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Hillary Clinton the Server and I Why Struggle with Technology

Published in ChicagoNow August 21, 2015

I feel sorry for Hillary Clinton. The server allegedly in a closet of a Denver apartment. Wanting to keep things simple by using one smart phone. Really, I get it. She’s only two years younger than I am, so I have complete empathy for her personal confusion with rapidly changing technology.

Of course, I wasn’t Secretary of State nor am I running for President. Clinton, Trump, Bush, Fiorina, Carson, Kasich, and a host of other Republican hopefuls are close to my age. Unbelievably, Biden, Sanders, and Kerry are older. But that’s not the point. Don’t tell me, an almost-70-year-old trying to write a book, that I am ageist. My point is, they all have one huge advantage over me: Millennial advisors who help them understand how to tweet and (sorry Hillary) how to manage their technology needs.

I, on the other hand, am on my own. And I struggle to adapt and keep up with the few parts of technology I am able to use. Recently, I have had a few of my own run-ins with things that used to be simple before someone decided they needed to be improved. So, I have to ask these five questions:

Why can’t I work my new toaster?

I had an old toaster-oven mounted under a kitchen cabinet. It has one knob that I turned to set the oven temperature and one lever to push down if I wanted it to toast. Oh, and it could also broil. When I repainted my cabinets, I took it down. Fire hazard. Also an ugly shade of beige. So I bought the same brand in a shiny stainless finish. This one has three knobs, each of which has numbers and symbols in tiny print. It also appears to have directions printed in French, which is not my second language. That’s not a big deal because I can’t read them either. It took lots of trial and error to toast a bagel. I’m not sure I’ll ever figure out how to use all of those other features, but it sure looks pretty sitting on the counter.

Why do I have an anxiety attack using Ticketmaster?

First issue is how long it took to find decent seats to Beautiful. But I refused to pay $187 per ticket, so after much searching I found some places on the side that seem reasonable. Now the real trouble began. There was a timer that told me I must complete my purchase in five minutes or my choice would be gone. The clock started to count down. My first attempt to enter the captcha failed. My heart was pounding. I just couldn’t lose these seats. Next I had to pass through many screens, enter my user name and password (another first fail as my hands were shaking), decline numerous offers along the way, and get Ticketmaster to accept my credit card. I made it. Oh no, I inadvertently selected seats that came with an obligatory “suite package” I didn’t want that added $40 to the price of each ticket. Now I had to call customer service. Thirty minutes later, that order was voided and I got to start over again.

Why can’t I figure out how to connect with Northshore Connect?

I take total responsibility for this one. I remembered I had a 9:00 mammogram appointment at 8:50. I should have just left right then and been no more than ten minutes late, but I hate being late. And it’s rude not to call. Except that it’s also impossible to find a way to call. I knew making the appointment is all automated, so I called the hospital. The mammography center is within view of the main desk, but I was told there was no way to transfer my call. So I googled to find a secret phone number, waited on hold for five more minutes, and apologized for my error. Turned out they didn’t care. Folks are late all of the time. I could even have just showed up with no appointment and been seen if they weren’t too busy. Lessons learned: I guess no one calls anyone anymore. And apparently being late is just fine.

What happened to my photos and movies when I upgraded from Marverick to Yosemite? And why do I have to upgrade my operating system or anything else?

One of the main reasons I love my iMac is I had a pretty good grasp of how to organize and access all of my photos, how to create movies and slide shows (complete with sound track), and how to burn all of this to DVDs. Poof. All gone. For some reason, Apple keeps improving stuff just when I get the hang of it. I do not welcome these improvements. They only make my tasks harder and force me to take one-to-one lessons, buy separate DVD drives, download software to do things my old iMac included, and order direction manuals to do the same thing I already knew how to do perfectly well. I had ignored the appeals to upgrade, but my one-to-one friend told me I had to. iPhoto would no longer be “supported,” and, lacking my own staff of technological advisors, I desperately need Millennial support from time to time.

Why can’t I understand my Comcast bill?

For one thing, it’s over three pages long. And I have no idea what most of the charges are for. But I do look at the bottom line, and what I owe Comcast jumps up every so often. When that happens, I call to question the increase and am generally told there is some kind of limited time deal available. I take it, although I have been told that, to get a really good deal, I should ask for the “Retention Department.” I planned to try this on my latest call, when I was offered a super deal right off the bat. It reduced my bill by $40 a month and I got even more stuff. The only catch was that it was a two-year agreement and I couldn’t get out of it before then without huge financial loss. I knew what Comcast was up to. They wanted to stick me to cable when everyone else will be paying much less for streaming. I bought my husband a Roku for his birthday last December and we are still trying to figure it out. We can stream some pretty cool stuff on Amazon Prime, which we somehow got accidentally and now pay for annually. But we agreed that it would take us two years to figure out what young folks already know. Of course, we said yes.

Maybe I should run for office. Then I would have a staff of advisors who could probably figure out my computer and smart phone woes. But would any of them help me make toast or teach me how to stream programming? I doubt it. Guess I need to keep my one-to-one appointment at the Apple Store to get my photos working again.


by Laurie Levy
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