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My mom’s adventure with the interwebz

Everyone loves a good story about my mom.

To make a long story short, Mom is going back to college full time starting this winter for medical billing. This is now her third time going to college in her life. The first time was in 1975 at OSU. She went to college for one year and dropped out when her dad said he would buy her a car if she quit. (My family puts the “fun” in dysfunctional.) The second time was 15 years ago for cosmetology. Mom graduated and actually did hair for a few years, but she quit because she wasn’t making enough money. Apparently making NOTHING with no job is better than making minimum wage. I really hope that it works out this time. Mom is 55 and has yet to find a self-supporting career.

Last night she called me because she was looking at the black Friday ads for laptops. Mom has absolutely no experience with computers and knows nothing about them. However, she’s decided that she needs one for college, so I listened to the specs and told her what to do. I think the rest of this story is best told through dialogue:

Mom: This one from Best Buy says it has 4 gee-bee. Is that good?

Me: Yes, Mom. 4 gigabytes of RAM will make it run plenty fast for what you need. I’d get the Toshiba.

Mom: Well, I’m just so lucky that I have a daughter who’s just so smart in these things. You know I don’t know anything about it. I think a laptop is just what I need since it means I’ll have the internet all of the time.

Me: What do you mean, “all of the time?”

Mom: You know, that wireless thing it has. I’ll have the internet if I get a laptop.

Me: Uhhh…Mom? Do you think your laptop is going to come with the internet built in?

Mom: Well, that’s how wireless works, right?

Me: ….. (trying to plan how to explain the internet) [Sigh] Mom, the internet isn’t everywhere for free. It’s not like…oxygen, just floating around us all the time.

Mom: What’s this wireless thing it says it has for, then?

Me: Your wireless card picks up signals from a router. It works kind of like your cell phone, like how it picks up your wireless signals from a tower. Otherwise, it would be like buying a cell phone and trying to make calls with no plan.

Mom: So, you’re telling me I’m going to have to sign up for some kind of service? [gigantic overdramatic sigh of desperation] I didn’t realize it was going to get this complicated! (whiny voice)

At this point, I explained how she has a couple options. She can sign up for broadband through her cable company or she can get a wireless air card through a cell phone company.

Me: But either option is probably going to require a 2 year contract.

Mom: Oh, God! I don’t want no contract! I have so many questions. I think I’ll call Time Warner tomorrow  and call you back and have you explain what they said.

Me: Why don’t you just ask them while you’re on the phone with them?

Mom: I guess I can do that, too. So, if I sign up through the cable company, they’ll install a bunch of wires and I’ll have wireless, right?

Me: You’ll only have wireless if you install a router.

Mom: You’re talking gibberish. You have to explain this stuff. Why can’t my laptop just get the internet after they install it? Isn’t that what they do? A router?

Me: A router turns the wired signal from your modem into a wireless signal in your house.

Mom: So, if I get this wireless thing in my house, I can take my laptop and use it anywhere?

Me: No, it’s only in your house. If you want to use your wireless card at other places, you can go to a restaurant or coffee shop and use their wi-fi.

Mom: Can you spell that for me?

You get the idea. I’ll be sure to update everyone with Mom’s college experiences. Her major is medical billing, a field which is primarily done using computers. I think I’m going to change my phone number.