An Old Man’s Tale Of Technology

Jun 25, 2020   //   by bwilber   //   Bob's Blog  //  Add a Comment

I swear, I’m not the crusty and crabby old guy across the street who yells at you to get off his lawn. I’m not. Well, I might be, but I’m not that bad. I think. I’m pretty sure. I just have issues with getting old and getting stressed over things that never existed back in “the good old days.” Things that are purported to make life easier.

New technology and I had a great relationship once. We loved each other. Crazy “out of the box” ideas like cable TV (especially you, original MTV with your cool VeeJays and nonstop videos) or cordless phones (even if they had a ridiculous metal antenna) were things I embraced from the beginning. Bring it on. My first iPod? Couldn’t wait to fill it up with playlists from those MTV halcyon days. My first cell phone? Oh, to flip you open and type a number. My first iPhone? A little scary, but I got one and loved it. Wait, a camera, a phone, an easy way to text, all in one? I’m in!

As I get older, I either get dumber or the technology gets more confusing. Probably both, actually. My theory is that as we move forward with tech, each new level of “better” banks on everyone remembering or having mastered the previous level. But what if you found something you liked and stuck with it for a while, when everyone else was doing the prescribed step-by-step progression? What about that?  That’s where I’ve been. Not proud of it. It’s just the reality of it.

The last couple of iPhones or iPads I’ve bought got harder and harder to set up, and that was WITH the Verizon or AT&T person walking me through it in the store, taking control when I went careening off the corner and into the woods. Too much tech. Too many passwords. Too much to remember. Hell, I can tell you what I ate for lunch on any given day in high school, but I literally need to write down my passwords on a list. And then I forget one and have to reset it. The whole process begins anew.

So, a few (I use that term loosely) years ago I bought another new iPhone. It was an iPhone 6. Prehistoric by today’s tech standards but it worked fine, took decent photos, texted like a pro, and was a competent telephone. And then, like any beloved pet you’ve ever shared a home with, it got older, and slower, and less full of energy. I have lived in denial for at least the last year.

At first, the battery went from being solid for a couple days to just one day. Then to half a day. Then to a few hours. Finally, I had to keep it plugged in just to use it. I kept telling my wonderful (and far more intelligent) wife Barbara that I knew I needed a new phone and I’d get one soon. Only problem was this: Covid-19 caused the Verizon stores to shut down. No face to face interaction. I understood that. I’m all about protecting myself and those around me (WEAR YOUR DAMN MASK!) but such a thing was also a fine excuse to just keep the old iPhone 6 limping along. Finally, in recent weeks, the old 6 would go from 100% charged to 80% before I could back out of the garage. And then, once it got to 70% the next stop on the “Express” line was a full shut down. No slow countdown to zero. Just 70% to full shutdown in mid-tweet or mid-sentence. Buh bye! All gone. Not home? Sorry about that.

A week ago I was having a conversation with Barbara about something. Can’t recall now what it was. And one of my answers to one of her questions went on for a few minutes. When she didn’t reply, I looked at my phone. It had gone from 80% to fully dead. I was driving at the time, so I had to wait until I got home and hooked up an IV to the phone, otherwise known as the power cord, before I could call her back. I said those fateful words: “The Verizon store is open. I have to go get a new phone.” Yikes. My stress level went up when I said that. I knew it would be awful. I ordered a new iPhone 11 online and set up a time to go pick it up.

The stress started with just getting there. We have a new company-owned Verizon store here in Woodbury. I set up an appointment and memorized the map. The store, however, was not where the Google map said it was. My appointment time was ticking away. So, with my old phone plugged into the USB port in my car, I tried another GPS map. Wrong again. And this was in the busiest and most congested part of Woodbury, where the stoplights are many and the length of each one can be timed with a calendar. Finally, I simply stumbled upon it, but not before I was out of left-turn options.  By then, I hadn’t even parked my car or stood in line on the prescribed dot on the sidewalk and my blood pressure was already boiling just knowing how much worse it was sure to get. And this is not an indictment of Verizon. I’ve had four different carriers since that first flip-phone and Verizon, for me, has been the best. Very reliable with fantastic signal coverage. Their procedures at the store were necessary and understandable. It’s just stressful. Hell, going to Walgreen’s is stressful these days. Being anywhere near a moron without a mask drives me nuts. C’mon snowflake, I promise you’re not going to suffocate.

When the guy came out and said “Bob?” I walked forward and instead of handing me my new phone and the accessories I ordered, he said “Your order is still pending because you didn’t reply to the email about accepting our terms and conditions.” Awesome! I said, “I never got that email. So how was I supposed to reply to it? Can’t I just tell you I agree?”  He said, “No, and unfortunately the only way you can have it sent again is by calling our national service center.” That would be the one that is set up to solely keep the company from having to talk to real humans. It’s a telephone nightmare.

As teed off as I was, there was nothing I could do about it so I drove home with my SiriusXM channel set to the loudest and most raucous hard rock possible. I may be 64 now (my birthday was just a few days ago) but I still love me some Breaking Benjamin, Chevelle, and Skillet. When I got home, I checked my email on my laptop just to make sure I hadn’t just missed the Verizon request. And then I checked my SPAM filter. There it was. I replied to the email, accepted the terms, and got a note back with a new appointment for the next day.

