A trade-off in today’s world is substituing one problem for another

It must be a law, as in that of gravity, when a solved problem results in a happy ending another problem pops from the wings to replace it.

For more than five years on my part-time job — funny it doesn’t feel part-time — I had to use the world’s slowest dial-up for the majority of my e-mail communication and for transmitting my work to our Washington offices. I harangued my supervisors for high-speed as much as possible without actually insulting them and when that didn’t work I tried finding solutions on my own.

Only a month ago and after a long battle with Verizon, I finally got an Internet connection that works without major interruptions. The device is a Verizon Jetpack, or MiFi, which is like having my own personal WiFi hotspot. The device can accommodate up to five computers. Since I can provide a secure connection with it I was able to use it for connecting my work computer, which often transmits and receives confidential material. I mean, it’s not plans for the A-bomb but it is nonetheless confidential and shouldn’t fall in the hands of those who have no business with that information.

Even though I have to pay for my MiFi and received no compensation for using it for work, I still used it on the job because it has provided many less fits and tantrums for all the problems caused by my dial up.

So wouldn’t you know it? I got settled in good using my MiFi for work and I finally get the storied Blackberry which was long alleged as headed our way at work as the answer to all our problems. We are using the Blackberry for communication — phone, text, e-mail, browsing and other applications such as GPS — as well as its use as a modem to transmit my data to the District of Confusion.

I like the Blackberry okay, so far, if I can ever learn to use it. We have a pretty fair deal hammered out by our union for its use such as the GPS can’t be used for tracking and the phones can’t be used for taking attendance. But did I say problems, still? Yes, there are a few.

First of all, unlike my trusty personal Verizon LG phone, the Blackberry has no inside keypad. There are a lot of shortcuts to learn otherwise you will be punching untold numbers of keys for “Alt” or “Shift” including punctuation and numbers. It has a ton of apps. Plus, the keys are too tiny. I have to get the password input several times between it and my work tablet/laptop when “tethering” the devices for modem usage. To combine my problem using the keypad is my benign essential tremors which sometimes are worse than others. I use my index finger a lot these days.

But the ‘berry has pretty decent speed.

Now I also have the problem of more hardware to tote around. I have a holster in which to carry my Blackberry and must also have a USB cable for tethering. No problem with the latter, I just stick it in the ever-filling computer bag. I also have my cell phone, my Blackberry, my computer, two chargers, not to mention my work laptop/tablet. No, make that three chargers. there is also a charger for the MiFi which is strangely enough identical to those for my two phones. All three work on all three devices, which is kind of amazing. It seems like for awhile every computer or electronic do-dad had a different charger, the better which the company could sell it to you.

My life has become like an ever-growing trade show of electronic crapola. I can remember back slightly more than 20 years ago when I didn’t even have a phone, of any kind, and no pager, nor even much of a TV. No cable. I used rabbit ears. I didn’t even have a clock radio, much less a boom box, or a stereo except for the radio and cassette player my car. I am thinking of when I first worked as a weekly newspaper editor and drove an almost 20-year-old BMW 2002. But no, I didn’t have a phone and I was editor of the paper. Hey, it was a small town.

Perhaps someday some gizmo will eliminate the need for a whole bunch more gizmos. I know there are companies that advertise some devices that are “all you ever need.” Yeah, right. In the meantime, I hear the phone ringing. Which one is it? Damn it!