How does it work, again???

how does it workThere was a time when I considered myself technology savvy.  In fact, I always remember my Gran in the 80’s confusing the attributes of a portable telephone handset with the TV remote control.  I’d arrive just in time to watch Coronation Street with her, to be greeted with the familiar comment, ‘you’ll have to look at the TV as it’s not working when I press the remote control again‘.  I’d smile and suggest maybe if she didn’t use the telephone to operate the TV we may be in with a chance ….. she would chuckle.  And repeat the same manoeuvre a few days later.

Grandma phonesAnother of her favourite mistakes was attempting to answer the phone with the TV remote control and wondering why it wouldn’t work.  Even when she remembered to use the telephone handset, she’d often hold it the wrong way up and wonder why everything was so quiet.  I’d be shouting down the line, ‘turn the handset the other way round, Gran‘, after which it would go silent for a few seconds before she’d come back on the line with a much clearer voice saying, ‘oh, that’s so much better‘.  She left us long ago, but the memories still make me chuckle to this day …..

30 years agoOnly 5 years ago, I’d be able to manipulate spreadsheets, construct eye-catching presentations, and merge documents using the latest tools and techniques.  These days, with each new version of Microsoft, I’m chunnering and grumbling when I can’t find the tools as they’ve been put in a more ‘user-friendly’ format.  User-friendly indeed.  I never thought I’d see the day when I’d start insisting they kept things the way they used to be.   It’s the kids that now come to my rescue and with the click of a button, and a look from them that says, ‘that was obvious‘, I certainly feel like technology has overtaken my capabilities.  Sign of the times, I guess.

wifi cartoonEven the oven is getting in on the gig these days.  Back in the UK, I had a traditional gas oven which required your physical presence to turn it on, ensure nothing was blown up during the cooking process, guarantee food wasn’t burnt to a cinder and that it had been physically turned off and the flame extinguished when finished. When we moved to Canada nearly two and a half years ago, the house we bought has a ‘modern’ electric double oven and a variety of switches that I’ve never known how to operate.  Trial and error in the early days saw me working out which switch turned each of the ovens on – and I haven’t deviated from this since.  I also quickly discovered that the term ‘broil’ means ‘grill’ – but there have been several occasions when my husband has attempted to cook a dish and wondered why it was burning on the top as he mistook the ‘broil’ setting for ‘bake’.  Subtle reactions I’ve made like raised eyebrows, deep sighs and constructive comments of, ‘if you cooked more often maybe these mistakes wouldn’t happen‘, have been blissfully disregarded by him – probably in the psychological hope that his chores will become redundant and I’ll assume all further accountability for the use of our kitchen appliances.cartoon on microwaveSo it was only when a good Canadian friend of mine visited for lunch last week and quizzically asked what the various switches and buttons did on my oven, that I had to admit I had absolutely no idea.  There wasn’t an instruction booklet left when we bought the house from the previous owners and (rather like being with my husband), I have stuck solidly to its’ basic capabilities – never once thinking that I’m sure there’s extra functionality that would make my life so much easier staring me straight in the face.

It was only the following morning, that I suddenly thought about my oven again (as you do).  Much like Aladdin’s golden lamp, I couldn’t help but feel that today’s equivalent of technological advances and the wonders of the modern-day ‘world-wide-web’, must hold the answer to my quest.  So with some degree of haste, I scribbled down the model and make, and typed it into a well-known search engine.  Literally seconds later, up popped the instruction manual and the ability to download it online.  I can’t believe it took me 2.5 years for even the idea to occur but like all good things, I get there in the end.  To say it has changed my life would be an understatement.  Whilst I still feel like a technology dinosaur, I now have an oven with tons of additional capabilities which I’ve been busily utilising ever since.

laughing catIt made me wonder how many other things there are that with just a few seconds on the internet and a fresh look at whether I’m using them to their full potential, I could vastly enhance how they’re utilised?  Will the same approach work on my husband, I wonder …….  ūüôā



Thanks goes to my ability to search on google images in an effective fashion to find pics for today’s blog!

The times, they are a-changing …


I’ve always thought I was fairly ‘up there’ and tapped into new technology, kept abreast of new developments, and could converse on an equal footing with ‘techno-bods’. ¬†Don’t get me wrong, I’m not in the ‘geek’ category – never have been, but I’ve been there since the first ZX81, and the BBC micro-computer days. ¬†I’ve seen the first computers used in schools – and that was a high school at the time – and if we were lucky, out of the 40 in my class who had ‘IT’ for one thirty minute ‘lesson’ each week, you may have got so far as typing one or two words on the screen as everyone huddled around the sole machine like it was an idol to be worshipped.


