Monday, February 1, 2010

Luddites united...

HALLIE: I must be one of the last people on the planet...or in Boston at least...who still uses a date book. It has a still spiffy red cover and fits in my purse. Every year for $6 I buy a new calendar to go into it and retire last year's calendar with my tax records. I know I've been using it a long time because the address book has phone numbers of people who I would swear to you are complete strangers.

There are early adopters and then there are those who upgrade only when other options run out. I just traded my 2001-vintage cell phone (with an aerial) for one that flips(!) open (someone who'd upgraded to an iPhone gave it to me). We still watch an unwide TV. Our twin Honda Civics just got their 100,000-mile tuneups.

When a local repair shop was going out of business we bought a dozen needles for our turntable. We're still going through them and picking up vinyl at yard sales -- like one featuring the Andrews Sisters (the album cover shouts * MICROGROOVE * LONG PLAY 33 1/3 RECORD * UNBREAKABLE) singing Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar with the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra and the original Broadway cast album of "The Pajama Game." Last year I finally got an iPod but mostly I listen to podcasts.

So do you have the latest eReader, Bluetooth smartphone, widescreen or other compound-word reason to throw away something else in perfectly good working order.

JAN: Now, see I consider myself the world's biggest Luddite. Not because I don't adopt new technologies, but because once I get them, I can't make them work

I thought of myself a relatively late technology adopter, but compared to you, Hallie, I think I might be on the vanguard. Mostly because of my husband. He's a gear head. Plus, he used to be in the computer business, So, yes, we have the biggest HD TV ever, also the latest Mac (also big screen -- are you seeing a pattern?), one iPhone, another on the way. We didn't have cable TV until 2004, though, and that was only because the Red Sox had made the playoffs and we had to see them win the World Series.

RHYS: I still have a date book that was given to me by my publisher in the 1980s (that was back when publishers still gave authors presents). I have all my contacts etc on my PDA and iPod but I keep a backup on paper in that book, just in case the world runs out of electricity. I also write a year plan at the beginning of every year and examine it on New Year's Eve to see what worked and what didn't.

I guess I don't adapt to change if I don't have to. I don't want a Kindle but I'm glad people buy my books for it. I'm quite savvy with my computer, but I don't choose to play with it when I don't have to. I've never played a computer game in my life. I do have an Ipod to keep me sane at airports. I have a cell phone but only for letting my husband know that my plane has touched down.

And Hallie, you should talk to John, who still has a stack of vinyl LPs. He has just bought something that will turn them into CDs or MP3 fils and plans to work his way through them. (I can't wait as it will keep him out of my hair for many months. And after that... cassette tapes to CD! Yipee)

HALLIE: I've had my eye on one of those vinyl-to-digital transformer thingies but never would I want to be the first on the block. That's how so many people ended up with Betamax technology when VHS would be the one to catch on. But if you report that it works great, I might have to get one.

ROBERTA: Nope Hallie we can't compete with that description! I'm in Rhys's camp--I pretty much know what I'm doing on the computer but I don't want to spend extra time on it. I may have said this before, but I don't understand why we need 5 remotes to run our TV/dvd/etc. If something dreadful happens to my John, I'll just have to watch TV upstairs where things are simpler.

I do know another fellow like you Hallie, my brother-in-law Jeff. He has a TV that belonged to his grandmother. It weighs about six thousand pounds and has a tiny screen. We razz him about it all the time:).

HALLIE: Tell your brother-in-law to throw a yard sale and invite me! Sounds like my kind of guy.

HANK: I have a paper date book! So funny. I get the same kind every year. They're small and flat and work perfectly. Sometimes I carry around this year's and last year's so I don't have to rewrite all the names and phone numbers in the back.

Which now, thinking about it, is silly, since the phone numbers are all in my cell phone,I suppose. But then, I hardly ever use my phone. When it rings, I freak. I think--what is that?? (My ring tone for Jonathan is the theme from Charlies Angels, I admit.)

I don't want an iPod because I don't want things in my ears. Although everyone who has one loves it.

And our basement is full of vinyl records. Another blog for another day.

Oh, Roberta! I'm so with you. I work in TV, and know all about the most elaborate of technical stuff. But know how to turn on our TV at home? Oh dear, no.

