Posts Tagged ‘technology’

The joy of buying a new computer

joy of a new computer - frustrated manI recently bought a new laptop because my old one was having problems. From my purchase experience, I want to pass along the following helpful piece of advice: NEVER EVER BUY A NEW COMPUTER.

Limp along with your Apple Lisa for as long as you possibly can – because once you buy a new computer, your nightmares have just begun. The following is a 100% true retelling of my experience.

I chose to shop at one of the major Big Box retailers. I will change their actual name in this column so as to protect their identity. I walked into WORST BUY, and the salesperson Brad was quite helpful. He directed me to a perfectly adequate laptop. It had keys with letters and numbers in exactly the right locations. He told me that it had a 1.33 gigahertz dual processor with 2 GB of memory, 32 GB of storage, and a Windows 8.1 64-bit something or other. I had no idea what he was talking about, but it came in blue. I like blue. So I bought it.

Then I asked Brad if they could transfer all my data from my old computer to the new one – you know, email contacts, calendar appointments, embarrassing photos of my girls naked in the bathtub when they were two years old, saved so I could show them at their future weddings – you know, important files.

For the very reasonable fee of $150, they could transfer it all. So I said “sure.” Brad then passed me over to their tech team, the name of which, again, out of respect for their privacy, I will disguise. After only a 20-minute wait, I was greeted cheerfully by a member of their Greek Squad team named Nick, who was extremely helpful and said the job would be done overnight. So when they finished the overnight job four days later, I returned to WORST BUY to pick up my new computer. When I got home, I discovered just how helpful they had actually been, and by “helpful” I mean they had somehow managed to lose ALL OF MY DATA.

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  • I beg to differ with Janice!!! Apples are great UNTIL something goes the video card, which isn't really a…
    Shirley Freitas
  • Published On Jul. 13, 2015 by TEJ
  • No, Grandpa, that’s not how you beam up. Let’s go over this one more time.

    Future tech - motorcycleI’m proud of my mother. At 93 years of age, she decided to tackle a computer for the very first time. Her bruises are healing. She even has an email account. It’s been a struggle, but after only a week of practice, she’s already figured out how to turn on her computer. Until 3 months ago, she had never heard of email or Google or Facebook. She’d never surfed the web, never watched a YouTube video of a cat riding a roomba.

    Today she sent me her very first email. She wrote, Dear Tim, I ma laerning ti sned emali but ti deos not thenw othew byrw kt wodh pcx; s93@m &m$k m1t8 btn%+. Love, mom”.  What a beautiful message.

    I appreciate that learning new technology comes more slowly to the elderly than, say, to an eight-year-old techno-dweeb raised with a cell phone surgically affixed to his thumbs. And it made me wonder: What sorts of new technology will be hard for me to comprehend when I’m my mother’s age?

    I can only imagine the conversation with my future eight-year-old grandson as he patiently tries to explain to me how to use the everyday tech tools of his generation…


    Grandson: Hey, Grandpa. I see you’re still having problems figuring out how to use some pretty basic devices. Didn’t you have jetpacks and 3-D printable holograms when you were growing up?

    Me: Surprisingly, no, Nathan. Things were less complicated in the 1960s when I was your age. Back then, we had not yet invented iPads or cell phones. Heck, as I recall, we were all pretty stoked about the recent invention of the Etch A Sketch. Hard to imagine, but people used to read these contraptions called books. So, yes, I could use a little help with these modern day gadgets.

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    • Love this story Tim and the jargon is fabulous. Less than 40 years from now hum... and it…
      Janice Strong
  • Published On Oct. 28, 2014 by TEJ
  • Business Lesson #74: Build team loyalty with self-guided mobile spy robots

    robot bosses - TimIf there’s one thing nearly every American can agree on it’s that having aerial surveillance cameras capable of eavesdropping on our every move from outer space is a wonderful thing. Oh, sure, sometimes surveillance cameras can be used for evil, like the time they caught me doing 45 in a 35 mph zone. But video technology can also be used for good – say, to observe remotely whether employees are wasting time at work playing video games, when they should be wasting time pretending to make sales calls.

    That at least appears to be the thinking behind a new, state-of-the art mobile video robot called the Ava 500, a name most experts consider a far better selection than the original idea: the Self-Navigational Operations Observational Prototype (SNOOP for short). The Ava 500 is the world’s “first self-driving business collaboration robot,” according to the manufacturer’s cheery marketing brochure. Now, business executives can collaborate with employees without leaving their corner office, using a mobile robot with a two-way video camera that lets them roam the halls or join in on team meetings remotely. Employees will love it.

