Missing a click

Over the last few days, I have received a great deal of help and advice about how to alter sizes and ratios of photographs to insert into blog posts. The community has responded as it always does, offering genuine concern, good tips, and encouragement. There is never ridicule or scorn, or mocking of lack of ability. That is incredibly heart-warming in this day and age, and restores my faith in human nature, once again. My thanks go out to all of you, along with my sincere appreciation.

It has made me think though. I am not of an age where computer use was taught at school. It was not a feature of any job I ever did either, until my last one. I used pen and paper, or worked things out in my head. When I saw a computer for the first time, I gazed at it with ignorance and wonderment, like an Amazonian tribesman watching a jumbo jet traverse the sky.

When the first cash machines appeared in London, I still went inside the bank and wrote a cheque for cash. After renting my first VHS player, I reversed the tape numerous times, to watch the actors walking backwards. I was amazed. I was using technology, but not really embracing it, or understanding how it worked. The reason was simple enough, I didn’t want to know. I had no interest in the hardware, or the software that made the hardware function. As long as I could watch the film by pressing play, I was unconcerned about the rest. I was interested in the films, and wanted to get straight into them.

During my life, I have collected and stored a huge amount of information. Some of this has been because of interest, some was necessary for jobs. Historical facts and events, constantly devoured from reading something I was passionate about, wanted to know about. Obscure details relating to cars during the 1970s, at a time when I was very interested in motoring, rest in my brain alongside the location of thousands of streets in London, required by my job in the LAS. Later on, when I developed an interest in cameras and photography, I studied models and types in great detail, as well as some of the technical aspects, in the hope of taking better photos.

I came very late to all the rest. I didn’t have a mobile phone, as most people did. I couldn’t see the point. When my Mum became ill, in 1999, I reluctantly got one, so she could contact me at work. It was necessary at the time, and only ever used as a telephone. When I joined the Met Police as a communications officer, in 2001, I bluffed my computer knowledge, claiming an understanding of the basics of computing, and getting through with a good level of keyboard skills, from experience of using a manual typewriter. They sent me on a six week pass-or-fail course. It was very intensive, but only as far as the national police systems were concerned. There was no Microsoft Word, nothing remotely similar to a a PC, and even the keyboard was purpose-built, with familiar keys serving very different functions.

I struggled, but passed with a good enough mark considering my skill level. I still didn’t have a computer at home, and my camera still shot film. I had graduated to using cash machines, but still sent cheques in payment for bills. (And still do) In 2004, I decided to buy a laptop. It seemed to be the thing to do, and access to the Internet at work was making me miss the facility at home. I have written about this before, so won’t go into great detail. The laptop arrived, and I had to go to spend the day at a friend’s house, so he could show me how to use it. He kindly wrote down some ‘idiot guides’ to frequently used functions, and sent some other tips by e-mail.

Trouble was, I only had dial-up at 56kps in my flat in Camden. I couldn’t afford broadband at the time, and I wasn’t even sure if it was available in the area. Everything took an age to load, multi-tasking was virtually impossible, and even e-mails took forever to send. I bought a mobile broadband dongle, offering better speeds, but it still failed to enthuse me. When some of my friends and family were engaging with Apple systems, or learning all they could about Microsoft, I was still reading books, or watching films on my recently purchased DVD player. And my camera still shot film.

Fast forward to Norfolk, the year 2012. I decide to start a blog, and by now I also have a digital camera. I hate the digital camera though, as every time I have to download photos, create folders or files, it seems like an interminable chore. Besides, it never seems to work the same each time. I seek advice, and I am told to click on this, and to make sure that I don’t click on that, definitely not that. I write down instructions like a shopping list. 1) Do this. 2) Then that. 3) Don’t click on that!) I slavishly follow them each time, and each time the result is different. Photos are called pictures, pictures are called files, files are called media. Every platform calls them something different, and there seems to be no uniformity, no consistency.

There’s another problem of course. I am just not interested in computing. It doesn’t grab me, and I don’t get it. Part of me doesn’t even want to get it. I just want to write my blog, send my e-mails, insert my photos. And I want it to be easy to do, and the same everywhere. Is that too much to ask? I didn’t think it was, but apparently it is a ridiculous suggestion. I have become more than aver aware of my limitations. I am shown something over and over, and it doesn’t sink in. I am sent a written instruction, which I follow to the letter, and it still doesn’t happen. I should have clicked on this, not that, I am told. I didn’t have much interest to lose, but I have certainly lost what little there was.

Somewhere along the way, I have missed a click.

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26 thoughts on “Missing a click

  1. It seems like I’ve always been using word processing. I don’t recall the Xerox machine I once used, but it stored keystrokes on a magnetic tape. Shortly afterwards, I graduated to the Vydec, a black and white dedicated word processor paired with a standalone printer. Both used large floppy discs. Next up was a CPT word processor whose standalone printer accommodated a variety of daisy wheels, which I swapped in and out during document printing in order to produce various fonts, italics, etc. Finally, the desktop PC found its way into my life, and that’s where I’ve been stuck all these many years. I’ve never had a laptop and don’t want one. I learned how to type on an old cast iron Underwood, and so I continue to pound the keys like a maniac with lead weighted fingers.

