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Computer Care: We love our gadgets, but sometimes too much
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Everything we use is getting smaller. We now hook our gadgets to our belts or put them in our pockets or purses. The bag cell phone of the early nineties is finally smaller than Captain Kirk's communicator.

Whether your communicator has a touch screen or a slide-out keyboard, it is still quite diminutive in comparison to what we've used in the past.

The average smartphone of today has more capabilities than the computers aboard the Mercury space flights of the '60s.

The computer has gone from our desks to our laps and now to our ears. We lost the mouse and full-size keyboard, but many other features remain the same. We still browse the Internet and check our email. That is what most of us do regardless of the size of the device. As its size got smaller, its intelligence has grown and ours seems to have decreased.

What I don't understand is where we use it, and why. It's bad enough to come across a driver not paying attention to the road due to texting, but checking email is another matter altogether.

Sure, I get email, lots of it. However, I can wait until I get home to check it. I tell my clients that I only check my mail twice daily and that if they really need to reach me to send a short text or call.

The world has become such an impersonal, selfish place. With the influx of these omnipresent gadgets, we're turning it into an uncivilized society. People carry on conversations in the streets and in stores not with those they see, but with those they hear.

My wife was recently ringing out a customer at her store and tried to tell her how much her purchase was. The woman snapped at my wife that she was on the phone. Really?

There needs to be a modicum of civility to using smartphones. Speaking loudly in public to your spouse on the phone is impolite. Texting and answering emails while with friends is rude and doing it behind the wheel is dangerous.

Teens need to learn early on that just because it can be done doesn't mean it should be done. Parents aren't always there to say, "It's inconsiderate to others. Turn it off."

We've all heard that ubiquitous buzz from three rows behind us in the theater, or that annoying glow from three rows in front.

People tend to speak more loudly on their cells than they usually do. When in a booth at a small restaurant or on a line somewhere, it can get quite annoying to the ones around them.

Many are unaware of their behavior. Others simply don't care.

I usually don't rant here, but this has been festering in me for some time. How would you like it if I said you have to go check your horoscope for a minute while I respond to a text message?

Go now. Read something on the next page. I'll be right back.

It may sound discourteous and inappropriate, but that is the equivalent of what is happening. The use of small electronics has turned us into a rude society.

The PC police won't ever tell you that what you're doing is wrong. Let your conscience tell you that.

I'm all for technological advancements, small gadgets and mobile computing. They are great. It's just that we live in a civilized society and while a part of that, there are certain unwritten rules to follow.

While speaking of small electronics, I would be remiss not to mention the recent passing of the great computer genius, Steve Jobs. Although I never got around to buying any Apple products, I've always admired the man and his contributions to society.

Always the PC guy, I've never had the pleasure of owning an iMac. My kids can't believe I don't have an iPod or use iTunes. My wife thinks I need an iPad and my clients are amazed to discover I don't use an iPhone. All in good time, I suppose.

Jobs had an avid imagination, an eye for design and with desire and expertise, he put them together into the techno-toys we all know and love. His contributions to the computer industry are immeasurable.

He started out in his garage building computers; went on to work in the movies with Pixar and Buzz Lightyear and was the cornerstone of Apple, who put miniscule computer gadgets in our pockets.

Imagine what the world would be like without the devices Jobs made for us.

Imagine what else he could have done for us had he lived on.

To infinity and beyond, Steve.

Arthur Glazer is a freelance writer and computer technician in Gainesville. His column appears biweekly on the Business page and on gainesvilletimes.com.

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