My journey from
regular person to wired geek began when I was stranded at the Schipool Airport
In 2010, a volcano in Iceland with the impossible name,
Eyjafjallajökull, disrupted air travel in Europe in
an ever-widening arc from April 15 intermittently until May 17th.
In a traveler’s Catch 22, approximately 3,000 souls were
stranded in Schipool unable to leave the secure area without a boarding pass to
return. No boarding passes available, as flight after flight was canceled.
The number of disgruntled tourists quickly overwhelmed KLM
customer service and soon blonde pony-tailed airline representatives were
advising the stranded to go online and rebook themselves.
I didn’t have a computer with me. I sit in front of one so
much at home, there was no way I’d lug one around on vacation. I’d left the
laptop at home on purpose. Silly me.
Airport officials opened the internet café to free service.
Every teenager among the 3,000 immediately sat down to update their Facebook
page. When I finally got a turn, at least I was familiar with the internet. Not
everyone was. I helped a woman in tears navigate a bus booking site. She had
never interfaced with anything or anyone online. Welcome to the New World, Mrs.
Unfortunately being net savvy didn’t help with European websites refusing to
accept US credit cards. When my new friend left to board the bus, all I could
do was wave, bye.
We finally abandoned the airport and flung ourselves into
Amsterdam which, it turns out, is not such a bad place to find oneself
Once I got home from my extended European vacation, I looked
for a handheld something or other capable of accessing the Net without weighing
me down like a laptop. Did such a thing exist? That’s how naïve and unwired I
I didn’t want a whiz-bang phone. I don’t get that many
calls. Neither do I make them. I like to be out of contact sometimes. Really,
why is everyone on the phone all the time now?
I found an Apple product called the iTouch which looks like
an iPhone without the phone part. It’s just a little handheld computer. Takes
pictures. Stores pictures. Goes online. Keeps a calendar and address book. Fits
in a pocket. I love that thing. I’ve been through three now. Last upgrade was
for the better camera and slimmer build.
But it’s a slippery slope. The iTouch led to – what else –
an iPad – which, I actually didn’t want and had no use for until I did and did.
It was fun. It was cool. Displayed my photography portfolio like I was in a
sci-fi movie. Carried that thing on vacation to back up vacation pictures. It
didn’t fit anywhere and seemed always at risk, but it was lighter than a
Which led to the iPad mini. Oh baby, this little bitch is
sweet. (Okay, I may have been watching too much Breaking Bad.)
The mini is a perfect size. Does the same stuff as the
bigger version and you can pretend you’re on Star Trek.
The problem with the mini, as with the regular size iPad, is
that it is almost a computer which
causes it to almost drive me around the bend pretty regularly. Apple
engineers don’t seem to have as much imagination as their customers. There are
plenty of annoyed iPad users ranting about what
if and why not online.
And I can access every rant, even if I’m at Schipool,
Amesbury, Dublin or home.