Computer technology 11-5-23

For more than half of my life, I managed just fine without computers and their upgrades. That all began to change the spring I took an introductory computer class at South Arkansas Community College. After the final exam I told Hubby, “We need to buy a computer.”

Hubby bought a portable computer. It matched the size and weight of a well packed overnight suitcase.  He also purchased a consumer friendly manual for learning how to program a computer. My oldest son, a junior high student, plunked down in front of the computer, opened the book and plunged into the world of computers. He never really returned. He spent the summer working his way through that manual and the one that followed. At first he told me about the techniques he tried and learned. After the third or fourth time that I fearfully cautioned him, “don’t mess up the computer”, he quit telling me how deeply he probed.

 In less than two years, at his father’s request, he wrote a program to simplify reports from the company’s lab. The last I heard, that company still uses Sonny’s program with only a few upgrades

Sonny’s fingers never left computer keys from that summer forward. He majored in computers in college while working 20 hours a week doing computer benchmarks. Whenever he came home, we all had a list of things for him to fix on our computers. Then he moved hundreds of miles away. We expanded our repertoire of repair folks including contracting with a computer support group. Between hackers, viruses and our clicking the wrong answer, we needed all the help we could get. Without it, Hubby would expound at length at any computer frustration.

Before he retired, he moaned and groaned every time his company upgraded computers or programs and he had to learn new techniques. Once I began working for the El Dorado News Times, I understood exactly. Every time the company kept up with technology, I had to relearn something. 

Even in retirement I encounter the hassle of “upgrades.” Recently I had to upgrade my website where I have all my 30-some years of columns on the Internet. For me, when I need to check previous columns, it is faster to do a search on than to flip through 1,500 clipped columns. Last week, I finally heeded all the website’s requests to upgrade the site. With no clue how to address the alphabet soup of programs, I asked another computer savvy son to intercede. He puzzled his way through many options. He found the upgrades and clicked the correct boxes. I should be good for another year or two.

We resisted cell phones until our children gave us one to use to track us down when we travel. Eventually I acquired a smart phone with a camera and internet. It has become a necessity. When the cellphone towers converted from 4G to 5G, the company assured me my expensive 4G phone would still work.

It did not. Not really.

After two trips to the phone shop for tedious explanations and digital manipulations, I gave up. “I don’t have time to mess with this. I am about to take a trip. I need a phone.”

Like magic the technician transferred everything to my new phone. I did not have to re-enter every phone number or download all the pictures I wanted to keep. Plus, surprise, the thing charged the battery super fast. That’s one upgrade of which I heartily approve. For the rest, well technology serves its purpose, even when I must run fast to keep up with it.