Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – March 27, 2004
Computers And Technology
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – March 27, 2004 – For years I hung onto my black dial phone. I felt secure with it. It didn’t make great demands on my cerebral capabilities. It sat on my desk – at the ready. When it wanted my attention, the rings were clear and defined. It didn’t have a hold button, fancy pause and re-dial capabilities or a function menu. It knew who it was life and I was the Mistress and Commander. It was a happy time – but all that was about to change!
In 1989 I got my first personal computer. To say it was intimidating is a given. It sat on my desk for a couple of weeks before I got up the nerve to turn it on by myself. It was connected to the real estate board for property listing data and had a word processing program. I understood neither and was suspicious of both. My first foray into the world of computer word processing was mind-numbing.
Like so many neophytes I created an entire page of scathingly brilliant prose only to watch it disappear in an instant – never to be seen again. I looked for it everywhere but to no avail. I bought word processing tutorials but they were as intimidating as user manuals. I begged computer savvy friends for help but they said things like – “It’s easy, just create a file folder and save your documents with an eight character name “. I would smile sweetly, thank them ever so much for their words of wisdom and dissolve in tears of frustration.
Through excruciating trial and error I taught myself the basic ins and outs of Word Perfect. I learned to save and retrieve documents, make folders, place new documents into the appropriate folders, build an address book and data base, create labels, personalize envelopes and send out mailings. I was a super star!
My computer gradually became my buddy. Periodically I would fall into the trap of erasing a new document and have to start over again, but these incidents became far less frequent. I started to feel quite competent at using my desk top computer and to rely on it to keep my time and business organized. By 1992 I was ready for a new system, and since then – I’ve have updated my computer hardware and software systems in 1995, 1998 2001 and again this year. I’m totally at home now with all these bits of technology and I can’t imagine being without my computer.
I climbed on the Palm Pilot band wagon about three years ago but after watching in exasperation as three of these little devices exploded and came up blank, I retreated to my Palm Desk Top and tossed its little hand held brother out with the bath water. I’m still not immune from disaster.
Just this winter my entire 2003 Palm Day Timer archive disappeared in a flash. There one minute – gone the next. I sat and looked at the blank screen in utter amazement. Thinking that I’d be able to retrieve it, I looked in my back-up drive. Not there either. So I went out and bought a Brownline 2004 paper day timer and now I use that in conjunction with my Palm Desk Top. A bit of the old and a bit of the new.
I had a feeling in 1995, as the Internet became commonplace that it would impact my industry enormously and I’ve never regretted the time and money I’ve spent on my WebSite. E-mail is probably the most amazing instrument in my technology toolbox. I’d be lost without it. I correspond with my clients and friends on a daily basis. I have no idea how or why it works, but I’m hooked! A day without e-mail leaves me depressed – smothered in sadness – lacking focus – inconsolable and bereft.
Okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but as a tool in business, it’s a dream. It saves me countless hours of work and is a money saver as well. That cheerful little envelope lets me know that I have new mail. Messages are returned in the time it takes to hit ‘reply’ and I have a saved record of my electronic conversations. I’m careful to keep my anti-virus software in tip-top shape and am on constant vigil for infections, worms, Trojan horses and back door invaders.
I have a firewall and don’t open correspondence from people I don’t know. Even so I’ve had problems from time to time with the evil-doers who thrill at the thought of a nasty virus and the ensuing chaos it can cause. However a frantic phone call to my travelling computer genius usually puts a smile back on my face.
So, in conjunction with pagers, cell phones and digital cameras, the days of my black dial telephone seem like another, simpler time. Technology was supposed to free us from over-work and make life less stressful, so I sometimes wonder why I’m over-whelmed with work. I wouldn’t want to be without my tools of technology, but it does come down to knowing when it’s time shut down the computer and go outside to enjoy the sunshine. Why I don’t do that often enough is a question to ponder on another day!