Saturday, January 30, 2010

Gray Hair and Computers: A New Incompatibility?

I do not color my hair, so it has, for years, been making progress from blond to gray. I am in a minority. Only one of my friends has uncolored hair (her gray, nearly white, is prettier than mine), in my gardening circles there are a few more “gray-haired ladies”. Both my daughters, being Asian by birth and thus with black-crowned heads, color theirs; the elder started showing some gray when she was 20 or 21, the younger waited another decade. My granddaughter, who just got her driver’s license the other week, colors her hair from time to time (or, her mother does it for her), even though I am not aware that a gray hair has ever appeared on her head yet.

All this to emphasize the fact that my gray hair is surrounded by colored heads.

This “sign of old age” not infrequently leads to curious assumptions.

I am not Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but I get around a computer well enough to make good use of its capabilities and run a few businesses with its applications, not to mention the work it allows me to do for my clients.

Thus, it always amuses me a bit (O.K., it downright annoys me!) when I meet someone who assumes incapability has accompanied my gray-hair progression and care must be taken in communicating with me.

This week, I was as a horticulture conference and trade show: growers and wholesalers of trees, shrubs and other plants, mainly. Good event! I’ll be writing more about it on my gardening blog.

My math after the event showed me that only 54% of the exhibitors had web sites; 14% had no e-mail and 35% had AOL, Hotmail, Yahoo or other non-proprietary e-mail addresses. Yikes!

One of the booths I visited on the expo floor was staffed by a woman probably ten years or so my junior. She had nothing I wanted, but she tried to sell me anyway. Looking at the brochure she handed me, I asked “Do you have a web site”?, to which, solicitously, head inclined to one side, she responded with a question of her own: “Do you use a computer”?

Guess what – after I came home, and managed, somehow, to turn on a machine identified as a “computer”, and somehow to get onto a cyber space called “the web”, and, almost by miracle, typed in her company’s URL, what did I see? A message that said: “We are updating our web site; please check back later”. The company has a Gmail address (not listed in its brochure, but printed in the conference’s Exhibitor Handbook)

You know want I think? This is one of these do-it-yourself (DIY) web sites that do little but annoy its visitors. Will I go back and check it “later”?

Well, hell no! I’m thinking of going and coloring my hair instead - not! :-)

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