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I do not read the New York Times online much anymore, as I have said elsewhere.  I do, however, read David Pogue.  I hate his smarminess, but I love his advice, and he’s right about technology most of the times, and he has taught me a lot.

 

One of his recent articles (which you may or may not be able to read, depending on your subscription status) talks about kids and their familiarity with technology.  In short, David says to stop telling stories about how your eight-year-old helped you fix your iPad, or reset your LCD projector for you.  Your children were born into a technology-rich world; of course they know how to do these things.  (I think back to when I was a kid, growing up with TV.  I was completely comfortable with it, but my parents treated it as if it were breakable.  I wasn’t allowed to touch the channel knob (yes, channel knob, no remote controls in those days) until I was maybe ten or eleven.)

 

 

So: at the age of fifty-four years, I am a knackered old horse in a field full of Kentucky Derby winners.  The young people are laughing at me and running circles around me, as I complain and try to figure out how to format something in Microsoft Word or Excel.

 

 

But, kids, can I make a couple of suggestions?

 

 

        One: logout buttons.  I pay a lot of my online bills at the end of the month, in one long session; I log out of one site and into another.  The login is easy; how many ways, after all, are there to format a “username” / “password” page?  But the logout – sheesh!  Sometimes it’s a tiny six-point “logout” at the top of the page; other times it’s a big red button at the very bottom of the page, down below where I haven’t scrolled.  Suggestion: make it a nice visible red button at the (let’s say) top right of the screen, with the words LOG OFF written on it.  Make this an industry / Internet standard.  This would be very nice.

 

        Two: checkout pages.  They’re all different. Some want my life story; others want my name and credit card, and that’s it.  Let’s standardize them. What’s the harm?  I would think that this kind of standardization would appeal to the banks and credit-card companies, and everyone else besides.  It would be kind of like shopping in a real flesh-and-blood store: the checkout process in Home Goods resembles the checkout process in TJ Maxx, and Walmart, and Stop & Shop, and CVS.  Is there any reason it shouldn’t?

 

 

        Three: passwords.  I know my own system.  I use a simple password for things I don’t care about, like logging onto a news website; I use a more complex password for anything financial.  As a result, I get all mixed up.  I try systems and mnemonics and all kinds of things.  I end up writing my passwords down, which we are told is exactly the wrong thing to do.  Can someone please figure out a better way to do this?  Thumbprints?  Scanning my driver’s license?  Retinal imaging?

 

 

 

These are my brilliant ideas.

 

 

 

Now I, the old knackered horse, will go lie down in the field and die.


 

 

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About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to futureworld@cox.net.

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