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Larry Penkava: Too much information, too little time

Dear Nephew,


Your Uncle Ambrose has made his New Year’s resolution.


“I pledge to master the Information Superhighway in 2023,” he told me on New Year’s Eve. “I hope to get my virtual driver’s license during the coming months.”


I told him I didn’t think there was such a driver’s license. And besides, I said, the term “Information Highway” was popular way back in the ’90s and has kind of lost its charm. “And maybe you should start out on the Information Dirt Road before tackling the Superhighway.”


“Whatever,” your uncle said. “I was using the driver’s license term metaphorically speaking. What I mean is, I’m determined to be like those geek squad kids at Best Buy.”


“Well, you’ve got your work cut out for you,” I told your uncle. “Those kids you’re talking about eat, sleep and drink computer science.


“And besides, they’re a lot younger and don’t require an afternoon nap.”


“I only take naps because I don’t have anything else to do after lunch,” your Uncle Ambrose said. “Otherwise, I’d be wide awake. Remember last Tuesday when I stayed up ’til nearly midnight?”


“I remember, all right,” I replied. “You were dead set on catching that mouse that ran across your forehead while you were settling onto the couch.”


“That’s what I’m talking about,” your uncle said. “When something gets my blood to flowing, I won’t stop until I’ve solved the problem.”


“OK, solve this — our computer’s froze up and I can’t check my emails.”


“There’s probably gridlock on the Information Superhighway,” your Uncle Ambrose said, scratching his unshaven chin. “It’s likely some oversized attachment that’s blocking several lanes of traffic.”


“Yeah, like a virtual double-wide mobile home,” I played along. “Maybe the Internet police will divert it to the next off ramp.”


“Now you’re talking sense,” your uncle said. “The Information Superhighway, as I see it, can be like I-85 during rush hour. The traffic’s moving along fine, then all of a sudden everything comes to a halt.”


“Could be a wreck out there on the Information Superhighway,” I mused. “Or maybe a virtual cloudburst.”


“Speaking of clouds, I want to learn what cloud networking is,” your uncle said. “Also, what’s meant by WiFi, 5G, smart phones, tablets, iPads and Blackberries, not the fruit, you understand. Oh, wait, do they still make Blackberries?”


“I suggest you take some courses at the community college,” I said. “You’ll learn about computers in a regimented way that you can build on.”


“That’ll take too long,” your uncle said. “They have to deal with a bunch of elderly folks who never turned on a computer before. They just slow down the whole class.”


“I can’t imagine who you’re talking about, Am,” I said. “How many of your classmates would be older than you?”


“Oh, you know who I’m referring to,” said your Uncle Ambrose, “little old ladies who don’t know the shift key from the backspace. They’ll likely delete when they should send.”


“Don’t be too hard on those ‘little old ladies,’ ” I said. “Remember when you started using our old Mac and you lost a year’s worth of income tax information?”


“It’s still out there somewhere,” said your uncle, “like a ghost ship sailing the seas.


“Hm, the Information Shipping Lanes. I like that,” he said.



Your Uncle Ambrose and Aunt Victoria


Larry Penkava is a writer for Randolph Hub. Contact: 336-302-2189, larrypenkava@gmail.com.