I thought technology was supposed to make life easier. (Click on any image to enlarge)

I got there on time, was actually allowed into the building, and the staff were great. But, these days, they aren’t allowed to spend 30 minutes with an idiot like me in order to hold my hand and set up my new phone. The gave me a single sheet of paper with instructions on how to transfer all my data and info from the old 6 to the new 11. And gave me a look like “C’mon Boomer, you’ll be fine.”

I brought it home. I even opened the box to look at it. Seemed like a really nice phone and it was right up there with any of Apple’s gorgeous and sleek designs over the years. It was great. But I just let it sit there. For three days. The thought of actually turning it on and transferring the data seemed too daunting. I’ve officially become a technophobic old man. I admit it.

Finally, I don’t recall what day it was this week but something forced my hand, I began the process. Frankly, Verizon’s piece of paper was pretty good, although a little wordy and confusing. The iPhone 11, though, was brilliant. It walked me through every step, with the two phones side-by-side on my desk. I was actually cool to turn them both on and see each one recognize the other and actually know what I wanted to do. Not that long ago, during my lifetime, such a thing would’ve been science fiction.

It all went smoothly… Until… As one of the last steps in the process the two phones were going to swap my music catalog. And the new phone asked for my password to iTunes. No worries. I got this. The new phone already had everything else. My screen, my phone data, my apps, and my bookmarks. No sweat moving the music. Except for one thing. The box in which I’d have to type the password said “Insert iTunes password for the account created with this email.”  The email listed was my old Earthlink account. I killed it off years ago. It doesn’t exist anymore. Awesome!

I tried a few passwords I’d originally scribbled on my list way back then but they didn’t work. After those few, I was locked out. A brand new house with all my furniture in it, but no stereo, and I was locked out without a key. I picked up the old phone just to call Barbara and have her calm me down. I’m sure my blood pressure was somewhere around a million over 120. I was actually sweating. I really needed to hear her calming voice. But my old phone had by then been deactivated by the step-by-step process, and the new phone was locked. Plus, I couldn’t even get off the screen that wanted the password. The “Cancel” button ignored me or just brought up the same password box. The “Back” button mocked me. I shut it down and restarted it numerous times, and fortunately it remembered all the steps  we’d so happily taken to get to the part about the iTunes catalog. But then I would hit the same brick wall. Still locked out.

I could click on the button that said “Forgot Password?” but that did me no good. They automatically sent a new password via email. To my long-deceased Earthlink account. Talk about caught in a spiral vortex of technology!

I pressed everything I could press and finally got to the home screen. So, to calm down and get something done I went in and reset my Facebook and Twitter apps, along with my Delta, Uber, and a few other apps that all needed passwords (I had all those) and set the phone down again. No phone. No hand-held access to the outside world. It was a very strange sensation.

Somehow, some way, my successful set up of all those apps must have triggered a response from Apple or my phone. It let me back in.

Boofus really doesn’t care…

So, here we are and I have a wonderful and very cool iPhone 11. It’s a marvel, but I have only attempted to try a few limited things. What I really care about is that it is easy to use, it’s a great phone, the camera is remarkable, and after four days I have yet to see the battery dip below 50%. In order to get to this place, I had to forego any chance of moving that enormous old iTunes playlist to the new phone.

I guess it’s time to take the step into yet another new technology. I’ll have to start streaming music. And I was just so COMFORTABLE with all that old music. Harrumph. Get off my lawn!!!!

So here’s the deal, as I wax nostalgic. Tech is great. We FaceTime with our grandnieces every week. I text with friends and relatives every day. I check Twitter and Facebook whenever I want. My iPhone is always with me. But you know what? I remember rotary phones you actually dialed. I remember when “touchtone” phones came out and were the rage. You could press buttons so much faster! Not once in my lifetime, however, did the landline telephone I owned ever run out of battery.

Just sayin’…  Maybe we didn’t know how good we had it when the only way we could bug each other was to get lucky enough to have someone actually pick up the phone on the wall, or on the desk, at the other end.

My Big Fella, looking none too pleased that I woke him up from a wonderful nap on the porch

And here’s Buster, taken with the new phone, just to keep the boyz equal in terms of publicity.

But it’s all good now. Love my new iPhone and I’m doing all I can to suppress the memories of the panic that set in when I had one deactivated phone and one phone I was locked out of. It wasn’t pretty.

That’s enough stress for this week. I’ll see you all next Thursday, if the creeks don’t rise. See! More possible stress! And we don’t even have a creek anywhere near us!!!!

As always, there’s a “Like” button at the top of this blog. If that word even slightly resembles how you felt about reading this, don’t be shy about clicking on that “Like” for me. Thank you! OK, wait a minute… We’ve recently had an update done to WordPress (this blog’s software) and now I don’t see the “Like” button. Do you see a “Like” button? I think it died a tragic death not unlike my iPhone 6. Technology. Why do we do this to ourselves? Man, I’m crabby…

Bob Wilber, at your service and GET OFF MY LAWN!!!

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