Occasionally, I go back in time and read my old articles. This shortened version of “User-Friendly” was written in 1995. Although I’m no longer “on the road,” my life is still connected on a daily basis with a computer and basically, things haven’t changed that much!
Computers are NOT user-friendly. But, don’t say anything against them because it is recorded in their floppies or hard disk and the minute they know you are returning their hostility, you’re had it. Last spring my office was parked where I had an unobstructed view of dawn pulling itself over the hills. Solar was the energy of the day.
It was a good-attitude day until I flipped the computer “on” switch. A glaring absence of little red lights and little green lights and all those clicking noises assured me my morning was not going to continue in the manner in which it had begun. The usual “Threaten it with superior strength” didn’t work. Obviously, it knew I hadn’t had my morning coffee. I checked the plug. That wasn’t the problem. I went for the screwdriver. It knew I meant business.
A few choice words appeared on the monitor of my mind. I stifled, unplugged, and pulled out the CPU, that stands for “box in which hard disc lives.” I pulled the top off. For years, I was so afraid of the computer monster that whenever it gave me a sick look and refused 7-up and crackers, I took it to a technician. With being in the boonies where even a repairman wouldn’t go, I became braver and more self-reliant.
I looked into the deep recesses of bits, bytes, bats, chips, microchips, and potato chips. I wiggled the boards and pushed and pulled. I blew and I blew and I nearly blew the house down or at least off its wheels. After the dust settled and I coughed for a half hour, I held my breath and flipped the switch. An inch of light appeared on the screen. It was playing hard ball. No cursor, no lights, no noises except for a hum that indicated it was toying with my temper. It didn’t work right but it worked well enough to give me a message that the keyboard wasn’t plugged in.
With the keyboard plug snugly in its socket, that little cursor sang and danced as the red lights blinked and the green lights blinked and the usual good morning messages were once more greeting me from the screen.
That machine shared my stories until I was finally convinced to get all new equipment. My computer-literate daughter selected the new system, set it up, and introduced us. I tell you folks, for a lady born in a log cabin, I’m not sure I’m modern enough to have a male computer live in my office. You ask, “How does she know it’s a male computer?” Hey, I may be slow but I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. Let me clue you in.
Way back when, the saying was, “Let me come up and see your etchings.” For the next couple of decades, it was, “Your pad or mine?” This new Gateway has a CD Rom (whatever that is) and two small speakers attached to the sides of the monitor. I blow in its ear to clear the dust and a sexy voice says, “Wanna check out my chips?” I not only get speed but I get heavy breathing first thing every morning. My daughter said this 486 (?) is so much faster than the 286 (?).” She doesn’t know the half of it.
Well, I thought I could beat this object from an alien world; after all, I’m an adult. I travel North America by myself. I am brave, true, loyal, faithful, and kind. However, if you can’t lick ’em, confuse ’em. This morning when I turned on the computer, I nodded my silver head very fast and alternately blinked my blue eyes. The computer gave me a startled screen and said in a very sexy voice, “Wanna Link up with me, Baby?” AAAAAGH
In 2013 I can only say, God Bless until next week.
Winter in the Wilderness, the first e-book novel published by Minshall, is offered at most Internet book sites. A print edition may be obtained from Amazon, or you can order an autographed copy from the author at Box 1040, Congress, AZ for $7.95 plus $3.50 for postage and handling. The fourth edition of RVing Alaska and Canada is available through Amazon.com.
At 45, Widow Minshall began 20 years of solo full-time RVing throughout Alaska, Mexico, and Canada. Sharlene canoed the Yukon, mushed sled dogs, worked a dude ranch, visited Hudson Bay polar bears, and lived six months on a Mexican beach. She lectured at Life on Wheels, published six RV-related books and wrote a novel, “Winter in the Wilderness.”