Now everyone’s gone high-tech [UPDATED]Published 7:35am Monday, January 14, 2013 Updated 9:38am Monday, January 14, 2013
So as I attempt to write this column on an iPad (not the easiest, but easier than I thought) one thought came through my head: I’m glad I was a computer nerd (at least partially) as a kid.
I say this because I have been deemed the person who has to help a particular pair of people learn to use a new laptop they were given for Christmas. This isn’t any laptop; this is the first computer they’ve ever owned. Ever.
Both have used computers at work, but based on my experience so far, not enough to quickly catch on to all of the computer nuances that most of us — including my eight-year-old daughter — take for granted.
Back to my own childhood. For his generation, my father was ahead of his time when it came to computers (still is, evidenced by this iPad I am typing on). We had a Commodore 64 when I was in eighth grade, and later had a version of the PC (with a disk drive and not a tape recorder! And a real hard drive!) My father understood how to use spreadsheets before Microsoft Excel was invented. We also were in a (nerdy) computer club, and spent an evening a month with other Little Falls residents at the weekly newspaper, hacking our favorite games and making copies for everyone to share.
As the technology continued to advance, I guess I went along for the ride. It helped that, in the newspaper business, understanding how computers work is essential.
But clearly, it wasn’t a ride everyone went on.
These new computer owners are anything but dim. They have accomplished a lot in their careers and their lives. They just don’t understand a few things about computer that the rest of us understand, sort of like breathing. A few examples:
• They haven’t figured out that a computer doesn’t break unless you a.) smash it with a sledgehammer, or b.) Own it for at least five years. Sure, there always the chance someone sends you a virus, but they haven’t owned a computer long enough for that to happen. They are still under the belief that, if you fiddle with something too much, you might break it.
On computers, fiddling is essential. If I can’t get something to work on a computer (and Windows 8 is certainly something I couldn’t get to work right away) I just start clicking stuff until I figure it out.
• All computers are basically the same, but they don’t look the same. The way they sell computers these days, you have to deal with a pile of preloaded stuff that, clearly, generate supplemental revenue for the computer company and helps reduce the price of the computer. Computer veterans simply throw the superfluous programs out. To a novice, however, all that extra stuff leads to further confusion.
• User names and passwords are required for virtually everything you do on a computer. The new computer owner didn’t quite understand that the user name and password for one piece of software, web site, modem or wireless router has nothing to do with another. In a few months, I’m also sure they won’t understand why they are required to change their user name and password (frankly, I haven’t figured that one out either.)
It would be easy to make fun of these computer novices. But in the end, I feel their pain, and I actually admire them for, this late in the game, deciding to get into the mix.
Besides, I’m not really that “new-school” anyway. The idea of typing this column on an iPad? Kind of a pain, as it turns out. Maybe if I just use that voice recognition feature…
• • •
Now that the Vikings’ season is over, the injury to Kevin Love means the Timberwolves are officially settled at mediocre, and the National Hockey League players and owners finally caved and decided to play some games this season, hockey fans jubulant last summer can soon see the dream line-up come to life.
In July, the Minnesota Wild signed forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Sutor, considered the two biggest free agent prizes last year. Combined with current stars Mikko Koivu and Dany Heatley, along with soon-to-be-ready prospects such as Mikael Granlund, Jonas Brodin, Matt Dumba and Charlie Coyle, it looked like an exciting season.
Of course, all of that had been put on hold, up to now.
I know I should be upset that the NHL couldn’t get its act together. But you have to admit, after many years of subpar hockey (among the many subpar Minnesota sports teams) if the Wild are as good on the ice as they are on paper, it will be hard not to stop the remote on their channel.
Joel Myhre is The Journal’s publisher. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org