I do not come from a tech-savvy household. My mother hates anything with batteries or the need for a phone line, and my father would still be playing his vinyl records if he could only find his turntable (rumor has it that it’s buried in the back of the shed after the last move). To put it simply: Technology is not my family’s area of expertise.
My future husband and I went to high school together and it was he who installed my family’s very first PC. I remember standing in the computer store with my mother and Qiao, watching him as he selected the appropriate graphics card. Qiao would occasionally turn to my mother and ask what her budget for RAM or hard drives was. When he received a blank expression in return, he selected something "mid-range." I think Qiao had more fun putting our computer together than we had using it.
After a few months, our lovely hand-assembled computer got a virus. My brother and I could hear our mother screaming at the thing, pleading for her Word doc to load. For a family who only ever used this box of wires and plastic to write e-mails and English Lit essays, we’d managed to infect our PC with the full range of terminal bugs. Back came Qiao.
"Did you run the virus protection software?"
"The what? Shouldn’t it do that by itself"
"I’ll fix it," he sighed. And indeed Qiao did.
Our computer was back to normal and our family resumed typing using only our index fingers (a poor writing habit I still have not managed to rid myself of). Two months later, the computer died again. Same reason. Same emergency call to Qiao. And in this way our PC trudged along its path of slow and steady decline, with only Qiao to help it along its way. Eventually, we left it by the side of the road for a kind-hearted geek to rescue.
Fast forward to now and I am still technologically inept in many, many ways. I don’t own a smartphone, I don’t use Twitter, and thanks to my mother, I’m very finicky about people calling me outside the hours of 9am and 5pm. However, I am now on to my third MacBook and could not imagine life without a laptop. I treasure the Internet, both for its usefulness and its ability to effectively drain my brain of any and all thoughts.
My husband still fixes all of the gadgets in our little flat (for which I am eternally grateful), and he’s still the only person I trust to purchase any kind of electrical device other than a toaster oven. But I am trying to advance up the digital ladder. Maybe one day I’ll have my own iPhone and stop bugging my friends to use theirs.
For those of you who have your own gadgets, gizmos and battery-powered toys: This issue is for you. Discover the latest in classroom technology and see how it’s changing the way schools teach (p60), make learning fun with our top ten educational apps (p63), read up on kid bloggers (p55) and find out what three of Beijing’s top tech dads have to say about managing their children’s screen time (p57). To make sure we covered all of our bases, you’ll find plenty more tech-related articles scattered throughout the issue.
Now, where did all of my iPhone-owning friends go? I wanted to play another round of Angry Birds. I promise I’ll only be five minutes.