Chesapeake Home Theatre & Hi-Fi

Larry Dent is the owner of Chesapeake Home Theatre & Hi-Fi.

These articles were written for the Islander Weekly.

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Larry's Tech Talk

“The Times They Are a Changin”

In case you missed it, Bob Dylan had his 70th birthday last week. He is arguably, one of the best songwriters (or even poets) of our lifetime. I was never a big fan of his singing, but his lyrics are amazing. “Like a Rolling Stone”, “Tangled Up in Blue”, “Subterranean Homesick Blues”, “Visions of Johanna”, Knockin’ on Heavens Door”, just to name a few of his writings. And Jimi Hendrix might have made “All Along the Watchtower” famous, but Dylan wrote that one too. So, what’s with the Dylan love today dude?

Well, it’s like the title of this article, the times, they are a changin’. And portable electronics are a huge part of the world’s changing times. Like it or not, almost all of us own cell phones. These little devices have actually become what I refer to as “personal communication devices”. They’re great for convenience, entertainment, business, multi-tasking, and wonderful in an emergency. But the cell phone function is only a spit in the ocean when considering everything these portable devices are capable of.

My wife and I prefer to use IPhones. But there are several other companies competing for the personal electronic device dollar. They are referred to as “smartphones” or PDAs. Most of us know that an IPhone (or similar Droid device) can also be used as a portable music player capable of storing thousands of songs. And teenagers take the camera (or full motion video cam) for granted. It’s a good time to live if you’re a gadget loving teenager. And how about that texting feature? All the kids have that! Need some information fast, a smartphone can also surf the internet.

Yeah, yeah, yeah (hey, that was a Beatles lyric, not Bob Dylan!) that’s all cool Einstein, but its also old news!
OK, I just thought I would start off with a short review. Now on to just a few amazing features of these palm sized gadgets. Since these devices connect to the internet, all kinds of entertainment possibilities become reality. If you travel, with a device called Slingbox, you can watch whatever is on your home TV or DVR right on your PDA. Many radio stations now broadcast over the internet. So, if you want to listen to that station you heard in Key West, or San Francisco, or Tahiti, you can. With the help of a simple cable you can connect to your car’s audio or your home surround system or just listen via your personal headphones (standard equipment in health clubs!). I have a “level” app (as in carpenter’s level), a compass app, and of course a GPS package. Live 2 way Video chat is a reality all in a device that fits in the palm of your hand. Of course the stampeding “tablet” market (aka IPad and competitors) has the same capabilities with a larger screen minus the cell phone capability.

I am sensing a few skeptics out there! Ever hear, “but I just want to talk on the phone!?” “People get in accidents talking on their phones!” “This obnoxious man talked on his cell phone all through lunch!” And then there’s the teenagers! Thanksgiving dinner and their thumbs are going 100 mph. They’re texting, checking Facebook or Twitter or who knows what! Then they put their headphones on and are in another world! I’m thinking that generation might need “thumb specialists” in a few years! Anyway, they say that every action creates an opposite re-action. So with communication, connectivity and convenience comes uh, kids with priorities??. I will admit, if internet ready PDAs existed when I was in school, my buddy Steve and I would have saved a lot of quarters from the pay phone (OMG what’s a pay phone!?). And all those cassette tapes I used to carry around! OK kid, that’s history NOT ancient history!

I won’t suggest that everyone likes or has to have the latest technology. But I think it is good to know what it is all about. And ultimately, like it or not, “the times they are a changing!” And these changes fit in the palm of your hand!

Thank you, Bob Dylan.