That may sound like a strange declaration from a guy who’s made his name using computers, but it’s true. It’s a love-hate relationship.
Nothing does a better job of making me feel stupid than a computer — not my sons, my bosses, not even my cars.
“Computers,” of course, covers a wide range of subjects. No one does everything related to computers well. I think I do some really well, others about average, but then there are the ones that drive me crazy.
Software upgrades fall in the latter category, and that includes changing servers for this website. I don’t think I’ve ever upgrade an operating system on a computer or smartphone without complications. I know the recent move of this site from one hosting company to another didn’t go as smoothly as I’d hoped. My e-mail system is still a mess, and I just don’t have the time right now to clean it up.
It’s not just me: Hardware intended for consumer Windows machines 10-15 years ago used to be called “Plug ‘n Play,” meaning all you had to do was plug in the new board or device, and mirabile dictu, it would work. The computer techs, however, called it “Plug ‘n Pray,” because it rarely was that easy.
My wife once asked me how I became so good at using the computer. (She said it, not me.) I told her I wasn’t afraid to try something, then reboot the machine after it crashed, and try something else.
On a recent trip to Washington, D.C., by way of Appomattox, the navigation app on my iPhone stopped talking to me, so I had to keep picking it up and looking at the screen to see what my next turn would be. Since the app overrides the screensaver function, it quickly drains the device’s battery, and I had the phone plugged into a USB port. The cord became wrapped around the emergency brake lever, and at one point, I dropped the phone into my cup of Diet Dr. Pepper.
(I imagine several of you are wiping off your own computer monitors right now.)
I quickly fished the phone out of the drink (pun intended), but for the next day or so, I could only talk on it using the Bluetooth earpiece or the speakerphone.
I think I’m a pretty good computer-aided cachet designer, but twice recently, I’ve used the wrong version of a design for the master I submit to the printer: The .psd (PhotoShop) layered version versus the flattened .tif. The result was no text on the printed card, and the need to reprint the cards.
Luckily, or perhaps prudently, as I’m designing my Dragon Cards, I save all the intermediate steps. When I screw something up (and I do, I do), I go back to an earlier version.
No one understands everything about computers, or the Internet. We all have strengths and weaknesses, even the IT professionals.
“Those who live by the sword, die by the sword.” Or, in my case, the computer.