Tag Archives: email

It completed me

I’ve always had a healthy skepticism about technology. It’s not that I don’t use technology. Like many I rarely leave a room without some sort of device attached to my hand. And I’m certainly not a Luddite (although I would have been proud to be one in the day) as I spent the later part of my career (yes, I am that old) devoted to making learning online the best experience it could possibly be for those who wanted that experience. But that doesn’t mean I buy in holus bolus to every knicknack or gadget that promises to make my life oh so much better than it already is. “Cause, if I might say so, my life ain’t so bad right now. Besides, how often do you invite the latest and greatest into your life only to discover that without a millennial in the house there’s no possible way to figure out how to make it work? Sure they showed you what to do in the store. But get the thing home and without all that fluorescent lighting nothing looks the same. As for me, you can bet your bottom dollar that, if there’s an “app for that” I’ll take a “pass for that“.

It’s not just figuring stuff out that’s the problem. There’s the whole over promising thing too. Like the self park feature on my car. Pretty exciting, eh? I mean all you have to do is press this one little button and lo and behold, the next thing you know you’re on the sidewalk waiting for the car to finish up and hand you the keys so you can be on your way. At least that’s what I thought it would do. Then I find out the car doesn’t actually find the parking spot for you. It just parks the car and what’s the point of that?  I know how to park a car. The problem is driving around the corner 15 times with the false hope that someone might actually leave just at the moment you sidle up to their spot. Or waiting for the person who has been sitting in the driver’s seat for nigh on 10 minutes (n reverse, I might add) before you realize they clearly have just broken up with their partner and are now calling each and every one of their friends to commiserate about the bum and how they never should have put up with all his/her nonsense in the first place. Fellas, It’s finding the parking space that’s the real problem. When you get that one worked out, call me.

Having said that, every once in a while something comes along that’s right up your alley. Something that fits like a glove, is on target and hits the proverbial nail on the head. Like those rather spendy noise cancellation headphones that you dithered about buying and then wondered what all of the anguish was about the very first time you wore them on a five hour flight and realized you no longer had to listen to the person beside you crunching on chips or worry every time the pilot “dinged” the flight attendant. Your logical self knows she probably just has to use the bathroom but there’s that niggling feeling it could be something else and at 39,000 feet “something else” can be a little disconcerting. Best not to hear at all which makes those buds worth their weight in gold. Then there’s that new fangled device that lets you see who’s at your front door without actually having to be anywhere near your front door. If that means not having to run down the stairs to find out there’s yet another person who wants to paint my “just been painted” house then, as Martha would say, it’s a good thing. But as good as those might be, neither can hold a candle to the hi tech wonder that has recently come into my life. If you ask me, it’s not even a horse race.

As you can probably imagine I spend a fair bit of my time at a computer, much but not all, dedicated to sending and responding to emails. It’s not that I don’t like writing emails. It’s just that so often I say the same thing over and over and over again. Like me, I’m sure that you have thought to yourself “if only there was an easier way”. “If only this computer could read my mind and finish all of my sentences”. Well my friends, you are in for a very pleasant surprise! The other day as I was typing away, much to my amazement my computer started typing all on its own. That’s right! Before my very eyes it was anticipating what it thought I wanted to say and then said it. Without any help at all, it completed me. At first I wasn’t all that receptive to this rather personal intrusion. My immediate reaction was “how do I get rid of this pesky little feature which is clearly something new from those Google peeps?” After all, it can’t possibly actually know what it is I want to say, can it? The truth is, it can’t but the reality is that, most of the time, what it had me say wasn’t so bad. I could live with it. And so it was that I decided to let the computer say what it thought I should say. Rather than the other way around. Which makes a lot of sense if you are a shallow person like me. I mean if it’s willing to do the work why the heck would I not let it? In most cases what I was going to say wasn’t really all that much better anyway.

Of course as it oft does, this got me thinking.  Why just emails? Why not let the computer finish all of my sentences everywhere? I gotta say it would make writing this blog a whole lot easier and I’m pretty sure that my computer could learn to be as shallow as I am in no time at all.

Yeah. Now I’m just gonna sit back and watch that skepticism of mine fade away.

PS: Thank you to the person who left the Starbucks mug on my doorstep. Just a guess but I’m thinking it must be someone who reads this blog as otherwise it was a very uncanny random act of kindness. Gotta admit. The last time I was in Saskatchewan I don’t think there was a SB, let alone a mug dedicated to the “Breadbasket of Canada“. It is very much appreciated and a wonderful addition to my collection!

