iPhone Auto-Corrections

Before I had an iPhone, I had read this David Pogue column with some amusement.

Now that I have an iPhone, the amusement is very real.

This morning my wife texted me with a comment about my son whose initials are CJG. Her sentence began, “VHF….”

I was momentarily puzzled, as my older son should have been when I texted him during a recent Rays-Yankees game with a comment about Derek Jeter. The sentence began, “Heterosexual….”

I’m not making this up.

And then yesterday, watching former Rays pitcher Scott Kazmir (nickname ‘Kaz’) load the bases for the Rays, I hopefully (misplaced, as the Rays failed to capitalize) texted my son, “Kaz’s being Kaz” which he would have understood had he not received this message:

“Nazi’s being Kaz.”

That’s Outrageous, Mr. Jobs

The iPhone 4 has taken a lot of heat in the past few weeks for a problem that I can’t replicate on my own. I hold it every which way but loose and can’t seem to cause any reduction in signal. So, I’m not sure what all the fuss is about.

The concern I have is that the phone is so stylish that I want to protect it from damage while preserving its appearance. The best solution for that seemed to be what Apple calls a ‘bumper’ – a piece of plastic and rubber which extends around the outer edge of the phone.

To date, though, I have not bought one due to the outrageousness of Apple charging $29 for this piece of rubber and plastic. That is my only complaint about the iPhone 4.

Thanks, though, to PR damage control at Apple, I now get my bumper for free.

The End of the World As We Know It, Volume 43

My wife just informed me that we have changed our cell phone plan to include unlimited texting.

I’ve resisted texting, like I resist a lot of what seems to be initially senseless technology. But then I get consumed by it.

Thus falls another wall of defense against the modern world.

Of course, with our antique ‘dumb’ phones (what else do you call phones that are not ‘smart’ phones?), we won’t text as much as some. I suggested on a trip to see our son and daughter-in-law that Barb text them to let them know we were on the road.

Eight miles later, she had completed the task.

Kindle Shelf

I use technology and am not afraid of technology. But I’m always wanting to ask what the technology will do for me and what it will take away from me. So, I have resisted ANY temptation to put down money for an Amazon Kindle. I love the feel of a real book in my hand, the ability to mark it, and for that mark to be there when I flip through the book years later.

But when I read this article, and realized that even the heaviest book became light on the Kindle, I was momentarily intrigued.

But then later on, flipping through the magazine, (another pleasure lost on an electronic device) I found this cartoon, and whatever desire I had just totally disappeared. (To be fair, I believe that is an iPad in the cartoon.)

I still would like to hold one in my hand someday.

Postman on Technology

The following quote is from Neil Postman’s 2000 book Building a Bridge to the 18th Century. It’s a wonderful book and worth reading. Like Postman’s classic Amusing Ourselves to Death the book is filled with pointed insights engagingly presented.

In light of yesterday’s technology post, I thought it would be fun to include these words from Postman (published in 2000).

I suppose I cannot put myself forward as a model citizen of the digital age. In fact, there are many people who, when describing my response to the digital age, continually use the word ‘dinosaur.’ I try to remind them that the dinosaurs survived for a hundred million years, mostly because, I would imagine, they remained impervious to change. Nonetheless, I find it useful to ask of any technology that is marketed as indispensable, What problem does it solve for me? Will its advantages outweigh its disadvantages? Will it alter my habits and language, and if so, for better or for worse? My answers may not be yours, almost certainly are not yours. I write my books with pen and paper, because I have always done it that way and enjoy doing so. I do not have a computer. The Internet strikes me as a mere distraction. I do not have voice mail or call-waiting, both of which I regard as uncivil. I have access to a fax machine, but try to control my use of it. Snail mail is quite adequate for most of my correspondence, and I do not like the sense of urgency that faxes inevitably suggest. My car has cruise control, but I have never used it since I do not find keeping my foot on the gas pedal a problem.

