Bob McKinney

It seems there is always something new with technology.

It might be more accurate to say there is always something new to me. As I’ve written here numerous times, I’m not exactly on the cutting edge in that department, and features on my phone or computer that I begin to use are often ones that have been around a while.

A person who works for me recently told me she would be traveling on a Friday afternoon. I told her that would be fine, believing she would be taking the afternoon off.

Imagine my surprise when I discovered she was, in fact, logged in to the computer system that afternoon.

I sent an instant message to her, asking if she had had a change in plans.

She answered no and proceeded to explain her husband was driving while she rode in the passenger’s seat, and she realized she had forgotten to do something at work. She had her laptop with her, so she logged on.

My obvious question: How was she doing that from her car?

She proceeded to tell me about the “personal hotspot” on her phone and said I probably have it too.

She was right. It’s under the “Settings” app. When I’m in a place that does not have internet, or if my internet at home goes on the blink and I need it, I can log on, using my phone as the avenue to get to the internet. Go figure.

This was about a month ago and it has already come in handy a few times.

I am aware of other features I have not used, but they don’t interest me, such as the one where people who have been granted permission can look at their phones and see where I am. I have family members and friends who use this all the time.

While I have nothing to hide, I’ve already given up way too much of my privacy, thank you. I’m pretty sure the folks who provide my phone service are tracking my every move (even though, every time they ask me if they can “use my current location,” I tell them no) and passing on that information to all kinds of sources.

I try not to think about that. I also try not to get creeped out when my wife and I have a discussion about a product or service and a few hours later some pop-up message appears on our phones or computer touting that product or service.

So even though I’m probably being followed by all kinds of unknown entities, I’m not ready to assign that privilege to my immediate family, friends or colleagues. I invite them to guess my whereabouts.

Another service in which I have no interest is the one that will tell me about incoming calls, kind of an enhanced caller ID if you will. I think my provider has a service like this that is free, but there’s also an app I can pay for that will tell me when a call is potential junk or a robocall.

I already have a way to address those calls. If I don’t recognize the number, I don’t answer. I get a few of them, but not enough that I want to apply some other layer of technology to screen them. Maybe I’ll change my mind if they increase and become more of an annoyance.

It’s a changing world, folks, and it’s a lot for an upper middle-ager to keep up with. I look forward to having my grandchildren help me with all of this for years to come.

Bob McKinney granddaughter

And speaking of grandchildren, I’ll make a shameless shift here to tell you about my new granddaughter, Mary Brooks Majors, who was born Oct. 28 at 11:35 a.m., weighing in at 7 pounds, 4 ounces.

I come from, and am part of, a family full of guys. My father was one of five children, four of whom were male. He and my mother had two sons and no daughters.

My late brother and his wife had three sons and no daughters. One of my nephews is still a bachelor with no children, but the other two have five boys and zero girls between them.

My wife and I have two sons and one daughter. Our first two grands, born in 2017, were both boys. That put the total of my parents’ progeny at 14 boys and one girl (my daughter).

But another female has been added to the mix.

And just as it was with her mother, one of her tiny little fingers has already managed to get me wrapped around it.    

Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at

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