So, I was in the pub happily cradling my drink unaware that the conversation was about to take a turn for the worse. Standing in a group of some I knew better than others, one of the fellows- lets call him ‘Brad’- for whatever reason leans across and asks of me quite innocently:
‘So how old are you?’
With a wry smile I replied..
‘Forty’ then immediately added ‘just’.
You see what happened there? Coated in shame the word just slipped out. It is true I passed that milestone only recently (Christ I’m doing it again!) but it’s only later that I reflected on the fact that I had actually been saying that for some time. Like adding ‘just’ took ten years off my age and that ‘Brad’, would reply ‘Oh just forty, that’s alright then, I don’t need to shout for you to hear just yet granddad.’
But then it occurred to me that when it comes to age we are never proud of it. The only thing that changes is our position on the matter and that at some point between, I would say twenty-five and thirty, a transition happens and you stop saying ‘I’m nearly…’ and start saying ‘I’ve just turned…’
Nothing highlights age like technology. Some people manage to keep up with its swift progression. I however am not one of them. A perfect illustration of this is in mobile phone shops. On one occasion, when asked by an assistant why I had picked up a particular model of handset, my reply ‘Because it’s shiny’ had the shop staff circling me in the manner of tiger sharks going around the last survivor of the USS Indianapolis. They couldn’t believe their luck. I’m amazed I didn’t walk out of there clutching a brick. In any case, seizing the opportunity to sell me any old rubbish, the staff did quite the opposite and had me walking out with a mobile phone that required a degree in molecular physics to understand the instruction book.
So why didn’t I confess to not understanding how to use the phone and demand a simpler one? Well I’m a man and I’m just not programmed to admit that I don’t know what the hell I’m doing. Hence a Mobile phone salesman will usually start his pitch to me like this-
‘So this phone has a five point two mega pixel resolution and two gig of memory backed up with a super wombat driven hard drive with extra olive oil ram. All clear so far?’
‘To download pictures, simply connect to your PC, press options, settings, create folder, open up ‘my pictures’, and drag into your drop box. Give it a file name like ‘I’m an IT moron’, and press save then right click your mouse, select delete all. Make sure you convert all you’re pictures to a low resolution JPEG or high resolution clothes peg first- obviously.’
‘Obviously.’ (What’s a drop box?)
‘This phone is compatible with Mac book, Mac pro, Mac air, MacDougal and MacDonald’s. If you’ve got Windows five, you’ll need to upgrade to Windows six unless you have the 2008 version in which case you’ll need to burn your computer and start all over again with something that matches your level of technological ignorance- like an abacus.’
‘Are you familiar with the cloud?’
‘Of course.’ (What’s the weather got to do with it?)
My wife, bless her is quite the opposite and plays a computer keyboard like Liberace played the piano. We all too frequently have conversations that go like this-
Me- ‘The computers broken.’
Wife- ‘No it’s not.’
Me- ‘It’s just wiped out everything I’ve just been typing.’
Wife- ‘No it hasn’t.’
Me- ‘This is ridiculous. This is outrageous. I’m going to write and complain. Just as soon as I can get the computer to work. This is people’s lives they’re messing with. Don’t they unders-’
Wife- ‘Are you on the internet?’
Wife- ‘Close it down.’
Me- ‘What the hell will that do? I- Oh. It’s come back up. It was hiding behind the Internet.’
Wife- ‘Yes it was.’
Me- ‘I’m an idiot.’
Wife- ‘Yes you are.’
Of course everything is done on the Internet now and as a result the biggest bain of my life is passwords and their close cousin, usernames. I have, at last estimate, approximately twenty different passwords. I’m convinced that my computer has a worse memory than me because in spite of the fact that I whenever I log into a website, I tick that little box that says ‘remember me’, without fail by the time I return it will have forgotten me.
Often it will give me a chance to have my password sent to my e-mail address. Terrific, but instead of reminding me it asks me to change it. But if I change it to something obvious and that I might remember, like my hometown, it scolds me for being an unimaginative nitwit and risking having my identity stolen (a welcome possibility during these moments). So I change it to something less obvious and equally less memorable and because we are advised not to write anything down something that I will promptly forget.
So I try again. This time I forget my username. The website decides to ask me some highly confidential questions to verify who I am:
What is your hometown?
So eventually after completing the worlds shittest pub quiz on my personal life it agrees to send my username to my e-mail address.
I try again and… success!
Now I have access to the site I decide I want to purchase something. I enter my bank account details. The website has a think about it and decides I’m still not to be trusted and so my bank asks me to enter my authorising bank code.
I smash my head off the wall and decide to ring the bank for my bank code. They ask for one of my direct debits as proof of who I am. My direct debits are set up so I don’t have to remember who to pay and how much every month. I confess I’m not sure. They advise me to use my online banking to find out what they are.
After I’ve finished crying I get in the car and drive to the shops to purchase what I want.
Apparently there is an app that allows you to store all your passwords but almost certainly it would require a password and equally as certain I would forget it. I often wonder just how much longer I’ll be haunted by this security nightmare. Knowing my luck when my time on earth is at an end I’ll arrive at the pearly gates only to be met by St Peter who’ll request I enter my password and username into a consol before being admitted.
And on that sombre note, I’ll sign off. I apologise this blog was a bit late and I hope to have next weeks done on time. Unless of course I forget my computers password. In which case I’ll be too busy trying to remember my home town, my first car, my mothers maiden name or any other indiscriminate facts I and pretty much any of my friends would know..