March 23, 2006
 

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Posted: 10.20.04
From the Desk of Michelle Maisto: Technology to the Rescue? It’s debatable.
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Laptops; highspeed, wireless Internet access; streaming video—these are a few of the small miracles that tether us to home when we’re far away, offering us comfort in their convenience, speed and reliability.  

By Michelle Maisto




And now and then, we look to them for that same comfort and convenience, even when we’re not on the road.

I rushed home Wednesday night to watch the third presidential debate. Nevermind that I already know who I’m going to vote for, I’m addicted to these debates: to watching them argue, needle and cajole; to listening to the ping-ponging of disputed facts the next morning; to witnessing the minor art form of human beings willing themselves to speak in complete, coherent sentences, one after the other—a feat so few of us manage in day-to-day life.

However, (nearly literally) standing between me and the debate was a Boston native and a baseball game. Maybe I’m rare to be living in a one-television household, but such is the case; and this Bostonian, who tells me daily that he loves me, was under no circumstances surrendering the remote to me.

After receipt of an effectively delivered evil eye, I turned to Plan B: my iBook. On The New York Times Web site I found a link for streaming video coverage over RealPlayer; and beside it, Katharine Q. Seelye was providing bite-size, real-time commentary. I switched from the cable cord to wireless, carried the laptop to the bed, and settled in. Not bad. In fact, quite good! I couldn’t have been more comfortable; I had everything I needed; I could see this column coming together in my head: “Wi-Fi Saves the Day!”

Three minutes later, my Internet connection died altogether. The last presidential debate in a neck-in-neck race AND a series game between the biggest rivals in sports—in one night? Everyone in my building must have been home, and so online, and it was more than our cable provider could handle. D-e-d, dead.

Sometimes it’s the latest and greatest technological offerings that save the day, and sometimes it’s the good old-fashioned variety. I dug out my 10-year-old armband-style Sony walkman from the bottom of my gym bag, crawled back into bed and listened to the rest of the debate on AM radio.
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