Dad Moment


I had a “Dad Moment” last week after my little cheap MP3 player decided to no longer play MP3 files. I have ripped almost all of my CD’s and I listen to a lot of music in the house. Since I started trying to exercise more, I find I listen to podcasts while I walk. That way, I’m improving my mind and body at the same time (which leaves more time to watch television later on). I went out to Wal Mart and got a little $30 MP3 player and – unfortunately – got used to it. When it died, I didn’t know what to do.

When you’re young, you tend to ask “why?” a lot. Why is the sky blue? Why is the grass green? When you’re a dad, you tend to ask “why the heck?” instead. Why the heck is the sky so f$%^ing blue anyway? Who thought that was a good idea?

I gave my dad his first PC. It was my old computer. I had just updated to the “latest and greatest” (a Pentium II, if I recall). I set it up in his den and showed him how to use Windows 95, starting with — Start.

“Remember, you have to shut down the PC properly,” I said. My dad looked at me oddly.

“Why can’t I just push the button? Doesn’t that shut down the computer?” I replied that – technically – yes, pushing the button to turn it off would make logical sense, but that’s not how it worked in this case.

“You need to select the Shut Down command from the menu,” I explained.

My dad peered at the monitor. “Where’s the Shut Down command?”

“On the START menu,” I replied. I got another odd look.

“So, I turn the computer off, not by pushing the button,” he said slowly and deliberately. “Instead if I want to stop the computer, I press Start.” He leaned back in his chair and shook his head. “That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.” My dad knew nothing about computers and it occurred to me that he shouldn’t have to learn anything about computers… if they were designed properly. Why the heck don’t you just turn a computer off? Why the heck doesn’t Shut Down have it’s own button if it’s so necessary?

I realized I rely too much on my MP3 player. I didn’t want to have to replace it every month or so. I broke down, joined the happy clones and got an actual honest-to-goodness iPod. It was refurbished. I got the iPod, a leatherette case, a little transmitter for the car, two charging cables and a bike lock (?!) for about a third of the price of a new one. However, it didn’t come with instructions. I didn’t think that was a problem. How hard could it be to work? I plugged it and copied some MP3’s over. I was able to play them and exercise to my heart’s content.

The only issue I had was at the end of the day. I couldn’t figure out how to turn the thing off! I shuffled through the menus, I just let it sit there and eventually it sucked its internal battery dry. I finally went out on the web and asked the simple question. Note to Apple engineers: it came up as a really popular search criteria on Google. For those of you who don’t know, you turn an old iPod off by holding down the Play button. That’s right; when you no longer want to play music, you select Play. I read that, leaned back in my chair at the computer and shook my head.

“That is the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard of.”

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