WDP — Time to Unplug

Daily writing prompt
How do you know when it’s time to unplug? What do you do to make it happen?

I usually spend an hour or two on my iPhone from the time I get in bed until the time I actually go to sleep. I spend that time mostly on WordPress, either catching up with posts that bloggers I follow have published earlier in the day or drafting posts I plan to publish the next day.

So how do I know when it’s time to unplug? Well, one clue is when my eyes get so tired that I can no longer focus on what’s on my iPhone’s screen. Another is when my eyelids feel so heavy that I can’t keep them open.

But what is most common is that I fall asleep in the process of drafting a new post and start to dream (sometimes about what I was writing, but other times totally unrelated). Then I will suddenly wake up and realize I was in the middle of writing a post. It can often be quite fascinating when I read what I wrote as I was in transition from wakefulness to being asleep.

What do I do to make it — unplugging — happen? I turn off my iPhone, turn off my night table light, shift into a reclining position, shut my eyes, and go to sleep.

Image credit: Bing Image Creator.

WDP — Before WWW

Daily writing prompt
Do you remember life before the internet?

Sorry, WordPress, but I think you’re asking the wrong question. It should be, “Do you remember life before the World Wide Web?” Why? Because very few people had access to “the internet” before April 30, 1993, when the World Wide Web was released into the public domain.

I think it’s time for a little history lesson.

“The internet” started in the 1960s as a way for government researchers to share information. Computers back then were large and immobile and in order to make use of information stored in any one computer, people had to either travel to the site of the computer or have magnetic computer tapes sent through the conventional postal system.

The first workable prototype of the internet came in the late 1960s with the creation of ARPANET, or the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network. Originally funded by the U.S. Department of Defense, ARPANET used packet switching to allow multiple computers to communicate on a single network.

But it wasn’t until January 1983 that the internet actual came into being. Prior to that, the various computer networks did not have a standard way to communicate with each other. A new communications protocol was established called Transfer Control Protocol/Internetwork Protocol (TCP/IP). This allowed different kinds of computers on different networks to “talk” to each other. ARPANET and the Defense Data Network officially changed to the TCP/IP standard on January 1, 1983, hence the birth of the internet.

But unless you worked for the Department of Defense or for a university as a researcher, you didn’t yet have access to the internet. It wasn’t publicly available for another ten years until the the launch of the World Wide Web in 1993.

So, let’s agree that the question is really asking is about life before the World Wide Web. And to simplify answering this question, let’s assume the “the internet” means “the World Wide Web” for essentially every one of us. Thus, you have to be over 30 years old now to even have existed before public availability of “the internet.”

I’m over 70, so more than half of my life was spent before the internet. My short answer to the question is yes, I do remember life before the internet. It was analog. It was slower. And it was simpler.

Sunday Poser — Old Ways or New?

For this week’s Sunday Poser, Sadje has asked…

Do you prefer old ways or new technology in your day to day life?

At first I was going to say that I generally prefer new technology, but there are bad actors who put these new technologies to negative purposes. But then I saw that she got more specific:

By old ways I mean using a wristwatch, using a diary to keep appointments, or a calendar hanging on the wall to note events that you’d like to remember. What do you prefer in your daily life? High tech gadgets keeping a record of your routine or you like to do it manually?

With that elaboration, I have to say that I’m all about new technology. I do have a wristwatch, but it’s an Apple Watch that is paired with my iPhone. It can do a lot more than just tell me what time it is.

As to a calendar for noting events, including birthdays and anniversaries, appointments, an other items, I use Google Calendar on my iPhone. And I use my iPhone’s Reminders app for recurring reminders, like cleaning my coffee maker every two weeks. We do not have a single paper calendar anywhere in our home.

So my answer to this week’s Sunday Poser is definitely high-tech gadgets, assuming that an iPhone is considered to be a high-tech gadget.

Can You Hear Me Now?

Do you remember the old TV commercials from Verizon Wireless where they had this guy roaming around town with a mobile cellphone next to his ear and asking, “Can you hear me now?”

I had my own “can you hear me now” experience when I went to see the audiologist yesterday afternoon because, after 13 months, my hearing aids started misbehaving. Either that or my ears suddenly got a lot worse or something was wrong with my brain.

The first thing the audiologist did was to give me a hearing test. The good news is that my hearing hasn’t gotten any worse since last year. The bad news is that the hearing loss in my right ear is still moderate to severe. In my left ear, it’s still severe to profound!

But it also means that it was the hearing aids, not my ears or brain, that were failing. The audiologist played around with the hearing aids for a while, replaced some parts, made some program changes, and loaded an updated app onto my iPhone. She paired my hearing aids with the app, told me to put them in my ear and then started the “can you hear me now?” game.

She started talking to me and asked me how it sounded. I told her I could barely hear her, that she was speaking too softly. She made some adjustments and started talking again, but this time her voice was reverberating inside my head.

After some more adjustments, I could hear her better, but I told her her voice seemed really high. I didn’t have the heart to tell her she sounded like Minnie Mouse. More adjustments. By this time I was really tired and said, “Yeah, that sounds better.” I lied.

She said to keep wearing the hearing aids for a couple of weeks and if I wasn’t happy, to come back and they’d see what else they could do.

Last night after dinner, my wife wanted to watch “Grey’s Anatomy” on TV. There’s a lot of talking on “Grey’s Anatomy” and most of it is done by females. I noticed that I could understand the dialogue from male characters, but the voices of the female characters sounded like they were being spoken by Alvin’s chipmunks. I could barely understand what they were saying.

I don’t think I can wait another two weeks. I think I’ll call on Monday and see if I can get another appointment this coming week. These hearing aids were working great for 13 months. They need to fix ‘‘em or replace ‘em.

WDP — Brand Loyalty

Daily writing prompt
What are your favorite brands and why?

Once I find a particular brand of a product that works well for me, I generally develop a strong loyalty to that brand. But if I discover a different brand that has something significantly better than a brand I was previously loyal to, I’m not blindly loyal and will change brands.

Let me give you an example. I got my first BlackBerry, the RIM 857 in 1997.

It was a miracle device. I could make phone calls, compose, send, and receive emails. It had an address book, a calculator, an alarm clock. I didn’t go anywhere without my beloved BlackBerry.

It didn’t take long for BlackBerry devices to earn the nickname “Crackberry” because users — predominantly business people — became addicted to them. But that was before web browsers and cameras became standard issue on smartphones.

Everything changed in 2007 when Apple introduced the iPhone. Suddenly using a smartphone to take snapshots and to browse the web became “the thing.” But I remained loyal to the BlackBerry.

And then, when BlackBerry came out with its iPhone wannabe, the touchscreen Storm, I was all over it. I was hoping it would be the iPhone-killer that BlackBerry claimed it would be.

What a mistake. The BlackBerry Storm looked cool, but it was a piece of shit. By 2010, when I bought my first iPhone, the iPhone 4, I honestly felt guilty about abandoning the brand of smartphone I’d been incredibly loyal to for more than a decade. But I wasn’t alone in abandoning BlackBerry for the iPhone, which was a far superior product. By 2012, the BlackBerry, which had been the market leader in first generation smartphones, was barely a blip on the radar.

My wife, son, and daughter are all using the Google Pixel smartphone these days. It’s an Android device and my family members keep asking me why I don’t switch to that device. But as far as I’m concerned, most Android phones are iPhone copycats and until someone can demonstrate that there’s a definitively better smartphone than the iPhone, I’m going to remain a loyal iPhone user.