People who know me already know that I am a computer geek. Because I am guilty of being a “left-brained” individual, computing fits right into my mold. Or do I have that backwards—that I fit into the mold of computing? However we word it, “messing with computers” has been an activity that has kept me entertained for thousands of hours dating back to 1984.
Back in the Day
Things have definitely changed over those 30+ years. Oh my. I wonder how many readers remember the “DOS prompt” as seen in the image below. Getting anything done with a computer was much harder back then. No such thing as clicking on buttons and graphic images. People actually had to know how to relate to that bloody DOS prompt—what to type to make something happen. Examples: “CD” to change directory (folder), “DIR” to see a list of files in a folder, and “WP” to start the WordPerfect word processor that was dominant back then.
For as long as I can remember there has always been something like a “one-upmanship” game between hardware and software companies. New personal computers (PCs) with a more powerful “chip” would appear on the scene, which made them faster. Next the software companies released upgrades to their programs with more features. This in turn were more of a durden for the PC’s system to run. Soon a faster chip was developed…and then more “feature-rich” software. And on and on it went. This really hasn’t changed; it continues to this very day.
What I mostly remember about this was that it was—at least speaking for myself—a kind of addiction based on the desire to always have the “hottest” stuff. Very similar to the young men who always want to have the baddest m___ f___ car in town. Who knows where this all comes from. My best guess is that the answer is buried somewhere deep in the subconscious. Oh, and both of these addictions had another thing in common—they kept the wallet empty.
Back in those days we all fumbled along, doing our best to keep up with things and our PCs operating smoothly. But I remember at least having the feeling that I was in charge of the computer and not the other way around. Contrary to popular belief, computers are really stupid. As someone who has dabbled in computer programming over the years I can verify that when we get right down to it a computer (or any digital device really) does not understand anything beyond simple binary language, such as ‘0110010111011.’ That’s it. For a computer to do anything more “intelligent” requires a human to write programs (basically an instruction file), to tell the stupid computer what to do next.
That said, I somehow feel like the tide is shifting or we humans are losing control. First of all, at least according to my observations, computers are SLOW compared to the old days. Some software (programs) may take even a minute to load and open. I tend to be suspicious, and thus I wonder if the programs are waiting to get permission from the NSA before they finally open. What else? Oh, Google is endlessly throwing “pop ups” in my face to tell me not to forget to watch this or that video. Twitter sends messages telling me who I should follow. And dear Facebook simply will not let ME decide what I should see first on my newsfeed. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr. More than once I have felt like the individual shown in the image at the beginning of this article. I long for the good ol’ days when computers did what I said and not the other way around.
In the end I feel bewildered and even confused. Sometimes I wonder if it is time to retire from this digital world. But I don’t know how. I don’t know if I could actually do that—at least not without a good dose of methadone.
I enjoy hearing (reading) the experiences of other people. So please leave comments in the area below.