    Want to check in on your crew of illegal Mexican factory workers to see if they are keeping pace with their production quota of 1,500 sneakers per hour? No problem. With the press of a button, you can remotely walk along the assembly line floor to inspect the quality of their work, without leaving your yacht in the Caymans. Hey, looks like it’s already been ten minutes and Pedro’s still not back from his five-minute lunch break. Uh oh. Looks like Pedro’s got some ‘splaining to do.

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    • The people I used to work for didn't need robots. All of the employees were reporters, so we were…
      Drew Fisher
  • Published On Jul. 31, 2013 by TEJ
  • The latest innovation from Google: Google Translate – Family Edition

    When you think of Google, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? In my case, it’s the fact that I’m still kicking myself for not listening to my day trader buddy Rocco, who told me back in 2004 to buy 500 shares at $45.

    But the second thing that comes to mind when I think of Google is this: innovation.

    Among Google’s most impressive innovations is Google Translate, which lets you translate a phrase from one language into any of more than sixty other languages – even Latin – which comes in really handy if you’re considering becoming say, the Archbishop of Kent.

    Imagine you’re in France on a business trip and you’re hungry. Google Translate will take this English expression: I am very hungry. Let’s go to McDonalds so I can order a Happy Meal.

    And turn it into this perfect French translation: Je suis très faim. Allons au McDonalds pour que je puisse commander un Happy Meal. Je déteste ces odieux, arrogants bâtards Américains.

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    • Oh, that was my mother - and she's 90. Not bad, eh? Glad you liked everything about this week's post…
  • Published On Oct. 21, 2011 by TEJ
  • My love letter to my Internet Help Desk

    [Background: Last week, I spent 19 hours over five days dealing with the tech support call center from my Internet Service Provider (ISP) – all because I installed their software “security program” from one of their email offers, which mucked up my computer, making it completely inoperable.

    Below is the actual enthusiastic letter of appreciation I sent to my ISP. Because I don’t wish to embarrass my ISP by name, I have chosen to alter the company’s actual name to protect its identity.

    Everything written below is the 100% truth of my actual nightmare experience. Well, perhaps 90%. – tej]

    Dear KOMKAST,

    Can I just say, I AM YOUR BIGGEST FAN! Your commitment to keeping your customers satisfied has never been more on display than over the past five days. In that time I’ve gotten to know  many of your tech support team members so well, they almost feel like family to me now. I am writing to tell you how grateful I am for everything that you have done to restore my faith in large bureaucratic, monopolistic utility companies for which their customers are merely numbers on an income statement spreadsheet.

    My original  plan for last Saturday had been to go on a nice long day hike with my family. Little did I know that at precisely 9:07am that morning KOMKAST was going to radically change my agenda for the next five days. What an educational experience it was. Can I share it with you?

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    • 123, 4567 89 0123456 78901234!! 56 789012 3456 7 89012 34567 89012 3…
  • Published On Jun. 23, 2011 by TEJ
  • Watson vs. Palin in mock presidential debate – Who will win?

    [To LISTEN to an audio podcast of this week’s column, press the PLAY button arrow below.]

    [buzzsprout episode=”22195″ player=”true”]

    Last week I told you about the phenomenal Watson Super Computer from IBM. Watson appeared on the TV quiz show Jeopardy! and completely dominated the competition against his two human opponents, the two most successful champions in the quiz show’s history.

    As a result, I told you about Republican plans to vet Watson as a possible 2012 presidential candidate. And so far, so good. You can read last week’s column here.

    As I mentioned last week, thanks to incriminating photos I have of House Speaker John Boehner, this reporter has obtained exclusive access to a private debate prep session in which GOP strategists pitted Sarah Palin against Watson in a mock presidential debate. The candidates’ responses showed pronounced differences in approaches to confronting the nation’s problems. Here is an excerpt from that debate, moderated by Larry King.

    King: Do you believe global warming is a real phenomenon, and if so, do you believe man has played a part in escalating it? Watson?

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  • Published On Apr. 08, 2011 by TEJ
  • GOP eyes Watson the Computer as front-runner candidate for 2012 election

    [To LISTEN to an audio podcast of this week’s column, press the PLAY button arrow below.]

