The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio on September 22, 1991 · Page 349
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September 22, 1991

A Publisher Extra Newspaper

The Cincinnati Enquirer from Cincinnati, Ohio · Page 349

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Cincinnati, Ohio
Issue Date:
Sunday, September 22, 1991
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Page 349
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humor A manual for gizmo goons 'FIRST, YOU HAVE TO CONNECT yourLXI Line output to the Aux input jack of your component system." My friend John was trying to explain the proper way to hook up my new DAT CD player. I, of course, had no idea what he was talking about but was nodding my head and rubbing my chin vigorously to convey total comprehension. I had the vague notion that the CD player was designed to If what goes in your input goes right out your output, writer Jim Kokoris has help for what fails you preinfiioeire play music, yet John was making me believe that it, if programmed properly, was capable of even more. 'You know what else this CD player can do?" he asked. I thought a moment. "Defrost food?" "It can randomly access its memory." I started nodding my head and rubbing my chin again. "I knew that." I didn't know that I don't know anything about our CD player. I know even less about our VCR, camcorder, microwave, digital thermostat and answering machine. It's gotten to the point where I'm no longer merely confused by these gizmos. Fm afraid of them. (I'm convinced, for example, that there are buttons on our thermostat that only Colin Powell should have access to.) The problem: Technology no longer caters to the masses. (The masses being defined here as "anyone who isn't a member of Mensa.") Rather than make our lives easier, technology has frustrated and alienated us, bombarding us with complex and unnecessary options, buttons and programs that make us all wish we were born 70 years ago, when the hardest thing to operate was the Victrola. I'm not the only one with this problem. Millions of Americans are "techno-illiterates," a Donahue-esque term for "not smart." To help determine whether you're a techno-illiterate, take the following quiz: Your idea off advanced technology is: a) camcorder with flying "eraser" head b) pen flashlight c) "The Clapper" When communicating, you prefer: a) conference calls on cellular phone b) face-to-face meetings c) writing letters with a quill pen If you answered "C" to either one of these questions, your science projects were probably worst in your class. More important, you're in trouble. As I see it, techno-illiterates have two options: Revert to a pre-1800s agrarian society and shun all things electronic or modern (in other words, move to China), or take some type of action, such as: Marry someone smarter than you. It took me three days to figure out how to get our VCR out of the box. It took my wife just an hour to hook it up properly. When looking for a spouse, think brains. Hot spots for singles: the library, Radio Shack, NASA. Simplify. Avoid buying anything with an instruction manual referring to Einstein's Theory of Relativity. Re-evaluate the need for a laptop microwave. Rule of thumb: If you start recognizing your kitchen appliances on Star Trek: The Next Generation, things are out of hand. Ask questions. Don't be intimidated by the eggheaded salesperson who just sold you some high-tech gadget. Egg-headed salespeople are a great source of information; ask as many technical questions as possible, like: What's this thing do? If it breaks, can I call you at home? Rather than me calling you, wouldn't it be easier if you just moved in with us? Stay calm. Contrary to what you might hope and think, technology cannot feel pain. Thus, smashing your VCR against the wall, running over your answering machine with your car, or hanging your camcorder from the ceiling and telling your kids to play "pinata" with it have little point Rather than torture your new PC, stay upbeat Technology can be mastered. Before you know it, you'll be able to program your VCR up to six months in advance. Once that happens, though, do me a favor: Call me. A strange light has been blinking on our answering machine, and I'm clueless. Jim Kokoris is a humor writer based in Chicago. 16 USA WEEKEND Sepumbtr 20-22, 1991 SEASON PREMIERE LIFEGOESON bunday 76 Central '.! ' When life starts to fall apart, theThachers learn a lesson in friendship. And forgiveness

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