Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Technological Mysteries

I'm really disappointed that having purchased a new laptop computer I don't have a manual of any sort such as came with my digital camera so I can independently figure out and understand some basic technological symbols. I need a blueprint that shows all the slots and pictures on each side of this computer, then explains what they are, what they mean and how they can be used -- labels them.

Facing my laptop on the right hand side is a small rectangular solid silver square that may or may not push in and do something, but I'm not going to push it to find out.

Next are what I'm pretty certain are USB ports into which:
- the first port has the cord that controls the keyboard which works for either my laptop or the desktop -- or maybe it's not for the keyboard.
-the second port connects to my printer, I think.

There's a little round solid chrome circle, but I don't know if it is anything or does anything.

Next is a square open hole that's irregular and jagged across the bottom, so something interesting must go in there, but it's empty now.

Then there is a small open elongated horizontal circle for who knows what.

Next comes the light that's showing my computer is on and next to it is the cord connection to my electric power source, I believe.

Tonight I wanted to perform some downloading/uploading functions for a blog piece I thought I’d post here. Instead this is what I’m posting.

I encountered some problems trying to get to a usable USB portal. I risked making some disconnections and moving of cords and still was unable to accomplish my goal. After trying a number of actions, I discovered a function was lost despite my having putting everything back like it was. So, I decided to just write my own little personal guide for my computer, then send it to my tech guru and get all these laptop computer holes labeled for my permanent future reference. Continuing the exploration of the external features on my new laptop…..

Facing the left side of my computer the first thing I see is a really long open elongated horizontal circle for who knows what.

Then there's one of those small solid chrome squares that may or may not be something.

Next there is a USB port into which a "Logitech" thing with a real cute little hieroglyphic on it is inserted. I recall having explained to me what that was and to remove it when I want to use the laptop as a portable unit (it’s hooked up to power, now.) I just don’t remember what it does though I thought sure at the time that I would. Guess there just were too many other operational things to think about and lots of other technological experiences have gone on in the meantime, too. I think I know what it is, but I'm not sure, so I'm not about to remove it since I want to stay connected to electrical power, much less move it into the portal next to it to see if I can get the card reader in the portal it currently occupies.

So, situated beside that Logitech thing is the USB port (I think) I mentioned above. I can't get my card reader in there because it doesn't seem to fit. I think I need to turn the card reader over, but that means the memory card protrudes and there isn't room with the Logitech thing beside it.

Next comes an opening about the same size of the USB portal I described above, but this hole is rather irregularly shaped for who knows what to be inserted.

Beside that empty hole is another empty hole that is square and accommodates some other unknown connection for something I guess I don’t have.

Next comes a longgg rectangular opening filled with a solid indentation in the center of which is a somewhat shorter but long horizontal solid chrome piece that protrudes to line up with the outer edge of that external longgg rectangular opening. Now that center piece looks like it could be something that has been inserted, or it may just be a permanent fixture that may or may not be something that can be pushed to do something or other.

Finally, we have an odd-shaped rectangle with rounded sides that is longer horizontally across the top than at the bottom. That hole is filled solid with a slightly smaller chrome button-like piece which has three horizontal rows of 5 or 6 teeny tiny holes as though it's designed to have some sort of plug inserted for what must be something really special.

I have observed that a lot of these holes on both sides of the computer have hieroglyphics, picture codes or symbols created so the simple-minded who can't read and understand written technological materials can, perhaps, decipher these pictures. Unfortunately, I don't have the code to know what the pictures mean. There are even some alphabet letters, but all of these and the pictures are so small, that even if I knew what they meant, I can barely see them with my reading glasses, a magnifying glass and a high powered flashlight.

Yes, I am frustrated, but I've grown accustomed to being in this state with computers. That said, I'm sure my operating skills will all soon become more refined and I'll move on to the next technological aggravation. Actually I experience my "computering" as quite challenging, but when I'm tired, it's late and I haven't been able to accomplish what I wanted, despite starting early to allow for the unexpected, I feel like jettisoning everything. I won't, of course.

I had occasion this past weekend to examine a notebook computer. I didn’t like the keyboard on that older unit, but I surely did like the little gem's light weight and size. Hmmm! Maybe some of the newer units are improved. On the other hand, I hadn’t encountered this laptop problem yet, so I didn’t think to see just how many different size holes and connections there were to deal with on the notebook. Surely there won’t be as many to master as on the larger laptop. I'm sure I'll eventually learn some of the pictograph's meanings. Hmmm! Maybe, sometime in the future I should put a notebook computer on my wish list – after I figure out how to operate this laptop better.

I'm going to bed now before I lose my cool, pull all the plugs on this tech equipment and dump it in a box in the garage for the next hazardous waste disposal collection.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Morally and Ethically Impaired

I propose we establish a categorical term for individuals evidencing morally and ethically impaired behavior. We can refer to them by the acronym “MEI,” pronounced “me,” that ironically reflects their primary orientation.

