The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Yes, but first you have to press some buttons

Hello, my name is Douglas and I am addicted to helping relatives with their computers. I can't seem to help myself. I am not an expert on computers but I have been around them and using them since 1977. Of course, those first few years were on somewhat larger computers. I bought my first personal computer, an Osborne1 (strangely, there was never an Osborne2 or higher) in late 1981 or early 1982. I got into programming but not very deeply. A smattering of BASIC, C, Pascal, and CP/M Assembly. I wrote a few simple programs and utilities but I never had the knack for it. I got into electronic bulletin boards (BBS) and enjoyed running one for many years (1989 to 1996).

I started my BBS because I did have some expertise in data communications. I knew about modems; how to configure them and troubleshoot data communication problems. Running the BBS taught me a few things about computers. I learned to install various pieces of hardware like floppy and CD-ROM drives, video cards, sound cards, power supplies, motherboards, memory, and hard drives. I learned to install and uninstall programs. And I found I liked sharing that knowledge. I liked helping people.

I learned something about people from doing this. Some don't like being helped... even if they asked for it. Some become attached and dependent on the helper. Some even resent being helped. And some just can't be helped. And there are those who are combinations of two or more types.

I have a brother-in-law. He dislikes computers and has resisted dealing with them for some time. He's a smart man but stubborn. I know he's capable of learning. He's college educated, a retired Army colonel (Infantry, he'll tell you proudly), and he has varied interests in things like philately and numismatics. I don't care much for those pursuits but we do share a love of golf and of music from the 30's through the 50's. Otherwise, we are at odds most of the time. Every time I would come over to straighten out some problem my sister was having with her computer, he wanted no part of it.

He once worked as a salesman where he had to use a laptop computer but that was only using proprietary software designed for the company for the sales program. It was a specific tool for a specific job. He had no interest in what else it could do. And,in fact, didn't like using it for its designed purpose.

He learned that there are places on the internet where he could indulge his love of stamps and coins and finally decided he should get a computer and learn to use it.

And so he has. Bought a computer, that is. I offered to put in a wireless router so he could use the DSL connection my sister has and to help him get his computer configured. I am, at heart, a masochist.

I accomplished that yesterday but I also observed something about learning. He wanted to be able to go online and access stamp and coin auction sites. He didn't want to know the basics, wasn't interested in anything other than those auction sites and how to get there. He would ask why he needed a password, or why he had to have an email account, or how he would access the internet and so on but he really wasn't interested in the answers except in the context of his goals.

Child-like, in a way. He wanted to run so he wasn't interested in learning to walk. Only it's not so cute in a 79 year old man.


paul said...

This blog brought a real smile to my face since I happen to also know the "retired Army colonel (Infantry, he'll tell you proudly)". Too bad I don't have any old Canadian stamps, I'd give him one the next time we golf together ....

Douglas4517 said...

I am not sure he collects "furrin" ones.


Wnyokie said...

Douglas...this was amusing. Thank for sharing. While  I have your attention, can you tell me why I can't change the text size in my blogger posts in the the IE9. I discovered I can go into "edit HTML" tab and check spelling and bold the lettering but in the other tab compose it won't let me chance the text size (or check spelling).  I just downloaded IE9 which I assume was my first mistake.  Any suggestion?  (In the spirit of helping people with their computer problems...okay, I'm not a relative know.)  Eva

Douglas4517 said...

It's definitely a problem within IE, it also fails to do it with IE8. That
seems a bit odd. Blogger should be asked about it. I have no trouble with
Firefox. I tried playing with encoding options but it didn't help.

I don't recommend IE (for a number of reasons) but I am surprised that it
doesn't work as it should. It reads existing posts that used enlarged text
properly but I see no difference in text size when editing a new or existing

Contact Blogger... they'll probably advise you to switch to Chrome.