Marines.Together We Served

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Technologically Challenged

Boy, do I need help! It’s not easy to admit to this, but I have not managed to even get much beyond using a computer as a word processor.

Today’s world requires, nay, demands that we be “computer literate.” Okay, fine. I’m all too aware that those in their forties and up did not grow up with PCs. I still remember our first television with its nine inch screen. Then, wonder of wonders, along came color TV.

I knew this advancement into technology would continually change. What I didn’t realize was how much I was going to need to adapt to those changes.

Some of my friends still refuse to enter the world of personal computers (PCs). Some have only recently made the transition because they want to communicate with their grandkids, so they’ve even learned how to download photos to be sent as attachments.

In 1988 I was assigned to the Naval Communications Station on Rough and Ready Island in Stockton. I immediately became aware of the encroachment of technology when I saw the very large computer on the desk in my office. I reminded myself that this was, after all, a communications base. I was told that we could send messages to each other on the base through our computers and never leave our desk. I said, "What’s wrong with using the phone?” Seemed like a logical question. The look I received in return made me feel like a Neanderthal. Well, no matter. This base was so small that if I really needed to speak with someone, I could walk to their office in a matter of minutes. Problem solved, or so I thought. After all, I had an IBM Selectric typewriter, which at the time was the “cat’s meow.”

However, there was a nagging thought that would not leave me alone. People all around me were learning to use PCs. One day I received a phone call from the Navy Chief of Chaplains office in Washington, DC, informing me that I had been chosen to attend post-graduate school. This was very exciting news! I spent many hours researching the different schools I might attend. My top three were: Duke, Princeton, and Claremont. I soon discovered that they required all work to be done on a computer. Alas, I could no longer avoid the inevitable. I remember sitting at my desk, knowing I had to make the break. With a sigh, I reached under the desk, unplugged my beloved Selectric, lovingly carried it to my secretary and asked her to find it a good home. I then walked back to my desk, sat down and began searching for the computer’s on/off button.

Since then, I have had several computers, with the most recent purchase performing more like a word processor. It’s a Dell Inspiron 1150 Mobile Intel Pentium 4 Processor. So it would seem I’m right back where I started from! The only apparent difference is that this has many more bells and whistles than the computer I started with sixteen years ago. That’s why I need help. I think I’ll call my friend, Bruce. He’s a whiz at this stuff.

Now if I can only remember how to bring up his number on my cell phone!

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