MEIs have not been formally identified as a subculture in our nation, but they have increasingly come to the forefront. Recently, their actions have so blatantly adversely affected our financial world that I think we need to acknowledge and formally recognize this group’s existence, so we can provide the attention they deserve.

MEIs tend to secretiveness, deceit and exploitation of other human beings so can be difficult to expose. Their morals and ethics are self-oriented and directed toward only themselves, plus a selected few others with whom they are emotionally entangled or whose favor they curry. MEIs really do not care what happens to the rest of us, rather like sociopaths.

In recent years, unlike any other era in our lifetime, circumstances are forcing these MEIs into the spotlight of public scrutiny. We need to take note of who they are and aggressively seek to identify others like them. I want them held accountable publicly and professionally. Furthermore, I want some restitution from their undeserved financial gains as individuals, companies and financial institutions.

We need to initiate some behavioral changes in these MEIs. I’d like to believe this group is beginning to have trouble thriving during these difficult times. Perhaps they’re having serious adjustment problems since we are more frequently condemning their MEI behaviors. I think it’s increasingly obvious that if we do not intervene with these individuals our own lives will continue to be seriously disrupted as will our nation’s and the world’s economy.

I’ve pondered whether a MEI education process could succeed and just how to undertake such a therapeutic intervention. I’ve wondered if MEIs would respond to a story such as The Nation of Moresville, a morality tale I thought of writing. The story would start like this. Once upon a time there was a nation populated by people who constantly wanted more – more food, more possessions and more money. Some of their number were willing to acquire more in any way possible without regard for moral and ethical considerations. Well, I think we all could easily write how that story unfolds.

I would want MEIs to know that through the years not everyone became obsessed with those pursuits, though admit clearly some of us have. I would strongly emphasize that we’re all finally reaping the consequences of these behaviors in one way or another regardless of whether or not we were irrationally and excessively materialistic. I would want them to reflect on their own behaviors.

Also, I would want to provide MEIs graphic specific examples stressing that for some the current financial crisis results are severe as the unemployed ranks grow, people lose their homes, and young people see their dreams of college evaporate. Visiting homes where refrigerators are bare and many other necessities of life are absent from the lives of young and old might register with some MEIs. I would like to believe this exposure might have some positive benefits.

Such true life situations have been on TV and in the news, but despite this exposure, it seems many of these fellow countrypersons are deaf, dumb and blind to the economic state of our country and even the world. These are the MEIs, some of whom are literally giving us all the finger while simultaneously pleading for us to save their companies, then gleefully accepting our tax monies while skimming huge bites for bonuses.

I’m sorely tempted to write for the MEIs about how morality, ethics and greed have intertwined to threaten the financial stability of not just our nation but the world, but I doubt they would read it. If only I could force each of them to write on that topic. Wiser heads and better writers than I are busily exploring these issues with powerful eloquent words that pinpoint the issues. At best, anything I might say would simply echo what so many others are expressing. Yet, I cannot resist making note of my anger, frustration and sadness that so many individuals have betrayed basic human values.

There are only so many of others reactionary accounts I can make time to read, much less write about. I derive little pleasure in reading the same basic complaints everywhere as they become depressingly enraging, but I believe it’s important that we each state our objections. Our written voices must be an ongoing ripple that contributes to a tidal wave creating a tsunami that allows our views to be known. Hopefully, many ears and eyes in a position to take corrective actions will receive our messages and rectify the situation.

Our Congressional Representatives and Senators and other key government administration figures need to be ongoing recipients of our views. We must continue pressuring and demanding – accountability, Accountability, ACCOUNTABILITY!

Just when I think the most gross individual exploitations have been exposed, another story emerges. I greet each new week with great apprehension, wondering what next and how many more MEIs will surface?

I think of the Savings and Loan Crisis many years ago, then there was Enron and the MEIs there. Years later, closer to home I recall more MEIs and the monies stolen from California via the electrical grids – how little our government did to correct that inequity. The words still ring in my ears from one of the morally bankrupt electrical grid workers whose company (probably his own wallet, too) financially benefited from out of control destructive forest fires. He was recorded gleefully shouting “Burn, baby, burn,” though these fires endangered lives in addition to power lines. I guess you know where I hope he will spend any afterlife if he believes in such, or maybe he could have a taste of hardship here and now. Perhaps some MEIs from all of those groups and the current individuals surfacing need to share a few life difficulties with him.

Meanwhile, I’m not convinced our government is loaning my tax money to some of these MEIs at a rate designed to maximize the U.S. Treasury’s return over that of those doing the borrowing. I want some accountability on that issue, too.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Tech - Unintended Consequences

Lots of tech changes for me, family visits, and activities with friends partially account for the lapse in new posts here. I have a new laptop computer. A wireless setup I’ve long desired is now operative and I’ve changed Internet Service Providers. Hopefully, Internet connectivity problems that have plagued this blog for many months have ceased or, at least, won’t occur as they have in the past. I’ve also changed my phone package but will keep my land line and can now make free local toll calls and long distance calls anywhere in the fifty U.S. States and Canada. My cell phone continues to allow me free calls with other same provider subscribers.

