Tuesday, April 21, 2015

My Love-Hate Relationship with Technology

I was frustrated when my undergrad advisor told me I would probably not get a job after I graduated. It was because people would assume I did not know how to use technology because I would be 50 when I graduated.

Once upon a 20-years previously, I had taken a couple of college classes, and one was Computer Science. I had three young children at the time; I would leave for college when the youngest got on the kindergarten bus, and I would get home just about the same time he was getting home. This was in the pre-all-day kindergarten days.

Because the college was 45 minutes away and my sons were young, we ended up buying a computer for me to do my homework. It was an IBM with the flashing yellow C-prompt and MS-DOS. I still know how much it cost; when the price showed up on the cash register, I mistook it for our zip code. I did not think I had given the man my zip code. (The first number was a zero - it did not cost 10's of thousands of dollars!)

I was 30 at the time, and I had done some input on a CRT previously, but I had no computer language skills. The class was programming in FORTRAN. Why not Basic or COBOL? Any time I was at college and not in class, I was getting help from my professor.

At home, I learned how to email using Outlook, and I learned how to fax documents. Over the years, we update to a color monitor with Windows, so no C-prompt. I became quite proficient with Microsoft Office suite, which enabled me to get a job as an office manager.

I went from that job to college and brought my laptop and Blackberry with me. This is what caused the frustration. When my advisor told me it would be assumed I did not know how to use technology, I asked if hiring professionals would not assume I knew how to use it since I was just graduating now. She said they would not. Why was I getting an education if I would not be able to use it?

The irony was that I was a tutor and one of the subjects I tutored was the use of Excel, specifically, and Word, if needed. I also became skilled with Project Manager, which was reinforced and enhanced when I went to graduate school. I was not a paid tutor for my classmates, but I did help them with the Excel and Project Manager when they needed it.

Now, when I was getting my education, I went through a number of laptops. I do not know if I was just unlucky or if carting them back and forth caused them to die rapid deaths. I started with an Acer, and then went to an HP, then to an Asus, then a Toshiba - four laptops in five years. Ugh! 

I also needed to replace my Blackberry, a television and a stereo. The Blackberry was replaced with a touch-screen smartphone. The television was 11 years old and died just before signals went from analog to digital. The television had passed the signal test, so it was not because of that. I think it was just old. 

Blackberry Curve
The stereo did not die; it was 30+ years old and went with my ex when we separated - it was his to begin with, and had a record player and reel-to-reel tape player. I bought one with CD and cassette players. The CD player did not survive the moves related to grad school, and I gave it to a friend who did not use CDs. I did not replace it that time.

My last college Toshiba had started acting up, so I bought a new Toshiba last Halloween day - it was a treat for me. My middle son and I were talking about something on my computer he needed to see, so I handed it to him. The problem arose when each of us thought the other one had a hold of it - it landed in an upside-down V on the floor. One hinge had broken and continued use caused the monitor case to start to separate.

Toshiba Satellite
I sent the computer out for repair two weeks ago, so I have been using the old Toshiba with its own issues. Well, I received an email telling me I would be receiving a check instead of a repaired computer. I had totaled the new one.

Let me just say right here, it is a good thing I have not been as hard on my cars - my current one is over nine years old and runs perfectly. (Knock on wood.) 

Here comes the hard decision - what to replace the broken laptop with? I have a separate monitor, which I bought in grad school so I could have a spreadsheet on one screen and a document on the other. I am considering buying a separate desktop computer instead of a laptop. I do not really travel with a computer anymore. I am also considering making the switch to a tablet, because I own a wireless keyboard I could use with it. Alternatively, should I stay with a laptop?

It is too bad I do not know how to use technology.