Author effortlessly embraces cutting-edge technology!

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Blackberry Q10 a breeze for technological whiz kid …

If you want to experience what it would be like for an Amish person to step off a Greyhound bus into the swirling centre of Manhattan. If you want a good kick in the crotch of your self-confidence. If you’re simply bored with watching re-runs of Honey Boo-boo, I’ve got the cure: order a new smart phone, sit down, and learn how to use it.

I’m not a technological Luddite, but neither am I one of those unique individuals who subscribes to Audio & Visual Cords & Cables Journal or Basement Gamers Weekly, and I’ve never felt the need to be the first guy on the block to own anything new. Just got a widescreen TV this year (even the kid at the Salvation Army laughed when I tried to pawn off my old thousand-pound set — he curled his lip, looked at me as though I had just teleported from 1963, and said “nobody wants these things, man”). I just this year got an ipad mini, and I’m proud to say my ipod holds a zillion songs, weighs two pounds, and is not touch-screen but crank-operated.

I received my new Blackberry Q10 via UPS courier the other day. The guy went to the wrong house, so it’s only by accident that I’m even telling this story. So all of the advances in Google maps and GPS and online dating still saw a human being get out of a delivery truck and walk up to the wrong address. Kurt Vonnegut would love this stuff. I miss Kurt’s voice.

Anyhoo, I finally signed for and took possession of the nearly-missed delivery. I ripped open the box and sat on the landing between my kitchen and upstairs, thinking it would take me all of three minutes to get this little beauty up and running. I would surprise all my friends and associates by sending a witty little video message of me holding my new super-cool, cutting-edge, first-on-the-block Blackberry Q10. “Yo, wad up,” I imagined myself saying to the hidden video camera that has destroyed the careers of crack-smoking politicians and caught countless bare bums in the wrong places, “check it out, yo, CB is in da house!”

What happened instead is this: I swore.

I mean I swore a lot, and not just the usual variety of frustration-induced curse words. I dug deep. I used my writer’s arsenal, my pirate’s thesaurus, and I went Mel Gibson. I put words together that have not previously been combined in human history. Adjectives, nouns, pronouns and verbs all mixed up. Why? Well because EVERYTHING HAD CHANGED …

The whole operating system of the phone I had been using just fine had been changed. How you open stuff, how you click on it, how you don’t accidentally email a photo of your junk to your boss, all of these things had not only been tweaked, they had been completely reconfigured by the same nerd I stuffed in a locker back in 1987.

My daughter told me to cool down, daddio.

“You’re going to have a stroke, dude,” she said. She’s fifteen.
“Don’t call me dude, not now, not ever! You need to take four steps away from me, I’m serious. This is ridiculous. My hands are big. I have big hands. How do they expect you to move stuff around with normal man-sized fingers! I can’t even make a call! And when I somehow manage to make a call by sheer accident, I can’t hang up! The call goes on forever and people will hear me berating them and judging them long after I’m supposed to have hung up!”
“It’s new, Dad. You need to have patience. You’ll get the hang of it.”
“No I won’t. I won’t EVER get the hang of this. This is for someone who paid attention in school. Don’t you understand, I can’t even find my email, let alone send one … I’m calling them back and putting my pride aside. I’ll ask the fourteen-year-old kid on the other end to look through their garbage and send me a model from 2009.”

“Your face is red. And that vein in your forehead is pulsing. I’m getting mom …”

“Leave her out of this. That’s the last thing I need, the two of you walking me through this like you’re part of some SEAL TEAM SIX special customer help unit. It’s not me, it’s this … this crazy new operating system. Get away from me!”

I walked away and slipped inside my study, the place where I feel most in control over my little world. I looked at the books that line the shelves. Simplicity defined. The basic operating system of a book hasn’t changed in two thousands years. Two covers, a spine, paper with ink splattered on it, and presto! You can have a hardcover, soft cover, trade paperback, whatever you want ….

But the point is, the operating system of a traditional print book has not been frigged with since that German guy Steve Guttenberg invented the printing press (don’t worry, I know that e-books and e-publishing exists, kids, but that’s another blog altogether). Some rocket scientist didn’t try to make a book that also cooks Pizza Pops. See, a book is a book and isn’t trying to be anything else, and you have to respect that.

So I pushed the Q10 aside like a sulking boy and I went for a drive and listened to Loverboy — but that only reminded me of being fourteen years old, Mike Reno looking svelte in red leather pants, summer spread out before me like a buffet of mixed tapes and golden tans. And it was then I realized something profound was occurring: I was becoming my dad. Images of him jamming a screwdriver into our first gigantic VCR flooded forth (he didn’t know what EJECT was for and thought he had lost the rental tape into some cavernous abyss).

I turned the truck around and went in and faced my antagonist. Oh no no, technology wasn’t going to beat this guy. I got a few tutorial tips from a patient colleague, and yes, even allowed my daughter to coach me. And I’m happy to say, the Q10 is not only an awesome and proudly Canadian innovation, but I’m something of a guru. I wrote this whole blog on the little sucker. (Click here to see a video of me in boxer shorts playing with a sleeping cat that is almost, but not quite, ready to fall off a piano …)