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Wow…It Is An Email Generation

13 Jun

I had an awakening at the post office today while I waited on line to mail a package.  It was a moment that had a bit of deja vu about it.  I remember when touch tone phones came out, and people quickly forgot about dial phones.  In fact,  I remember my children seeing a dial phone at a local children’s museum and asking me how to use it.  They tried pushing the numbers; they did not realize they had to spin the dial.

Today at the post office I realized what the email generation was losing… the ability to mail a letter.

As I was standing in line a young man, about 18-19 years old, walked up to the clerk with a card and envelope in his hand.  The clerk took it and said,  “What do you need?  This already has a stamp on it.”  The boy said, “I need to mail this card.”

“Oh,” the clerk responded.  “Is this one of our cards?  Do you have to pay for it?”

“No,” the boy responded.  I just need to mail it.”

“Okay,” the clerk said, looking puzzled.  “You need to put the card into the envelope.”

The boy did that and handed the enclosed envelope to the clerk.  It was addressed.

“Now you have to seal the envelope,” the clerk said.

“How do I do that?” The boy asked.

By this time, I was listening in absolute amazement.  He honestly did not know how to mail a card.  The clerk helped him seal it, and the boy left.

Then came, to the same clerk, another young man.  He was a bit older, maybe 20.  And he handed a stamped, sealed envelope to the clerk.

“There needs to be an address on this envelope,” the clerk says.

“I know,” the young man responded, “But how do you write it?  Do I write it across the top like an email address?”

He was not joking.  He had no idea how to address an envelope.  The clerk helped him out, showing him how to put the address in three lines: name; address; city, state and zip code.

To be honest, with the first boy, I thought it was a fluke.  How could that be with someone who was the age of 18 or 19, I did not know.  But obviously he had not mailed a letter on his own.

However, when the second guy got up there and had no idea how to address an envelope, I was almost laughing out loud.  I controlled myself.  But I flashed back to my grandmother. She was born in 1898 and died in 1993.  I remember her telling me about the times before cars and technology.  And how everything was changing so quickly. And then my parents.  Although my Dad did learn to use the computer and email, my Mom never did.

Now we are launching the Email Generation.   Postage and envelopes might become obsolete.  I still get an occasional letter or card from a friend. Not very often.  But I think the email generation will lose the joy of opening mail.

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What I Learned in My High School Typing Class Has Helped Throughout My Life

24 Sep

When I attended North Bergen High School in the 1970s, I took both a typing class and a short hand class. I did not want to. Typing and short hand classes were for the students who were not going on to college. And I knew that I would go to college. But my Mom made me take them.

“You never know when you might take a job that requires typing,” she said, and added: “These are good skills to learn.” I argued back, but obviously I lost.

My MOM insisted. So I took those two classes when I was a freshman in high school. I think one of the teachers was Miss Wirt. It was not the most exciting class for me, but by the end of the semester, I could touch type to the required words per minute without too many errors.  Being in class with good typists was a bit intimidating (As my friend Shashi reminded me). I will remind everyone that typing on a typewriter was much different than typing on a computer keyboard.  First there was the click clack of the keyboard.  You could tell how fast someone was typing by how quickly the clicks and clacks came together.

I did use these typing skills when I was on the staff of Paw Prints, the school’s newspaper. We had to type all of the stories into columns for them to be put into the layout and then copied and printed. I learned out to measure the space and fit the letters/words into the space correctly. A skill that came in handy much later in my life.

I have to say that my Mom was right. I will tell you that the skills I learned in the typing class have stayed with me forever. It is almost as if my Mom had telepathy and knew that eventually typing would be a much appreciated and required skill for college students.

Thanks to my typing classes, I excelled in my college and graduate school classes in the sense that my typed papers had very few typos and/or needed corrections. While I had friends who often had to hire someone to type their papers, I was set with my little typewriter.

In fact, only once in all of my undergraduate college career did someone type a paper for me. But there was a reason. My very last college paper at Drew University was due when I had an accident involving one of my eyes. After a long visit in an emergency room, I realized I could not type this paper since I had a large patch over my eye. Luckily for me, I had a great friend, Shari, who lived in the same dorm and was my savior. She typed the entire paper that evening in time for my morning class.

Later when I went on to graduate school, for journalism at the University of Missouri-Columbia, my parents bought me the most wonderful gift, a self-correcting typewriter. This was the best typewriter available with a second ribbon of white out, so you could just back up, lower the white-out ribbon, and then cover the error and then retype. Amazing what was wonderful in the days before word processors and computers.

My typing class made it possible for me to complete my master’s degree exam in plenty of time. We had to answer four questions and had one hour to write the answer essays. They had to be typed. So as we thought out our answer, we had to actually type instead of write. I came to the exam with my typewriter and ribbons and succeeded.

This typewriter was also an important part of my Master’s Thesis, as I could easily correct mistakes.     Writing a thesis before computers was a nightmare. You had to estimate how much space to leave for footnotes. Getting everything perfect took experience and spatial coordination. As I said earlier, many people had to hire someone to type their thesis. But not me, as I knew how to type and I knew how to make words fit. Thank you Miss Wirt! Thank you Mrs. Whitehouse and my Paw Prints work!

The short hand class taught me the basics of taking quick notes using some symbols. Knowing a few of these symbols came in handy when I did an interview. I could write quickly by not writing all the words and using short hand instead.   Thanks to my Mom insisting that I take this class, my interviews as a grad student in journalism were always accurate. Yes I had a tape recorder as well. But some people did not like to be recorded. So accurate note taking was important.

