain and explain what happened--and how it all seems to have ended.

I was connected to iTunes and I noticed that when iTunes syncs your iTouch, it syncs the "notes" feature of outlook express or explorer or something. I had never noticed that feature before. I have been trying to find a way to type myself a note on the computer and move it to my iTouch ever since I GOT the thing. The best I can do, for a long note, is to e-mail it to myself on GMail, pick it up on my iTouch, and then do a cut and paste into the notebook app. This is definitely not ideal, but I was very proud of myself when I figured that out.

However, if there is a way with a simple sync that I could get notes from here to there, I was all for it. But I realized that in order to do that I would probably have to upgrade iTunes, which they have been bugging me to do for months.

The thing I hate about upgrades is that you just get something working the way you want it and somebody figures out a little tweak that THEY like and they upgrade the software and then you have to figure it all out all over again. I am using Version 3 of Front Page Explorer, dated 1995. I know that technology has advanced waaaay past this program, but it works for me and I don't need anything fancier, so I don't see the need to upgrade. I still use Word Perfect 9, which is so out of date that whenever I have someone here to work on the computer they have never heard of it--now it's all about "suites," which I don't need and never use. WP9 and I are old friends.

But I did like that potential "notes" function for my iTouch and so I started on my nightmare. I clicked "yes" when it asked if I wanted to upgrade to the latest version of iTunes. And it did its thing for what seemed like a very long time, until I got the message that something had gone wrong and it couldn't install. OK...I'll try again. (What is the definition of insanity? Repeat the same thing over again expecting a different result?) Again, it would not install and suggested that I download it first and then install it, making it a two step process. OK. Let's try that way.

There were some intermediate problems that I encountered that I've forgotten now, but ultimately I downloaded the new version of iTunes and started to installed it. But it seemed to get hung up about 3/4 of the way through. It sat there in one spot for more than half an hour and I finally decided that I wasn't going to be able to install it this way either, so I cancelled the install and figured the heck with "notes," I'd live with what I already knew.

But then I plugged in my iTouch and it told me that it could not recognize that machine because it was not turned on. What? I couldn't figure out what that meant. I tried everything to get it to recognize my iTouch, but it would not.

Finally, trying to figure out if it was a computer problem or an iTouch problem, I got out the laptop and set that up. I decided I would upgrade iTunes on that machine first while at the same time trying to install iTunes on the desktop. When the laptop install was done and I connected the iTouch, it did recognize it, but it said that I would also have to update the software on the iTouch (of course). This meant that, it told me, all of my apps and documents would be erased and to be sure they were backed up on my home computer. Well, I knew they were, so I blithely started the upgrade of the iTouch, only too late realize that I had no clue whether, after this was over, I would be able to connect the iTouch to the computer with the backup files.

I had things being installed on both computers and on my iTouch all at the same time and I was running back and forth from the kitchen to my office, keeping track of both. It took forEVER and I kept seeing messages like "uninstalling programs" which I didn't like at all. When the software seemed to be upgraded, then I got a picture which looked like it was wanting me to plug the iTouch back in. But it WAS plugged in, so I disconnected it and reconnected it again. Somehow that worked and it began syncing...for nearly an hour. It took all my willpower to just let it sit there doing its thing.

It had finally gone on so long that I decided it had stalled and disconnected it. I could now turn on the iTouch, but it had nothing on it. Photos gone. Videos gone. Games gone (though amazingly my kindle books were still there).

Now came the moment of truth. I plugged it into the desktop and after a couple of lurches it started synching. This was a better idea for a couple of reasons -- first, because everything is backed up on the desktop, and second, because with this synch, you could see how many more files needed to be backed up.

After about six hours, the sync was finished and (almost) everything was back as it once was, except for the videos, but most of those just needed to be moved over from the library. A few could not be moved, but I'll figure that problem out later.

Finally. I had my iTouch back. I have upgraded iTunes and the software for the iTouch.

The only thing is...I still can't figure out how to synch the "notes" feature.

Cousins day tomorrow.


Harriet said...

You did read my post about how the bank messed up my payees list?

One of the reasons I like PC's better than Mac's 25 years ago was that I could get into the codes and fix what I needed to fix. As Windows progressed, you can't do that any more. (Which actually led to a very funny service call answered by a young man who was impressed that I know DOS.)

I'd like that phone advertised in AARP and thought of getting it for my husband. I'm just worried about coverage in buildings here; ATT is consistent in this part of the country.

jon said...

I actually ran a computer back in 1963. I am with you, Bev. I am starting to lose my grasp of technology. when my dad was alive, I went to his house to set his casio watch twice a year. Technology passed him by.
I am starting to feel the same way.

Indigo said...

My husband used to get PC Magazine, I have no idea if he ever read it, but it no longer comes to the house. Anyhow, BTDT with the itunes/iphone/ipod update. The ipod touch and iphone updates seem to be the ones that take forever and a day. I swear, one sync did take me 6 hours and I almost gave up on it! I'm glad it all worked out though for you. The notes is just a notepad that you can jot down things on and either keep them in the note app, or you can email them to someone. It's pretty nice, I use it often on the fly.