    [buzzsprout episode=”22194″ player=”true”]

    Last month, the nation was introduced to the world’s smartest computer: the IBM Watson. Watson is an example of the incredible strides made in artificial intelligence (A.I.). With four terabytes of storage capacity, including all of Wikipedia. Watson knows the answer to virtually any question, from Lady Macbeth to Lady Gaga.

    Even more impressive than Watson’s depth of useless trivia is his … er… its ability to answer questions in a natural language.  Fittingly, Watson made his television debut on Jeopardy!, challenging the two most successful contestants in the show’s history, neither of whom were computers.

    It was a grueling competition of man vs. machine, reminiscent of IBM’s Deep Blue vs. Grandmaster Garry Kasparov in chess. Watson was gracious in victory, never bragging or trying to fist bump his fans (which may have been in part due to his lack of fists). Watson easily trounced his two non-digital opponents.  In his Final Jeopardy answer, contestant Ken Jennings acknowledged the lopsided outcome, writing, “I welcome our new computer overlords.”

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  • Published On Apr. 01, 2011 by TEJ
  • View from the Bleachers’ Annual Predictions Issue – 2041 Edition

    [For a look back at my 2010 predictions for the year 2011, click here. You will be amazed at the accuracy of some of my prognostications.]

    Every January, since this humor blog launched back in 1975, I take time out to gaze into my crystal ball (that’s my wife playing around with it at left – I hate it when she does that; she almost broke it in 2007) and make my forecast for the year ahead. Often people are stunned by the incredible [lack of] accuracy of my forecasts.

    Hopefully very few of you will go rummaging around in the archives for my predictions from last year. In retrospect, I have to admit I erred in a few of my prognostications.

    Here are some of my PREDICTIONS FROM LAST YEAR that did not turn out quite as I had predicted (Note to self: Make a note to upgrade to Crystal Ball Version 3.0 before next year):

    You heard it here first: The ‘bromance’ film The Hangover will nudge out Jack Ass 3D for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, and Mike Tyson will win Best Supporting Actor, for his portrayal of, well, Mike Tyson. Avatar will be a total commercial flop at the box office and be completely shut out come Oscar time.

    Goldman Sachs, having earned record-breaking profits only two years after the financial meltdown it helped cause, will make amends to the nation and singlehandedly solve the nation’s debt crisis by offering to pay down the entire US federal debt – and still have enough left over to pay each of its executives their annual $1 million year-end bonus. (Well, I got the $1 million bonuses part right at least.)

    President Obama will surprise his critics by selecting Stephen Colbert of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report (right) to be the USA’s next ambassador to the United Nations. Colbert’s first U.N. resolution, a condemnation of North Korean ruler King Jong Il’s hairstyle (on human rights grounds), is unanimously adopted by the U.N. General Assembly.

    In a period of unprecedented political bipartisanship, the leaders of both major political parties will sign a “peace accord” to end all their partisan bickering and name calling once and for all and will come together to sign the wildly popular healthcare reform bill.

    After three years of trying to make sense of the phenomenon, the American public will finally figure out what the heck is the point of Twitter.

    Sarah Palin, having had her 15 minutes of fame, will fade into obscurity and never be heard from again.

    Okay, I admit it. 2010 was not one of my better years for prognosticating. Let’s face it, I probably won’t do any better for 2011. So this year, for a change, I thought I would gaze further into the future – 30 years out – to the year 2041. Why so far out, you ask? Because, according to my doctor, the odds are 7 to 2 that I won’t be around by then. So I really won’t care how far off the mark I was. Let’s get started.

    The World: The war in Afghanistan, now in its 40th year, will show signs of winding down, due in part to the fact that there are only 167 people still living in Afghanistan.

    Hopes for a permanent Israeli-Palestinian peace accord will rise when the Israeli Prime Minister extends an olive branch, offering to let Palestinians claim full control over Jerusalem as their undivided Capitol. Hopes will fade once more when it becomes clear he was referring to Jerusalem, Ohio.

    Politics: The United States of America, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the People’s Republic of China since 2026, will elect its first non-human as president, when the Sony QRIO-400, Sony USA’s fourth generation robot with artificial intelligence exceeding that of any human being, will win the election. Sony QRIO-400 will narrowly defeat the 55-year-old former rock legend, Senator Gaga, from the state of Key West (the 53rd state), in the closest presidential election since New York Governor Alex Rodriguez narrowly edged out New Jersey Congresswoman Snooki in the 2028 election.

