Most electronics change gradually.
The best smartphone speaks to its owner in simple sentences.
Screens can get only so bright, services so fast, apps so accessible.
But printers changed overnight.
Over the weekend, I went to get a printer whose buttons you push to make a copy or two.
They’re not making those anymore. They make wireless printers that can reproduce virtually anything from anywhere.
I left the store with a machine complete with ePrint and AirPrint. I, or some neighborhood kid, will be able to replicate theater tickets and boarding passes. The printer has an email address of its own. And I, or somebody with 10 years of video-game experience, will be able to send photos directly to your printer, outdated though it may be.
There’s the one problem.
I am afraid of the printer.
Teen geek squad: I have a choice of a number of young people in the neighborhood to help with computer-related situations.
Being within walking distance of a youth with computer skills is a good selling point for a house.
The 14-year-old specializes in email lockups and malfunctions.
The 15-year-old is great at organizing and unscrambling various Word files and misplaced groupings.
The 16-year-old has a knack for searching for and retrieving lost materials.
Kids know computers.
Sometimes it’s all they know.
They don’t always know how to fill a screen with original language. But they know the lingo of the technology. They know how to read the manual. They start with video games and move on to chats and videos.
Unscrambling a computer or programming an adult’s printer will be the hot new summer job.
Printing paranoia: Fear of a machine is the concern that your using it will break it.
My high-tech life is replete with irony and has turned into a stack of handwritten lists – lists of passwords by the dozen and user IDs by the score – and lists of how to get from here to there on computers, how to move words, how to store files, how to switch engines.
Coming soon: a list that shows how to print through mid-air simply by willing it so, or so it seems.
This one looks like a job for the 17-year-old.