You get the idea. I will use technology when I judge it to be in my favor to do so. I resist being used by it. In some cases I may have a moral objection. But in most instances, my objection is practical, and reason tells me to measure the results from that point of view. Reason also advises me to urge others to do the same. An example: When I began teaching at NYU, the available instruments of thought and teaching were primitive. Faculty and students could talk, could read, and could write. Their writing was done the way I am writing this chapter — with a pen and pad. Some used a typewriter, but it was not required. Conversations were almost always about ideas, rarely about the technologies used to communicate. After all, what can you say about a pen except that you’ve run out of ink? I do remember a conversation about whether a yellow pad was better than a white pad. But it didn’t last very long, and was inconclusive. No one had heard of word processors, e-mail, the Internet, or voice mail. Occasionally, a teacher would show a movie, but you needed a technician to run the projector and the film always broke.

NYU now has much of the equipment included in the phrase ‘high tech.’ And so, an eighteenth-century dinosaur is entitled to ask, Are things better? I cannot make any judgments on the transformations, if any, technology has brought to the hard sciences. I am told they are impressive, but I know nothing about this. As for the social sciences, humanities, and social studies, here is what I have observed: The books professors write aren’t any better than they used to be; their ideas are slightly less interesting; their conversations definitely less engaging; their teaching about the same. As for students, their writing is worse, and editing is an alien concept to them. Their talking is about the same, with perhaps a slight decline in grammatical propriety. I am told that they have more access to information, but if you ask them in what year American independence was proclaimed, most of them do not know, and surprisingly few can tell you which planet is the third from the sun. All in all, the advance in thought and teaching is about zero, with maybe a two- or three-yard loss.

We can quibble with him, but the questions and observations are at least worth pondering. I have an uneasy relationship with technology. But I find it inevitable. Change is inevitable. We learn to live and adapt. We must. And even though the electric stove, the dishwasher and the microwave oven have changed the way the family relates in and around the kitchen, I’m still rather fond of them.

Terrible Technology: Bad News for Luddites

Meg Ryan’s live-in in Sleepless in Seattle 2 (aka You’ve Got Mail) was a Luddite of the first degree. He was a writer who eschewed the computer for his beloved typewriter. He was making a valiant stand against a formidable foe.

A couple of things can be said about advances in technology: They will change us and they cannot be withstood.

The digitizing of music files and their easy dissemination in an mp3 format has forever changed the way we listen to music (there may never be another Dark Side of the Moon). But no effort to stop this change has proven successful, Napster’s demise notwithstanding.

I write sermons differently now that I do the whole process on a computer. I have been irretrievably changed by the process. But I can’t go back.

Technology will always have curses mixed in with its blessings. But there is simply no way to stand in its way, and so we adapt to it.

I’m stimulated in these thoughts by the technological advances of the Middle Ages. According to Barbara Tuchman in her book A Distant Mirrora major advance incorporated in 14th century structures was invented sometime in the 11th: the mantled chimney.

I think most of us looking back would say that this structural improvement was a huge step forward over the typical ‘hole in the ceiling’ approach popular before then.

But this advance was not without its social consequences. As Tuchman notes:

As distinct from a hole in the roof, these chimneys were a technological advance of the 11th century that by warming individual rooms, brought lords and ladies out of the common hall where all had once eaten together and gathered for warmth, and separated their owners from their retainers. No other invention brought more progress in comfort and refinement, although at the cost of a widening social gulf.

Surely someone should have stood in the gap and have opposed this technological advance.


Note: One can expect occasional posts stimulated by this wonderful book as I read it over the next, oh, 18 years or so. My grandson saw it and said, “Wow! That book must have a thousand pages!” He wasn’t far off.


Imagine a room where 100 people are talking at once.

And all of these people expect you to hear everything they say.

And you expect everyone to hear all that you say.

If you blink for a moment, if your mind fades, if you focus elsewhere for the smallest amount of time, you miss what others expect you to have heard, because they said it.

So, imagine such a place. Then know that what you have imagined already exists. They call it Facebook.