Exploring something new (to us): Laptop computers

#490 in a series of true experiences in real estate
May 2005, Hills Newspapers

Our computers, which we bought about 4 years ago are ridiculously old and slow, Anet says, so we need to buy new ones. Apparently, because the computer world changes by the minute, it’s worse than driving a new car out of the showroom. They’re outdated that fast.

We met with a computer expert, Aaron Herskowitz, who will help us choose and buy, then will set everything up and transfer our files.

Aaron is a very good communicator. He’s got a ton of information, he speaks quickly and clearly, and it’s fun to hear him. He told us about desktop computers like the ones we have now that are plugged into electricity and stay in one spot. As in times before with typewriters, when you want to write something, you go to the desk and sit there.

But now there are computers in slim cases weighing around 10 pounds that are called laptops, and these don’t even have to be plugged in. Aaron says you can drive down any street and pretty much depend on being able to tap into a network – like radio waves, I guess – that enable you to use your laptop right there in your car.

While you wait for your car to be lubed, for instance, you can type and send email, play computer games, find, play and save favorite music, and search the Internet.

Plus – people do it all the time, Aaron says – you can take that laptop on airplanes, on vacations to the beach, to anywhere in the world, and use it for all these same things, and much more. There is no need any longer to carry an address book or a tablet of notepaper. Contacts are recorded in your computer and any notes you want to make are typed in, too.

Or – and this did stretch my mind – you can make notes with pen on paper the old-fashioned way, then later scan the notes onto your computer. No need to go back to the office to get notes filed in a file folder. No need for a file, or paper, at all.

When Aaron told us this, I immediately got an image of our sale files. They are very thick and only 6 to 8 of them completely fill up one file drawer. Those files could all be scanned and the paper shredded and thrown away.

Doctors are doing it, scanning medical records onto computers. Banks, of course, are doing it. No one has to save old checks anymore.

What a wonderland. I began to realize that this is what must be meant as virtual. We won’t have actual written records, but instead, they’ll be virtual. Which reminds me that I read in the newspaper the other day that reading and writing are doomed. A Berkeley English instructor and professional trend spotter, William Crossman, is predicting that by 2050, the written word will become a curiosity of the past.

Everyone will be using talking computers. Crossman says that written text is only one stage in the evolution of technology. The next will be the perfection of computers that can be talked to. Learning to read and write will no longer be necessary because computers will voice back the information we need.

No books? The pleasure of holding and reading a book, or following a recipe in a cookbook, gone? Crossman says people wouldn’t have to give up literacy if they didn’t want to. It could be pursued as a hobby, like quilting.

I told my 20-year-old daughter Annie about the idea of no paper and no books. She said, “It’s gonna be awfully noisy.”

Things are changing. Why, people don’t even cook anymore, more’s the pity. They buy for dinner still-warm roasted chicken, or pot roast and gravy, plus already-mashed potatoes. I just don’t know about a lot of this new fangled stuff, mostly, I guess, because it is new. Can I trust that when I need a canceled check, it will be there? What do they put in the mashed potatoes?

I just read a book called “Blessings” by Anna Quindlen, a book I very much enjoyed. The main character, Lydia Blessing, who is in her eighties, remembers and notes changes that have occurred over her life. Most of these she wishes had stayed the same.

Habits, dress, social graces as she has known and practiced them are largely gone, it seems to Lydia Blessing. She wants the dry goods store in town to again stock the all-cotton white blouses she bought for years, the pharmacy delivery boy to bike over her order.

Except for expressing condolences, she seldom finds a reason to send her engraved note cards. Her daughter insists that flavorful melons are available year round, asparagus best not only in September.

The rules have changed. Lydia Blessing asks herself if she has outlived her own life.

I came away from our conversation with Aaron about computers with my head spinning, feeling down. Answering machines, email, photocopiers and fax machines are all new during my adulthood. Not to mention text messaging, that rapid-fire keying that teenagers do on their cell phones.

Speaking of which, remember when it looked really strange to see someone walking down the street while talking on a handheld telephone?

We will get new computers, probably even a laptop. If there aren’t too many problems, if I can understand the instruction manuals, and especially if I don’t feel that I need to have a computer with me every minute of every day, I’ll be glad.

This entry was posted in Potpourri. Bookmark the permalink. Comments are closed, but you can leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

  • Sign up to receive our newspaper columns: