Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

Columns

August 21, 2011

Smart phones can wait, babies can't

LOCKPORT — Kirsten Nelson looks over her toes at the TV to watch Sprout and Sesame Street. She may or may not be responding to the PBS shows for preschoolers. I don’t know if she is or isn’t, but if she is, that’s a bit scary for a girl barely 5 months old.

I change channels to expose her to some classical music and she seems to like that, too. She smiles when I sing. She has a ready smile.

Commercials come up on the TV that show little kids manipulating computers and I wonder, is my granddaughter catching on to that, too? I thought I could get away with not getting caught up in the wireless wave. It’s difficult teaching old dogs new tricks. I should know.

But, what if that Kirsten needs help? What if that little girl passes me before she’s in kindergarten? What if I have to get directions from her? In my career I’ve sent stories by Telex and Telegraph from Moscow and from the left field seats of the Toronto SkyDome in the 1993 Worlds Series. But, am I smart enough for a smart phone or an iPad?

I decided to look into it. After all, if the dupes on a Geico commercial can be stupid on a smart phone, why can’t I?

Colleagues have smart phones and they might help. Just what do smart phones do? I know there are “apps,” (and that means applications) but do I want or need that stuff or 5,000 books on a tablet?

 How much does it cost? That much! A month!

A friend recommended the NIOGA Library System. I never met a librarian that wasn’t helpful and the library has mobile computing training units. I could sign up for one of those

The BTOP Express (Better Technology, Onsite & Personal) offers job seekers lessons in e-mail, Word, Excel, Internet searching, Google, LinkedIn and my favorite, Yahoo!. But that’s not what I’m looking for. I already have enough computer skills to remain semi-gainfully employed.

NIOGA will help me navigate a Blackberry or iPhone or T-Mobile or a Droid or whatever I decide I could use. However, what kind? That’s what the Lockport library needed to know.

 I entered a Verizon store and walked to where there were smart looking phones on the wall. I was going to check them out, when the clerk told me I was on the wrong side of the counter. It was not a good start, so I picked up a free magazine and decided to peruse the book’s contents at home.

There were all kinds of toys to buy, but no price tags on the glossy pages. These phones could accomplish many things, I’m sure, but at what cost? Do I really want those apps?

Right now, Kirsten is happy with standards from the 1950s, sung by a baritone who knows half of the words; peak-a-boo; a bottle and her toes. I think I can hold off on a smart phone or iPad, until the next generation comes around.

Contact reporter Bill Wolcott

at 439-9222, ext. 6246.

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