HALLIE: Yes, why do remote controls breed. It's almost like one appears every time a sock disappears.

Please, let us know - do you adopt early, late, or only under duress?

And by the way later this week...
Delia Ephron pays us a repeat visit to talk about her new powerful novel of truth, beauty, and the secrets about family and friends that lie beneath perfection.
Becky Levine joins us with her insightful "Writing & Critique Group Survival Guide.


  1. I did give my husband one of those vinyl-to-digital turntables for Christmas. He's read the manual, but he's put off setting it up because he needs to make room for it--by finally getting rid of our 1998 computer with the giant monitor.

    I still don't know how to use half the options on my cell phone, and I've had it for three years. How do I get pictures off it?

  2. Can you hear me laughing, Sheila? When you find out how to get the pictures off it let me know, too.

    I gave away a computer monitor on Craigslist. Took awhile. I've heard you get a better response if you SELL it for something like $5 instead of listing it for free. Weird.

  3. Great topic. I use three separate paper calendars (one at work, one in home office, one in the kitchen) and write down Everything that I or we have scheduled to do plus birthdays of family and friends, and then keep them for years - hey, I might need to remember something.

    My sons taught me about my cell phone, but I still have to look up icons that show up (like that I have a text message, which I almost never get). No flat tv, no e-book reader, but also no record player anymore, although I can't bring myself to get rid of my casette tapes. I did just sign up with Skype so I could talk to my son in Morocco for free, and it actually worked.

    As for erasing pictures, on my phone, I navigate to Media Gallery > My Pictures, then select a picture, and press the left button that corresponds to the word Erase on the bottom left of the screen. It asks for confirmation, press OK, and bingo. Picture gone.


  4. Oh, wait. Did you mean how to get pictures from the camera to the computer? No idea! (Laughing at myself...)

  5. What a relief! I'm not the only one. My cell phone's most interesting feature is bite marks from when my dog wrestled it out of my purse.

    When I got it (many, many years ago), the chipper salesman at the AT&T store said, "So, what features are you most interested in?"

    I said, "Well, I'd like to make calls, and I'd like to receive calls. That pretty much covers it."

    The guy practically held up a wooden cross as he backed across the store.

  6. L.D.--that is so funny! I can completely picture it..

    I can see how it might be fun to have an electronic calendar. But I can't imagine how long it would take to set it up...

  7. Yea to Hallie and Hank about iPods and vinyl records. I know how to burn a record to a CD, but have probably done it twice in the last five years.

    I have a cell phone, but only my wife and daughter have my number. My last call was probably to AAA when my battery died two years ago.
    (Pictures? On a phone?? :-)

    I can do basic stuff on a PC, but I still do lots of early planning and organizing for stories and books with a fountain pen (Beat that!) because it feels closer to the words than a keyboard does.

    I love the PC for editing and saving stuff, but no technology will ever substitute for putting your butt in the seat and getting the words down somewhere so you can read them.

  8. Hey, Steve - a soul brother.

    And my FAVORITE kind of store to wander around in is STILL an office supplies store. I do love nice paper. Okay, I like the smell of shoe leather, too.

  9. OK, this isn't really Luddite territory, but: I do not watch television at all. And I never stay up past 9 pm on a 'school night.' So late this afternoon I'm at the gym, doing my leg extensions, and there's Hank on the TV, on a teaser for the 11:00 news. I say, out loud, "Hey, there's Hank!" Then softer, because I realize I'm in public, "I know her!" Smiling away, I finish the set. For people who keep more conventional watching and sleeping schedules, this is no big deal, I'm sure. For me, it was fun.

  10. Aw, Edith..that's lovely. Thank you! xoxo

  11. Lucy, hurray! Lovely to see you..and welcome!

  12. Hi, Lucy! So glad to 'hear' your voice!

  13. You ladies have the most fun blog to read of ANY I go to and I go to a lot of them! This conversation has me cracking up and I'm at work so this isn't good.

    I work with technology all day, every day but I still came into it kicking and screaming. That said, I received a Sony e-book reader for Christmas and I LOVE it. It's the cat's meow. Especially for those of us of a "certain age." It's tiny and light, great for the plane, and it's so much better for those who wear progressive lenses which I'll never adjust to!

    True confession: it took me hours of time and bouts of frustration to set up but now that I have.....