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East County Wednesday, Mar. 14, 2012 5 years ago

Observed: Help! My MIL bought an iPhone

by: Michael Eng Executive Editor

I know I probably shouldn’t be writing this about my mother-in-law; I’m treading into dangerous territory here. But, she lives all the way in Orlando. And I’m pretty confident she won’t be able to find this on our website, anyway.

So, here goes …

I’ll never forget the look on my wife’s face as she turned to tell me the news.

As we sat on our couch, I could feel the clouds darkening the skies outside. The air seemed to hang thick and still — this was a pivotal moment in our lives, and there was nothing we could do to stop it.
Jess sighed and then tried unsuccessfully to look me in the eye.

“Mom just bought an iPhone,” she said, defeated.

Oh. No.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not one of these crazy, I-hate-all-things-Apple types. Most of us in the newspaper industry were born and bred into a life of iThis and iThat. Our key programs always have been stronger on the Mac platform, so when Apple diversified its offerings into the music, mobile phone and TV industries, I gladly followed suit.

But some folks just shouldn’t get new tech toys. My mother-in-law is the queen of that group.

The first panicked voice mail came just days after her purchase.

“Jessica, my phone broke,” she said. “It just stopped … doing.”

A few seconds of silence passed.

“Um … And the apple is on there,” her diagnosis continued. “It just … stopped. I think it’s coming back on. That’s bizarre. Is it supposed to do that? I don’t think it’s supposed to do that. It went dark again.”

Here’s the rub: From that description, we are expected to have offer a full explanation, complete with solutions.

But, how do you diagnose “It just stopped … doing?”

We had been through this before when we gave her one of our old laptops.

My email is broken, she said.

What do you mean, broken?

I can’t read it.

It’s not on the screen?

No, it’s there. But I can only see the first line.

Can you scroll down?


With the trackpad?

Yes, but I can only see one line at a time.

You need to make that window bigger.

What window? There’s no window.

The window your email is in. You have to click and drag that to make it bigger.

But then I can’t see the list of all the emails.

Well, you can’t see more than your screen can show, so you have to decide whether you want to see that one particular email or the list of all your emails.

I want to see it all. I should be able to see it all.

At this point, I, quite literally, am pounding my head against the wall in my living room. It offers some comfort.

Then, there’s this gem:

My mouse disappeared.

Your mouse disappeared?

Yes. It’s gone.

What do you mean?

The little arrow. It’s gone.

Did you try moving it?

Well, no … Oh. Oh OK.

Truly, I don’t know what would make any Verizon sales associate look at my mother-in-law and think, “That woman needs an iPhone.”

That commission must have been pretty hefty.

And here’s my mother-in-law’s reasoning for the purchase: “Well, I needed a new phone and a pedometer.”
That’s like killing a fly with an atomic bomb.

Now, to be fair, the panicked phone calls have become less frequent. Her iPhone no longer just stops “doing,” and it seems my mother-in-law is even getting the hang of text messages (even if they are written more like telegrams [STOP]). We also have her up and running on “The Facebook,” and she’s busy “Liking” things and commenting on other posts. She even listed my brother-in-law in her family as her “Unknown.”
Even I don’t know how she managed that one.

+ Kinnan to retire
Seems the good ol’ boys club at the Manatee County School District will be shrinking this fall.

Harry Kinnan, who has held the Manatee County School Board District 2 seat since 1996, announced his retirement March 9.

As we published last week, we welcome serious, sweeping changes on the School Board. At the same time, we wish Kinnan much happiness in retirement.

+ On a more serious note
Hub Hubbell was one of the first folks I met after I started working for the East County Observer in 2000. Ever the self-promoter, Hub called me once every few months — just to let me know what he had been up to. One time, he invited me over so he could show me how he taught his pony to paint.

Good Ol’ Hub was larger than life, and we certainly will miss him.

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