Family Life, Senior Life

Episode 50 – Virtual Files

“The clinic has called me four times to confirm that I am going to my doctor’s appointment next week. I wonder what’s up with that?”

“They’re just calling because they got your test results back.”

“They only call if there’s something wrong.”

“They call for all results, now. They’ve changed it.”

I haven’t heard of any such change. I’m not sure I believe Denny, but I’m not going to challenge him. I’ll find out on Monday if he’s right. I don’t see any point in people being called to the clinic if their results are OK. And four times? I used to work in a medical clinic. That would be a waste of everybody’s time.

Denny bought me roses for my birthday. I’m smelling their faint scent as I sit in the living room. They are deep red. Not very large, but lovely. Denny told me that last year at Valentine’s he stopped to buy roses at a place beside the road that advertised roses for $9.99. They were wooden roses. There were real roses for $49.99. “I’m sure a lot of guys got suckered in just like me. I didn’t buy them, but I’m sure a lot of guys just figured they might as well, since they were already there. I mean the real ones. Who wants wooden roses?”

He has me curious about these wooden roses.

Denny is trying to change a light bulb in the kitchen. We have track lights. Suddenly I see a bright blue light and hear a loud pop.

“Be careful. Don’t get electrocuted.”

Denny goes to turn off the light.

“Yeah, that might be a good idea, turn off the light first.”

Denny changed fluorescent lightbulbs at my work yesterday. He also put security covers on the thermostats in the daycare and preschool. They tend to turn the heat up and open the windows. I’ve programmed the thermostats but they put them on hold and then the heat stays on. It was at 74 degrees when Denny got there last night. So, he has solved another problem for me. One more thing I can strike off my list. It seems that for every item I cross off, I add at least three.

I heard Denny on the phone this morning talking to a rep from his phone company, asking why his phone was so slow. These days our phones are mini-computers. We want them to be as fast as any laptop. “This isn’t an isolated case,” he was saying. “I talked to another person with your company who is having the same problem. I have re-booted it, like your other rep suggested.”

I didn’t know Denny was having problems with his phone. He didn’t tell me. He likes his carrier because they are half the price of the more popular one. Denny is always looking for a deal. He got a deal on his phone. He saved all of his Christmas bonuses to buy a phone. When I asked him what he wanted for Christmas he told me all he wanted was the Nexus 6. Last Sunday he found it on the internet for three hundred dollars less than the retail list price. Still over five hundred dollars. He arranged to meet the guy selling it in the Semiahmoo Mall in White Rock.

The phone had been used, but it came with a receipt and it was still in the box. While Denny was talking to the guy who listed it, our daughter-in-law was off to the side, checking online to make sure it wasn’t stolen. She’s a techie too, like our son. We had just come from having breakfast with them at their new favorite breakfast place, Cora’s.

Everything checked out OK. I wasn’t part of the little party. I was in the mall shopping. I heard about it later at Tim Horton’s. Apparently the guy wanted an iPhone instead of the Nexus 6. Right after he sold his Nexus 6 he walked over to another table in the food court to make a deal for an iPhone. It all seemed a little shady to me, but it turned out fine, apparently.

 

 

Denny has been telling me to store everything on my computer on ‘the cloud.’ He tells me he does this and one time, when he forgot his music at home, he was able to go to Staples, pull up his music on his phone and print copies, all because he had everything he needed stored in Google Docs.

This Sunday two volunteers at work were having a discussion about securely storing files online. One of them works at a school and the other works for the most popular (and pricey) phone carrier in the province. The school teacher was saying that their school refuses to store their material on Google Docs because it is not secure enough.

Listening to Denny, or my son, that is nonsense. “Short of a worldwide nuclear disaster, there are so many back-ups all around the world, there isn’t anything more secure.”

This woman is apparently not aware of how vulnerable her secure system may be. The man from the phone company was trying to be tactful but eventually he told her that her system was more likely to be compromised than the cloud.

I’m thinking of our son’s friend in high school. He got suspended for hacking into the school computer. He claimed he did it to get the high school to realize that their system could easily be compromised.

“They should have thanked him,” Denny said. “The fact that this student could break into the system exposed their vulnerability. The student wasn’t the problem. The system was.”

If Denny says the cloud is secure, I think I will have to believe him. I just have this illusion of things disappearing in clouds, never to be found again. Whenever I see “Save to iCloud” I feel this wave of apprehension.

I have barely conquered my fear of having only virtual, not physical files. Now I am being stretched again. The cloud is another leap for me. The man at work who was talking about Google Docs is a board member and he thinks it is time we put our office records on the cloud.

A month ago I bought a new computer for my work and it automatically saved all my documents to the cloud. Denny showed me how it worked. But I lost the cloud. I couldn’t find it anywhere on my computer.

When I finally found it I took everything I had in the cloud out of the cloud. I put it safely on my desktop. I admit I am resistant to change when my old system still seems to be working just fine.

At the library, earlier this week, I was browsing through DVD’s. We once rented DVD’s. Now we watch Netflix. Every month or so, someone randomly determines what to add and what to remove from Netflix. Things appear and they disappear. Denny is fine with this.

Netflix makes “suggestions for Denny” to watch. For instance, if you watch one Christmas movie it will pull up all the other Christmas movies. And if you stop watching a movie for some reason, it still suggests movies like this.

I try and tell Denny how many good shows are missing from Netflix. He just tells me what a great selection Netflix offers. I think of dozens of movies we watched a decade ago that still are not on Netflix. The whole Bourne series, for instance. Even Little Miss Sunshine isn’t on Netflix.

I have started to watch foreign movies with subtitles. They are a bit dismal, but I prefer them to Hollywood’s formulaic movies.

In the library I found myself plotting to buy a DVD player. I would probably have to hide it from Denny. Like my Dad hid the TV he rented in the bedroom. He didn’t want his relative to see it.

I can hear Denny now. “What do you need a DVD player for? You can watch all the movies you want on Netflix. There are lots of movies and new ones coming out every month. A DVD player just takes up space. Where would you put it? We have no place to put it. It’s huge and bulky. It’s archaic. People don’t use DVD players anymore, just like they don’t use EightTrack players or Cassette Players or Record Players. And if you really want to you can use your old Windows computer to watch the occasional movie if you’d like to take one home from the library. The library has a much smaller selection than Netflix.”

Technology is like a current that is carrying me away from the shoreline. There are days I long for solid land beneath my feet. This virtual world is real to Denny but I struggle to grasp it. I still want DVD’s that I can hold, players I can insert them into. Shelves I can store them on, where I can find them again, later. But I am being swept up with the winds of change.

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