    Mark Zuckerberg, Prime Minister of the breakaway Republic of Facebookistan, will announce a truce in his longstanding cyber war with the nation of Googleonia over the two nations’ longtime territorial dispute over the region formerly known as northern California.

    The Economy: Thanks to new discoveries of massive oil and natural gas deposits in the Arizona region known as Texaco Cliffs (formerly known as Grand Canyon National Park), it will be another record-breaking year for oil companies. Those consumers who still drive gasoline-powered antique automobiles will benefit too, as the price of gasoline plummets to under $220 a gallon.

    The employment situation will improve for the third year in a row, for robots and droids. For humans, unemployment remains flat at around 87%, thanks in part due to the fact that the only jobs currently available to humans are coffee drive-through barista, circus lion tamer and NFL cheer leader. No, wait. My bad. Just lion tamer and cheer leader. Sorry, people. The robots will have taken all the barista jobs too.

    Science & Technology: 2041 will see the final demise of the Internet after decades of being plagued by viruses and slow performance. The last known Internet user – an 87-year old Inuit fisherman from Baffin Island, Canada – will pull the plug and throw his computer modem out onto the Arctic pack ice. (Correction: The Arctic pack ice will actually have disappeared permanently several years earlier, in 2026.)

    The successor to the Internet, the Skin-Implanted Connectivity Chip (or SICC) will have been successfully implanted in more than 72% of humans, giving them instant 24/7 3D virtual connectivity anywhere in the world – except for a six- block section of downtown Manhattan, where reception is still rather spotty.


    Transportation: New improvements in aviatic autoliners (otherwise known as flying cars) will take another step forward, now that the auto port re-fueling stations are finally open for business on the Moon (three years behind schedule). In a related story, Starbucks will announce plans to build 7,500 coffee bistros on the Moon by the year 2045.

    Speaking of cars, China, the leader in auto manufacturing, will announce that the next generation of H2O-powered vehicles will get better fuel economy than previous water-fueled models. Leading the way, the new Hummer Hydrate, at an impressive 450 miles per gallon, which is easily re-fueled by means of Hummer’s patented custom-fitted garden hose (hose sold separately for $11,999). In a related story, BP will announce plans to purchase glacier-covered Greenland from Denmark, ensuring enough fuel to keep American motorists driving for at least 5 more years.

    Travel & Leisure: Thanks to the long-awaited mass commercialization of time travel in 2037, time travel virtual vacations to exotic destinations will have become routine by now. Complications will emerge when 32,000 South Florida retirees travel back to the year 2000, change their butterfly ballot vote to Gore. Nice try, but Bush still wins the election the second time around.

    Celebrity News: Lindsay Lohan will celebrate her 55th birthday this year by completing her latest rehab stint, proclaiming she has finally overcome her addiction to Diet Snapple Ice Tea. In her press conference leaving the Whitney Houston Clinic, Lohan hints that her next addiction will involve some type of breakfast cereal. My crystal ball’s hazy but it looks like it could be Captain Crunch.

    The nation will mourn the shocking death of former President Mark Wahlberg in a fishing accident off the Pacific coast of Utah. President Wahlberg will probably best be remembered for his annual State of the Union addresses, in which he always delivered his speech without wearing a shirt.

    Health & Fitness: After a 15-year longitudinal study, scientists will conclude that a rigorous program of daily weight training, yoga,  and aerobic activity poses serious health hazards to middle-aged people over the age of 110.

    The Surgeon General will reveal what has long been suspected: A diet of low-fat, high fiber foods, low in sodium and sugar, poses dangerous health risks and recommends a diet rich in red meat, processed starch, and ice cream products. In a related story, the tobacco industry will cheer the results of new research from the American Medical & Tobacco Association that proves once and for all that a daily regimen of nicotine and carcinogens can add several years to your life.

    Well, those are my predictions for 2041. Be sure to put a note in your 2041 virtual calendar to check back to this blog and see how well I did. In the remote chance in 2041, my body has become a hologram or has been stashed away in some deep freeze storage pod while scientists work on a way to bring people back to life, no worries. Just rent yourself a time machine, go back in time to January 2011, track me down, and let me know how I did. Many thanks.

    That’s the view of the future – as seen from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

    © Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2010 – 2011

    • "Be sure to put a note in your 2041 virtual calendar to check back to this blog and see how…
      Jan Galligan
  • Published On Jan. 21, 2011 by TEJ
  • New Inventions

    A guest post by Chris Scott from

    My friends may not know this about me but aside from being a humor blogger, I am also an inventor in my spare time. Today I would like to expose the designs for my two latest inventions and give the internet a peek into the future of technology.

