You can’t teach an old dog new tricks or so they say, but I have a recent personal example that challenges this adage. My father, who is 71 has very quickly mastered a fourth generation iPod photo I loaded with music and passed along to him. He’s also sending me an occasional text message from his recently upgraded cell phone, with brief updates on the weather back home, travel plans, etc. What has surprised me the most is that while he loves the music capabilities of the iPod, he’s drawn to the solitary card game, one of the default games that comes on previous generations of iPods. Personally I’ve never been too interested in gaming on older iPods as there are much better mobile gaming platforms, but in his case he’s very happy, possibly obsessed with winning at solitaire, over and over again. Personally, I’ve enjoyed seeing him learn a new technology and continue to expand his horizons, which is what we should all be doing as often as we can. Here’s to lifelong learning!
If you haven’t seen any of Improv Everywhere’s “work” then you’re missing out. Their missions (their term, not mine) focus on bringing a bit of randomness and peculiarity to mundane situations. That’s where it gets fun. Often people don’t quite know how to react, but it always seems to bring them out of their comfort zone, which leaves them open to actually connecting with other human beings. That’s exactly what happens in this new video. Here’s the background: this is a very busy subway hub in New York, so you can imagine the attitudes during morning rush-hour. However something happens that completely changes the entire experience and possibly the rest of their day. It’s interesting to watch all of the smiles break out on the commuters’ faces as a completely random, but uniquely human experience happens to them. It breaks their focus on the day’s problems they’re probably already stressing over. Watch the video below or read more about the mission!
A few weeks ago on January 24, Apple celebrated 25 years of Macintosh. This prompted me to think about my own computing experience and how that has changed over the years. Although Apple released the Mac in 1984, the Apple II line continued to thrive for quite sometime and the following Christmas I received my first computer, an Apple IIc with an Apple Imagewriter dot matrix printer! If I remember correctly it came with 128k of ram, and the only boot options were directly from formatted 5.25 inch floppy discs. Looking back, those specifications seem so far beyond inadequate that it’s laughable. Fortunately at the time I couldn’t see 25 years down the road and was VERY content to have a state-of-the-art personal computer!
I was already familiar with the Apple (and other computer) platforms before getting the IIc. I had used Commodore 64 computers, a TRS 80, and an Apple II+ at friends’ houses. My parents also signed me up for a summer computer camp (insert nerd laughter here) using Apple II computers sponsored by our local school system. All this to say that I had a very good idea where to start after setting the computer up. They also purchased some educational software and a couple of games I remember talking them into. I think after a while though I had the most fun just writing small programs in BASIC (10 Home, 20 Print “Hello World”). Of course, then came Zork, a text based adventure game, which you download free of charge nowadays. There was also that early version of The Oregon Trail which I borrowed from the school computer lab (dual floppy disc drives were handy)!
I continued to use the IIc all the way through high school, but in college quickly switched to the Mac. There were several labs on campus equipped with Macs and my first student job was with the school paper as a reporter and photographer and we used Macs exclusively for writing and desktop publishing (wow, there’s a term you never hear anymore). There were also some “IBM compatible” labs on campus running DOS, but by this time I was quite the Apple snob fan. I continued using Macs through undergrad and then into grad school, but by this time Apple was on shaky ground and Windows 95 had been released. It truly looked like the end was nigh for Apple, so when I needed to get a computer for grad school, I decided to go with a Sony Vaio running Windows and was happy with the decision.
For the next 10 years in my professional life I used nothing but Windows (98, 2000, and XP), but in 2008 I had the opportunity to get a new work laptop and switched back to Apple and am currently using a Macbook Pro. However in my personal life, our home computers run XP and I think at this point I’m content being bilingual. What does the future hold? It’s hard to tell at this point. Apple will soon be releasing a new version of their operating system with some very exciting changes that I’ve read about. Microsoft will be releasing Windows 7 later this year which I’m beta testing on one of my XP computers at home and it also looks very promising (it takes some great cues from the Mac OS)! I think as long as Apple and Microsoft continue to force each other to innovate, we’ll all come out ahead.