    I’ve been a “user” for much of my life, but have very little knowledge about hardware and software. I basically learn what I need to know to get by. For example, I learned just enough about GIMP 2 to create a book cover for my wife. I do feel like I’ve become a tech dinosaur, but I don’t really feel I have a great need for the latest gadgets, or that I need to learn software programs beyond any immediate short-term need..

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    1. Thanks, David. I missed the computer age by just enough years to never quite grasp it. I know many people of the same age, and older, who are very comfortable with them though. Maybe it’s just one of those things that didn’t sink in with me, like learning how to swim.
      Regards as always, Pete.

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  2. No one is too old to learn something new I guess. It all depends on how interested you are to try. On second thought, your blog posts are just interesting to read even without those pics. I’ve finally learned Opera this morning instead of using Firefox as my browser. It is easier and faster to use.

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    1. Thanks, Arlene. I agree that we are never too old to learn. It seems that there are certain things that just refuse to stay in my head. The day that I wrote this post, I was exceptionally frustrated by my lack of IT skills!
      Best wishes as always, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a luddite, too, who has been forced by my profession to remain current as technology progresses. I hate cell phones and wonder why people can’t talk to each other any more. Nope. One must send an e-mail. πŸ™‚

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  4. Oops! Pressed ‘send’ by mistake! Meanwhile, ask me how to use a mobile phone and I really have to think. Mostly, I don’t go out often enough to need one, except for emergencies. I also haven’t the faintest idea how to use the DVD player. At the time when everyone else was learning these things, watching films fried my brain. So I’ve learnt to keep myself amused in other ways. (I was never particularly interested in watching TV). Like I said, we learn what we feel we need to learn and do little more than muddle through with the rest…

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    1. Thanks Ros, got it in two parts, no problem. I have had such a lot of valuable feedback, but the downside of all that is that it has left me feeling more inadequate than ever. I suppose we all do what we do best. For me, that doesn’t include computing!
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m thinking we generally learn what is of most use to us. For example, we had e-mail quite early on because my husband worked abroad and it was cheaper and easier than using the phone. When I became ill, my laptop became my communication link with the outside world. So sharing words and pictures in all sorts of formats became something I wanted to be able to do

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  6. Heehee. And you were not alone. My wife bought me my first mobile phone. I told no one at work about it lest they bother me on my time!! As for “computers”, my kids had an “Adam” and a tape drive job. Got them more “K” each Christmas and new games (you could add “K” to your computer then with a card). I still have an ancient desk top running Windows XP! Might as well have a lance and shield! Regards

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    1. I have XP on my laptop, which now lives in the loft, unwanted and unused. I was just getting used to Windows 7, when they released 8, then 9, and now 10! I have dutifully avoided all upgrades.
      Best wishes, Pete.

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  7. Oh dear indeed. I suppose it is very different for me as I caught the computer bug in my thirties and even went on to do a degree in IT. So although I sometimes despair of it I have been an enthusiastic learner and will doggedly find out how to do something. I could suggest looking in your local library or college to see if they do free or cheap digital photography/editing courses but you’ll probably scream at me πŸ˜‰

    My advice? For what it is worth. Keep it simple. Download https://pixlr.com/desktop for the PC and use the fast option where you can resize, crop and straighten images. Then save the file as image quality 6 or 7 which should give you a small file (if you give it a different name it won’t overwrite the original – or save the file in a different folder). Learn these steps and it will become second nature.

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    1. Thanks for your patience with me Jude, and for your valued advice. I might get around to it, I am not sure. I am pretty fed up with it all at the moment, as you can tell. I feel that it is a case of expectations exceeding abilities, and I am not 100% certain I want to do all this stuff, just to add photos.
      I did look into courses a while back. They are all at strange times, and varied locations around Norfolk, as is to be expected. It sort-of falls into the category of ‘life is too short’ at the moment, but that might well change.
      Thanks again for your perseverance, it is appreciated a great deal.
      Regards as always, Pete. x.

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      1. Well I for one, and I’m sure everyone else in your circle will agree, you don’t actually NEED photos on your blog (we are just being greedy) as you write so beautifully and paint the pictures in words. Life is too short to get stressed. Just saying… πŸ˜‰

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  8. Oh dear! Anyway, you write a very engaging blog, Pete! And I had some computer lay woes today which wasted a good 3 hours…I could receive e-mails, but not send them, and it took three attempts to finally get someone to tell me what the outgoing mail server address needed to be…then we discovered the wrong port numbers had been entered…..how, I don’t know because it had all been fine for several years…..I know, that was all information overload 😳

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    1. Thanks, Sue. That is exactly what I am on about. Things go well for long periods of time, then just stop working, or change the way they translate things, and all for no apparent reason.
      And I thought it was just me…
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

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