Old Dogs and New Tricks

My friends, I had one of those "hallelujah" moments while I was out at the Fire Department Instructor's Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis. It has been my good fortune to be able to attend the FDIC for 31 of the last 34 years. More than that, I have been...


 
After our dissection of the presentation was complete, Jack move on to another topic. In assessing the age of the audience, he felt that a great many of the people might not know me. These were the people, he told me, who came for the topic and not the teacher. This comment was not unlike a dose of cold water tossed in your face. 
 
Golly, I had not even thought about the fact that I am outgrowing a great part of my potential audience base. The discussion now switched to how to reach the younger folks in the fire service. Jack asked me if I used the Facebook social networking site. I responded that I had a page, but rarely used it. His response was simple. If you want to remain relevant, he stated, you have to be working where the people are.
 
He also went on to mention that I needed to be using the electronic tools of the younger generation. He looked at my cell phone and said that I needed a phone that I could touch with my finger and do tricks with. He knows that my phone, even though I can take pictures with it, is for talking only. By now my head is spinning and I started to beg for some refreshments.
 
Jack and I then took a break and ambled over for a cup of coffee at the snack bar in the convention center. It was here that the next stage of my '2011 epiphany' came to be. While we were sitting there discussing my need to update my links to the world, we saw two folks working on their electronic devices.   Rick Mason of New Hampshire was working on his I-Pad ® and Randy Novak from Iowa was creating text messages on his phone.
 
I did not want to interrupt them, so I waited for the right moment and asked for some electronic help. I was then given the privilege of an excellent indoctrination session on the use of an I-Pad ® and a Smart Phone ®. It was amazing to see how much was being done by these two devices. A couple of simple touches of the screen turned on and unlocked the I-Pad ®. In a fraction of the time it would have taken just to fire up my notebook and get into Windows ®, I was up and running. Wow!
 
I asked Rick how he was able to tie in to the Internet, since I knew there was no service in the area. It was at that point that the next stage in my educational process began. He showed me a Verizon 'Hot Spot'. He turned it on and when the lights were all on (less than 30 seconds), he began to show me how to communicate via the I-Pad ®. Wow.
 
At this time, my laptop computer was back at the hotel, because it was such a pain in the butt to pulling the rolling case in which it is carried through the convention center. For this reason, I had a lot of free time which went to waste, because I was without my computer. I was in technological shock. I told them both that I had best step outside to check my Model T Ford in the parking lot. 
 
After Rick Mason finished my 'class', he and Jack urged me not to rush out and start buying things. Since this seemed to me to be good advice, I promised not to do this. I was advised to lay out all of my needs in writing and then shop at the various stores to see which tools would fit my personal needs. This bit of advice came from my pal Tom Hogan, a Verizon engineer who serves as a call firefighter with Jack and Jim Peltier in Massachusetts.
 
Later that afternoon I decided to conduct an experiment.  While seated in the Marriott Downtown Hotel's free wireless zone, I created a Facebook message entitled 'Greetings from Indianapolis' and shared a few thoughts on my trip to the FDIC. About a half hour later, I sent out another message that I had gotten permission from my publisher to start writing the second edition of my firefighting strategy and tactics text. I then let this go for a couple of hours.
 
When I went back to my Facebook page a couple of hours later, I was astounded to note that I had received dozens of comments and compliments from three different countries and a few dozen people. They were from both fire buddies and high school classmates. Wow. How right was Jack about this one?