Monday, August 14, 2006

Worlds of Difference

Yesterday I set up my first DVR with my digital cable plan. This is one of the few gadgets that is actually a time saver and convenient. I can program (easily) shows that I am curious about and programs I enjoy and view at my own leisure.

Many gizmos designed for convenience and to get things done faster such as as cell phones, PDAs, home fax machines and blackberries are really there to make us work more anytime we are away from the office. The result is not so much as having less to do - it's about doing more in less time with the "conveniences" technological wonders have afforded us in the last decade.

Not to say this is without benefit, however. For those who need to work from home remote access to the company computer provides opportunities that didn't exist before. But still, for the most part, these techie things are there to increase productivity while supposedly making it easier too.

When I moved out of New York City a few years ago, I had to look for an apartment as I was by no means looking to buy a house. During my apartment search, I was shown several townhouse rentals that had " a business center" in the complex. The business center was comprised of a fax machine, a copier, and a few personal computers with printers. This "convenience" jacked up the monthly cost of the townhouse rental considerably and ultimately I steered away from complexes with "business centers" on the grounds.

Dumb idea anyway those business centers. C'mon - the average businessperson has a home computer and for $50.00 you can get a decent fax machine which, by the way, also makes copies. If you need something more heavy duty, you can buy a 3-1 printer to go with your computer which scans, faxes and prints relatively large volumes of paper. In other words, there isn't any reason for the average businessperson or many individuals who would have need of a business center to rent the equipment every month on top of their monthly rent. Just like this DVR I'm leasing from Comcast, I will probably buy one with the ability to burn programs onto DVDs (a capability mine does not have) rather than pay $8.00 a month to rent the thing.

Comast also wanted $150.00 to set up computer networking at my residence plus a monthly fee for the equipment they would supply for the service. For $150.00, not only can I set up my own home network I can buy most of the gear I need to do so. And not pay a monthly fee to anybody. I can easily extend the high speed internet access I have to anyone in my apartment with a computer with a simple piece of equipment. So why would anyone want to pay $150.00 plus monthly rental fee for something that is so easy to install yourself?

But there is a good chance that I will come into contact with students for whom any of the above is indeed a luxury to have - in fact, no reason to have it really except for being able to surf online quickly. Next week I am interviewing for a teaching job (English and drama) at a charter school in Philadelphia that services "at risk" youths. That means students who have not succeeded in the current public school system. It generally means unhappy students with chips on the shoulder. I have taught at well-funded schools for the most part but obviously the students who attend such schools have the wherewithal to be sent to special classes to assist them in the learning process if necessary, including a wide choice of afterschool activities. Students in the "at-risk" category have rarely been motivated or encouraged in anyway. While working in the private or well-funded public school districts has been fun, obviously the bigger challenge will be with these high school students.

I don't know if being white and fortyish will count against me in the interview. They only know my resume but have to know I am at least forty based on the length of my teaching experience and theater work.

Wait and see.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

We LOVE DVR at our house. We watch so much stuff now that we never even would have seen before. It's hard to remember what it used to be like when we were able to whine "there's nothing on TV!"

Anonymous said...

Good luck with that, Nancy. You are a great teacher. Dino