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Laptop 101

  • Monday, January 14, 2013


I actually did fairly well in school. Made the honor roll. Mostly. Got into the college I wanted and have worked in my chosen field for decades. In addition, I have a wonderful 55 year marriage, four great kids and six remarkable grands. What more could any ole gal want?
Computer smarts – that’s what!
I’m of the generation that never even met a computer until we had grown children. My four-year-old grandson can play his mother’s smart phone and  notepad like a virtuoso. My recent encounters with a laptop make me feel like I’m swimming in a great depth of murky water struggling to reach the surface. Of course I really do know the dual cause of this dilemma: age and experience. Too much of one and too little of the other.
All this angst comes because Santa Claus came down my chimney with a new computer. Problem is – it’s the latest thing, and I’m not. My first computer experience was with a Video Display Terminal, described as a TV typewriter. The DVT had a miniscule screen displaying bleeding green type. I remember thinking that all I had to do to stay current was master the VDT. (obviously also belong to the self-delusional generation.) Since technology seems to be updated every15 minutes or so, by Christmas I had a 12-year-old  s-l-o-w desktop with what my son described as “ancient software.” ”
To my utter disbelief, this new computer did not come with instructions. My first pencil sharpener came with directions for Pete’s sake. “Secure sharpener to desk. Insert pencil into hole (There was only one.) Rotate handle. (There was only one of those too!)” You’d think something a bit more complicated should come with specific instructions especially if sold to someone well into their dotage.
What my laptop did come with was a knowledgeable son who has already given countless hours of on-site as well as telephone tutoring to his fairly clueless ancestor. After a couple of sessions with me chasing the built in mouse all over the place, changing screens and programs inadvertently, he bought me a remote control mouse. Things got a bit better as both the computer and I settled down a bit.
Then one morning I opened the laptop and was met with utter darkness. Calling David in a panic I informed him that I had evidently killed it dead as nothing moved. Since he was not there in person he called up my keyboard on his computer. Imagine! He located the black “on-off” button (which did not say “on-off”) and which was cleverly hidden right at the top. He told me to press same. The computer had taken a long nap. Another learning curve.
Then to my distress I took the laptop on a road trip where I planned to catch up with email. After the screen informed me I was not connected to the internet, I called David again. This time he was on the road too. “Remember mom, you unplugged your computer to take it in the car,” he said gently. (Well duh!) “Of course,” he continued,” we could look into a “hot spot.” More murky water.
Well, my New Year’s resolution is to get up to speed with this technology. In our church it takes three miracles for canonization. So if you read soon that I now refer to this son as “Saint David,” you’ll know I’ve made a bit of progress. Actually, all our kids conspired to “nudge mom forward,” helping get the computer as well as a lap desk and a carrying case done in black and white and hot pink. If you see me arrive at a meeting with this snazzy ensemble, just pretend you think I could just live up to my equipment.
Who knows? Maybe 2013 will bring more than one miracle of transition.

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