October 16, 2013

One Tablet A Day

I'm trying to re-learn how to computer.

That sentence makes no sense, but it accurately reflects my feelings regarding the infernal Samsung tablet computer that has taken up residence in our household.

I realize technology marches on, whether I want it to or not, but the little-uttered secret the technology peddlers aren't telling us is that all the handheld devices, "smart" phones and, yes, tablets, are just stripped down, less powerful versions of the desktop computers I've grown to know, love and depend on.

Seriously, desktop computers were really hitting their stride around 2007--they were packed with hard drive capacity, RAM and every single, necessary application (app) anyone could possibly expect to require or use.

And then someone came along--I'll call him Steve Jobs--and started carving up desktop computers into iPhones and iPads. Jobs is dead now, but his legacy is starkly apparent every time you see someone jab a finger at a screen or say something stupid like "To the Cloud!."

I stubbornly resisted the evolution to tablet computing because I know my way around the PC environment extremely well. Plus, my computer mouse has that comforting and familiar film of hand grime that's been accumulating for several years.

Still, a couple months ago, my wife was enticed by a tablet demonstration at Best Buy, and before I knew what happened we were out a few hundred bucks and we had a Samsung tablet in our house.

And then I was told to set up the tablet to feed off our home's WiFi, and I've been simultaneously hating and loving that tablet ever since.

I hate it because it's NOT QUITE like a PC. It's close, but the Android operating system throws enough Linux curve balls my way that it's like fumbling my way through a dark room searching for a light switch.

I also hate it because the touch screen is. . . well. . . it's TOUCHY. With a keyboard and mouse, it's a pretty safe bet that I won't pull up a stray, unknown application. With a touchscreen, I can't compose an e-mail without accidentally pulling up five games, the weather forecast, and 18 pictures my four-year-old son inadvertently snapped of his feet.

However, I love it because it's also the ultimate toddler silencing device ever constructed. My son and daughter can be yammering at each other like howler monkeys, but as soon as I toss the tablet between them, it's like a cone of calm descends over the house. They do occasionally fight over it, but for the most part it acts like a snootful of chloroform.

We have to be very careful to never, ever, enter credit card information into the tablet, or let the tablet come into contact with a credit card, or to let a credit card flirt with the tablet from across the room, because if we do, our four-year-old son will have us $18,000 in debt within two hours after he downloads 14 million apps. Seriously, he's gotten a hold of Grandma's smartphone and racked up around $20 in downloads, so he's entirely capable of accidentally ruining us.

Even with the credit card limitation, it's astonishing how many "free" apps my son is able to download in a single day. Every evening, I find myself deleting at least two dozen of them. The apps he downloads are almost all games of some sort, and he figures out how to play them all within minutes. It takes me longer to delete them then it takes him to learn them.

Ultimately, I think I hate the tablet mostly because my son is figuring it out faster than I can.

Posted by Ryan at October 16, 2013 03:06 PM | TrackBack
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