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Education

Feeling wired

Hhima Bhandoola is losing her ongoing battle against gadgets

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They say technology is making life easier by the day. All I can say to that is my life is becoming increasingly complex thanks to the multitude of choices and options available. All I need a simple word processing tool.

Yet I’m struggling to keep pace with the multiple devices and the data storage options. Even retrieving a file or a photograph has become a mammoth challenge. Where was it saved? Was it the C, D or E drive? Or is it a temporary file? Documents now seem to have a life of their own, randomly traversing between the various parts of my computer. How do my photographs always go missing in some obscure cache I didn’t even know existed? My box of cables and chargers resembles a snake pit and the only way I can make any sense of them is by labelling them.

My keyboard has been giving me trouble lately, too. It may have something to do with a certain four- year-old who has been hammering away at it pretending to do ‘office work’. Never mind that I have given her an old keyboard to play with. My tech-savvy little one has figured that her decoy keyboard is a dummy and doesn’t really do anything – ‘Mama is fooling her’.

So, for the last two days I have been coaxing the keys to behave. Sometimes a hard long press will make them yield, for other keys a gentle touch will be enough. But they go on strike randomly and when a simple ‘no’ typed appears as a ‘nooooooooooo’ for the tenth time, I’ve reached my wits’ end. The last straw is when my email password gets locked out after numerous incorrect tries. The keys seem to be playing a little game of patience with me (and guess who’s winning?).

It’s always when the net is down, the PC is playing up, or the keyboard is playing hooky, that I realize how much ‘work’ I had planned for that day, and the frustration builds up by the minute. A frantic call to the husband at his office normally elicits one of two standard responses: ‘Why don’t you try rebooting?’ And if that does not work: ‘Have you checked the connection?’ The casual, ‘How can you be so technically challenged?’ before he hangs up wounds me to the core.

With temper simmering, I thrash the keys repeatedly, just as I have seen my daughter do. You know that old trick of people from my generation? When something does not work, shake it, kick it, rattle it, and magically, it works. It worked for our TVs, toasters and our scooters. But not anymore, it seems.

A good shake and several rattles later, the keyboard finds its way out of the window. (Now just in case you are wondering how I managed to pry the keyboard off to send it flying, here is a little secret: I am still using my good old desk top with a wireless keyboard – yes there are dinosaurs like me still around. My husband does not trust me with the laptop. Never mind that my little four-year-old genius is allowed to expertly navigate her way around his precious iPad. It’s like she was born with her fingers on the touch screen. Ah well, but that is another story.)

Back to my keyboard and a very frustrating day. Now I know what they mean when they talk about withdrawal symptoms. Never mind that I have a Blackberry and can check my mail every five minutes if need be. Not having PC access for the WHOLE day literally leaves me unglued!

So, first thing this morning saw me outside the electronic store a few minutes before they opened. After wading through several confusing options, from backlights to solar panels, I opt for the basic model that came with a mouse. Having been reassured that I could put away the mouse if I didn’t need it, I drive home and proceede to set up the keyboard.

Several frustrating hours later and still more hammering of the new keyboard, I give up. The wise one comes back from work and rolls his eyes, shakes his head and says: ‘How on earth can you expect to set up the keyboard if the mouse is still in the box? They go together.’ Now you’d think the smart salesman at the store could have mentioned something important like that? I won’t say anything about the batteries that had apparently been put in incorrectly as well. Why don’t they make those darn plus and minus signs just that little bigger and more visible?

As Scarlett O’Hara would say, ‘Tomorrow is another day.’ And another struggle with the various gadgets which seem to take turns to taunt me. Wonder which one’s turn it will be tomorrow?

By Hima Bhandoola
Time Out Dubai,

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