Sunday, November 12, 2006

Karmic payback is a bitch

Even though I don't believe that "everything happens for a reason" this week I was hit by something that felt suspiciously like karmic payback. When Sheryl and I recorded the podcast segment that ended up having the messed-up audio, I was talking about how Newsweek magazine has been turned over completely to the Boomer point of view. They aren't exactly being subtle about it, with their frequent "Boomer Files" features that are narrowcasted to the 45-60 year old worldview.

As further evidence of the trend I pointed out that I'd noticed many ads in Newsweek aimed at rising seniors, including the Jitterbug Cell Phone. The Jitterbug is designed to appeal to people who don't want to learn how to use a regular cell phone. It looks useful, functioning as a simple phone and an emergency-call device, but I have to admit that I was looking down my nose at people who couldn't cope with a regular cell phone and needed features such as "familiar dial tone confirms service."

We tech-savvy Gen Xers were brought up on computers--okay, they were a Pong console and an Atari 400 computer with 8K of RAM and an "advanced child-proof design featuring pressure-sensitive, wipe-clean keyboard," but still, we are intuitive masters of technology, yes?

Then my podcast recording system went kaput and I received the advice to switch to a Skype-based recording system. Skype allows you to make calls directly through your compter via VOIP. Since the main challenge with podcasting is finding a way to get phone interviews into the computer, this seemed like a great solution.

So I went over to Skype and found myself lost in a new world. Where's my dial tone? How do I call a "regular phone?" I searched the Skype knowledge database and encountered some of the most poorly-written technical advice I've ever encountered.

Here's a sample:

"Q: I plugged in a USB headset while I am in a call. How do I choose to use it instead of my normal headset?

A: Open the SSW by clicking the headset icon on the call tab. Select your preferred speaker and microphone devices from the dropdown list."

It would really help to define what SSW is--it's some kind of widget but I still haven't found it--and to tell me how to find the dropdown list. In the final analysis, I got it to work but I felt like a foreigner trying to find the right change and make a strange payphone work without being able to read the instructions. I am chastened, a Gen Xer on the verge of losing her cutting edge, but doing her best to keep up.

You can hear the results later this week when the new podcast with Cooper & Emily goes online!


Anonymous Elena TaJo, UnmartyredMom said...

yes indeed, we will all lose our edges as time and gravity take their toll. Still, as an Elder continually going through this, I must tell you that I enjoy being chastened every now and then. My 30-year old tech consultant call me "young padwan" the other day. I felt adorable.

8:48 PM  
Blogger MojoMom said...

Appropriately humbled, I got on Skype this evening to record a new podcast segment with Sheryl. Amazingly, it seems to have WORKED! We'll see if I can pull off a conference call with Cooper & Emily.

"Young padwan"--that is extremely adorable.

9:33 PM  

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