The un-trivial trouble with high-tech toys

This morning, important news: Apple launched a new iPad.
And you’re right; that news is not shocking. Happens all the time, right? Except this latest addition to the Apple family is so new that it hasn’t even been given a proper name. Apparently, the third-generation iPad might be “iPad III” or “New iPad” or “iPad HT” (High Tech for the acronymically challenged) or possibly “iPad Precious” … who knows?!!!
This is like having babies so fast parents don’t have time to first preview a list of baby names.
I’ve grown accustomed to the rapid-fire rate of new and “next generation” products in the world of “eToys.” If companies aren’t ready to roll out a higher tech version of itself every six months, they could be deemed obsolete – left in the “eDust,” as it were.
But, really, is there ANYTHING that needs to be improved every six months?
Sure, my age is showing. Goodness, when I was a kid getting interested in photography, I owned the same camera for a decade. And appliances? Forget about it! Those suckers lasted longer than most marriages do today.
Presently, you’re lucky to get a couple of years out of your brand-new washer before it “goes on the fritz” (a highly technical repair diagnosis). Apparently, planned obsolescence is now just another part of manufacturing.
Today when we purchase an electronic device, we’re getting technology most of us can’t begin to fathom. Take the “New iPad” (or whatever) mentioned above. If I had Apple CEO Tim Cook in front of me, exceedingly trained journalist that I am, I’d grill him with some mega-challenging questions.
“This ‘stunning Retina display’ you’re touting on the new iPad sounds awesome and all that, so excuse me for asking, but 3.1 million pixels? Really? Have you, um, personally COUNTED all 3.1 million of those bad boys?”
And then there I’d sit like a total dummy, not understanding a word of the detailed explanation I’m certain he could provide. Kind of like when my techno-savvy son-in-law explains things like “the cloud” to me, and I try not to look completely stupefied although I was confused before he uttered a single scientific syllable.
But the thing that delights me most about folks who understand all this high-tech stuff is how much they love-love-love talking about it. And I admit, this whole Electronics Age thing is a mind-blower.
A few decades ago I was beyond excited when we got our first VCR. I could actually program it. That’s right; I was so happy with myself I couldn’t shut up about it. And this was in the days before “VCR Plus,” people. Yep, I learned to program that old VCR without program codes because that all came later.
Come to think of it, that’s about the time I started losing my grip on technology. Once they moved beyond the basic VCR concept (and it didn’t take long, trust me), I found it tough to keep up.
Then one fine day personal computers showed up in our actual homes, and life was never the same. And although I can’t claim much understanding of the silly things, I know I would never want to go back.
So recently when we decided we needed a new laptop at our house (all that increased speed and storage space, don’t ya know?!) my spouse came home from the computer store carrying a familiar black and white box – the kind that looks like cowhide. You know the one.
“What’s this?” I quizzed, although I admit I was kind of happy seeing that snappy cowhide. Reminded me of the days when I didn’t know cows from computers. Obviously, little has changed.
“I thought that company was out of business,” I wondered aloud. (Hadn’t they strayed beyond the six-month magical deadline for new rollouts and become obsolete?) Well, no, they weren’t obsolete at all. And, it turns out, they make a pretty fine laptop.
But the trouble with technology is you can’t just rest on your laurels here; the next brilliant device might be unveiled at any moment.
So stay tuned, friends; I should be ready to rollout another important bulletin in about, oh … six months.

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