I have often had to face the sad realization that technology is a mixed blessing. I'm pretty sure that everyone in human history has come to the same conclusion since the beginning of technology. You just know some poor sod stabbed herself in the foot with a digging stick, back in the dawn of history, and entered into a rant on the pitfalls of technology, a rant that probably would sound familiar to anyone today: "F*& gr^$&@!! digging stick. Was it so bad when we used our hands? No, no it wasn't. Could we have gone on just using our hands? Yes, yes we could have. Has anybody ever stabbed themselves in the foot with a hand? I think NOT! Should have just left well enough alone, shouldn't we, but noooo, some punk had to come along and say, hey, lookit this here sharpened stick! Saves your nails, saves your back - everyone should use one! But has anyone ever stabbed themselves in the foot with a hand, I ask? And I think we all know what the answer is..." On and on and on.
I am feeling much like my digging-stick wielding foremother today, wondering whether I just should have used my hands. Except I wasn't digging, I was (attempting to) read. And I wasn't mining for tubers for the dinner table, I was mining for information to help me finish writing a paper that needed to have been finished (like that past perfect passive conditional, there?) some time ago. I had a very small hope this afternoon that I would be able to work my way through a few articles while Older Daughter was at her fiddle lesson. It didn't seem like a lot to ask...
An hour before it was time to leave to get the girls, I could be found sitting at my desk, making my little plan, and thinking about what I would need in order to achieve it. On my desk was a book of collected articles, loaned from the library at UCSD (through the magic of interlibrary loan, and, to be fair, THERE's a technology I wouldn't give up in a hurry), and therefore not write-on-able. Out of it, I hoped to read four articles, about which I was going to want to make notes. And then I had A Thought.
I thought, I could scan these articles, pop them onto the i-gadget, and then use GoodReader to read them, marking them up with my Deep Thoughts as I go along. All I need to do is to use my printer to scan them, email them to myself, open up the email on the i-gadget, and bob's your uncle, hey-presto, I've got mark-up-able articles!
Rick, I says, says I, our printer, she surely scans, yes?
There was a pregnant pause. Not so much with the scanning, he replied. Except! he added in upbeat tones, except! You could log onto Older Daughter's computer (the only computer in the house that the printer will listen to, for reasons which surpass understanding), open up a nifty HP scanning app, stick a thumb drive into that baby, and convince the HP scanning app to tell the printer to scan, saving the documents to the thumb drive the while, then stick the thumb drive in your computer, email the documents to yourself, open them up on the i-gadget, put them into GoodReader, and bob's your uncle, hey presto, you're on the road to easy reading.
Hmmm, thought I. I have the better part of an hour (minus the time it took him to say all of that), I can do it. How hard could it be? I bet I'll even have time left over to see what's new at Knitty. (Cue Music of Doom here.)
I went to get the computer belonging to Older Daughter. It was not plugged in on the office shelf where it belonged. It was not on her desk. It was not in the living room. It was not in her bed (I was getting desperate). Nor on her bookshelves. Nor on her desk chair. It was finally found lying on the floor under a heap of dirty clothes (and you can bet your bottom dollar that Words Were Had about that one). I logged in, I found a thumb drive, I booted up the program, I convinced the printer and the computer to see each other, and, finally, I scanned. I merrily scanned away, noting - and thinking it rather odd at the time - that while the documents scanned in right-side-up, there came a time at the end of each scanning cycle when the scanning program, for reasons unfathomable to anyone not working at HP, turned them up-side-down.
Never mind, thought I, I can turn them back right-side-up on my computer, through the magic that is Adobe. (More technology. More foreshadowing.) I scanned, I saved, I moved the thumb drive, and I saved again onto my desktop, feeling increasingly wise and smart and like some kind of technological maven. (Cue more Music of Doom.)
I opened those documents, rotated as necessary, saved, and closed them. One by one. Then I attached them all to an email and hit send, and turned my attention to the i-gadget, which I plugged into my computer. I think I had some delusional notion that perhaps I'd be able to simply upload the documents without engaging in any email rigamarole. Really, I don't know why I thought it was a good idea, because it promptly began to sync. And it turns out that my beloved daughters have downloaded quite a few of the app-thingies to the i-gadget, and as a consequence, there was quite a lot of syncing to be done. Time passed.
I waited with patience.
Eventually, I noticed that a) this sync thing was taking quite some time, making me wonder if my generous hour (I'll be done with time to spare!) was going to be enough, and b) that my email program had sent me a quiet little notice saying that my email was too big to go through. So I a) deleted an attachment from my email, and b) looked hard at the sync bar to sort of encourage it along.
Three attachments was still too many. (I should note here in my defense that my email generally swallows ginormous attachments whole; this was well within its capacity. Except apparently not today.) So I deleted one more, re-sent, and sent the other two in a separate email. That seemed to work. I started thinking harder at the sync bar.
Finally, it was done. The i-gadget had sunc, the email went through, and I opened it up. Then I opened each document (comeoncomeoncomeon), and, lo and behold, there they were in GoodReader.
What the ^%#??!!
Yup, upside down. I checked on my desktop, and they were upside down there, too. I re-rotated, re-saved, re-sent.
Still upside down.
Are you %$^ing kidding me?!
And time was up. So I left. Without my articles. Without the i-gadget (which is now sitting on my desk in disgrace). Without anything to induce in me the sorts of Deep Thoughts that will enable me to finish this article by its (now long past) deadline.
No-one ever stabbed themselves in the foot with paper and a pencil. And that's all I have to say on the matter.