Friday, March 4, 2011

52 Weeks of Personal Genealogy & History:
- Week 8, Technology

The earthquake in Christchurch distracted all New Zealanders, and many many people worldwide, from the day-to-day activities that we would otherwise have been part of. Nothing else seemed more important to us, than what was occurring in Christchurch. It was difficult to focus on anything else.

My family were nice and safe up here in Auckland. I have friends in Christchurch, who are also safe (although their homes aren't). However, hundreds of lives have been lost, thousands of lives have been impacted. A city will never be the same again.

Somehow I didn't have the heart to blog about technology, when people had lost their lives or that of their loved ones, when they had lost their homes and businesses and way of life, when they had lost their City.

When they had no toilets, let alone technology. When many had no power, no water, no phones, no way of watching TV. All the things we take for granted in today's technology-driven world.

The pictures and the stories reminded me of what technology we take for granted. A Christchurch blogger Moata Tamaira can give you a much better run-down on what life is like down there than I - she's living it, I am watching it from the comfort of my Auckland-based sofa. She's better writer than I, managing to be witty and poignant all at the same time. Read Moata's Blog Idle if you want to know more. Its well worth the read.

But in the meantime, life goes on as it must. So as I write this reflecting on technology, I will be remembering my fellow Kiwis in Christchurch, some of whom are still going without their computers, as the electricity company struggles to get their power back on.

Week 8: Technology. What are some of the technological advances that happened during your childhood? What types of technology to you enjoy using today, and which do you avoid?
As a child growing up, life was so simple. Wasn't really aware of technology as such, on a day to day basis. Not like today's children.

When I was really young, I remember we got a home telephone. It was on a "party-line", which was shared with the neighbours. I remember times when my mother had to wait for the neighbour to get off the line before making her call. I also remember getting "crossed lines", when you could hear someone else's conversation, while having your own. Eventually, every home got their own phone line.

Nowadays, everyone has a home phone and most people also have a cellphone. Added to that you can now Skype each other using your computer - and see the person you are speaking to, even if they are over the other side of the world!

My Dad was in the Navy, and when he was away at sea we used to send him recordings on an old reel-to-reel tape recorder. I remember, singing "Sailor" to send to him once.

I vaguely remember us getting a black and white TV. I remember watching Andy Pandy on it. As I got older I remember us getting a colour TV a while after they came out. They were horrendously expensive and I know Mum and Dad got it on a rent-to-buy basis. Too expensive for us to buy outright at the time, but it had the bonus of allowing us to update our TV when the later models came out. Eventually colour TVs came down in price, and we started to buy outright. We have gone from one channel, to two - and then to four, all free to view.

Then SkyTV came to New Zealand, giving us a multitude of channels to pay for if we wish. I avoid Sky at the moment. I experienced repeated poor customer service from them, so when we decided we needed to economise, Sky was the first thing to go. Not saying it wouldn't have anyway, but it was an easy decision to make after all the hassles we'd had. Miss the History channel though . . .

We now have LCD or Plasma screens for better picture quality, and our TV signals are being digitised. The advent of digital TV means that we now have up to 19 free-to-view channels available. I'll leave it to you to decide which channels are worth watching though . . .

I'd left home I think by the time my parents bought a video recorder - but these days we have gone on to DVDs and recording TV programmes straight to hard-drive. We have a TiVo box,  which we really love.

While I was at high school, the typing classes got increasingly lighter manual typewriters, then eventually electric typewriters. By the time I left school, electronic typewriters had started to make an appearance. When I started working, one of my first purchases was an electronic typewriter with a memory and a marching display.

I've always been an early-ish adopter of new technology, and there are no technologies which I avoid as such. There's plenty I can't afford though! :-)

I'll just close by saying that I wish the people of Canterbury, their families and friends the very best. I send you my condolences - for your losses. You are in my thoughts all the time. My heart goes out to you. I wish you well in your rebuild.

Kia Kaha Canterbury.