|Subject: Keeping up with the family|
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Date Posted: 09:58:07 10/02/13 Wed
Another column lifted from the paper:
Itís been twenty-five years or so since I had my first real computer, and boy, the changes just keep on coming.
Of course, I write a lot and was doing it before that first computer -- and Iíve done a heck of a lot since. More than that, as I get older I find myself doing a lot of reading on computer screens, too. Donít get me wrong -- I still like to sit down with a book in my hands and read the traditional way, but sometimes books are heavy and awkward to deal with. More and more, I do a lot of my dead-tree book reading while sitting at a table, just because itís more convenient, but given a choice I prefer a computer screen, at least some of the time.
Iíve also reluctantly learned to like e-book readers. For a while I had a very small PDA, about the size of a pack of cigarettes, but only about a third as thick. I could shove it in my shirt pocket and read just about anywhere despite the really tiny screen. Unfortunately, the battery went bad, and they donít make them any more, or else I would still be using it.
About five years ago, I bought a Sony e-book reader, which was actually pretty good for the time. It would read a lot of different files, and for a while I used it a lot. However, it got to the point where it had to be left on the charger for an hour for each hour I used it, and an hour was about the maximum life of a charge, so slowly I quit using it.
A year or so ago I had a special deal on a Kindle e-book reader, by Amazon, and figured it might be useful. While the Kindle had some features that are better than the Sony, I donít like the hand ergonomics of it as well, and some of the things you have to do to organize things and set them up are not intuitive. Fortunately, they have a fairly well-written manual included on the device, so when I need to do something on it I can always look it up.
While the Kindle has a pretty good battery, it does not hold the charge well if not used -- and sometimes I go weeks without using it. Itís a worse pain in the neck in that I have to plug in a cord to my main computer to charge it, and the fitting on the end of the one cord I have doesnít fit anything else. On top of that, unlike either the old PDA or the Sony, it canít be read in the dark.
When I had to go to the hospital a couple of weeks ago, I had no idea I was going to be admitted and have to stay for four days, so Iíd made no preparations. I had not used the Kindle for a while, so the battery was dead, so the first thing I had Amanda do was to charge it up and send it in. Fortunately, there were a couple books on the thing I wanted to read, and it kept me from going nuts. I mean, it was the Kindle, daytime TV or harassing the nurses, so thank goodness I had the Kindle. Daytime TV is no fun, after all!
The other thing I missed in the hospital was my computer. When I had my week-long hospital stay four years ago I had a laptop, and although cumbersome, it kept me going. But, I donít have it any more --the screen went dead -- and it just didnít seem worth the trouble of replacing it.
Now, it seems everyone else in the family has a tablet computer, and Iíve been the hold-out. It seems like the best answer to ergonomics, flexibility and usability. The heck of it is, which one to buy? Iím certainly the last one in the family to have any knowledge of the things, so I did what any sane person in my family would do -- I asked my son-in-law for a recommendation, and then ordered it.
So, we shall see what we shall see. Iím facing several more days in the hospital in a couple of weeks, and Iím not looking forward to it. Maybe the tablet will make it bearable.