Then there was the tape-player, and loading ‘games’ via tape. ¬†That took ages. ¬†I always remember being in a school lesson with a ‘stand-in’ teacher who to say IT was an anathema, was an understatement. ¬†I remember the feeling of knowing that every child in the class was on a higher¬†plane and level of IT knowledge to the one individual who was meant to be in that position (i.e.. the teacher), and complaining bitterly to my Dad when I got home about their inability to even load a tape into the machine to install the ‘educational package’ we were meant to be learning. ¬†Of course, by the time it had loaded, there was only 5 minutes left of the lesson …….

At this point, it’s probably worth pointing out that my Dad was the only IT teacher in my high school at the time – and even then, was splitting half his time teaching maths, and the other half on computers – so new was the topic area. ¬†This gradually changed as the years rolled by, and both IT and computers has changed out of all recognition, becoming the life-blood of educational establishments, the home, as well as the workplace.

So, I’ve always liked to think I was slightly ahead of the curve and have fully embraced changes in technology. ¬†I could do some basic coding, could manipulate spreadsheets, databases and word documents, develop a slick presentation with slides and graphics – plus, made full use of the integrated calendars when these started to come in. ¬†I’ve even moved away from ‘written calendars’ at home, and everything is electronic. ¬†Whilst my husband works for a global IT firm, I’m the one who knows how to watch all my favourite UK TV programmes whilst in Canada. ¬†That’s how far I’ve come over the years …


Music has changed as the technology has. ¬†I remember the vinyl 33″, 45″ and 78″ records – and having endless hours of amusement playing them at different speeds on the turntable record players. ¬†I subscribe to this day, that ‘Pinky and Perky’ were constructed on this basis ….

I moved with the flow and into tapes as ‘walkmans’ became the ‘in thing’, but have to admit, the sound was never as great as listening on vinyl. ¬†That said, I can’t begin to ‘tot up’ the number of hours I’d spend constructing the latest ‘charts’ as they were played on the radio on a Sunday afternoon, or my latest playlist that I’d put together piece by piece and would play through earphones on my ¬†walkman. ¬†It has to be said, that there’s a direct linkage between the amount of time taken to construct a ‘tape’ in this manner, and to listen to it back, over and over, with the enjoyment this creates. ¬†I don’t think I get the same feeling of accomplishment these days by doing it on my iPhone – probably because there’s so many playlists and it can be done so quickly, you’re not as emotionally attached to the whole construction process.

There’s some things I’ve clung desperately to. ¬†I still have my vinyls (picture disks were my favourites and I’m still of the view these will come back in as trends revert to retro technology once again – mark my words) – my tapes unfortunately withered as the material gradually disintegrated over the years. ¬†Our CD collection (which we’ve transported and brought with us across the Atlantic), features albums I used to have on vinyl and those I¬†had¬†on tape. ¬†Always preferring the ‘tangible article’, our number of CD’s far exceeds the number of tracks and albums we’ve downloaded.


I don’t consider myself a ‘technophobe’ and always enjoy a browse around the ‘fruit-logo’d technology’ stores and perusing the latest technology and ways of working quicker. ¬†I admit, my laptop hasn’t been updated for a few years (4 to be exact), so with my birthday looming and the prospect of taking full advantage of an attractive exchange rate in the procuring of a new and shiny model, we visited the local Canadian IT fruit store for some advice. ¬†Talk about a dose of cold water. ¬†Upon selecting the preferred model, this was the conversation ….

Me: ¬†‘I notice they don’t come with CD drives built in. ¬†How do you play your CD’s?’

‘Guru girl’ (probably only 18): said¬†rather hesitantly and not wishing to offend, ‘well, we find our customers don’t do that anymore. ¬†You can always buy an external CD drive and connect it via a USB though if you really want to still do that ……’

Me: ‘Oh. ¬†And what about the memory size? ¬†I have loads of documents which I store on my laptop, plus photos and stuff which takes up memory space’

‘Guru girl’ (who had clearly positioned me in the ‘I’ll need to speak to her more slowly, less techi, and introduce her to some basic concepts of how things are done these days‘ category): ‘well, we find our customers don’t do that anymore. ¬†They use the cloud although there are other external ‘cloud’ providers you could also use …….’

My recollection of the IT class with the supply teacher came hurtling to mind, only to realise the roles have now reversed.  I left the Canadian store battered, bruised, and slightly dazed.  When did all that happen?  I thought I was ahead of the curve, only to find that the entire track has shifted and everyone else is playing a completely different game.

So, I’ve reframed my terms of reference and am going back in to the slaughter later this week to finally procure said item, and visit a genius. ¬†Let’s hope I’m back in the game again.

Now where’s my transistor radio and betamax recorder …