Leave it to elusive insects to jolt me from my blog lapse and expose my technology lag.
“I got my first Pokemon!” a friend’s boast popped on Facebook as I watched a news report about the personal safety of playing the wildly popular game. Two guys, who miraculously survived, fell off a seaside cliff in California in search of Pokemon.
How come I don’t know about Pokemon Go, I pondered several times this week as the phenomenon became impossible to ignore. Seems everyone is talking (and writing) about the game and law enforcement is cautioning people not to walk into traffic or rivers while hunting the creatures. Until my internet search today, my knowledge of Pokemon was limited to packs of trading cards I bought my grandson at Walmart. Had something to do with a video game he liked.
I was shocked to learn that the mobile game released worldwide only nine days ago already has been downloaded 7.5 million times. Available for Android and iPhone, the challenge is to catch all 151 Pokemon by launching red and white Poke Balls at them. Vibrating smartphones alert players when they come near these adorable-to-freaky characters. At least this electronic game is getting folks off their sofas. But how Pokemon get everywhere baffles me. Virtual is the key word, I get that. Yet trying to comprehend location-based augmented reality—which puts Pokemon in a town square, shopping center or wherever you are in the real world—makes my head hurt.
Although the franchise has more than 700 Pokemon, the 151 that can be caught through the mobile app range from Abra
and include the familiar Pikachu, a cute rodent with yellow fur. Even I remember this guy.
Alexa, slow down.
Just this week a group of seniors was discussing how fast technology is changing and speculating when we no longer will be able to, or care to, keep up. While the web, Facebook, text and email are my lifelines, I have no desire to catch Pokemon. Recently a friend showed me how to use some features on my own television, which I already forgot. Yep, pathetic. Maybe I’m there.
Further proof of how clueless I am was my astonishment last week when a friend commanded, “Alexa, play a Rod Stewart song,” and “You’re in My Heart” blared from what looked like a saltbox painted black on her kitchen counter. “Lower the volume,” she asked, and the saltbox did.
Except for my boyfriend, who got one yesterday, I was the only person there unfamiliar with the Amazon Echo, a hands-free speaker that responds to voice requests to play music, make to-do lists, set alarms, stream podcasts, play audiobooks and provide weather, traffic and other real time information. It even tells jokes on demand.
“Does Alexa know your mother’s maiden name and where we are right now?” I asked him last night, somewhat spooked by its abilities.
A little more than a year since it has been widely available, more than three million Echos are estimated to have been sold in the U.S. Perhaps I do live under a rock.
The Long Now Foundation, established in 1996 to foster long-term thinking, proclaimed 16 years ago, in a story first published in Time, that perhaps civilization needed a not-so-fast button. That was like the Stone Age, considering how technology has advanced since the millennium. “In the aging population of the developed world, many people are already tired of trying to keep up with the latest cool new tech,” it stated. The article also pointed out that technology such as automobiles, televisions and jet planes settled into a manageable rate of change, whereas computers are self-accelerating, constantly developing the next generation.
The foundation doesn’t speak for all seniors, though. Judging just from my family and friends, most are proficient in enough technology to stay reasonably informed and engaged. Others couldn’t be without their Fitbits and iPads and could rival any teenager with their tech savvy. And some—one, for sure—have never owned a cell phone or used email. Bet he would dig the heck out of Alexa.