While on vacation a few weeks ago, I picked up the TV remote in our rental cottage and studied it. Then I put it down and took a nap.

Sometimes technology has that effect on me.

The thing — it was a DirecTV device — had 32 buttons. There was also a remote for the television itself, and another for the DVD player. Talk about overload. At least, I told myself, I was out of range of Time Warner and the nefarious box known as “your television’s new best friend.”

The presence of that green-eyed creature would’ve put me into a coma.

I really didn’t want to take the time to figure out the remote. I wanted to turn on the TV and watch it for a bit. I did not want to see the ominous “no signal” message flash on the screen at me.

The next morning it was raining, so I gave the remote another chance. I knew “no signal” meant the TV was set on the wrong input. But what input was a satellite dish? By a process of elimination on the screen menu, I eventually discovered the correct input was HDMI. All I know about that is that it’s a cable that newer model TVs have to have.

Now I just had to examine the list of 1,085 channels to find MSNBC.

See, the only reason I have any success with technology is that I’m patient and brave. I am willing to play around with possible solutions for hours if necessary, and I have no fear of breaking anything. As long as I keep my glass of water out of the way, that is. But that’s a story for another day.

Lately, though, I feel my patience is wearing thin. I’m tired of learning new tricks.

Take Apple’s latest operating system, Mountain Lion. I dutifully downloaded it the day it came out because I think it’s important to keep your operating system up to date. However, between going on vacation and overseeing a house renovation and all the other things I do on a daily basis, I have not yet had a chance to see what the new cat can do. I’ll sit down at some point and watch an online tutorial and play around with it, but for now, I am just noticing what’s different as things pop up.

Nothing terribly wrong with that — probably half the new stuff is too geeky for me to understand (or care about). So far I have discerned that the URL bar is now also a Google search engine. Yahoo is relegated to a little box just below. This is a nifty feature.

Also, incoming mail alerts appear in the corner of the screen. I’m not sure if I like that or not. It could be distracting. On the other hand, it saves me from checking my email every five minutes if I’m waiting for an important message. Verdict: Jury is still out.

I definitely like the feature that snaps my iCal notes onto the screen. I sat down one vacation-day morning with a cup of coffee, opened up my laptop and saw this amazing message: “Vacation.” Wow! Who knew?

Meanwhile, I’ve been intermittently slogging through the manual for the Nikon DSLR that I bought my husband, Paul, for Christmas. He has zero patience with technology, so I always have to read the instructions, diagnose, troubleshoot and, sometimes, tell him to make sure the power cord is plugged in.

The Nikon takes gorgeous pictures on automatic, and just using the viewfinder raises the results to several levels above garden-variety digital cameras. Still, it has much more potential than we’re tapping into, and I think I should want to learn more.

Then again, why?

On our second vacation day, I took the camera down to the beach. I set it to “close up” so I could take tight shots of barnacles on rocks. This is one of the automatic settings — I hadn’t touched any of the f-stops or anything.

Paul took the camera from me and started taking photos of our two dogs. “Hey,” he said. “I’m not getting anything.”

I took the camera back. Darn. None of my beach pictures was saved. I took a picture. The shutter clicked. But no photo appeared on the screen.

After googling unsuccessfully in search of an answer, I sat and stared at the camera for a few seconds. I checked and rechecked the settings. Then I opened up the the slot where the SD card lives. I took it out and put it back in. Voila.

Some days, that’s all the technology I can handle.

Liz Soares welcomes email at [email protected]

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