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Jan McCanless column: The revolt of the machines

By Jan McCanless
Salisbury Post
Woody Allen did a stand-up comedy routine once that told of him having a meeting with all of his appliances because they were not acting like good appliances should. If I could ever sympathize with any situation, I could sympathize with that one!
How often have I railed against the computer and how they seem to have taken over where humans once reigned? I said I would never have one, that I could manage just fine without one. Well, that was before my wonderful sister-in-law gave me hers. Although it took me a while to grasp the concept of working one, once I did, I amassed a fairly good sized address book and I planned my senior trips.
One day the unthinkable happened: my e-mail was down. I could get on the Internet just fine but my e-mail, for some reason, would not function. Calls to my support system garnered nothing productive. I even had a family friend come to my home and load new software into the computer. However, stubbornly, the e-mail portion refused to respond. I felt as if I were completely cut off from the civilized world! I could not reach my friends, I was not able to e-mail my columns in (this one was sent snail mail), I was out of touch with my publisher, my editor, and the various magazines I write for. My world had come to a complete halt! Instantly, I went into withdrawal.
For years I had marveled at the sheer numbers of people who have owned and relied on computers. I could not understand how anyone could be so enamored of a hunk of electronics. That and cell phones were never, ever going to entrap me into thinking I could live without either one of them.
Now I have both, although I should add that my cell phone is never turned on except while traveling. It is therefore my convenience, not someone else’s.
As for my problem with the computer and as for this writing, I still do not know what the trouble is; however, I do have some kind of troubleshooter scheduled to come to my home and check it out. Unlike Woody Allen, speaking to it has had no effect; even threatening seems to have fallen on deaf connections. I do have a daughter, however, and she is furiously writing e-mails back and forth for me to and from my various contacts. Believe me, she will be more than relieved when and if I get my computer up and running.
You would think that would be the end of it, wouldn’t you? No. At the same time, we are experiencing phone problems and my DVD player is not feeling too well either. When in the world did we become so dependent on electronics in this country?
I can recall how we all were so in awe of dial telephones and now what do we have ó call waiting, conference calls, TV phones, you name it, and it can be done on or by a telephone. Television ó that is another thing. I was a teenager before we had TV on a full-time basis, and getting up to change the channels was always the last thing anybody who was watching wanted to do. There were only three networks anyway, so we had a choice of only three channels, not too hard when you think about it. Given the way televisions are manufactured now, it would be extremely difficult, if not downright impossible to change the channel without a remote control. Remember when we had buttons for adjusting the picture, we could lighten or darken the always black and white image, we could clear up “snow” and we could make adjustments by that little button in the back of it, if we had to.
We’ve come a long way, baby, but for me, the jury is still out as to whether or not it has all been an improvement.
As for my computer, it will get fixed and rebooted ó eventually, and I’ll be back online with all my friends and business associates.
I just want you to know, I’m not proud of it!

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