I will admit that I have forgotten most of these symbols. And when I look at short hand symbols today they look like hieroglyphics. But when I was in graduate school I was so happy that I had an advantage.

Although I do not use the short hand, my touch typing skills are something I use every day for work and for pleasure. I am using those skills as I type and write this blog!

With the advent of computers, everyone needs to know how to use a keyboard.   Today touch typing, or as it is now known – keyboarding — is a skill that children are taught in elementary school. If you cannot type, you cannot use a computer successfully. Although probably in a few years, people will just talk to their computers and to have their thoughts put down, just as we talk to our smart phones to type a short message to someone.

It is amazing what a good teacher can help a student learn. I went into my typing class with a chip on my shoulder, not wanting to take it. I came out with a skill that has been with me for over 40 years. What I learned in typing class has helped me throughout my life.

Upgrading My IPhone Turns Into Drama!

26 Jul

I made the plunge. I upgraded my Iphone from a 4 to a 6. It was dramatic and traumatic. The young man, Ian, at the Verizon store was friendly and competent. He and my husband talked about my phone and got me the upgrade I wanted. The wonderful blue Mophie case is stunning and will keep my phone charged.

I phone

But there was a little problem, which they sort of blamed on me. I had not backed up my old phone for a while. Okay so I forgot, big deal. And it was not on the I Cloud at all.

“I don’t want people stealing my stuff!” I announced to Ian and my husband.

The young man smiled, the same sort of smile my son makes when I comment on the internet and the web and the cloud and all that stuff. I even said, “You are making the same exact face my 24 year old son makes.”

“I am 24 also,” he admitted. I was not surprised. They all have the same expressions some times when talking to parental age adults. He then told me that Apple has made the Cloud more secure and the hackers do not go after normal people like me on the Cloud.  Really? How can he be sure?

Fine. So he could not transfer my info at that moment. He and my husband agreed that this could be done easily at home. My husband knew what to do. We would just take both phones home. Plug my old phone, update to my ITunes account and all would be just fine.

HA!  As I left the store I told him to be ready for a call.

The first part went fine. I plugged in my old IPhone 4 and backed it up to my ITunes account. No problems. I was happy. Then I turned it over to my husband.

He made some noises. They were not polite noises.   He turned to me, “When was the last time you updated you OS? Your Operating System?” He demanded. “You are way out of date.”

So. What’s the big deal. I was happy.

I have not updated my operating system for a while. I admit it. So what? I did not need anything. All was going just fine till now! So what that I have not been able to update my ITunes because I did not update my operating system? My I tunes worked with my old phone. But this then became a problem because the new phone could not speak to the old I Tunes. Shucks.

Then my husband started the process of updating my operating system. In the meantime, I had no phone. NO Phone. In this day and age, I felt cut off. I needed to call my son because we were volunteering for a National Council of Jewish Women’s event, and he had to come and get me.

“Yes,” my son said as he answer the phone.

“Are you still going with me?” I asked.

“Sure, text me about 15 minutes before we need to go. Do you want me to drive over there?”

So I told him I could not text him because my phone was no longer working and we could not get my new phone connected and the operating system was taking forever to install and I need new I tunes. Okay, maybe I was whining a little bit. Maybe I sounded like a two-year old.

But at the exact same moment, the exact moment, my husband and my son both said simultaneously (yes I know I am redundant!), “You are being way too dramatic, it will work out!”

Me! Dramatic! Okay, maybe a little.

My son showed up 15 minutes early to check out the progress. The computer was still thinking. Did I tell you that I have a five-year-old computer. I was really worried they were going to make me get a new computer too. That would have been a disaster!

We left the house. My son and I volunteered, while my husband sat and watched the computer think and update.

When I got home close to 11 pm, my husband was in bed. The computer was not quite done. But after about five more minutes, the new operating system was installed. So I tried to install ITunes 12. But it would not work. My computer’s operating system was still not good enough. However, I could install I Tunes 11 something.

And I got it to all work. My new I Phone connected to my computer. It spoke to my I Tunes account and my backed up information flowed through a wire into the new phone. I was successful. I did not need my husband or my son. I did all on my own.

I updated my phone’s apps.   All seemed well and good.But I noticed something odd. Some of my apps, although they are still visible in my settings, do not appear on the phone. Hmmmmm. I had to work for awhile to get those all sorted out. Eventually they reappeared as icons on my phone.  Success!

However, I then got into my car to go volunteer again. My phone would not sync with my car. Of course not! I now had a new phone. I had to delete my old phone and re-sync with my new phone. But I forgot to download my phone book.  It only took a moment once I figured out what to do, but I had to figure it out.

Getting a new phone is really a hassle.  Over and Over again I had to reinter passwords…but first I had to remember them.  I had to reinstall my Jawbone Up and re-sync the phone to the Up.  I had to re-enter my wifi password.  I spent many hours getting everything up to date.  But I also did not need to call Ian at Verizon.  I was able to do it all myself,  well with some help from my husband and perhaps a few bouts of anxiety!

I was feeling very badly for myself because of all the hassles of the past 18 hours, until I was telling my tale of woe to another volunteer. She said, “I know what you mean. My family wants me to update my phone, but I am not sure.”

Then she pulled out an old phone with a keypad. She did not even own a smart phone. I looked her and smiled. “You are in big trouble!” I said.

“I know,” She responded. “I am not sure I can handle a smart phone. “

I admit, updating my phone was very traumatic and dramatic for me. But she is in for a big shock.