Are we hampered by technology?

I think I speak for many of my age and older when I say: Too right we are.

I am in technology hell. And I had thought I was reasonably clued up.

Yesterday I took delivery of a new (used) car with lots of toys. I know, I’m very lucky to have satellite navigation, Bluetooth and a car that actually tells me – not only when it needs fuel – but what’s more if it fancies some brake fluid, coolant, oil or a service. It’ll also have a chat with me – if I speak to it strictly on its own terms. My only problem is that the system is completely different from my last car and has totally confounded me. (By the way, I hope you don’t think I’m trying to show off, I am merely attempting to outline the depth of my difficulties.)

Yesterday, I thought I’d cracked the Bluetooth thingy. I got my iPhone connected and my (dreadful, according to Big-J) music stored on said device was streaming nicely into the car. OK, I couldn’t figure out how to choose what to listen to. It insisted upon playing whatever it liked, only permitting me to change tracks randomly, and after six track changes by me, it stubbornly refused to cooperate any further. Today, I can’t get either the telephone function or the music to work through the system unless I physically manhandle the phone and tell it what to do by pressing buttons. So quaint and old fashioned.

And then the worst thing of all happened. Whilst backing up and syncing my phone this afternoon, I pressed something and disabled it completely. Nightmare. Never mind – I thought – I’ll rush up to my appointment in town and wrestle the phone into submission when I get back. But no. Barely a mile down the Finchley Road I realised that without a working phone to pay for parking and for the congestion charge, I was utterly stymied. So, I turned around and headed straight to my son’s place (and, without a working mobile phone, I was forced to drop in at home to call him from the landline and warn him of my impending arrival – very inconvenient but only fair) in the hope that he would like, sort it like. Oh he – the wondrous Apple’ite for whom, last Christmas, my sister bought a t-shirt emblazoned with “No, I can’t fix your computer,” pressed a few buttons and the dam phone sprang back to life. It took him ooh … all of four and a half seconds. “Ah” he mused, “you really should be connected to the Cloud and then everything would sync on all your devices.” Go know…

So now, the phone is functioning again – but not as it should be doing in the car. The Cloud is operating – but not entirely. The car is working – although the seatbelt is trying to strangle me, the mirrors don’t fold in as they should do and I can’t get the music going or make a phone call with any confidence. But of course (as Big-J so wisely pointed out to me), we mustn’t forget the whole point of a car. It is, in fact, to get us from A to B and that, dear friends, is something it’s doing rather well.

All of the “balloons and whistles” are merely designed to make our lives more comfortable and less stressful. Yeah. Pass me the valium please.

Written by: Nicola Coleman

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Living and (still) working in London, life is pretty good. Second marriage working out better than the first although I now have two extra kids to worry about even though they're grown up. Have just become first time a step-grandma to a gorgeous little girl. We spend a lot of time in France and I love to travel further afield too whenever feasible but him indoors still works full time so holidays are limited - for the moment!

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