“Have you seen my dongle? I can’t seem to find it.”
Gorgeous stared warily back at me, convinced that she was being subjected to yet another sophomoric innuendo from our junior high days, some 50 years prior. If anything, the last year has only increased the lengths to which I will stretch for imbecility. Not this time, though. I really didn’t know where the dongle was.
She has no idea what a dongle is, nor does she want to know.
The dongle is for my wireless mouse and it was laying somewhere on the floor. As shown in the above picture, they can be quite tiny objects.
I have two dongles, one for my mouse and the other for my external wireless keyboard. They each plug into a USB bus, which is connected to a just-purchased USB 3.1 Type-C to Type-A adaptor. In turn, the adaptor is plugged into one of the two Thunderbolt / USB 4 ports located on the side of a new Mac Air, also just-recently purchased.
The adaptor is crucial because the laptop, with all of its new technology, no longer directly accepts the USBs of older computer devices I own and still wish to use.
Did you follow any of that? My apologies if it was a might jargony. Or maybe it just bored you to tears. And to think that only a few posts back your humble blogger was worried about being seen as a mansplainer. Now, however, I find myself in the quasi-emasculating position of desperately trying to understand what all of these technical gizmos are, and how I can make use of them.
I do thankfully know what a dongle is. But I should also admit that for the past few years I’ve been referring to the ones I have as “thingies.”
Before you ask, I use these two peripherals with the laptop that sits on my desk. I do realize that this makes it all rather redundant: laptops do have keyboards and pads for pointing and clicking after all. My reason for using them is that I’ve simply never been completely in love with the laptop design. I do like its portability, of course, especially on those occasions when I have it out at the couch. But while sitting at a desk, I’ve added the mouse and external keyboard for more a “desktop-style” experience. You can take the retiree out of the office, but apparently you can’t take the office out of the retiree.
Upon coming home from the Apple Store and unpacking the laptop, then running all of the required setup operations, etc., I finally tried to connect my mouse and keyboard. Unfortunately neither would fit because they each use yesterday’s technology. You know, the one from like only two years ago. The new computer’s ports are instead designed only for today’s latest and greatest. So I had no choice but to head out and find a store that could offer up some kind of adaptor to connect everything.
As a non-techie, this is my worst nightmare. It means having to face some computer sales nerd at a store and put into words exactly what I need.
Except I never end up saying anything correctly. It all comes out as mush.
This is what makes me miss Radio Shack. Not the over-priced, unfriendly version of the 1990’s and 2000’s — the one that eventually declared bankruptcy and closed all the locations. That particular era of the store I never officially recognized. No, the version I really miss is the one I began patronizing as a kid in the late sixties and all through the seventies and eighties. That was when you’d find nearly every miscellaneous cord, plug, or adaptor always coated in a generic gray color; it had been bought and returned at least once, jammed back into its original plastic bag and haphazardly stapled a couple of times at the top to resell again. My friends and I fully accepted this practice. A young guy with an ill-fitting tie behind the counter knew exactly where each item sat in the shop, and he would quickly rummage through the right bin to find you what you wanted. The place always looked like your uncle’s messy garage.
The best thing about that particular era of Radio Shack is that you never needed to know the precise terminology to describe what you wanted. The guys-in-ties just always knew.
Nevertheless, my mind and body firmly in this particular century and decade, I drove over to the local big box office supply store in the hopes that I would find what I needed. A friendly salesman found me wandering the aisles and asked if he could help. I explained how I needed to find an adaptor to connect my two older devices to a brand new Mac.
“Lightening to USB or USB-C?,” he asked.
I just stared back. I know that a Lightening is Apple-speak for a plug, but in all honesty I really don’t know my Lightenings from my Thunderbolts, and I’m always at pains to admit it. I’d like to someday meet the bright-eyed guy who thought up these rainstorm terms and sit and sneer at him for a few minutes. If they’d have named these things after famous writers or singers I’d have a fighting chance.
Fortunately the salesman in the big box store took immediate pity on me. He walked me over to a shelf and together we figured out which adaptor I needed. There was no audible sigh of frustration, no squint of judgment. The man was roughly my age; he no doubt had patronized the same Radio Shacks I visited back in the day. For once there was no technical language barrier. I didn’t have to say “thingie.”
Back at home, I hooked up my mouse and keyboard to the new computer– the same keyboard on which this post is being written — and the Mac operating system immediately recognized the two, courtesy of the Bluetooth company.
Bluetooth. What kind of name is THAT anyway? Now yellowtooth, that I might understand.
Until next time…