You kids get off my lawn!


About 5 minutes after the oldest kid hit middle school, I knew I had just started the phase of life where I fall out of touch with technology and just about anything else that's on trend.

First it was just subtle cluelessness: "Wait...something being 'sick' is good? Okay then."

Then I started generating eye roll-inducing questions like "Hey, how do I see things I've 'liked' on Instagram?!? And did I 'like' it or 'favorite' it or 'heart-click' it???" followed by the lecture on why I should be using an iPhone instead of Android.

This morning a neat little gift bag showed up on my office chair, including a hand-written Thank You note from the new exec who just came on board a couple weeks ago.

"Nice," I thought. "A good, old-fashioned, handwritten card."

Based on that, as I opened the gift bag and dug through the tissue paper, I was expecting something classic and leathery.

"Hmm...too small for booze." Side note: I get a lot of boozy gifts from coworkers at this time of year. I'm not sure if it's tradition or my demeanor or both. Anyway...topic for another blog post.

When I got to the bottom of the bag, things got a little less old-fashioned quick. Actually a lot less old-fashioned.

Echo Dot by Amazon.

What the hell is an Echo Dot by Amazon?!?

I actually found myself just holding the thing and staring at it like some mystical orb. I looked over the package, but still really couldn't discern what it was that I was holding.

"Google will know."

But here's what I found:

"Echo Dot features Far-Field Voice Recognition, beam-forming technology, and connects to Alexa, a cloud-based voice service."

I have no clue what any of that means. Like, really...none of it.

It's either something that helps me make a phone call or something that zaps enemy fighter jets out of the sky with lasers.

Or both.

I read on:

"Bluetooth connectivity or 3.5 mm stereo play music; compatible with WeMo, Philips Hue, Samsung SmartThings, Nest, ecobee."

I still don't know what any of that means and what an Echo Dot by Amazon is! Except for I think I know "play music", but since when is music measured in millimeters and even tiny little millimeter amounts of music?!?

After about the third or fourth or 25th website full of gobbledy-gook and technospeak (I lost count), I finally found one that helped make sense of this thing that's now on my desk at work:

"Echo Dot looks like a hockey puck with a Pringles can lid on top of it."

Bingo!

I think.

Nope.

Here's the thing though: It DOES look remarkably similar to a hockey puck so that's probably what I'm going to use it for. Maybe when I fire it around the garage, it will make little robot comments about my sweet shot (for an 'older player') or tell me it's time to take a break and find the Pringles that go with the lid.

I'd ask the kids what it is but, one, they would just rain on my parade by telling me that I'm too old to do any of the activities that it's supposed to really do, and two, I'd get the lecture about how I now have one more thing that's inferior to the Apple version of it.

In the absolute best-case scenario, it would immediately get swiped by the kids and maybe...just maybe...it would help one of them get into a better college.

I won't hold my breath.

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