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Blasts from the Past

emailThe internet has changed everything and I can say that with some authority since I spend an inordinate amount of time on it, both at work and at home. Of course it goes without saying there’s good and bad stuff about this relatively new phenomenon and it also has the unique characteristic of being both a time saver and time waster. I mean, let’s face it. All those hours you used to spend at the library seeking just the right book to support the rather spurious arguments you were making in your final history paper have been replaced by a quick search on Google Scholar where in just minutes you can find a multitude of like-minded authors making the same spurious arguments. And imagine the time and money you could save if, like me, you register for a course, free of charge at Harvard which, when successfully completed, will garner you a frame-worthy certificate to proudly hang on your office wall confirming to everyone that you really are as smart as you think you are. And I’m pretty sure you’ll be successful even if you check off the box promising not to cheat, which is important because this is Harvard and there’s an expectation of rigour associated with the ivy league. And let’s not forget the shopping. The internet has given new meaning to the “let your fingers do the walking” ditty as now one visit to your fav “bricks and mortar” store to nail down sizes will suffice and all future purchases can be made with just a click of the wrist. No more driving through traffic, combing the mall parking lot for a spot or paying exorbitant fees to occupy a ten by eight section of pavement for a couple of hours which, if factored out on a yearly basis, would probably cover the rent on a small penthouse.

But it’s not all “raindrops and roses” or, like my Mother says “peaches and cream”, as anyone who has ever whiled away more than a few hours managing a fake farm, building towers out of oddly shaped blocks or shooting throngs of attacking aliens, knows. The internet has led us down some less savoury paths, ones which are perhaps better off having not been chosen. Not that it hasn’t been exciting. I mean we can now connect to just about everything and everybody at the touch of a button, but there’s a flip side to that coin. You see it’s given rise to an odd sort of epidemic and since it’s caught up with me I’d bet a buck or two that it’s caught up with you too. What you ask, is this affliction to which I refer? Well, let’s just say that, of late, there has been a rash of people who, despite their better judgement, feel compelled to reconnect with old pals, most likely because they have shown up on their “people you might know” block on LinkedIn. Or maybe one day, with nothing else to do, they decided to google everyone in their high school yearbook, just for fun. Which would be fine if that was where it all ended. But it doesn’t.  I have to confess that this new trend confuses me a tad. Because when I think about it, I realize that communication tools have been around for some time and yet have not traditionally been employed in this manner. Perhaps they’re just so free and easy now, like my course at Harvard. Regardless, the bottom line is that one day, when you least expect it, you will open your inbox and find an email from someone who hasn’t contacted you in 40 years, and it will go something like this:

“Hey! Long time, no see. Saw your pic on [insert your favourite social media site here] and can’t believe you haven’t changed a bit. So what’s been happening?”

Before I go on, let me stop for a moment and explain that I have actually successfully connected in this way with one or two people from the past and have very much enjoyed becoming reacquainted. In fact some of you may be reading this blog but these are exceptions to the rule. Because even as a shallow person who is no stranger to the niceties and nuances of meaningless chit chat, and who, if I have to say so myself, is pretty darn good at it, I find most of these “blast from the past” conversations to be a bit of a stretch. Honestly, “what’s been happening?” Would that be over the last 40 years? Let’s see, where do I start because 40 years is a pretty long time and this could take a while. I mean it took Moses 40 years to get the people of Israel out of the desert and some pretty significant stuff went on during that time. And don’t get me started on that “you haven’t changed a bit” malarky which could only be true if I was prematurely wrinkled and gray at 20. Or just maybe I have had tons of “work” done, as they say, in the interim. And you gotta know I’m not going to share that information with someone I haven’t heard from in 40 years. The bottom line is you’ll probably share an email or two, promise to get together next time you’re in town, and then promptly forget that you did.

So here’s my advice. Next time you get the overwhelming urge to entertain the ill conceived notion that the internet should be used to connect with people from your distant past, think again. I’m guessing that in most cases you’ll quickly realize there was probably a pretty good reason that you didn’t stay in touch in the first place and won’t hit the send key. And please don’t worry about taking as much time as you need to decide. After all, what’s another 40 years between friends?

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