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
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
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
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
"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
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?"