Wednesday, April 3, 2013

"C" is for Computers

I have proudly identified myself as a nerd on this blog many, many times. While in the 80's, the term was derogatory, it has finally become in vogue to be a nerd. In fact, I have seen many people identify themselves as nerds that aren't, because now it is a cool thing to be. I have been a nerd for well over 30 years, so I can claim the title with a little more certainty. Even when I was a Harley-riding biker who owned a tattoo shop, I always had a flash drive in my pocket and got anxious if I was out of range of a wi-fi signal.


In 1983, when the other 6th graders were starting to get Atari consoles, I actually had a desktop computer at home to program and create my own games. No one I knew had a computer in their home for several years. When the other kids were outside playing baseball, I was at home reading books about programming code and trying to teach myself COBOL, BASIC, and PASCAL.

When I was in high school (1985-1989), I really wanted to be able to take computer classes. Some of the larger schools were starting to offer them, but I went to a small country school that just couldn't afford a computer lab. My junior year, the school board gave myself and five other students the opportunity to leave school after lunch and drive to a local community college for computer classes. Because we were missing the entire afternoon at the high school, we had to take a few other classes at the college as well. It was great to be 16 and sitting in college classes getting college credit. By the time I graduated high school, I had a year of college already out of the way.

After two years of computer classes and all the extra self-teaching I had done at home, when I actually started college that year, they offered me a job in the computer lab to help struggling students. At 17 years old, I was assisting the computer professors with their hardware issues and fixing computers on campus. Occasionally, in class a professor would defer a student's question to me to answer. I knew computers and my professors knew there were no classes on the campus that would actually extend my knowledge on the subject.

Despite all this, I did not pursue a career in computer technology. Plus, I really wasn't into the whole college thing yet and let most of my other classes slip. I was more interested in playing cards in the college Oasis than going to class. Over 20 years have passed since then and technology has exploded in growth. My computer knowledge has not even begun to keep up. For people who are in that field, it is almost a full-time job to just keep up with technology.

While I believe that I still probably have a little more know-how than the average computer user, I do not know anywhere near as much as everyone seems to think I know. Because I still live in the same area as where I grew up, people still remember me as the computer whiz kid. I'm having a very difficult time getting people to understand that it's just not true anymore and hasn't been for a long time. If someone has a problem syncing their iPhone 5 to their webmail, they don't ask for the advice of a telephone lineman who retired in 1978, they go to someone who is in that field today…or the nearest twelve year old.

I get phone calls to fix computer issues all the time. Half of the time, I have no idea what can fix a problem and when I can do it, people pay me to do things could actually be done by your average teenager. Things have just changed too much in the last couple of decades and I haven't kept up. Luckily, there are a lot of people older than me who are even further behind.

While I may not be able to come over and write Linux kernel patches for you, create Web 2.0 engines, or do 3D render engine optimizations, I will be happy to take your money for installing your printer while you tell me how brilliant I am.



Happily participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. For the entire month of April, 1,968 bloggers are working their way through the alphabet. One letter every day but Sundays for a total of 26 days.

Click here to visit the website and get more information to see if you might want to join in next year. It's a lot of fun, introduces you to hundreds of new blogs and gives your writing some fantastic exposure.

64 comments:

  1. My mom seems to be convinced I actually know things about the computer. All I know is that if restarting it doesn't fix it, I need to call my Brother. If he doesn't know what to do and can't find it on Google, we have to fork out a bunch of money to somebody who actually knows what they're talking about.

    Google almost always knows how to fix the problem.

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    1. Looking up issues is always very helpful. Of course, I always need to bring along my own computer in case theirs is really down.

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  2. I know the feeling. I've worked with computers all my life, but need to get my son to help me at home. ~Miriam

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    1. It's amazing how fast things change.

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  3. I LOVED your story about Bird the deer. I was sooo worried when the arrows started flying *phew! ;)

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    1. Thank you. That story could have gone a whole different direction.

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  4. Also, I'm impressed with your computabilities ;) I was fascinated when our engineer opened the tower - do you know their are neither elves nor any discernible signs of magical activity inside? Who would have thought, it was all components in there? ;)

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    1. I have a computer tech friend who tells people that electronics run on smoke. If someone tells him there was a puff of smoke, he tells them,

      "Well, it will never work now. All the smoke got out."

