Wireless gone haywire

By Marla Boone

Contributing Columnist

Relatively speaking, I think I know what Blue Tooth is. It’s one of the many magic gizmos the Internet will support if you talk nice to it. My use of the words “magic” and “gizmo” when defining what are no doubt very sophisticated…uuhhhh…thingies is probably all you need to know about my tenuous grasp on technology.

I remember when we acquired a wireless printer, and by “we acquired,” I mean the late great Steve Boone researched it, went out and bought it, installed it, and then taught me the rudiments of using it. The printer machine also has a scanner and a copy feature, which I thought were also supposed to be wireless. The machine has its own opinion on this, and its opinion is that I had better not lose the cable that connects my laptop to the teeny, almost impossible-to-find port way on the back of it (way to go, machine designers!). This printer is old enough to have come with a hard copy user’s manual. Much of the margins of this manual are filled with notes I have taken while trying, often in vain, to get the scanner to work.

Back in the good old days, I had a separate scanner — a bulky thing that required a large amount of space. But it worked without giving me very much grief, which is an enormous asset in the world of scanners. Like many worthwhile things, the scanner is no longer “supported.” What a lousy term. Supported. The manufacturer made it sound as though it was providing this contraption through its own sense of largesse and had decided to end the free lunch. Here is what “not supported” really means. It means you have a boat anchor sitting on your desk.

The new and improved machine needs to have the scanner program launched. What a delicious term. Launched. After three failed attempts to make it come alive, I was ready to launch the whole thing into the trash. Because the universe is sometimes benevolent, on the fourth try the program worked and all was well until the next time. My most haunting fear is that someday soon, this printer/scanner/copier will not be supported at which time I will have to learn a new system or go join a cloistered convent.

All evidence to the contrary, the gist of this article isn’t about my printer. It’s about baseball. Baseball almost didn’t happen this spring. The team owners instituted a lockout last December, and it took 99 days of haggling for the players and owners to reach an agreement to salvage the season. But again, this isn’t about money or tanking or money tanking. It’s about the signals. As someone who has gleaned a great deal of what she knows about baseball from watching “Bull Durham” about 50 times, I love the nuances of the signals. Not the signals the GM gives from the dugout. He’s in there dry and warm where the Gatorade is. He doesn’t need any more press. I mean the signals between the brains of the outfit (the catcher) and the guy making the headlines and the big bucks (the pitcher). First you have the fake signals. These are the signals to throw off the guys on the other team. Then you have the signal that says, “The real signal is coming up.” Then you have, a pre-determined number of signals later, the real deal. It reaffirms your faith in American ingenuity.

American ingenuity is going wireless. Beginning this season, catchers will be able to send signals electronically to pitchers and middle infielders to let them know what pitch he wants (and, one hopes, gets unless the pitcher decides that very day to start thinking for himself). No more signal stealing by opposing teams. No more flurry of fingers as the catcher goes through the sequence of signs. I wonder if the pitcher can electronically shake the catcher off, known to us common folk as “I ain’t gonna throw that.”

I’ve been to Cooperstown. Steve’s dad’s jersey from his minor league days is headed there. I’ve trod the dusty base paths of Doubleday Field and have been treated to an hour in the archival library. First the DH and now this. I’m not at all sure this is what Abner had in mind.

Marla Boone resides in Covington and writes for Miami Valley Today.