    Invention #1: The no-go-telephono

    U.S. Patent No. 39992042

    People are always losing their phones. My previous phones have ended up in the oddest of places: the laundry wash, at the bottom of a dumpster, in a booth at some random off-highway diner. It seems phones are always going somewhere or on the go. I figure: why not invent a device that made it impossible for the phone to up and leave? A no-go-telephono.

    The no-go-telephone would consist of two parts: a receiver and a mouthpiece. The mouthpiece would only be semi-portable and would connect directly to the receiver via a string, wire or chord of some sort. The purpose of the chord is to prevent the mouthpiece and receiver from separating.

    Wait! I know what you’re thinking. So what if the chord keeps the mouthpiece attached to the receiver, what is to prevent the receiver from getting lost? The phone can still go.

    Herein lies the true genius of my design.

    The receiver connects directly into the wall and connects to lines outside which rest on the power lines.  Got electricity in your house? You will be able to use the no-go-telephono.

    I’m sure you’ve heard of cable television before. You might even have heard of cable internet before. Well, just think of what cable phone might be like. Ingenious!

    Invention #2: The paper email

    U.S. Patent No. 29102901

    Emails are sometimes more trouble than they are worth. You might spend hours pecking away at the keyboard, working on an email, only to have all of your work evaporate when the computer abruptly shuts down without even a second’s notice.

    Sometimes emails that are not spam get marked as spam and never make it to their respective inbox destinations. Inversely, unwanted spam gets treated like real emails and populates inboxes. Then there is the prospect of being infected by one of those awful computer viruses we hear so much about. The whole system is a convoluted mess if you ask me. That is why I would like to suggest a new system: paper emails.

    You know that white stuff that they make receipts and toilet paper with? People would write on that and send it in envelopes, as a means of communication. I’m pretty sure they sell blank sheets of that material at places like Office Max and Staples.

    But how, you ask, will the paper emails get to their destinations if not through the magical workings of the information superhighway?

    My first inclination was ponies. Men riding ponies will carry the envelopes (containing the writing on paper) to their respective destinations. Ponies are cheap because they use no gasoline.

    Then, after thinking about it for awhile, I deemed the pony approach would be impractical. Though ponies are indeed cheap, communication is so vital and important that money should not be an object. That is why I believe the government should be in charge of delivering the paper emails.

    The government would employ workers to drive around in large white trucks and would deliver the paper emails directly to your inbox. The paper email inbox is a physical box located somewhere on your front lawn.

    Just imagine. It’s Saturday morning. You are pacing to the front of your yard where your inbox sits. You’ve got your favorite bathrobe on, coffee is in hand, and the sun is shining. You reach into your inbox and take out the paper emails. Wa-lah! No spam! No viruses! It’s bliss. Pure bliss.

  • Published On Oct. 22, 2010 by TEJ
  • Jesus vs. the “Jesus Tablet” – a side by side comparison of our Savior vs. the Apple iPad

    jesus vs ipadLast week, Apple began shipping the much hyped iPad, the sexy-looking, wafer-thin tabloid computer that Steve Jobs himself has called “the most important thing” he has ever done. While some detractors scoff that it’s nothing more than a larger version of the popular iPod Touch handheld device, the overwhelming sentiment of most people who have seen it is along the lines of “If I promise you my first born, will you let me leap to the front of the line?” Before the device was even on store shelves, Apple had already received a quarter million pre-orders. Some analysts forecast they could sell 5 million units in the first year, making it the most successful new product launch in history.

    The evangelical fervor is bordering on hysteria. Some techno geeks who have never had a date in their lives are already calling it the greatest invention since Gutenberg printed the first Bible some 600 years ago. Others are simply calling it the Jesus Tablet, because of the almost mystic, spiritual aura surrounding this seeming “holy grail” of computer gadgetry. If that’s not enough of a Biblical connection, why is it that the Bible even has an entire book named after Apple’s founder, the Book of Jobs? At the risk of comparing apples to oracles, this leads me to ask the obvious theological-technological question: Which is better, Jesus or the new “Jesus Tablet”, the iPad?

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    • Nice comparison Tim and I giggled few times. Must he the mood I'm in today. Keep up the unending…
      Janice Strong
  • Published On Apr. 10, 2010 by TEJ