Four days and four nights

I was reminded this weekend of Junior High. I was selected as part of an elite group of students who were invited to try out this new thing called a personal computer. We were whisked off to a neighboring High School’s cafeteria, where we were introduced to a Hewlitt Packard the size of a mini-van.

Under the careful supervision of the Florida voting commission, we punched chads out of a stack of cards large enough to denude several acres of rain forest. The object was to create a loop program that would continually add two to the previous number in a sequence until such time as they either pulled the plug, or came out with the Commodore PC. This program was not designed for any useful purpose other than training for future Florida elections.

This weekend, while the good people of Adobe tech support were enjoying three days of unbridled debauchery (playing Dungeons and Dragons in their mom’s basement), I was struggling to install the latest and greatest version of Adobe Acrobat. Unfortunately, it didn’t want to talk to the earliest and barely adequate version of Word.

The saga continues.

With computers, the more I learn, the less I know. There’s always at least one mystery cable under my desk. Sometimes it’s not even hooked up to anything, but I’m afraid that if I move it, my computer will spontaneously combust.

As a writer, I jealously guard my laptop from damage, theft, or space invaders (Atari – too long ago to remember). I don’t feel any need to understand how it works. As long as the little blue light comes on when I push the button, I can sleep well at night (or at my desk, as the case may be.)

News flash: since starting to write this, my authorization code for a lower version of Acrobat came through! I can finally leave my computer to take a shower, change my underwear, and go to the bathroom. Film at 11:00.

15 thoughts on “Four days and four nights

  1. I remember in Grade 8, our teacher had this computer in our classroom…the only thing it did was play “Space Invaders” and this stupid Indian Rain dance thing…that was it…I remember thinking this thing was the greatest invention…


  2. You little computer nerd you. I operated one of those prehistoric mainframes when I was in the Air Force. Punched those cards. Put boxes of them through card reader machines. Hung tapes (big big tapes) on the tape machines. Exciting job. Not.
    The ultimate in punishment was if you got “special duty” in the tape library room, where you had to pull tapes that the big monster computer was hungry for……or you had to file tapes the big computer no long had an apetite for. He was a hungry computer. And get this: One a month, he took a dump. I.Kid.You.Not. I will explain sometime but I will let you chew on that tidbit of info for awhile.

    • I hope you didn’t have to clean up the … you know. I’m picturing half digested punch cards, and a big tangled mess of tape on the floor.

  3. “This program was not designed for any useful purpose other than training for future Florida elections.”

    Florida elections had training?

    • Someone had to check for dangling chads. I’m sure there’s a manual for that.

  4. My first “computer” was a word processor–a so-called portable that weighed around fifty pounds. My poor tech guy lived twenty miles away and had to make almost daily trips to correct the many problems I caused. Collin, however, could handle the thing with ease. He was only ten at that time. I asked Jim why Collin could do anything with it but I kept screwing up.

    Jim patiently explained, “Collin’s not intimidated by it.”

  5. A couple of years ago I was on the phone with the technology help line at the company I worked for. When I was having trouble understanding what the “help” person wanted me to do, he asked me if there was a kid in the house he could talk to.
    The bastard!

  6. Since my son grew up, I have to borrow a kid to open childproof medication bottles.

  7. I was selected as part of an elite group of students in Junior High too. We were supposed to go to the Soviet Union. Then the government collapsed. I hate it when you’re supposed to go somewhere and the government collapses. What a pain in the ass.

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