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The Man From The Past
“What is that?” he asked, eyeing my earphones curiously.
“They’re earphones. They connect to this thing,” I held up my iPod touch. “And I can hear music through them. Wanna try?”
I held an ear bud to his ear and increased the volume of the soothing music playing. His eyes grew wide with wonder as his jaw dropped slightly.
“Tell me,” he said. “How do you capture music and put it in that? And what is that?” he pointed at my iPod.
“Erm…they’re Mp3 files and I have no idea how they capture the music. They record it using…other devices. And this is an iPod touch.”
“And is this solely for listening to music?” now he was fidgeting with the device, turning it over in his hands.
“No. I can play games on it, I can record audio and video, I can watch videos online, I can receive emails and send some too…there are apps for lots of things.”
“Games? What kind of games? How do you play?”
I took the device from him and opened up Temple Run. He watched in fascination as I explained how to play and the object of the game.
As I concentrated on the game, I explained. “See? If I tilt it like this, the man moves…and if I swipe my finger across the screen, he turns and jumps. I’m trying to get away from what’s chasing me. Here, you try.”
Holding it as though it were a newborn, Sir James Sterling attempted to play the game. He managed to play successfully for a few seconds at a time. He finally gave up and looked at me.
“What is audio and video? And what are emails? What is this app you speak of?”
I opened up the camera function on my iPod and took a video of him. When I pointed the camera in his direction, he stiffened as though it could harm him in some way. It would have if I had thrown it at him.
I then showed him the clip and he gasped. “That is me, is it not?”
“It is like looking into the past! May I ask you something?”
“If I wanted to capture a moment in time…could I do it with this?” he pointed at my iPod.
“Yeah. You can save it forever.”
“Incredible.” He whispered.
“This is video. Can you hear me talking in it? Let me play it again.”
I played the footage again and I saw him lower his ear to the device, straining to hear my voice. He nodded.
“That noise is audio. And this,” I opened up my inbox. “This is my email inbox.”
“I can type a message in here…” I typed in a quick message to one of my friends and hit send. “And then I can send it to my friend. She will read it and reply.”
“How will she receive it? Does it arrive in her mailbox? How does it delivery man get it?”
“There is no delivery man. She has an iPod too. She also has a computer and an iPad and a phone that she could use to access this. She will get it on her device; she will read it and reply. I can send her audio and video too.”
“This is your form of communication?”
“Yes. But there’s also texting, calling, Skype, all that stuff. You can talk to someone on the other side of the globe.”
“Marvelous…” his breath seemed to have been stolen by the wonders of modern technology. I could hardly blame him. We’ve come so far since the Stone Age. We’ll have robots soon enough.
He cocked his head to one side. “And what of that…online thing? What is that?”
I paused to think for a moment. How was I to explain the Internet? I can only say I tried my best.
“All the computers in the world are linked together – “
“What is a computer?”
“It’s a device like this one,” I gestured to my iPod. “But a little bigger.”
“How much bigger?”
“Not too much bigger. I could hold one on my lap.”
“Oh, right. Carry on.”
“Well, all the computers in the world are kind of linked together. It’s called the Internet. People can look up stuff like we used to look up stuff in libraries. But now we can do it much faster.”
“If I wanted to research, oh, let’s say…dinosaurs-“
“Dinosaurs? What is that?”
“Dinosaurs were the giant reptiles that roamed the earth millions of years ago. They’re just fossils and bones now. They’re extinct.”
“They’re bones buried deep beneath the earth.”
“Oh, I see. Sorry for interrupting.”
“It’s okay. Where was I? Oh, yes. If I wanted to research dinosaurs, I would type in…here, let me show you.”
I opened up Google on my iPod and typed “Dinosaurs” into the search bar. The results came up immediately.
“See?” I said, showing him the small screen.
He squinted at the tiny text. “All I see is a page of blue nonrelated words that don’t make any sense whatsoever. How does this tell me about…dinosaurs?”
I selected the first result. It took me to an educational website for children. Colorful pictures of dinosaurs were pasted on the page along with information about the ancient creatures. I asked Sir James to read it and told me what he thought of it.
He read aloud. “Dinosaur is Latin for terrible lizard. These dinosaurs lived millions of years ago and…”
He continued to read until a smile pulled at his lips. “Amazing! So, tell me, these creatures were here long before us?”
“Yeah. You read it for yourself, dude.”
“Dude? My name is Sir James Sterling.”
“Oh, sorry. That’s just what we call each other if we’re friends here. It’s like saying ‘friend’ or ‘pal’.”
“Ah. I see.”