I elected to finally purchase a new computer when family members began cautioning me that my older desktop computer was giving signals it might crash at any time. So I, finally, hastily copied my hard drive for back up. Incidentally, sometimes I, too, have noted symptoms that could be interpreted that I was crashing. If anyone has any suggestions about how I might back up my bodies hard drive, please let me know. Actually, my hard drive has gone a little soft, but I’m doing the best I can. I’m already taking vitamins, but think I read recently that’s a waste of time and money.

On a more important note, when my son and his wife visited from out of state, they delivered my new laptop computer I had earlier arranged to be sent to him for special programming. One feature I now have that I didn’t have previously allows me to give him control of my computer. This should simplify trouble shooting and other assistance I might need in the future. Once he arrived, he made certain I have a secure wireless system here at home. He also cleaned/scrubbed the hard drive on my old desktop (or however you describe that sort of refurbishing.) The old desktop functions more efficiently, so I’ll be able to continue using it on a limited basis in addition to my laptop. I plan to download a free Word-like program there later since I have Word on the laptop.

I didn’t work while family members were here, so when they made an overnight San Diego trip, I went along part way and visited friends of mine, excitedly taking my laptop. While there I received a beginning crash course in Excel courtesy of the husband. Later, the wife and I excitedly perched side by side on the sofa with our laptops, joking that this must be how modern day friends interact. I realize now that activity is out of date, as we should be twittering on our cell phones. Also, I keep getting invites to Facebook and other social networks, but can hardly keep up writing my blog so haven’t accepted any.

The technological togetherness of my friends and I began a night the three of us will long remember. A simple act of connecting my laptop to their wireless network somehow went awry. Suddenly, their laptop and desktop computers had relinquished control of their system to my laptop. For some reason my friends weren’t too happy about this! Since one of them had engineered this unintentional event, my conscience was clear and I was guilt-free.

In addition to my laptop having control of their computers personal and other information, I was now the sole operator of their large screen HDTV’s new spectacular Apple audio and video system. Colorful detailed family photos and travel scenes sailing across the screen had mesmerized us only moments earlier as we anticipated more viewing delights. We hadn’t even gotten around to exploring all the other features including some from the Internet that were available through their new system

When their efforts to undo this inadvertent technological power transfer were unsuccessful I was held hostage as they threatened I could not leave their premises with my laptop. I determined to keep my cell phone secreted in the event I might need to SOS my son to come rescue me. I didn’t think they would resort to violence, but one never knows in hostage situations. Finally we had to resort to phoning their tech savvy son who had assisted their initial setting up of the system they operated with their computers and one television remote. I thought about how much we require others with whom to trouble shoot in order to use all our new electronic gadgets and technology.

Despite their sons long distance efforts, ultimately, we resorted to calling help, which you may not be surprised to hear connected us to India. Indian technical workers finally determined they could resolve our problem. Unfortunately, my friends free service plan expired a few days earlier. I think it seems often the case that service, sooner or later, is usually needed but only after such contracts expire. The tech rep said, not unexpectedly, that now service charges would apply to reverse this convoluted mix of user names, passwords and secret codes to resolve our dilemma.

After brief deliberation, my friends selected another short term service contract. The tech experts successfully provided the instructions restoring appropriate computer control to each of us and putting the television system operation again under my friends control only. My laptop was now impotent and unable to control their operations, but could access their wireless Internet system which is all we wanted in the first place. Our friendship was saved. Violence was avoided.

We were exhausted, noted the hour was after midnight and commiserated with each other that this was not how we had planned to spend our evening. Furthermore, we had expected to retire much earlier in the evening to be well rested for the next days schedule when they had plans and I would be returning home -- “The best-laid schemes o’ mice an ‘men Gang aft agley…” (Robert Burns.)

Throughout those hours some waiting time between transfers to various technical consultants allowed small talk with the tech service guru. In one instance my friends mentioned the Indian home city of one of their immediate family members relatives. I was reminded of what a small world we’ve come to inhabit in my lifetime; how our families and friends encompass an interesting variety of nationalities, and social groups.

I thought about how my friends family is an absolutely wonderful fascinating blend of several varied cultures, a fact incidental to the caring and affection all feel toward one another. How lucky I am to have such friends, to know their family, I realize. I also recalled when some years earlier my friends told me of unexpectedly being subjected to covert exclusionary discrimination following a workplace social situation when they casually mentioned one of them was of minority heritage. I thought again, that still today, we human beings inhabiting this world still have much to learn with a need for acceptance and tolerance toward all.

On a less serious note, I’ve since spent another weekend with them. This time we celebrated the wife’s earlier in the week birthday. The event reminded her that she had moved slightly past that landmark classic retirement age. I gained a new experience as she shared her new birthday gift. In fact, they were merciless challenging someone older in age, such as me, to battle my way through competitive Wii Sports with them. We tackled only bowling and a bit of baseball – I kept striking out, but was a wicked pitcher. Beginners luck did apply, much as in my real life sports experience. I’m glad to report I emerged from the games with my pride intact and my physical being uninjured.