My son is a computer programmer. He contends he is better at computers than me because he ‘grew up with them’. What young people don’t understand is that rather than growing up with computers, computers grew up with me. We are siblings. That is why I am ‘good’ at computers.
I was in my last year of high school when I met my first computer. For a term of maths, we learned to use this machine that did not do much of anything. There was no mouse. There were no windows. Just a flashing cursor prompting us to run something or do something in DOS. Floppy disks were floppy. Then my mother got us a Commodore 64 and I played a lot of Lode Runner. Still, I was somewhat ambivalent about this new baby.
I went to university and hand wrote my assignments or clunked them out on my type writer with a ton of liquid paper. (Delete buttons are the best thing since sliced bread). In the uni library, I searched for books in the card catalogue and traipsed up the library stairs with the numbers written out on a piece of paper often finding the book I wanted was already out.
In my final year, I did my work placement at a community centre and the housing worker had a computer! This was my introduction to Word Perfect. Still, no mouse. No windows. The function keys were what made the whole thing function. At this point, I felt my sibling was worthy of my attention.
Yet, my first paid job was computer-less. I met my first fax machine and thought the future had arrived. But, I was still actually cutting and pasting with real glue and scissors to produce a newsletter on the photocopier and it took forever. There was lots of liquid paper. We got a grant to buy a computer. I think this is where met Windows and got a mouse. How much better could it get?
A ton better. I got a government job and met email. No-one had an email address. We only emailed each other in the government and we only had an intranet, not access to the internet. Why would a public servant need the internet? Nevertheless, this is where I learned about viruses and virus protection, a thing we spread about on floppy disks that were now rigid.
During this time, I went back to uni to do some postgrad and the library now had computers. I could use them to search for the book I wanted and if it was out, put myself in line to get it. I got my first personal PC and printed out my assignments on the noisiest dot matrix printer. It is surprising that my babies slept through the ruckus.
Then came the reckless teenage years when my sibling and I really got out in the world. The World Wide Web. There was no Google. I specifically remember I had a new house with a persimmon tree. I had no idea what to do with this fruit so I searched on the WWW (on dial-up) and found persimmon jam recipes. At this point, if it was legal, I would have married my sibling. It knew everything.
I made my first website on FrontPage over ten years ago. It was pretty static. Later in the 2000s I started blogging on Blogspot and occasionally updating my website. Then Facebook came along and I got distracted. Too distracted. We all know that feeling. I think I am over it now.
What I have left out in this journey is all the problem solving and troubleshooting. Every Helpdesk in every job I’ve had has taught me something. Turn it off and turn it on again. I have had blue screens of death and a myriad of illnesses but I have nursed my computers through with the help of forums and learnt to research and fix my problems. Don’t even mention the upgrade to Windows 10 that someone in my household executed before backing up. I am still traumatised. But I solved it.
Which brings me to my latest journey from wordpress.com to wordpress.org which I am not ashamed to admit it left me with tears of frustration and tiny tantrums. I had followed all the directions but .org kept redirecting me to .com. I researched and tried every fix I could find and even had my son play with some coding. I finally asked for help in a forum and did not get what I needed. I think it was my ISP cache. I don’t know. It’s working now but I see I have much to learn.