Thursday, June 03, 2010

An Old Cat Learns New Tricks

Yes, I know it is a misquote, but I'm a cat person rather than dog. I like dogs. I just like cats a whole lot more.

Now that you know that, on to the real content of the post.

Wednesday morning was my first official volunteer time at the historical society. Wednesday morning I learned just what I would be doing for the next few weeks (Wed. mornings only). My assignment (and I chose to accept it) is to scan LOADS of photographs that have been loaned to the society, save them in a file in the computer, print them, and then copy any label information from the original to the scanned copy. If I were doing it here, I'd say, "no problem". I do that kind of thing all the time.

On a PC.

The historical society is Mac.

I think I did quite well. I was shown the process once, worked on troubleshooting (a goof) once, loaded ink into a Lexmark printer/scanner once, and then carried on like I'd been working on that system forever.

Now I just have to remember what I did...for next week...that may be more difficult!

In 1994, I bought my first computer. That was a big deal. I (correctly) anticipated that my soon-to-be middle-school-er would be needing computer access for schoolwork. The problem was how to afford buying one. I was pretty much scraping by financially, month to month, having only started up my business a year and a half earlier. How could I do it?

The opportunity arose where I was able to buy a small grand piano for just $300 and I jumped on it. This piano would finance my computer purchase! I didn't need to do much major work on the piano. I reconditioned parts, cleaned, polished, tuned, and regulated the action. I did refinish the case. The job was mostly in labor and I then sold the piano for $3500.

My first computer, a Compaq Presario, with printer, cost around $3000. The computer desk was another few hundred.

And I was a wreck!

I got all the boxes into the house that first day. That evening I sat out in my workshop in a near panic attack. $3000+ sitting in those boxes in the house and I hadn't a clue. I was sure that the moment I tried ANYTHING with that enormous hunk of money disguised as a computer I would surely, irretrievably ruin it. Oh, what had I done?

After a restless night, daylight did arrive and the boxes were still there. Still untouched. I got 'A' off to school and went home to stare at my expensive blunder. Taking hold of my nerves, I began unpacking and trying to identify components. With all the cables, the monitor, the printer, the mouse, the CPU, keyboard, and ugly Compaq mouse pad unpacked, I breathed a sigh of relief and considered 'the unpacking' the greatest accomplishment of my day. I assembled the computer desk and that really gave me some satisfaction. THAT I knew how to do!

That evening I sat in my workshop once again feeling that panic creeping in to me.

After 'A' got home from school on day three, I decided it was time to assemble all those components. With her help, all cables and wires were connected. "Are you going to plug it in, mom?"

"No, I think that was enough for today. Tomorrow we'll try plugging it in."

Tomorrow seemed to arrive much too quickly. Maybe it was the sleepless night of nerves and dreams (maybe nightmares). $3000 sitting there just waiting for me to screw it up. I dreaded plugging it in. Seriously. With 'A' by my side, I plugged that cord from the surge protector into the wall outlet and...

Nothing happened.

Oh yeah, switch on the monitor and the CPU, idiot.

And there it was, lit up before us! We didn't have a clue what to do next. We didn't know how to make it DO anything. So now what?

We called AK, a good friend, and more importantly at that moment, a computer genius. He came to the rescue and got us set up and gave us a few pointers. A few days later, I got very brave and set up an ISP and email.

I've learned an incredible amount since those first days! Sometimes it all seems too much with email, newsgroups, mailing lists, digests, blogging, writing, digital photography, IP tracing, properties, sources, web searching, anti-virus, anti spyware, word processing, editing, preferences, printing, scanning, on and on.

And now Mac.

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