Saturday, July 28, 2007

Dances With Wolves, Fights With Technology

Goodness me, you step away from the blog for a few days and it all goes X-rated in the comments.

But this post isn't about that, it's about the latest salvo in the battle between Ricardipus and the twenty-first century.

Years ago, I knew everything about my computer. Well, a lot, anyway. I could open it up and swap soundcards, install new memory, fiddle with jumpers, all kinds of things. I was pretty adept at the latest, greatest version of MS-DOS - version 6.22. I understood the ins and outs of the AUTOEXEC.BAT file, I could use CONFIG.SYS and all its arcania with impunity, I knew how to manage extended and expanded memory with HIMEM.SYS. I knew how to increase the number of stacks and files, and could write batch files to launch programs happily. The command line was a doddle, the help function helpful, and things like XCOPY and DELTREE behaved as they should. Graphical interfaces were limited to the mighty Norton Commander, which worked well enough, but I should have recognized it as the thin end of the wedge. In 2007, Norton Internet Security will try to take over your computer. You've been warned.

Even DOS's ugly offspring, Windows 3.1, and its slightly tweaked sibling 3.11, was easily understood, and I knew many of its intricacies - the DOS Prompt (now renamed the Command Prompt and hidden where you can't find it), Program Information Files, all that kind of stuff. Heck, I could even play around with extensions and program memory size on the Mac OS at one time. So not exactly a power-user, not exactly a whiz, but I felt like I could Do Things. I knew, most of the time, what was causing problems and how to fix them. Well, not on the Mac, but at least I recognized that when the "Sorry, A System Error Occurred" dialogue showed up, with its endearingly awful icon of a bomb, I had to shut the thing off and start again. Heck, computers even had proper, hard-wired, spring-loaded on/off switches back then. But now...

Nowadays, I almost never have any idea what the damn things are doing. Windows Vista, on Mrs. Ricardipus' new laptop she got for school, is a complete mystery. I can't even find the menus on Internet Explorer. Where the heck did they put them?

But the real confuser - is this Instant Messaging thing. There I was a couple of weeks ago, typing merrily away on Yahoo mail, when another tab pops up with Dawn in it! Argh! How did she get inside my email?

Turns out that Yahoo, in all its infinite wisdom, allows IM to exist within its email interface, which I have to admit is pretty handy. But it was a real surprise the first time. And it seems to randomly decide whether or not to show one's avatar. It's all a bit creepy really, like the Internet is deciding who I get to chat with and what they're going to look like.

It's SkyNet all over again, I tell you.

And I still can't figure out exactly how the whole chat thing works. So if you'd like to say hello, you might have to initiate the conversation yourself somehow, at least until I figure out whether or not I need to download Yahoo Messenger, Windows Messenger, or X-Windows PERL Linux Java C++ Panther VistaMessenger, or whatever.

I think I'll go back to "writing" in my "book" now.

15 comments:

john.g. said...

RP, I have Windows Vista. No problems once the bastard thing has let you sign on.

zoe said...

"fiddle with jumpers"

you never said that you could knit ?



nesco: a new brand of coffee

The Wrath of Dawn said...

"Writing" in his "book." Isn't our R'pus cute? He's rockin' it old skool!

zpgqxhp - Polish name. Pronounced "Smith"

Ricardipus said...

*ow*

(writer's cramp)

P.S. Zoe - there's lots you don't know about me...

/mysterious mode

Mosher said...

I just liked it when technology moved at a pace you could keep up with. Now MS are releasing things so quickly that maintaining an MCSE is a full-time job in itself. By the time you qualify, you're a few months away from a new release and obsolesence.

Screw IT for a lark. I'm off to teach SCUBA diving for a living. After the 1000 Mile Walk of course (sorry - plugging that everywhere at the moment).

The Wrath of Dawn said...

Zoe, I can fill you in on a few details...

kuatipwg - Innuit word for "he's cuter than he lets on"

zoe said...

dawn, do, petal, do ....

The Wrath of Dawn said...

1. He's cuter than he lets on.
2. He's a gentleman.
3. He so smart it's scary.

sxcgdoft - the Latin name for writer's cramp.

zoe said...

dawn - i want to marry ricardipus now. he could teach me how to be smart, for a start. i'll deal with the cuteness and could do with a gentleman in my life.

Nick said...

What? I don't understand a word of what you're talking about, but it's never stopped me using my computers (one Windows driven, one OSX driven) to do what I want from them - words and pictures mostly. Bloody hell, do I REALLY need to know all that stuff? I never realised.

The Wrath of Dawn said...

I think we're both too late to the party for that honour, Z.

Not to mention being a little long in the tooth, in my case.

Oh, stop shuddering, R'pus. You'll be old and wrinkly some day, too!

Rik said...

Or in the case of Dawn, very old and wrinkly.

Ricardipus said...

Goodness me, you walk away for a moment or two and it's all about various women falling all over me.

*walks away for a moment or two

zoe said...

shame about that, innit, dawn.

rik, you do realise that men's balls go all wrinkly and their penises fall off at a certain age ? that was a terrible thing to say about dawn.

ricardipus, you're loving it.

The Wrath of Dawn said...

Oh, Rik.

(he's just jealous)