Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Game of "Which is Which?"

20" computer monitor

20" flat screen tv

I've gotten quite a bit of humor mileage out of my "techno-challenged" status.  And although I'm not as dumb as I make myself out to be, (but almost), I think I've discovered part of the problem.

You see, many electronic and computer gadgets look alike.  At least they look alike to me, and I'm the only judge who matters at this point.

I don't know when I first noticed this problem, but when dvds were introduced shortly after cds, and I was still trying to understand music on magnetic tape and television broadcasts over invisible airwaves, I guess I knew this day would come. 
compact disc

See, I just don't get the invisible digital world at all.  I believe in it, I accept it and I guess even manipulate it.  But I don't get it.  Nevertheless, computer chips and nanotechnology seem to control many aspects of everyday life here in America.  So it's in my best interest to at least understand those components and be able to recognize them when I see them.  

But so far, I'm still confused.

Sometime during Christmas shopping season, I noticed that I couldn't recognize the devices on my kids' Christmas lists on store shelves or in sale flyers.  I had to read the full ads for almost every gadget in order to find out what it was.  And it slowly dawned on me that it's not just because I'm lagging years behind in my personal technology.  It's because a lot of this crap looks alike.

Example 1:

Who knows what these two items are?  I'll grant you they don't look exactly the same, but in a sale ad, without context or size reference, can you agree that they both look like a flat black box?

Example 2:  These next two are very dissimilar in actual size, but you must admit they share some common features: 

If you came from a place without electricity and modern conveniences, like Neptune, would you honestly be able to tell much about these items from these pictures?  I thought not.

Example 3:  This set of three items should be a bonus question. 
Who knows what these three devices do?  Can you see yourself laying the cordless phone on the rabbit ears when the battery dies?

Example 4: Since I was shopping for an e-reader for my mother-in-law's Christmas gift, I definitely saw the resemblance between those and some smart phones:

Example 5:  I had one particular item on my gift list this year.  Can you guess by the pictures which one it was?


Example 6:  The way media technology is advancing, we may not need our old portable cd players much longer, but make sure you know which one of these to throw out:

Example 7:  This is probably the most obvious source of confusion for many people.  Which one of these rings to alert you of an incoming call?

True, the other one emits beeps for other reasons, but I know from experience you can't order Dominos with it.

Example 8:  Two more very different items in very similar packaging:

Example 9:  No one can fault me for finding these different tools strikingly similar in appearance:
I wonder how many parents have seen one of those sticks among their teenager's possessions and launched into the no-smoking lecture...

And for our Final Jeopardy round...

Example 10:  This would truly be an unpleasant mix-up:


I hope I've made my point, and some of you "modern" types laden with all the most up-to-date gadgetry will understand why some of us hopelessly backward folks seem to be laughing at you.  

We've seen you trying to text on your external hard drive.


Quiz answers:
1. left- iphone hard case  right - external hard drive
2. l- front-load washer r- digital camera
3. r- cordless phone charger c- tv antenna b- wireless router
4. l- nook color r- iphone 4.725.a
5. l- fabric steamer r- shop vac
6. l- portable cd player r- IRobot Roomba
7. l- tv remote control r- cordless phone in charging base
8. l- powder compact r- gameboy advance sp
9. l- cigarette lighters r- memory sticks
10. really?

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