FAMILY MATTERS - Local family takes 'latest plunge' into technology

We've gone wireless! It seems we are always behind other families when it comes to the latest technology. I remember being so excited when my brother-in-law in Nebraska gave us his old Apple IIE computer when he upgraded his. It was my first computer. It was not connected to the Internet, but it had programs for the children like "Sticky Bear Math' and it had a printer and a word processing program so I could delete and add words easily as I typed my column and then brought the printout to the Reflector newsroom, where it would have to be re-typed. That was many years ago.
Norwalk Reflector Staff
Jul 25, 2010

We’ve gone wireless!

It seems we are always behind other families when it comes to the latest technology. I remember being so excited when my brother-in-law in Nebraska gave us his old Apple IIE computer  when he upgraded his. It was my first computer. It was not connected to the Internet, but it had programs for the children like “Sticky Bear Math” and it had a printer and a word processing program so I could delete and add words easily as I typed my column and then brought the printout to the Reflector newsroom, where it would have to be re-typed. That was many years ago.

A big step forward was when we attached ourselves to the Internet via dial-up. It was amazing how, sitting in a corner of my living room, I could e-mail people all over the country and go to such a variety of Web sites. Not to mention being able to e-mail my column to the Reflector, instead of bringing it in.

But my kids complained about the fact that we could not be on the phone and the Internet at the same time, and so we got a message system so we could find out whose calls we missed when we were on the Internet. Then we got a second phone line. But that, too, wasn’t perfect: dial-up was so slow, the kids complained. And so we upgraded our technology again, this time to cable. And oh, how fast it was! And no second phone line was needed.

A few weeks ago, we took our latest plunge into technology. As I said, we’ve gone wireless. A rectangular device called a “router” with antennae sticking up like an alien from outer space sits next to my monitor now. It allows us to access the Internet from any computer in the house, not just the one sitting in the corner of the living room.

With three college-age-plus kids who have laptops, this is a big advantage. There is no arguing over who gets to use the computer when. We can all be on-line at the same time, and from anywhere in the house! I now have a laptop from my job at school, which means I, too, can be connected to the world from anywhere in the house.

So why am I sitting here at our old desktop computer? Habit, I guess. I just can’t get used to the idea that I can be sitting on my bed, or on the living room couch, typing my column.

I wander around the house, wondering where cyberspace is, exactly. “Wireless” means exactly that – there are no wires, and yet we can connect to Web sites across the globe. Where are my e-mail messages shooting through, exactly? Am I walking through my kids’ words as they “IM” their friends? Are there “waves” darting unseen across my living room and kitchen? It is hard for me to fathom, but it is an invisible system of sophisticated communication.

When I told my older son I wanted him to help me go “wireless” by purchasing and setting up the router, he asked, “Mom, are you sure you want to do this?” I assured him I did, not understanding his hesitation.

But he knows me well, and now I understand why he hesitated. We are a family with only one television, because I like to be able to talk to the family and not have everyone in his or her own TV world. But with wireless Internet, we can all be connected to different parts of cyberspace, all at the same time. The kids sit on the couch, checking their e-mail while talking to me or watching television. They can watch previews of movies or talk on IM or cruise the Web while sitting at the kitchen table, whereas in the old days, they had to talk to me while sitting at the kitchen table. This is an advantage?

But there’s no going back. The router sits there, freeing us from the constraints of the desktop and yet separating us from each other.