The computer is a complicated companionOctober 12, 2020
I learned to type on a manual typewriter using Taperaser to make corrections. Next, I graduated to an electric typewriter. Not being a very practical person, I had plenty of trouble inserting typewriter ribbons and correction tapes, the latter designed to wipe out unwanted text.
But, about 35 years or so ago, while I was still working, everything changed with the arrival of the computer era. Handwritten sheets were replaced by computer entries, correcting texts happened with a touch of a button on the keypad. It was truly an unprecedented change and I had to get on the bandwagon!
So, over the years I took plenty of computer courses at various locations, practising on a computer in the library. But I still did not own a computer.
Finally, the big day arrived: I was about to buy a computer! What will it be? I was advised to get a desktop and that’s what I have to this day. The honeymoon with my computer has long past and we have settled into the ups-and-downs of everyday life.
The computer, my friend
When I click the buttons of my computer in the morning, it greets me with a friendly “Welcome” and a sky-blue screen, and informs me of the date and time of day. Then I have my choice of what I want it to do. Will it be e-mail to reach relatives and friends? Will I place an order? Or perhaps get my daily fix of news and views on Facebook where I am in touch with family and many old and new friends. How about listening to a concert on YouTube? The possibilities are staggering.
The knowledge packed into my computer is inexhaustible. Converting Hungarian Forint into Canadian Dollar? No problem. Finding the opening hours at the library? Done. Questions about recycling? Answered. Encyclopedias, dictionaries all on screen at the touch of a button.
Another program I use a lot, “Word” is where my writing is done and stored. Now changes and revisions are done with incredible ease. Partnered with my printer, copies are made so I can check a print version of my work. What a revolution since the “old days!”
At day’s end, we part, as the computer announces “Going to sleep.”
The computer, my foe
I must say, my desktop buddy has its good and bad days. Some days, it does not want to wake up at all, its “Window” shut; or refuses to go to sleep at day’s end. On other days, its sidekick the Mouse refuses to function. Also, when in a bad mood, it can change, move, add or delete in a blink of an eye or stubbornly refuse to open a program. I learned to steady my nerves once I am seated in front of this complicated device.
I have also learned that once you own a computer, you better have a backup team in case things go wrong — and they will, inevitably. So I am grateful to my computer teacher, Tara and my computer fixer, Richard, for their help.
All in all, though, I am glad I am able to use a computer and am not “left behind” in this fast-moving computer age. For my computer-less friends, my message is to get started. It’s never too late to join the computer age!
Mind you, I admit that, as things advance at breakneck speed, and new technology appears almost daily on the market, I still have a lot of catching up to do.
Lately, new buzzwords have been buzzing around in my head. Words like smartphone (my relatives couldn’t believe I don’t own one), e-reader, apps, streaming, texting, emoji, hashtag and podcast, Netflix, Skype, Zoom and all the rest. I try to keep up and feel the learning never stops!
I hope time is on my side.
— Alice Lukacs writes the Life in the 90s column