Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Good Old Days

I got a GPS navigator for an early Christmas present. And I love it!! Even though I didn't think I needed one...

I am a home health therapist so I'm in the car pretty much all day long. But even though my schedule changes almost daily - it's a very common occurrence that when I'm on my way to a patient's home, I am coming from a different direction than I have before - I've never really had any trouble finding my way around.

That statement may shock people who know me because there is no doubt that I am directionally challenged. I can easily get turned around inside a home or store and forget how I came in. I can also get lost in a parking lot and have trouble figuring out how to get back on the road I came in on.

But on the road it's different. I know where I am and where I'm going, and since I'm very familiar with my area I don't have much trouble figuring out how to get from here to there. Of course I use a map to look up the address prior to the first time I go to a patient's home, but other than that I have always done fine on my own.

But having a GPS makes things SO much easier!! It takes me from one patient's home to another sometimes via routes that I wouldn't have thought of, and so far it's always worked out really well and seems very efficient. And I've set it so that it will automatically re-route me around severe traffic congestion, which is a BIG help since I'm seeing a lot of patients in Dallas lately.

It's a Navigon 2100 Max, and I really like it. I had never heard of Navigon before - I'd only heard of the Big Three brands - but it's not a no-name generic and seems to have a lot of features for the price. Text to Speech (and the speaker pronounces street names quite accurately), live traffic updates (which really was the main reason I got it in the first place), free map upgrades 4 times a year etc.

It's definitely got a "new toy" vibe and I enjoy playing with it, but it actually is making my life a bit easier. Since it's the only GPS system I've ever used, I have no idea if it's really one of the better ones on the market or not - what matters is that it's so much better than what I'm used to.

Which got me to thinking - this is like the Word Processor revolution. Remember your first word processor? If you are too young to remember a world without word processors or computers, just hush. Your first word processor could have been an absolute POS - and certainly it was much inferior to the programs we've got now - but you were absolutely thrilled with it. Because no matter how clunky or slow it was, it was a freaking miracle compared to a typewriter.

Remember making corrections on a typewriter? It's not just that there was no Spell Check (other than your faithful dictionary) - if you made a typo you had to manually fix it somehow. There were several options, all of them awful. Many typewriters had a correction ribbon that was just like a regular typewriter ribbon except it held white ink. You would type over your mistake which didn't really erase it and then when you typed the correct letter it would look a little different. Or you could paint on some Liquid Paper, blow on it until it dried and hope you hadn't daubed it on too thickly - in which case it would crack and flake off your page. They even made special erasers that were supposed to actually erase typing errors - they didn't work so great either and usually ended up smudging the paper and/or rubbing a hole in it.

And don't even talk about revisions... back when I was in high school if you were writing an essay or a report you'd write it out longhand first. If you wanted to change around words, sentences or paragraphs you'd draw a circle around them and then draw an arrow to the place you wanted to put them. If you made a lot of changes it would quickly become very difficult to read the paper at all and keep all the changes straight so you'd re-write the whole thing to see how it looked. Most of our papers could be turned in handwritten, but there were always a few "formal" papers that had to be typed. Oh, the Horror!!

Now, if you could afford it you'd hire someone to type it for you. Some people put themselves through college or made a nice second income on the money they made typing papers for students.

But if you had to type it yourself and you weren't a really accomplished typist, it was a nerve wracking experience because you were trying so hard to make as few typos as possible. And Heaven help you if, after it was all typed, you realized that you needed another revision. Or had made some major mistake. Because then you'd have to type the whole damn thing all over again.

My first word processor was just that - it wasn't a computer. I could store documents on floppy discs but it was really just a glorified typewriter. There was no mouse, you just used keyboard shortcuts to highlight, cut and paste. There were about 5 or 6 different fonts to choose from, a few different text sizes and you could italicize, bold and underline. The screen was maybe 5 or 6 inches high and 10 or 12 inches wide, and showed about a half page at a time.

And how I loved that little machine!! The unbridled joy of being able to just press a button and erase a mistake!! The thrill of moving words and sentences around without having to re-type the entire thing!! Maybe you had to be there, but believe me when I say that it was so awesome.

So although I'm sure that someday I'll look back on my Navigon and think "how quaint" - for now it ROCKS!


Kate said...

Sounds cool! Having a GPS on my phone has saved me from being hopelessly lost in inner city Fort Worth/New York COUNTLESS times...

And THANK YOU X10000 for the gift carrrddss! It will help immensely with all the groceries I'll have to get this January (when the caf is closed for a whole month). thank you so much-- I loved seeing you guys!

Wow.. this is a long comment. Heh heh

Barb said...

You're most welcome! It seems kind of lame next to the wonderful memory book and DVD you and your mom got us - not to mention the Little Britain series!!! How did I miss that!?! It even makes Ronnie laugh and he doesn't normally like Brit comedies that much - but I do vividly remember that as a college student all I usually wanted was MONEY! :-)