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As technology races by, some people just watch it pass

My credentials for the 2011 International Consumer Electronics Show were delivered last week. (Yes, they still arrive by snail mail.) The show isn’t until January, but it got me thinking about technology and how people use it. Or don’t.

I often have to remind myself that not everyone is a gadget junkie like me, or is as connected to the Internet. Not everyone carries two smart phones (sometimes three), works on laptops, desktops and whatever else might be coming down the pike.

Yes, I’ve come to accept that we’re all wired differently. (Pun intended.)

Some folks still use cameras with film, listen to vinyl phonograph records, have phones with wires and have neither bought anything online nor signed up for a text alert. Not everyone is anxiously awaiting Long Term Evolution mobile phones or an updated iPad.

The slow lane is very real, and lots of people live just fine with yesterday’s technology.

Not long ago I was chatting with some folks at a party. The conversation turned to technology and to a problem with e-mail a co-worker’s wife was having. She asked me something about allocating additional computer memory to allow her to receive and send more messages. I know she didn’t use the word “allocating,” but I’m pretty sure that’s what she meant.

Since I’m not a wizard with e-mail programs, I replied with a question: “How old is your computer?”

“Hmmm, let’s see,” she said, bobbing her head while doing the calendar math. “About 14 years old.”

I think I sprayed my drink on her when I heard that.

“Fourteen?” I said. “And it still works?”

I then issued a directive:

“Time for you to get a new computer.”

Any gizmo that’s survived into its teens is ready for retirement. I’m guessing there’s a museum somewhere with a spot for the circa-1996 computer.

Moving files from her old computer to a new one may be tricky, as her e-mail isn’t working right and new computers don’t even have “floppy drives” for diskettes (remember them?) Sony announced earlier this year they will stop making and selling 3.5-inch diskettes in March due to declining demand.

My computer-challenged acquaintance didn’t ask about which new computer to buy or what one might cost. She instead shifted the talk to mobile phones.

“I don’t do any of that texting stuff,” she said. “If people want to talk to me, they can call.”

Her cell phone appeared to be a model last sold about five years ago.

When I told her I text, tweet, update my Facebook account, check and reply to e-mail and surf the Web from my phone far more than I talk on it, she had heard enough.

“So, how are your dogs?” she asked.

Life goes on. Even in the unplugged lane.

Share your Internet story with me at agibes@reviewjournal.com.

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