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Ancients of the Digital Age

According to a recent Google search, Apple has added my iPod to its list of Vintage and Obsolete Objects. Indeed, Apple has officially “killed off” the nano, a grim fact I have no intention of mentioning to my tiny, pink device. Purchased in 2007 at the beginning of my career as a Jazzercise instructor, it has faithfully played every set I’ve put together in what for a digital device is an Ice Age.

Every week, I plug my trusty nano into my computer to download my Jazzercise set and every week my computer alerts me to the fact that my iPod cannot be found. A minute later, my PC begins to sync with my iPod and before long, my current set is loaded and ready to go. My computer resolutely refuses to display the icon to eject my nano, so I’ve learned to wait patiently until the device itself tells me to do so.

Most of the other instructors use their iPhones instead of an iPod. Alas, my Android phone is shut out of the Magic Kingdom of Apple where all devices are compatible and user-friendly. Turns out, Apple products are only friendly to their own kind, not unlike many humans.

My first Kindle, launched in 2010, is still alive and well at my husband’s side of the bed. The case is cracked and the little keyboard is grimy, but the text is legible and it has whispernet download capabilities which make books appear as if by magic.

A year later, my 1 st generation Kindle Fire with its full color touch screen hit the proverbial book shelf. This particular Kindle is a hand-me-down gift from a friend who wasn’t yet ready to relinquish traditional paper and ink books for their digital facsimiles. I was, and still am, delighted with my Kindle Fire. Newer models are in black and white and black and white book covers are anathema to this book lover.

While preparing this blog, I chanced to land on eBay where I discovered a 1 st generation Kindle Fire for under $15. Not only that, but a lovely purple cover was available at a small additional cost. I contemplated my options and decided that for under $25. I could prolong my relationship with the obsolete Kindle Fire into the foreseeable future and add to my collection of digital antiques at the same time.

Of course, not all my devices are antiquated. I have a Fire Tablet on which I can, ostensibly, check email and facebook, watch videos, take photos, listen to audio books, and read from my extensive digital library. In truth, my Fire Tablet performs none of these tasks with any degree of reliability. The audio is so quiet it requires earbuds and is interrupted every time a notification comes in after which it takes several steps to reboot. The text to speech feature quits for no apparent reason and is reluctant to resume. If the tablet’s cover is left open, Alexa eavesdrops on our conversations, randomly offering to call a restaurant or update us on current weather conditions. It is particularly disconcerting when talking to the dog to hear Alexa say, “I’m sorry. I didn’t understand what you said. Could you repeat that?”

Over the years, my elderly iPod and Kindles have provided reliable listening and reading pleasure. They require only gentle handling and occasional recharging. My Fire Tablet, on the other hand, seems overwhelmed by the myriad tasks of which it is purported to be capable. It’s the digital version of a one-man band and can’t quite keep all its instruments in harmony and good working order.

Sometimes less really is more.


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