When I started taking computer programming classes at Chesapeake College (Wye Mills, MD), the only computer I had at home was a TI/99 (if I recall the model correctly), which had 64k of memory. It didn’t come with any type of monitor or storage, so I had to use my black-and-white TV to see what there was to see and a reel-to-reel tape recorder to save the first program I coded—a game of Yahtzee.
At Chesapeake College, I was introduced to the wonders of Apple and IBM personal computers that were much more advanced than what I had at home. And then came the most wondrous of new computers—Apple’s McIntosh. That was what I was dying to have if I ever had enough money for a real computer.
When I started working at the International Mission Board, personal computers were few and wide-spread. Employees had to need to do something that couldn’t be done on those fancy new DEC VAX mini-computers. But at least there was a “Special Equipment Room” where I could go to create and properly format my contribution to the Office Automation portion of the national DECUS newsletter.
More and more personal computers started coming into the building. The VAXs became less and less important as more of the IMB’s applications could be shared internally–or even internationally, if needed–via the Web.
By that time, I had used some of an inheritance to buy my first “real” personal computers—I think they were HP and DEC—one for each of two rooms. I eventually connected them by Ethernet cable. We finally broke down and connected to the Internet—by dial up modem, as I recall.
Personal computers became so prevalent that people started leaving the “personal” off when referring to them. Windows became one of the chief operating systems, and the rest is history.
So why do I need a change from change when everything seems so tidy now?
Hmm. Could it be because I just bought a new Toshiba laptop that came with the Windows 8 operating system when I absolutely LOVED the XP system on my old Dell and tolerated Windows 7 on my Toshiba netbook? Or is it because—after years of satisfaction with my 2003 copy of Word Office—I also upgraded to Office 2013? (At least I had a choice about that.)
Looking back at my purchases, made just a week ago, I almost have to laugh. Almost.
I had to admit that the new Toshiba booted up MUCH faster than the Dell, but what in the world? There was no Start button at the bottom left to locate and run my applications. Instead, there was a Start screen. I finally learned that one of the icons would take me to my desktop, and I didn’t waste any time searching out a non-Microsoft free download that would give me that Start button functionality again.
I also quickly researched how to turn off the built in mouse pad. I prefer a wireless mouse, but—more important—my dog kept changing what was on my screen by constantly nosing the mouse pad.
I admit I really like some of the Windows 8/Office 2013 features. Scrolling by using the touch screen is really nice. So is having the word count at the bottom of the screen in Word—a word count that automatically updates.
I was able to simply copy some of my favorite programs from the Dell and find that they still worked in Windows 8. But not all of them, and one that used to be free no longer is. I won’t be disposing of the Dell anytime soon, I’m afraid.
In short, I’m still learning. But I’m ready for things to quit changing. I recently ran across a saying that seems all too applicable to me. “You can teach an old dog new tricks, but only if they’re easy tricks.”
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By the way, “On Aging Gracelessly” isn’t my only blog. I use “As I Come Singing” to post lyrics of the Christian songs I’ve written over the last fifty years. Free lead sheets (tune, words, and chords) are available for many of them. Check here to see the list.
Because I’ve used up all of my songs, I revise and repost a previous post each Wednesday. If you’re interested, please check that blog out here.