If you can tell, probably considering I mention it every time I write… I am pretty geeky. I prefer PC over Mac any day as I refuse to pay three times the amount for something I could build comparably myself. My skill set has gotten kind of dated though considering I started when DOS was still a big contender. Anyone even know what that is anymore? If you watch some older movies, you may see it when a computer screen only has two colors.
When I talk HDMI and VGA cables to my kid, I have to pull back and remember this all sounds like yiddish to them. I sort of became hooked into helping the after-school program my kid goes to revive some donated machines. One was little problem since it was XP and only just dropped from Microsoft’s radar, but the other was Windows 98. I stared in awe at this thing, other than a little bit of minor dust on the inside, looked pristine for being over 15 years old. I had new parts in a storage bin that didn’t have the shiny newness the inside of this thing had.
However, USB was just an up and coming technology when 98 came out, only grasping a firm hold when 98SE came along. The set up at this place has requires me to use wi-fi adaptors to connect to internet as they don’t have the funds to run that kind of elaborate cabling so it wouldn’t be a hazard. It’s been frustrating to say the least, mostly because trying to find software for something that old is near impossible. Windows ME (did anyone actually buy that one?) is the highest I can upgrade this box to as it only has 63 mg of ram. In the 90’s, RAM (Random Access Memory, what your computer can hold in memory to do tasks more efficiently.. yes, kind of works like our own) averaged about $25 per meg (thank you, chipset glue company competition!). These days, RAM is in gigs which equates to:
1024 mg = 1 gig of ram
A “decent” gaming system today should have at least 4 gigs, ideally 8 (since most of its really in the graphics card itself). So that would be 4096 to 8192 mg. I had again… 63 work with. Hell, even a basic office machine should have 2-4 gigs. It’s really whipping this llama’s ass. Mainly because its behavior has no logic and I cannot rely on anything new to resolve its issues.I am also one of those who has moved a lot, so my computer part cache from that period is pretty depleted or even nonexistent. I still have one floppy drive, that’s about it.
If you managed to muddle with me this long and caught any of that, you are probably a geek too. My apologies, I hope I kept that simple enough to follow along with most of it.
I guess the epiphany I had while watching this stupid thing not connect to the internet…again, occurred when I looked around and realized I had at least two other machines that were not mine laying aside to be worked on. The number of motherboards and graphics cards I had piling up was getting mind-numbing. I was feeling suffocated by the crap around me, a lot of it not mine. I wonder how in hell I got wrangled into all this considering I have little time to do my daily stuff.
If you are a single parent, you know what I’m talking about. There is absolutely nothing more overwhelming at times that having everything on your shoulders. I don’t mean having the ability to pick up the phone and call a sibling or parent to help either, as I have none of that. I don’t often ask friends for help in anything and I hate bothering any of my family about anything I have going on privately. I have no desire to be the topic at the holiday table, if you catch my drift. When I was struggling through welfare and borderline homelessness, I never once contacted my family and they don’t know anything about it. I just don’t.
With that said, when you’re a geek and people find this out, you become their go-to. Don’t get me wrong, I’m completely to blame for allowing this. I love a puzzle, and I love to figure something out. Which means, I won’t give something back until I have restored it or made it better. Hence, I am the Sanford & Son of geekery.
But why? When I first started out, I screwed up my machine so many times, I could reinstall my operating system blindfolded. I had nothing of value on it, so I had no fear. The average user can do nothing to a computer that cannot be undone. Note I did say “average,” not the guy who uses the dvd drive to park his big gulp or the gal who is convinced spraying 4 ounces of a household cleaner on their keyboard is a great way to thoroughly clean it. Yes, both of those happened. The latter one worked in tech support. We turned her keyboard over and cleaner poured out.
My problem isn’t the inability to say “no.” I’m actually quite good at that one. It was my first word even. I will be saying “no” to the New Year’s invite I received this year in fact. Mostly because I’m so damn exhausted from work and my second job as unpaid computer repair that the thought of being social makes me itch.
I guess, with the age of technology being what it is, I wonder why am I still in demand? My kid can type on a computer almost as quickly as I can and I have been clocked around 56 wpm (you never know how fast you can type until you have to clearly type “heal me” during a boss battle). I still see people terribly scared of their computers.
Again, I’m saying “average” user. The after-school place I mentioned has already managed to destroy 3 keyboards and 4 mice in the time I have managed to revive one machine. There is one boy in particular whose hands and feet I would love to completely encase in duct tape because he just cannot understand how kicking and slamming things harder don’t make things work better. I managed to stop him just as he was reaching for the back of one computer to yank the chords out, while it was still on. Sleep mode apparently didn’t end quick enough to suit him.
With that said, most of the average joe’s who just want to troll facebook for their exes or type up a report for work just seem very scared of this magic box that makes cool and often strange things happen. Just in my immediate circle, I have quite a few that know a lot more than they give themselves credit for knowing. They will give me a long laundry list of stuff they tried when something fails to work and even though they get it working, they just want me to reassure them that that yes, their logic functions work awesome.
I feel lately like my computer skills are kind of eating at my ability to do anything else, but then again I wouldn’t change it for anything. I currently have two fairly decent machines that play quite well that I paid little out of pocket for and I manage to keep them running in spite of their quirks and issues. If I had no skills with it whatsoever, I’d give it up just because I couldn’t afford to get someone else to fix it. Maybe that’s why I don’t hesitate to fix someone else’s when they ask.
I guess if there was any significant message aside from my grumbling it would be, be a little braver, try a little more and you probably know a lot more than you think you do.
Oh yeah, and the most important one…. Google It.
Pet peeve: It’s not a CPU, I don’t care how many times someone calls a computer a CPU, its not a damn CPU. It’s a box, machine, computer, PC, Igor, Priscilla but not a CPU. Don’t do it.