The Soapbox Papers

The Soapbox Papers is my two-cents worth.

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Location: Beloit, Wisconsin, United States

I am a cross between Tinkerbell and Calamity Jane.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Rule Number One

Well, Mozilla, I will be making you my own soon. It will require a lot of fiddling, and I can't seem to get used to the dashboard being on the left side -- but I expect to be exploring you this weekend. Techie Kid will be visiting friends, so I will feel a little more free to hands-on play with it - change the appearance, read this and that about the browser itself, explore the links, and maybe even try writing something that requires some here-to-there information, letting me keep references on 'tabs' to bring up or hide as necessary. It's not that Techie Kid would interfere with my hands on exploration -- he seems to encourage it - but sometimes I hear one of his long deep sighs, and I can see him bite his tongue, trying to keep his mouth shut and let me find out on my own where this tab will take me, or what happens if I... well, you get the idea.

Anyway, if I goof up wandering around on my own this weekend, Techie Kid is still around, and after an appropriate amount of grumbling, he will right my wrongs and let me continue.

It seems the older we are, the more we require ourselves to know about new things, but, conversely, also the less likely we are to want to change things - on the computer, on other things in our lives. One of the tricks to getting around on a computer is to be brave enough to change this or that, this key or that stuff that isn't on the keyboard proper - and not be afraid the thing will blow up.

Right about here someone other than I would insert some information about how, basically, a computer works. That's what they did in computer classes in the early '90s. "This here," the instructor would say, "is the CPU. It is the heart and soul of the computer." (I have always wondered about the 'soul' of a computer. If anyone can fill me in on that -- well, please feel free!)

"This," the instructor continued, "is the power cord. It must be plugged in for the computer to function. And this is the monitor," said he, motioning widely to the 12 inch screen.

At the time, a 'mouse' was just being introduced as an alternative to the keyboard for navigation. Because it was such a physical class (as I recall, we even got to peek inside the CPU case!) for a class trip (?) we visited the 'computer lab' on campus, where these wizards were working with this highly advanced technology, writing term papers and saving them to 5 inch floppies. Someday, we all muttered under our breaths, we too would be working with cutting edge technology. But what is all this 01 01 01001 stuff?

When people would ask, "Do you know anything about computers?" the proud student would say, "Sure. I just took a college class on computers." (And didn't we feel important - even if a wee bit scared that someone might ask us how to actually DO something on the blessed thing!) They told us very little back then. The possibilities of computers were just beginning to dawn on the industry in those days. Things were changing so fast, even a brand new textbook would be immediately out of date because new trends and inventions were not immediately translatable to public eyes or ears. Not to mention fingertips...I guess what we should have been taught is how not to be afraid to put our hands on this technology and dive in.

Frankly, I don't care about the 0101 stuff, the technical world of programming, that sort of thing. What I want is a tool I can use to write, to research, to play, and (to sum it all up) to communicate. Let someone else understand how and why it works. All I care about is that it does. That is what my computer is for.

I will let the younger folk take care of it if it breaks down, or if something better needs to be installed (although installations and updates have also become very simple these days!)

Maybe that is Rule Number One for older folk trying to work with computers:

Thou Needst Not Know Everything.

Smokey

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