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I suppose it's because I have so much time on my hands these days, that all these memories come flooding back to me.

The Digital Age

I have just finished transferring my latest group of photographs onto the memory card that slots into one of those seven-inch digital photo viewers that my wife was given as a Christmas present from her eldest son. Then after I finished doing that I started loading them onto the 500 GB external hard drive that was given to me on my birthday last year. They are great for freeing up space on your laptop or desktop computers, yet I remember when I got it out of the box thinking that I would not manage to set it up; but it turned out to be so simple, just plug in and go: sounds like a commercial for shampoo, I know, but it really was that easy. The drag and drop method makes everything like that ever so simple. Maybe it is due to the fact that I am at last getting to grips with this digital world, or that it is all becoming much easier to work with now. I remember when I first got a digital radio in a car: I spent ages sitting in the driver's seat, with the hand book in one hand and the other hand pressing every button, trying to store the radio stations into it.

Whatever happened to the push-button car radios! Mind you, even they were a jump in technology from the old dial ones, when you had to try to tune it in by hand while driving at the same time. From that to our present car where you can change stations and adjust the volume by switches on the steering wheel... Now it all seems so easy, you can even see which station your car radio is tuned into, as it appears on the digital read-out display on the front of the radio. We bought a digital radio for our house, as we could not receive a good signal on the FM frequency where we live, and we really like to listen to Radio 2, our favourite station. So when I took it out of the box and set it up, I was amazed to find that not only did it give you the date and time along with the radio station name, it also gave you the kind of music or programs played by the station you are tuned into, and as if that was not enough, it even gives you the artist's name along with the name of the song being played! Now that's what I call a radio. So maybe this digital world makes things a lot easier, once you have grasped the basics, that is.

I mentioned my new digital camera in an earlier Snippet, and how amazed I was that you can transfer your photos onto your computer so easily by just dragging and dropping. Another advantage is that with some cameras, you can resize and crop the pictures on the camera before you transfer them over, or do it all on the computer at a later stage. I was in a store recently where I saw someone buying one of those digital camera docking stations, and I was surprised just how easy they are to operate, as it looked so complicated with all those buttons on the front. Well actually, I was eaves-dropping while the customer was being shown how the unit operated, but hey! We all have to learn, and that seemed an easy way for me to find out more. Mind you, when I got my first computer I spent ages in the help section soaking up as much information as I could handle, as well as visiting online computer help forums, where I learned a lot from reading other people's posts and the answers they were given. It all seems so long ago now, but in reality it's just been a few years, as I was 52 years old when I got my first computer.

It was when I was inserting the memory card back into the viewer that another thought suddenly came to me: the sat-nav that we bought last year also has a memory card, in fact that is where all the maps and information are held. I bought ours when we saw them being sold at really low discount prices, and never wanting to miss such a good deal, we bought one. In fact I have just got our one back recently, after we had to send it back to the makers, as it just went blank one day when I was trying to set it up. Now these units are top technology, I mean when you see the standard size memory card, it's mind boggling just how they manage to get all that information and maps onto such a small item!

It turned out that the reason it went blank was that I had left it in sleep mode, instead of switching it off, like you are supposed to do if it's not being used for a while. Now this sat-nav turned out to be a real challenge for me when we first got it, and I spent hours scrolling through pages upon pages that can be found on the CD that comes with it. There are just so many functions that it is capable of doing, in fact it's more like a small hand held computer, and that takes me right back to where I started in this Snippet. The point being that nearly everything electrical these days is digital, from wall clocks to coffee machines, and, to be honest, once we have grasped the basics, they can be quite easy to use. For example, when our clocks went forward an hour a few weeks ago, I went out to the car and reset the dashboard clock in seconds, whereas before it took me ages, and there I was with the book in one hand, well you know the rest. It was just a case of pressing the same button, but waiting for the next 'unit' to flash, or leaving it pressed in for a set amount of time.

There is only one small drawback that I have noticed. For example, if you are looking at a car for sale and you want to know the mileage it has done: You will notice that in the showroom they put a card on a stand next to the car being sold, which has all the information about the car, like mileage for example. But you now have to get into the car and switch on the ignition to be able to read the mileage, whereas in the old mechanical speedometers you could read the mileage by looking though the glass on the driver's door. OK, I know it's only one minor complication, but being human, we all have to find something to complain about with modern technology!

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