Everyday Technology

We've subscribed to one of those movie and TV show systems where you pay a monthly fee to access a menu of old shows and films. We recently began to "re-watch" all the episodes of the series "24."

Even Jack Bauer can't keep up with today's rapidly changing technology.

As we relive the slippery antics of Jack Bauer and his cohorts, I am amazed at how "dated" the series has already become.

The show began its run in 2000 and ended in 2010. I recall watching episodes throughout that time and marveling at the cutting-edge technology. And although the last episode was completed just a little more than two years ago, the "flip" phones they use seem archaic and the cumbersome laptops are also limited in their abilities.

It's incredible what has happened in two years.

Last Friday evening, I attended one of the fall high school football games. My 15-year-old son is in the marching band. (After watching his older brother get banged around on the football team a few years ago, watching the band is a far more relaxing experience, by the way.)

Anyway, as the clock ticked down to halftime and the band took the field, I pulled my phone from my pocket and took a few pictures of Sam. He was quite far away, but the zoom capability on my phone produced an incredibly clear head shot.

I forwarded the photo to both his grandmothers, and it appeared on their phones within seconds. A minute later, they wrote back and sent their best. It is a little difficult for them to navigate the stadium these days--lots of walking is involved and it was raining cats and dogs. They said they wished they could see the halftime show.

I flipped the photo switch to video and recorded about five minutes of the band's performance and forwarded the video to them, as well as all the uncles and aunts that have video capability on their phones and/or computers.

In the comfort of their homes, they watched Sam's performance and all forwarded compliments to his social network address. By the time he got home, his mailbox was chock full of family support.

Jack Bauer, eat your heart out.

The next morning, the law director at my office sent me pages of changes we were making to a contract. I reviewed, commented, and forwarded those changes back to her on Saturday afternoon. Some of this I did while sitting in the car waiting for my wife to come out of the grocery store.

Sunday morning, we went to church, where I play drums in the band. But these aren't just any drums: They're electronic pads about 10 inches across, and the sound they make is sent into a mix that equalizes the output and makes sure I don't drown out the guitars and keyboards. I can still play dynamics loud and soft, I just can't get too loud.

After the service, we popped back into the car. Looking at the dashboard, I saw that it was already 85 degrees outside and still early, so our plans for a nice, cool, early fall picnic might have to change if it was getting uncomfortably hot outside.

I also noticed that I had only 65 miles to go until the tank was empty, and that my right front tire was a few pounds of pressure low. I tapped the hands-free button on the rearview mirror to access my wife's cell phone, and she and I talked to the family about an alternate plan in view of the hot weather.

When we got home, Sam sat down and played a video game with several of his friends--one of them in Asia, one in Pennsylvania, and the rest of them scattered all over Lakewood. I didn't say anyone came over--I just said he played a game with about six of his friends.

Another "miracle"--this one through the internet hookup on his gaming system. When I hear him yell "Chin! Chin! Shoot the guy in the Jeep!" I just shake my head. This buddy Chin is in China, for God's sake!

These things are now just a standard part of modern life, and I have been one of the most ardent resistors of technology that there could be. The point is that despite my resistance, the ease of operation and time-saving advantages of some of these conveniences cannot be ignored. Earthling! Resistance is futile!

I can tell you that by putting my widowed mother online, I am so much more at ease with guaranteeing her security and safety than ever before. I can send her family updates, check on her health and well-being, review questions she may have or family issues we may all have to decide.

And her relationship with all of her grandchildren has increased tenfold. They send her photos from college, sports practice, sleepovers—Grandma is in on everything!

I'm sure there are many out there right now laughing at me because my technology acumen is probably a tenth of theirs. Heck, my own son makes me look like a hack on most of these topics, but I just felt compelled to sit back and take note that even though I will never endorse any technology that "replaces" man's need to think, discern, evaluate, and decide, there are tools out there today that do more than calculate and multiply.

They've enriched our lives, saved us valuable time, and made the world a lot smaller. That will be confirmed later today when my old college roommate from Helsinki, Finland, reads this blog and sends me an email. A true friend I'd probably never have talked to again if all we could have done was exchange letters.

Take the time to review your capabilities with technology. Something as simple as putting an "emergency only" cell phone in your parent's hands could make a monumental difference in your lives.

Ron Ciancutti is the Purchasing Manager for Cleveland Metroparks. He is not on Facebook, but he can be reached at rdc@clevelandmetroparks.com.