Tag Archives: cell phones

The Quest for Techies

The other day I received an e-mail from an organization that caters to seniors (of which I’m a member) and that has a 4 letter acronym as a title. This organization was offering a series of free classes in how to operate a smartphone, both android and iOS (Apple) phones. I immediately read further to get the particulars. I have an older android smartphone and my knowledge of its functions is basic to say the least. I can add and subtract people in my contacts, make calls, text, send a photo to an e-mail address and play with my Bitmoji app. That’s about it, so a class to learn more sounded excellent to me. However the letter also stated that our specific phones would NOT be addressed. We students would learn on a phone they would allow us to use during the class. I could just picture in my mind’s eye the chaos in a room full of seniors, all with “deer in headlight” syndrome, interrupting the instructor to ask how this lesson was different than on the phone they used. I had already experienced this phenomenon when I took a class in operating a late model camera and also when I attended a hospital lecture about AFib for which there are several different medications which all work differently.

The e-mail also said that two classes would be offered for android and two classes for iOS phones. One set of classes was offered in the morning and one in the afternoon for each, and these classes were available in St. Petersburg or Tampa. I live an hour north of each of these heavily congested locations. The next thing I noticed was that all the classes in the morning said registration was already full. I never even had a chance to sign-up for a morning class. And the afternoon classes concluded right at rush hour. Surprise, surprise! I wonder who was responsible for setting that schedule up?

I decided to call the number suggested in the e-mail for further questions and when someone answered they knew nothing about these classes. After fumbling around for a while, putting me on hold and coming back, they didn’t know why the morning classes were already full and they didn’t know why the afternoon classes were scheduled to get out at rush hour. They also didn’t know if any classes would ever be offered anywhere nearer me. Why was I not surprised? This sort of thing is so typical in today’s world. Some half-wit took a great idea and turned it into an idiot’s endeavor, by being too lazy or ignorant to figure out how to make these classes possible for people in this geographic area.

Some people have disdain for seniors, claiming they are too stupid or lazy to learn how to use a smartphone or other technology. Those who feel this way are not being fair. I am a senior and I love to learn new things, as do many of my friends. The problem is in finding a source for that learning. I’ve always been good at reading owner’s manuals or going to a store where I’ve purchased an item when I’ve gotten stuck. Owner’s manuals are no longer being printed. The manual that does exist is on the phone, but if one doesn’t know how to get to it, what good is it!!! And if by some miracle you do get to the manual, nothing is explained in detail. It’s assumed we are already tech knowledgeable. And phone stores don’t typically teach people how to use their phones. They upgrade!  The few classes I’ve seen offered are too basic for me. Talk about frustration! It’s laughable!

We seniors need patient young folks to offer instruction in operating cell phones!!! Other technology, too! We’re even willing to pay. Help!!!


Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland. Join her here each 11th of the month.


Filed under How To, musings

Before The Internet and Cell Phones

Many of you may not remember the time before The Internet and cell phones were a regular part of our lives, but I do. Because of these wonderful inventions, life seems to have sped up and allowed us to accomplish more than we used to. That’s a good thing, right? I’m not so sure.

This holiday season, I found myself so swamped with things I needed and wanted to do, there wasn’t time to fit them all in, and since I‘m between writing projects and a retired person, I decided to go off-line for a number of days and actually enjoy the activities associated with Christmas and preparing for the new year. Friends and I exchanged cookies, I took more time writing my Christmas cards, I spent extra effort decorating and making flower arrangements and playing cherished Christmas music. I phoned some friends I hadn’t corresponded with for a while, to catch up with the happenings in their lives. A friend and I went out to lunch and to an art museum, another friend and I walked the neighborhood admiring the colorful lights. I even watched some sentimental Hallmark movies. These are things I used to do years ago when life traveled at a slower pace, and I have to say, I really enjoyed it all. I had more of the spirit of the season this year than in previous ones when I was mostly out of breath.

Several times, while waiting at the doctor’s office, I actually had conversations with fellow patients about the weather up north and how families were doing and where we were from, instead of sitting there surrounded by silent souls who were glued to their cell phone screens. I discovered I was more relaxed, more peaceful. I had kindness and love in my heart.

I found in some people, frazzled nerves, grumpy attitudes and downright nastiness, and I had the notion they were usually normal and nice, but during his time, just rushed and stressed. Why? They were trying to cram too much into too little time, were not successful and therefore miserable themselves and they unintentionally spread that attitude to others.

That revelation made me happy I had chosen to slow down this year and savor the season. While this approach isn’t necessarily possible for everyone, I encourage us all to remember life is fleeting. It’s over too soon and the quality of it is more important than the quantity if you aren’t happy and fulfilled.

So, my new year’s resolution this 2014 is to create more days like my holiday days by better prioritizing and remembering the things that are truly important. We’ve all heard the cliché “slow down and smell the roses.” How many of us have actually taken it to heart? This year, I have. Will you?


Filed under internet, life, musings

GPS for 911 by Christine Husom

I serve as a county commissioner in Minnesota, and at a recent meeting we were discussing upgrading some phone computer software when this question was raised, “I live in a city that is on the border of our county. If I dial 911 on my cell phone, will it go to our county, or to the neighboring county’s sheriff’s dispatch, since I live closer to them?” Good question.

A 911 call should go to the county dispatch where the call is made. If another county gets the call in error, they will immediately forward it to the correct county. Technology and equipment continues to become more sophisticated, including the ways Global Positioning Systems (GPS) are used.

