THE WORLD
IS SHRINKING FAST

    I am sooooo techno. After years of having those old-school wires hooked up to my home computer, I have gone wireless.
    At least I think I have. Actually, I canít tell the difference, except for a new thingamajig that the Comcast technician installed next to my computer. It has an antenna, so it must be doing something.
    Going wireless was my 23-year-old daughterís idea, but I endorsed it whole-heartedly. You just gotta be wireless these days. Itís not cool to have to plug in a phone line to your laptop. So if I ever buy a laptop, Iím going to be really cool.
    And I will buy a laptop someday. Just not yet. I want to wait a year or two, when theyíll probably cost about $30, be voice-activated, and fit in my wallet. Thatís how fast things are changing.
    This point was brought home a couple of times in the last few weeks. While the wireless house didnít mean much to me, it meant a lot to my daughters, who do have laptops, and to my teenage sons, who got an X-Box (the next generation of PlayStation) for Christmas.
    "Itís about time," cried the 17-year-old when informed the house had gone wireless. "Now we can easily play video games with our new friends in China."
    Huh? But before I could react, he grabbed his 16-year-old brother and his $100 Christmas gift card from Best Buy and was out the door.
    I walked in their room a couple of hours later and they were busily and happily killing people in a popular video game called Halo2. While that was not unusual, they now had their newly purchased headsets on, with a little microphone attached, and were chattering away.
    "To whom are you speaking?" I asked, quietly noting there was not a wire in sight.
    "Iím talking to ĎIímgayerthanyouí," replied the 17 year old. "Thatís his screen name. Heís on my team and heís from Ohio."
    I quickly learned there were four members on his team, including his brother, VanillaThunder. They were playing against four other kids from around the world, in a 12-minute game.
    No wires and instant communication. KidBuck69 was talking smack, but Iímgayerthanyou was the king of trashtalk, and, to my chagrin, VanillaThunder was getting pretty good at it, too.
    I was amazed. The days of playing "Pong" and "PacMan" were apparently over. I watched them set up the next game, which took only seconds and paired them with new friends from around the planet. I looked at the screen names, expecting to see a "CavemanOsama" but the closest was "bitchboy42." Apparently, "bitchboy1through41" was taken.
   "Why donít you guys go talk to that neighbor kid down the street," I asked. "Maybe see if he wants to throw the old football around."
    They ignored me. "Justpackingheat" was making a run. Fortunately, the phone rang and I had to answer it.
    It was my friend Dave calling me from Chile.
    "How are things?" he asked, sounding as though he were next door.
    "Youíre calling me to just check in?" I replied. "Youíre coming back in a couple of days. This phone call must cost a fortune."
    "Iím calling you from my computer," he replied. "It costs me exactly two cents per minute, but I decided youíre worth it."
    "Thanks," I said, my head spinning. I tried to picture him holding a computer to his ear, but I couldnít. "How could it only cost two cents a minute?"
    "Itís a program called ĎSkype,í" he replied. "You download it in a few minutes and pay $10.00 for 500 minutes of phone time anywhere in the world."
    I was amazed. When he had bought his property 400 miles south of Santiago last year, most of his friends thought he was crazy. Too far, too isolated. Itís still too far, but the isolation is certainly improving.
    Meanwhile, after 25 minutes and a whopping 50 cents, we hung up. I tried to imagine how all this wireless technology worked, and all I could think of was an old Amos and Andy TV routine from the 1950ís.
    Amos was holding a thermos and explaining to Andy that if you put cold things in the thermos, it keeps it cold, and if you put hot things in it, it keeps it hot.
    Andy thought about it for awhile, and replied, "How do it know?"
 

Home     |      About     |    Columns     |     Contact          

© 2006-2017 hoppecolumns.com 
All rights reserved.