Wednesday, February 11, 2015

This Tenacious Techie--HELLp!

What a difference seven days of technology fever can do for one's confidence. It began on a Monday when I was writing a story.  I hadn't written much when my Microsoft program went blank, not my mind, mind you, Microsoft Word was black and blank.  Of course, I panicked. It's what any reasonable adult who was not born in the computer age would do.  

It became a battle of wills, me against the computer.  What seemed futile was not.  Three hours later, with a smile on my face, Jason from Microsoft was able to teach me how to uninstall and reinstall Microsoft Word.  Ha! Little did I know how important knowing how to install and uninstall apps and programs would become with this new generation of computer programs.  (Thank you Bill Joy.)

A few days later I spent the most beautiful day of January inside at the MNVoTech learning how to better use Windows 8.  Just learning that the first screen that comes up with the cubed tiles is called the Start
Just read the directions!

screen was a good piece of information to have, because many directions tell the user to go to the Start screen.  You can imagine the four letter words that can be exchanged when you don't even know where start is. Next, I learned that once I'm on the start screen I can type in my search questions or words without a box to type in. It's rather like typing in space. By now I'd noticed that the other gray headed people around me were struggling with the same issues. What a relief, but no surprise that we are all Senior citizens. It must have been the discount offered that pulled us into class!

Receiving colored handouts, showing every step we needed to learn, thrilled the teacher in me. Critical reading skills and patience are all one needs to learn from technology directions, and they are not my strengths. Luckily, we earned fresh air breaks every hour and a relaxed lunch time with classmates where four of us casually chatted and shared stories not about grandchildren but about our techie skills. The first breakdown came right after lunch when my new friend Rose sent me a note, "Hellp!"  By the 2:00 break my attention span had ceased, and I exploded with laughing frustrations, as did my new friends. The storyteller took over, and I chatted with nearly everyone in the room. We all exchanged personal technology griefs of time lost, worksheets lost, pictures lost, stories lost. My answer to how did that happen or where did it go, "Mayhem did it." For all I learned,I may still have to read the handouts, or do what the instructor said, "Practice what we've done today." There's that word practice.  I practice writing, practice golf, practice weed pulling, so I guess he's right. The good news of the day is that I have new friends, Rose and Lynn, who is a massage therapist.

The very next day I practiced personalizing my Windows 8 program by changing backgrounds, moving tiles, setting up touch control, etc. Then came a new Monday and my printer decided not to talk to my computer. I spoke ever so softly to both machines, pleading that off/on, unplug, check plugs, the little tricks would work.  NOT.  More than six hours later with one hour on the phone to the NPL Virtual Library (free assistance)the two machines still did not communicate, but we knew the problem--I needed a driver/printer update. I called Microsoft again and explained my problem. George said it was an HP problem.  

HP said, "There is no printer installed."  I said, "There sure as hell is and it is sitting right beside me."  Ok, I didn't say that outloud, but I thought it loud enough that I'm sure the techie understood my frustrations. By 8:45 pm on that Monday night I had followed the directions step-by-step to install a new printer program, and add a new device. Like magic the printer shoved out
Scribbled notes.
the, stuck in queue, word document that had started this whole problem. The bonus, is that my printer and computer can now talk to each other wirelessly, at least today they can.  

I don't foresee that I will ever put 10,000 hours into learning computer skills, like Bill Joy and Bill Gates, but at least I can use one with a little more confidence.  I wonder if they know how teach thirty children to read; how to play golf; how to pull weeds; or cook a meal for a hungry family?  



  1. Great story, always enjoyable. Need to patent the doodling help tree. g n c

  2. Fear is one of my biggest issues. That and simply not understanding the fundamentals. I am like you. I began with computers in the early 80's but schools changed computers as often as Computer companies changed. So I merely learned survival skills or what I call surface information. I know how you feel, but I will not let a computer beat me!

    Good luck and keep learning. jr

  3. We are so afraid of damaging our computers to try different methods of fixing them by ourselves. I have learned a lot on my own through the years and occasionally calling on Microsoft or HP for hints. I am 73 years old but starting out during 84 or 85 working with computers of different brands. I have had computers that I can't remember their names and you used your TV screen as the monitor, the an Apple Mac, Countrywide, Dell and HP. HP is my favorite of all of them.

    I even took two courses learning about how computers work, programming, Word Perfect back then. I knew some basic stuff but each computer has it's own mind even among the same brand. I ordered books to understand the different Windows that have come out and the books have helped.

    I know there is much more to learn when I get off my usual path. It is total amazing how the small children can sit down and use the computer without fear and also the new smart phones.

    I enjoyed reading your blog as usual. j r