The Digital Divide

I was off today and worked really hard not to pop into the office because that always results in me spending the rest of the day there. I will admit I called..but only once. ieTV is completely addictive when I am there I love it but I yearn for a day off sometimes, and yet, when I am not there I want to be in the thick of things and I usually wander in just to check. Today I ended up sleeping in and having wonderful dreams, including several about work, and doing a lot of chores I don’t normally have time to do like cleaning. I fired my maid several months ago after realizing she wasn’t cleaning to my satisfaction and was spending most of her time hiding my most used things in strange places. I reached my nadir with her when she decided my razor was best placed under the kitchen sink.

Anyhow, to the topic at hand, I am frequently amazed that most of the world is so dim when it comes to the technology that runs their lives. When I say most of the world I mean people I know..but then again…perhaps I only know people of a certain age. It seems all of my friends and family are technology challenged. I seem to be the help desk for most of the hemisphere. I know I have been accused of being less than empathetic but I truly don’t understand why people I know don’t understand the basics of technology. Many, many. many years ago I got my first computer ( an Apple IIc) and saw the future unfold in front of my eyes. I fell on my knees in front of the Gods of Wozniak and Jobs ( more Woz). I remember, with a few tears, my first BBS experiences and the realization I could chat with other people from my computer. I was, at the time, at the University of Toronto and learning the many intricacies of this new concept. I learnt PL1, FORTRAN, BASIC, COBOL and APL and probably a few other programming languages. In those days there were punch cards involved which is a bit disturbing. I kept up and have never stopped learning languages that help me understand computers and what they can do. My hardware experience is much more limited but I make the effort.

At this stage in my life I am puzzled by the fact most of the people I know have no clue about computers or software or, for that matter, the difference between them.Am I the only person over 30 in my group that understands the basics of computing and the internet? Apparently so. I spent this evening installing a new printer on my dear friend Robin’s iBook. Robin has never, ever ,seen an electrically powered device he understands. I convinced him to buy a Mac after his previous Dell that confused him too much and he was happy until his printer died. The concept of adding hardware is alien to Rob and thus Vern must come in.I also had to explain to him that 7 years is a ripe old age for a printer and he should not be cursing the good people at HP. I should mention his first Mac died as a result of a power surge but God bless him he said he wanted another one..so we got him an (ick ick ick..vomit) Intel MacBook. Rob does not know the difference between a CPU and a screen and I fear he is typical of my friends.

To end this tiring discussion I present my list of things not to ask in your questions to Vern:

  1. If you are looking at my iMac and I ask you to turn it on..do not reach under the desk….the screen is the computer. There is no block under the desk.

  2. Telling me “It is freaking out” is not a helpful statement.

  3. I don’t do Windoze so don’t ask me why you are getting an error message.

  4. Macs can surf the internet, open MS Word documents ( Office was on Macs before Windows), and not blow up doing normal things so don’t ask me stupid questions about this.

  5. The “Finder” I  agree is a stupid idea. The “start” button is clever…even for MS.

  6. If your computer is smoking I can’t help you.

And my secret to a great Thai mussel soup: Kaffir lime leaves, sea salt, Thai fish sauce, grated ginger, fresh habanero pepper, chopped culantro, coconut milk and lime juice squeezed as it is served. Obviously the mussels must be tossed in after the stuff comes to a boil and it also helps to toss in some chopped culantro ( or cilantro) when you are ready to serve it.

More tomorrow.

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