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Making friends with our synapses

How many of us have a smart phone, an iPod, a tablet or reading device that we don’t really know how to use? Since nothing comes with a manual anymore (and no one read them when they did), chances are, with most gadgets we buy today, we use at most a quarter of the features. We chose the device for a specific reason (cool navigation, the ability to read a book in all light levels, a calendar reminder we hope will keep us organized), but as it turns out, that darn piece of technology is full of bells and whistles and more bells that we will NEVER use and certainly never understand. Okay, I’ll admit it, I don’t even know how to set the time on my Radio Shack alarm clock. When the power goes out, I first cuss at myself for failing to put batteries in, then play with the buttons for 10 minutes or so knowing it’s a certain sequence (my dear husband bought the clock because it was billed as “simple,” which today means two buttons that will do everything if only you know exactly how and when to punch them, hold them in and let them out.)For those of us over 40, this phenomenon is a constant source of stress. Between computers that crash and smart phones that we just KNOW have a silent button somewhere, we spend way too much time using the phrase “Why do they have to make it so complicated!!”

Do we just give up, throw the phone in the lake, the iPod in the drawer and the tablet in the closet?

That’s a big “no” for most of us. We’ve come to depend on that magic feature that makes it all worthwhile. The lucky ones (like me) have a teenager or another tech-savvy friend or loved one (thank you God, for giving me my geek husband).

So here’s one way to look at the situation: your brain is like your device. It’s crammed with creativity and magic, so many ideas that you’ll never use them all. We may get frustrated on those days when we just can’t pull what we want out of our head. But surely there is someone out there (or something if our brains came with manuals)Synapses working for us that can help.

Don’t give up on that computing device that sits on your shoulders—even when you can’t access what you want. Make friends with it, get help understanding it (a writing class, an online writers group) and you will find you simply can’t live without it.

Genilee Swope Parente

 
Synapses working for us
 
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Posted by on July 27, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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Conquering the Dragon

Conquering the Dragon

My dear 85-year-old mom is caught up with this week in doing battle with Technology.

She bought a new computer and her kids bought her a new, higher resolution, flat screen, big bad monitor that we hope will help her with her failing eyesight.

I have to admire those my mom’s age who are brave enough to tackle technology (and yes, Verna, I’m including you!) It’s scary enough to have to face all the bells and whistles and foreign concepts that go along with cell phones and satellite technology and new operating systems. But to face it when you’re visually impaired like my ma and have no computer geek husband (my personal saving grace) to help you figure it out is beyond brave.

My mom knows the value of today’s technology, just as she knows the miracle of modern medicine (she’d be blind now if born 10 years earlier). Technology helped her reach this dream of becoming a published author. Of course, it’s also been the cause of many an afternoon of frustration such as a recent few hours spent trying to figure out how she’d turned her work upside down. And I mean that literally: her monitor showed a view that was flipped 180 degrees!

But thank goodness now for a free program my brother Mark found called NVDA (http://www.nvda-project.org/). It talks her through the commands on her computer and reads back what she types. And we’ve just discovered that Microsoft Windows has an access center provided with most computers that has a narrative aid (it reads the screen) and a magnifier. My sister in law Cindy also bought me Dragon Speak for Home, which allows you to dictate instead of type and works amazingly well.

However, having these wonderful technology tools available is one small step in the stupendously large task of learning how to use them. I am no great computer whiz myself, and I see just fine. But I can tell you that after playing with all of these in an attempt to set them up so that mom could get started just about drove me completely bonkers.

So we’ll check in with Sharon in a week or two and see if she still has her sanity as she tries to slay the friendly dragon.

Genilee Swope Parente

P.S.  We will be at Potomac Woods Apartments, 2001 Southampton Street, Woodbridge, VA 22191 Wednesday, March 20 at 11, and they have kindly invited the general public. Come see us, buy a book, get a book signed or just chat. We’ll be at Stafford Garden Apartments for a signing tomorrow at 1:30.

Genilee Swope Parente

 
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Posted by on March 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

 

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