Newer cell phones have GPS which is the space-based system that gives location and time information, provided there is an unobstructed line of sight to four or more GPS satellites.

But let’s say you have an older phone without GPS, and realize you are in personal distress. You dial 911, utter the single word, “Help,” then pass out. Sheriff’s dispatchers, by triangulating cell phone towers should be able to figure out where you are, by how far you are from a tower. 

GPS was originally developed for military intelligence, but President Ronald Reagan issued a directive to include use by civilians as well. Fast forward to the current decade when the Federal Communications Commission decreed that all cell phones must have GPS capability by 2018.

Some might argue that ruling is an invasion of privacy. Some have disabled the GPS in their cell phones. I value my right to privacy, but I also hope that in the event of an emergency, responders would be able to locate me quickly. What are your thoughts?

Christine Husom is the author of the Winnebago County Mystery Series; Murder in Winnebago County, Buried in Wolf Lake, An Altar by the River, and The Noding Field Mystery.






Filed under How To, writing

My Technology Addiction by Donna Small

This past Sunday, my daughter, Emily, wanted to make some cookies.  I’d just inherited one of those fancy mixers from my grandmother and this would be the perfect opportunity for me to try it out.

Perusing the kitchen, I realized we were out of several key ingredients so the two of us hopped into the car and headed to the grocery store.

About three minutes after leaving the house, I did the instinctive “reach into the pocketbook to make sure my phone is there” and quickly realized I had forgotten it at home.

Now, you’d think this wouldn’t be a big deal.  I was traveling about five miles away from the house to a populated area; not heading out into the Great Frontier.

But still, this was my cell phone.  I felt the panic begin to creep in…

What if I’m in a car accident?

How will I call 911?

What if I drive the car off a cliff?  (Totally irrational thought since I live in Clemmons and not the Grand Canyon, but that’s the panic talking.)

What I’m trapped for days in my car and have no way to contact anyone?

Trying to hide the panic I felt, I looked at my daughter and said, “I forgot my phone.”

Instinctively, she patted the pockets of her denim shorts and realized she, too, had left her device at home.

My palms began to sweat.  (Not kidding.)  I was (gasp!) out of reach and would be unavailable by text, email and phone for the better part of an hour!

What if I was needed?

What if a text was sent to me and I was unable to respond until I returned home?  (I should mention here that the most important text I have ever gotten is my husband telling me he’d be home later that originally planned.  It’s not like the president has ever texted me to ask for my advice on some foreign policy issue.)

I took some deep breaths and told myself how ridiculous these thoughts were.  After all, I’m not that important.  If I’m out of reach for an hour or so, I ‘m pretty certain the world will continue to turn on its axis.  I also need to remember that somehow I managed to survive the first half of my life without a cell phone.  As a matter of fact, when cell phones first came out, I was resistant to carry one. I’d survived thus far without one, why change now?

Of course, it wasn’t long before I caved.

I purchased a cell phone and carried it with me. Initially, I had one of those basic plans that allowed one to make phone calls in their home calling area.  Outside of that, the costs were extensive.  After a few short years, I upgraded to the nationwide plan – you know, because I travel so much – (not!)

In any event, it wasn’t too much longer before my contract was up for renewal and I was able to purchase a new phone.  Of course, I was woo’d by the newer smart phones and upgraded to something much more sparkly than I had previously.  Fast forward a few upgrades and my phone was also a camera, IPOD, GPS, was able to receive emails, and had internet access.

Thus began my Dependence on Electronics.

I now carry my phone with me at all times, even on my daily walks.   Anytime I am in the car, it is taken out of my pocketbook and placed on the center console.  I will frequently reach to touch it as though making sure it is still there and hasn’t mysteriously evaporated into thin air.

It is beside me each night when I sit and read in the living room and it is on the nightstand beside me when I sleep.  If asked why, I will tell you that it’s because I use my phone as my alarm clock, but really, it’s because I can’t stand the thought of it being out of my sight.  (Well, that and the fact that my publisher may need to call me at 4am to inform me that my book just hit the New York Times Bestseller list….I can dream, can’t I?)

This need to be constantly connected is somewhat disconcerting.  It has led to a bit of laziness on my part.  I’ll admit, I have texted my daughter upstairs in her room instead of actually walking up the stairs and I’ve done the same to my husband.   Why walk up a flight of steps when you can simply thumb a few keystrokes?

That being said, I’ll freely admit to having a pretty heavy reliance on technology and I’m not entirely sure it’s a good thing.  Yes, I want to be able to reach my daughter when I’m not with her or text my father who lives 900 miles away, but do I really need to break out in a cold sweat when realizing that my cell phone has been left alone for thirty minutes?  The answer is no.

Unfortunately, in this day and age, I doubt my reliance on this tiny piece of electronic equipment will change anytime soon.  However, I do pledge to walk up those steps to speak to my family members, even if it means I will lose my place in my book.  After all, the face of my daughter is something I never tire of seeing.  She’s worth a walk up a flight of steps.

I am pleased to report that my daughter and I survived our trek to the grocery store sans technology. I somehow managed to avoid the treacherous cliffs that are so prevalent in Clemmons and returned home safely without a scratch on either of us.  Emily and I were ready to begin our cookie-making.

However, upon my arrival home, my husband informed me that he tried to reach me.  Apparently, the Sunday paper wasn’t delivered and he wanted me to purchase one at the store.

And I missed the call…..



Filed under writing