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  5. Great post thank you and delighted to hear that commentators above also (like I do) are sometimes challenged. And now? My lovely lap top mac -? Is it time to get a smart phone that can do all that computers do? Not sure ... too toooo much!

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    1. I used to be the guy that just had to have technology BEFORE anyone else had it. Today, I still don't have a smartphone.

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  6. Our first "computer" was a Vic 20 or Commodore 64 or some such thing. I was so disgusted with it that I lost interest. I did well at euchre during the little bit of time I spent in college.

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    1. I never did learn eucre. I have a friend whose family plays all the time and I could never make sense of it.

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  7. I could have used a guy like you back in the 70's and 80's. I was - and still am - a computer dunce.

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    1. Back then, I would have amazed you. Today, not so much.

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  8. *grins* a great post, it's a pity everything is gaining such momentum, every time I blink something else has changed.

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    1. It moves so fast. I can't imagine being in this field and trying to keep up.

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  9. thats great! i love fulfilling high expectations with minimal effort! ha!
    i was a nerd too, helping so many with homework, but i never felt like one... now i do, but i'm a cool nerd, ha ha!

    fun c post!

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    1. Yes. Being praised is always nice. Especially when they think you have done something amazing.

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  10. I'm impressed with anyone who knows what wire goes where lol.

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    1. Thank you. That is getting more and more difficult.

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  11. Having a desktop at home in 1983 really is a big deal!

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    1. Of course, it was nowhere near the stuff that is out today, but I loved it. There were no computer games and no internet, but I would sit up all night writing code and create my own computer games. It was awesome.

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  12. My husband has a degree in computer science and he learned in DOS. Talk about things changing.

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    1. DOS was a few years after my computer tinkering years. I used it some later, but never learned it well. I don't know if anything uses DOS today.

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  13. I wonder how different your life would have been, had you pursued a career in computer technology.

    The most I know about computers is how to switch them on and off again and sometimes I can't even do that properly.:)

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    1. I sometimes wonder that as well. I have no regrets. I have a great life, but I am sometimes curious.

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  14. I have a friend that makes a living keeping his companies system up and running. If you asked him to make a website he'd have no idea, but to keep it working not a problem. Always amazes me.

    Have a terrific day. ☺

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    1. I still know a lot of computer people, I just had to bow out. Or I fell out. I don't know. I just know I didn't keep up.

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  15. You are a fascinating individual :)

    My friend says that phones should come with a ten year old. That cracks me up! But it's so true how much kids know!

    Man, your mention of Basic and Pascal brought back memories :)

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    1. Thank you. I can't ever say I've had a boring life. Although, many may have thought programming was boring. I loved it.

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  16. My parents are always calling me up to fix their computer,I have no idea....

    And you owned a tattoo parlor????

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  17. My brother is a computer "nerd." He's the guy that reads linux books and electrical engineering journals FOR FUN. I only wish I could be that way.

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    1. That would have been me years ago. I just keep changing interests.

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  18. I remember the first computer we ever got. It was a TRS-80. Ah, my parents still had it up till a few years ago. Good memories associated with that thing.

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    1. Those old computers were a lot of fun. I wish I still had one.

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  19. I am a huge fan of having someone around who knows computers. I have a friend who is fantastic at that stuff, I usually call him before I call our office IT guys because I know he will respond faster and explain it without making me feel like an idiot.

    Great C Post :)

    Melissa My Creatively Random Life

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    1. There's just something about those IT guys. They're so mean.

      I guess it's frustrating to be surrounded by people who just can't relate to what you do or know anything about your area of expertise.

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  20. Computers are changing all the time. Many of the things I learned in college about them don't matter anymore. Back then one computer took up an entire room (possibly even a building). Click and drag, cell phones, apps...it's a completely different technological world these days.

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    1. I read somewhere that your typical cell phone has more advanced technology in it than did the rocket that landed on the moon.

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  21. Hi, I know how you feel. I am the same way. Read my post on Great Moments in Parenting at http://greatmomentsinparenting.com/moments/you-know-youre-a-modern-mom-or-dad-when-33/

    I don't even kow how to make this a link. Sorry you have to cut and paste. :(

    I have never been a computer genius, but at least I always knew the lingo and basics of using the technology of my day. (Until now.)

