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: Grandpa Goes Hi Tec

I have a less than laudable track record in the mechanical field. I have a great deal of trouble understanding the operation of a pedal bin...'' Ern Carne writes a tale about a gent of senior years who is coming to terms with Computer New-Speak. Better make sure you are sitting down as you read this. You will probably laugh so hard your legs will give way.

Wh0 wou]d Believ@ thA t I w)uld be as guud as thi§ aFter,,,only>two montHs on my computer. I'm GLaD I got started % early.

My first efforts were not brilliant. I reckoned I needed a bit more experience. It took a lot to convince me I needed a computer. I have managed for so long with just a piece of paper and a pencil with a thingummy on the end. But my friends and grandchildren insisted my writing would be better with a terminal. Writing was always difficult for me; the thought of doing it with a machine was really scary.

I have a less than laudable track record in the mechanical field. I have great trouble understanding the operation of a pedal bin. I would die from hunger trying to find the slot for a coin on those confounded sandwich machines.

I recently joined a Squash Club. Each Friday night I meet three other blokes and we share a bottle of Squash. This week we discussed how technology was changing our lives. I complained that I couldn't program the VCR. Holyoak who knows all about these things, and everything else, was telling us how to make the setting and tape a program in advance. Then they started again about my need for a computer.

'If you are going to write you need the help of a P.C.' asserted Fogarty.

I didn't see how a policeman was going to help me, unless it was to teach me to type with two fingers. Fogarty was often vague so I didn't pursue that.

Montgomery was more dogmatic.

'Everyone has a computer these days' he claimed. 'Look at this account I've received.'

He showed me an invoice which had been prepared by a computer. Across the bottom was the threat; 'If not paid within seven days I shall refer to a human'

Montgomery looked smug. That was the clincher, he thought, but just in case, he pushed on,

'You can write, change, re-write, check grammar and spelling' Warming to his task he explained,

'You can even choose your own font'.

‘Do I have to be baptised again to enter this new technological world?'

Holyoak pressed a business card into my hand and recommended,

'See Les at this place and tell him I sent you; you'll get a good deal'.

So that is how I got started. How I became a 'terminal trendy'. I decided to take the bull by the horns. Not immediately though, because I am not good at taking bulls by their horns. After a couple of weeks I went to the address Holyoak gave me. I thought I recognised the salesman, Les. He was a big man with a crop of red hair and an untidy red moustache. He reminded me of the bloke who sold me a second-hand bulldozer last year. His chest had set out for a career on its own and now hung over the waist band of his blue jeans. The faded jeans looked as though they had been painted on. I'm sure if they could talk they would yell for mercy. A shirt, which had once been white, and a large floral bow tie completed the ensemble.

Les had a greeting which had not come from the IBM Manual. 'G'day, Pop. Decided at last, have we, to get a pole position for the rat race?'

It was obvious I didn't know what the hell he was talking about but he wasn't fazed.

'With one of these beauties you'll be a mile in front' he enthused.

He led me over to the shelves stacked high with word processors, keyboards, and terminals.

'This is the way of the future, Pop' 'These recent releases are 'user-friendly' he told me, striving to be user-friendly himself.

Well, he certainly had me on-side now. I sure didn't want anything that was user-nasty. As he waffled on about menus, rams and bites I began to wonder whether he thought I wanted to buy a restaurant. When he spoke of 'Paginate' I told him I'd had 'Scallops Paginate' in an Italian restaurant. At this stage I think I noticed him make a mental note to withdraw his business cards from Holyoak.

I chose a machine that Les recommended to me. As I did not know one brand from another, I consoled myself that they're probably all the same. I quickly found I would first have to tame it if I wanted it to be 'friendly' towards me. I began with the "Learning Package' and was soon more confused than ever. After I set up the Home Budget and made an 'expenses' entry this upmarket box of wires lit up the screen with the reprimand, 'Don't you want to save?'

I wanted to reply, 'mind your own business'. Unfortunately I didn't know how. It made me feel I was putting it to a lot of trouble.

I found a section that said it would list all my future appointments and anniversaries and remind me in advance. This was more like it. Just what I wanted.

The day after the first date I had listed for a reminder, this electronic dairy told me

'The appointment time you recorded has now passed' 'Please remove.'

Marvellous! My own memory was always able to tell me the next day I had missed a meeting so I don't know why I expected more from a heap of plastic chips!

I began to type a complaint in the best way I knew how when this box of coloured lights abruptly changed the subject and demanded,

'Do you want to close the Window'

Maybe this has something to do with keeping the Mouse that Les kept talking about. I asked my grandchildren.

'Why does it keep asking me stupid questions?'

'They're not stupid questions, Grandpa. That's Default'

'What's the fault?' 'Is it me?' 'Am I dressed correctly to be talking to this plastic ventriloquist?' 'It once told me I was a 'floppy dish!'

'Grandpa you worry too much'

'Don't tell me about worry. I know worry works. Everything I worry about never happens. I returned to the 'Learning Package.' It again began telling me about Keys and Cells and Bullets and Numbers and I suddenly saw the connection with a policeman that Fogarty had warned me about.


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