Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – August 9, 2004
A Day Without My Computer
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – August 9, 2004 – A Day Without My Computer – I may have already mentioned that I bought my first computer in 1989. My prior technological expertise was limited to a black dial telephone. I was quite comfortable with its many features – rotary dial device, dial tone, busy signal – wait for an incoming call – pick up – chat – hang up.
It was simple, effective, predictable, worry free, dependable and comforting. I liked its look on my desk. It had no extras -no menu, flashing lights, function key, hold button, talk button, clear button, memory capability or intercom transfer. It rang – I answered – talked and ended the call. Information was given and received. If I wasn’t at home and the person really wanted to speak to me – he or she called back another time. Life was simple.
Technology became part of my life when The Toronto Real Estate Board (TREB) started to upload its property listings. I bought my first personal computer and a little dot matrix printer and could now work from my home. I no longer needed to drive to my office every morning to pick up the new listings.
Over time, I added graphics, an offer program and the most up-to-date word processing software. I could prepare my all own marketing materials and look after business and personal correspondence.
As the years passed, I updated my computer system, added more programs and developed my first web-site with a young man who was just starting out in the web design business. I was at the head of the line when it was possible to surf the web and correspond via E-mail. My web site address was my own name. If I happened to change careers, the content of my web-site would change but not my address.
I had my E-mail address on my business card long before it was fashionable to do so – at a time when people said “what is that” – I once had someone tell me that e-mail would never catch on and I’d be stuck with the expense of printing new business cards.
Fast forward – it’s now 2004. I have a sophisticated web-site, E-mail newsletters, laser printers – regular black print and colour, anti-virus software, a firewall and a super “fast” computer system with gobs of memory, features I don’t understand, digital camera ports, back-up systems, a CD burner, high-speed Internet access and a lot of headaches.
Just yesterday I was having a minor problem moving an e-mail from my in-box to a client file. The message wouldn’t move, so I closed out of Internet Explorer and then opened the program again. Same problem. When this has happened before, my computer guru -Ben has always said – “Just re-boot the system”. I closed all the programs that were running and shut the system down. I pushed the computer power button and went downstairs to take Augie out for a short stroll.
I came back inside and climbed the stairs to my office. There was a message on my computer screen that said “Windows” is unable to start due to a corrupted file. Use the original CD Rom to repair your system. Did I have the original CD Rom in my possession? “No”, is the correct answer folks, and even if I’d had it, the outcome would have been the same. I have no idea how to fix this problem. My computer system was down for the count. I put a call in to Ben last night and he called me back this morning.
He appeared at my door at six o’clock this evening with a bag of tools and an impressive looking folder filled with CD Rom’s. I’m sure it’s sole purpose is to instill confidence in his clients. After a cursory glance at my system and a couple of headshakes – the verdict was announced – my computer is sick. It has to go to Dr. Ben’s hospital as an in-patient. Surgery is required.
Now the slot in my computer desk where the computer usually sits is empty. My office is strangely quiet. I feel disconnected, naked and cut off from all the information that is normally available with the flick of a switch. This is the last day of my vacation. I’m back to work tomorrow morning. My pager will be re-activated and I have a client meeting at noon. It’s a good thing my schedule is light over the next few days, otherwise I’d be scuppered. I do have a paper day planner that I keep in conjunction with my Palm Pilot – for eventualities such as this one, but it doesn’t contain any of my client addresses or phone numbers.
In a mere fifteen years I’ve gone from a black dial telephone to complete dependency on technology, and without it, I feel the need for group therapy. I need to call my sponsor, or at the very least, a computer help line to be talked through this calamity. It begs the question – could I get along without my computer system? I wish I could answer that with a resounding “yes” – but I can’t.
Withdrawal would be the first step. No E-mail to check before morning coffee and at the day’s end. No more online banking, surfing the net, real estate listings, word processing or daily schedules. I can’t imagine this. Am I an addict? Are we all addicts? Could I ever go back to the days before personal computers? How would I manage my lifer and my business?
The mere thought of my computer not coming back, fixed and ready to boot up at the touch of the “on” button is unimaginable. I can’t answer any of these questions – but I sure wish I could! Now this is food for thought during one of my sleepless, menopausal nights. Could I shut down my computer for a week, a month – six months and still function? Yikes, I feel a cold sweat on the back of my neck! Oops – isn’t that a sign of withdrawal …