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    1. Luckily, I haven't gotten so far behind that I don't know how to use stuff, but as time goes on I can feel how much I am growing disinterested. I don't feel the need to have the latest and greatest any more. I'll get far behind soon enough.

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  22. LOL It's funny how people's perceptions of us can stay the same even as we change and age.

    ~ Rhonda Parrish

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    1. They get stuck. I have an aunt that continued to give me Matchbox cars for Christmas until I was almost 30 years old.

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  23. When I was in college, I worked for the computer department and took the first floppy disc [the big ones] copy of Word Star over to the English department. We all sat around trying to figure out a pc and word processing. Up until then, everything had been on terminals from a mainframe... that took up a huge basement of a building that was an auditorium.

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    1. I remember the big ones. It's amazing that anything even fit on them. The small ones had a capacity of 1.44 MB. My camera today takes pictures that are 2-4 MB a piece.

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  24. This sounds like both my dad and my teenage brother :) He's going to Google IO this year and is completely psyched out of his mind. Good stuff! It's true, totally a full-time job just to keep up these days. Which is why I keep my brother around ;)

    Sarah Allen
    (From Sarah, With Joy)

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    1. I have a friend who goes to that and gets a new Microsoft certification every year. He loves it.

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  25. I grew up with one of the first home computers in my house. It was a Heathkit H-89, which was one piece. It had a screen and keyboard, and a slot for the 5 1/4 floppies. It booted off the floppies. My father used it for work (he teleworked before it was called teleworking) and eventually graduated to other computers as the technology improved. Initially, he charged his company something like $5 a week for use of the computer, but stopped that practice because the IRS kept auditing him!

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    1. That's awesome. I had to use an analog cassette recorder. It would take three or four minutes for the computer to even read a program and then run it.

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  26. Following from the A to Z Challenge.

    I have my family today because I played MUSHes on the computers at college in the early 90's. I know that I should jiggle the cords and make sure they are plugged in if part of the computer does not appear to be working. I can replace batteries in my cordless mouse. Other than that...it's a honey-do thing.

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    1. I'm sure he is happy to do it for you.

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  27. I would so love for someone to pay me to install a printer. Maybe even to hit print a couple of times and teach them how to activate protection against adware/malware. You're so lucky for having an interest in computers in the past. *High fives*

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  28. I've always been a nerd, but I'm actually being appreciated for my nerdy tendencies. My coworkers actually dubbed me "Princess Nerd" and they meant it in a good way.

    Hi from Nagzilla bloghopping A to Z

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  29. You certainly were ahead of the curve when it comes to computer owning!

    I only got my first computer in the mid-90s, and that was the "family computer". Didn't get internet on a computer till 2000.

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    1. As much as I loved computers and technology, I didn't have internet until about '98 or '99. When I went off to college, they had internet. I think I surfed for two months straight before going to class.

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  30. Most people's computer problems can be fixed by running some spyware, installing a decent antivirus, and standing next to the person's desk to smack their knuckles with a ruler every time they download an attachment from an unfamiliar email or install a browser app or toolbar. Great post, though. I'm still known in my hometown as "that girl who's a really great writer," -- luckily, I still am. ;)

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    1. YES YES YES. My computers last for years since I don't install stupid stuff, never open attachments and have some great antivirus software. I wish real life was a easy.

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  31. Sounds a lot like me. I had my first computer (which I soldered together from a kit, and then made home-designed hardware modifications to) back in 1979.

    I did go into IT as a profession, but strictly applications development, and I haven't even done that for nearly a decade. Most of the IT world passed me by over the years, and I depend on my wife to look after our technology at home because I am utterly lost.

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    1. Sounds like you were well ahead of me. Isn't it amazing how far behind you can fall?

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  32. The people at work think I'm a computer expert, anytime they can't figure out how to do something, they call me. It's usually that I'm not an expert, it's that they don't know how to do something basic. I certainly don't think of myself as an expert, but if they want to, more power to them.

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    1. That's basically where I am. I don't mind being praised.

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