Showing posts with label computers. Show all posts
Showing posts with label computers. Show all posts

Jul 15, 2021

First-World Trials: Then Dreaded New Computer

 Happy cartoon broken computer logo royalty free stock imagesA few months ago, my computer started acting strangely. It wouldn't connect to the internet, or it if did, it wouldn't go beyond the home page. It saved all files as Read Only, no matter how many times I told it not to. And moving from site to site took forEVER.

My husband, blithe spirit that he is, said, "Don't keep fighting with it. Buy a new computer." This is a man who hands me his iPad whenever something isn't the way he wants it and expects that I'll return it in working order. He has NO idea what buying a new desktop means. 

Still, the computer is old, as computers go, and I use it every day for many things. It got to a point where I had to admit it was time. I ordered a new tower.

When it arrived at four p.m. two days ago, Hubby was excited. "Are you going to open the box?"

"Tomorrow," I replied, and he seemed disappointed. I'm sure there was a man standing over Pandora's shoulder saying, "Aren't you going to look and see what's in that box?"

Yesterday early on, when my mind and spirit were fresh and optimistic, I started. When I plugged the cords in all the right places, I saw the familiar "HI" and thought, like Sally Bowles, "Maybe this time, I'll be lucky..." But life isn't a cabaret, old chum. It's error messages and pings of distress from a machine that doesn't get why I keep plugging and unplugging when the effect is the same every time.

At first it went pretty well. I downloaded my on-line resources like Dropbox and Office without any trouble. I chose my own browser and home page, and unchecked the boxes that automatically install stuff I don't want. But as Gilda used to say, "It's always something." This time it's hardware. The computer didn't recognize any of my printers, my wireless keyboard, or my wireless mouse. They'd sent along the last two items (wired), so I used them to get started. Eventually I made the B&W printer and the photo printer work. It took digging out the disk to add my fancy color printer, but now it's there. I also had trouble getting my external hard drive to show up. I'm not sure how, but eventually it arrived.

I started at six a.m. yesterday That happened around three p.m.

Each time I went downstairs: for snacks, for lunch, for a short brain break, Hubby would ask, "How's it going?" My answers a word, terse. It's like when you're in labor. It's not really his fault, but yeah, it kind of is. He probably told the guys at golf yesterday afternoon that I was really grumpy, and I won't dispute that.

Every item mentioned above took between an hour and two hours to troubleshoot, and I still haven't got a wireless keyboard or mouse. Going online for advice is frustrating. They start with "Here's how to easily connect your wireless keyboard to your new computer," and then they lapse into some ancient tongue understandable only to druids. I write it down. I print it off. I do exactly as they say, until it comes to a point where the instructions no longer match what's on the screen or I've done each step and found that it changed nothing .

I have resigned myself to using a wired keyboard and mouse. I can learn to live with it. I know I can.

NOTE: Some of you are going to be tempted to send advice on how to fix my problems, but I advise against it. There will come a time when my new computer gives me joy and satisfaction. There might even come a time when my keyboard is again wireless. But leave it alone, because today is not that day.

Apr 15, 2015

An Interruption in Freebies

Winner of KILLING SILENCE was Patti T.
Due to the death of my laptop (purchased a scant six months ago) I'm suspending the freebies for this week. I hope the Princess Bride Effect is in play and the infernal machine is only mostly dead, but since I'll be traveling for the next few days, I have to leave it behind. I can't deal with daily updates to this blog on my iPad. Remember, my IT has DIO in the middle.

I've decided to pick the giveaways up again in May, when the third Sleuth Sisters book comes out, so stay tuned!
And don't forget to look for DEAD FOR THE SHOW, which will release on Monday whether I'm ready or not!

Mar 23, 2015

I'm an IT Person--with D-I-O in the Middle

Today's writer is supposed to know computer stuff. If I run an ad, they'll ask for photos with so many DPIs. It's expected that I will know how to convert the ones I have into the size they want. When I send a manuscript to someone, it has to be in a certain format: PDF for some, .mobi for others, etc. Again, it's expected I'll know how to provide those files. My websites/blogs have domains, at least in theory. I have no idea how to control them or even who's in charge of them. So while I'm a writer, toiling away to create stories people will want to read, I had to learn the basics of computer use beyond word processing, and now I have to keep up with new developments as things change.
IT I'm not. Things go wrong, and when they do, I'm likely to be helpless to correct them.
What would be great is to have a person who'll show up at my house at a moment's notice and solve the problem I'm having right then. I don't want to haul my computer to his/her office and leave it there for days. I don't want to explain the problem over the phone and have some professionally patient person give me step-by-step instructions using terminology that makes me feel like a kindergartener. And I don't want to schedule an appointment 3 days (or 3 weeks) hence, by which time I'll have forgotten what I did to create the problem and what I tried to do to fix it.
I chuckle at the ads that tell me how easy it is to do this or that online. Build a website in an hour! Host a blog that attracts thousands! Download software that makes your life a piece of angel food cake!
Yeah, right.
It isn't just my age, though I think growing up with computers has given newer generations an almost innate sense of how they work. Despite that, plenty of people a lot younger than I am confess they don't understand a fraction of what their cell phones can do. I once spoke with a young but high-level office executive who was unaware he was supposed to empty his temporary files periodically until the tech at his office showed him the gazillions of them that were slowing his computer down.
I think the capability that computers have leads designers to make them more and more complex, able to do all sorts of cool things. That's fine, but too many times computer people aren't word people. While they can visualize and create great apps, programs, and devices, they can't explain how to use them without using terms that make the average person give up and live without them. So here's my advice to designers of anything computer-related: Instead of installing all sorts of "helpful" functions that only make it harder to navigate my computer (ahem, Windows8), how about working on making directions a reasonably intelligent, college educated, highly-motivated user can actually understand?

Jul 30, 2014

Scary Books

I'm not a fan of the undead or vampires or cars with minds of their own. The "scary" books I like to read concern cutting edge science: where we're heading, what we will soon be able to do. Here are some examples from a scary book I'm currently reading.

We'll soon have lie detectors that can't be fooled. Brain activity shows up in different places when we lie than it does when we tell the truth. I'm not much of a liar (my face turns red and my eyes water, so my lies are easy to spot) but the idea that lies can be seen on MRIs or whatever is scary.

Scientists can also "watch" the movies in your head now and recreate what you were thinking about. It's pretty crude at present, but the computer reads brain activity, runs it through millions of possibilities, and figures out that that's a car, that's a person, etc. Once it has enough examples stored in its memory banks, it will be able to figure out what we're thinking from our brains' electrical activity.

Computers interface with brains more easily than brains interface with brains. The recently-publicized Google glasses are quickly becoming devices that read your mind. On the news last week a reporter took a photograph with the glasses, just by thinking about doing it.

Now why is this scary? Maybe it's not. Much of it is good, like using the brain-computer interface to help people who've lost limbs control artificial replacements. It's just that I come from a time when all this was science fiction: Luke Skywalker's replacement hand, Captain Kirk's communicator, and George Jetson's automatic house all become more real every day.

The creepy feeling I get might be fear of being unable to absorb all this and cope with it. I still make phone calls before leaving home, forgetting I can call from wherever I am. I hesitate to buy a new computer because of the learning curve it will require. And I don't do half the things my iPad is capable of, simply because I'm too lazy to figure them out.

It isn't necessarily fear of what's in those scary books. It's fear that I'm becoming a dinosaur.

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