My journey from regular person to wired geek began when I was stranded at the Schipool Airport in Amsterdam.
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 stranded.
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 was.
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 laptop.
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.