Over the last few days, I have received a great deal of help and advice about how to alter sizes and ratios of photographs to insert into blog posts. The community has responded as it always does, offering genuine concern, good tips, and encouragement. There is never ridicule or scorn, or mocking of lack of ability. That is incredibly heart-warming in this day and age, and restores my faith in human nature, once again. My thanks go out to all of you, along with my sincere appreciation.
It has made me think though. I am not of an age where computer use was taught at school. It was not a feature of any job I ever did either, until my last one. I used pen and paper, or worked things out in my head. When I saw a computer for the first time, I gazed at it with ignorance and wonderment, like an Amazonian tribesman watching a jumbo jet traverse the sky.
When the first cash machines appeared in London, I still went inside the bank and wrote a cheque for cash. After renting my first VHS player, I reversed the tape numerous times, to watch the actors walking backwards. I was amazed. I was using technology, but not really embracing it, or understanding how it worked. The reason was simple enough, I didn’t want to know. I had no interest in the hardware, or the software that made the hardware function. As long as I could watch the film by pressing play, I was unconcerned about the rest. I was interested in the films, and wanted to get straight into them.
During my life, I have collected and stored a huge amount of information. Some of this has been because of interest, some was necessary for jobs. Historical facts and events, constantly devoured from reading something I was passionate about, wanted to know about. Obscure details relating to cars during the 1970s, at a time when I was very interested in motoring, rest in my brain alongside the location of thousands of streets in London, required by my job in the LAS. Later on, when I developed an interest in cameras and photography, I studied models and types in great detail, as well as some of the technical aspects, in the hope of taking better photos.
I came very late to all the rest. I didn’t have a mobile phone, as most people did. I couldn’t see the point. When my Mum became ill, in 1999, I reluctantly got one, so she could contact me at work. It was necessary at the time, and only ever used as a telephone. When I joined the Met Police as a communications officer, in 2001, I bluffed my computer knowledge, claiming an understanding of the basics of computing, and getting through with a good level of keyboard skills, from experience of using a manual typewriter. They sent me on a six week pass-or-fail course. It was very intensive, but only as far as the national police systems were concerned. There was no Microsoft Word, nothing remotely similar to a a PC, and even the keyboard was purpose-built, with familiar keys serving very different functions.
I struggled, but passed with a good enough mark considering my skill level. I still didn’t have a computer at home, and my camera still shot film. I had graduated to using cash machines, but still sent cheques in payment for bills. (And still do) In 2004, I decided to buy a laptop. It seemed to be the thing to do, and access to the Internet at work was making me miss the facility at home. I have written about this before, so won’t go into great detail. The laptop arrived, and I had to go to spend the day at a friend’s house, so he could show me how to use it. He kindly wrote down some ‘idiot guides’ to frequently used functions, and sent some other tips by e-mail.
Trouble was, I only had dial-up at 56kps in my flat in Camden. I couldn’t afford broadband at the time, and I wasn’t even sure if it was available in the area. Everything took an age to load, multi-tasking was virtually impossible, and even e-mails took forever to send. I bought a mobile broadband dongle, offering better speeds, but it still failed to enthuse me. When some of my friends and family were engaging with Apple systems, or learning all they could about Microsoft, I was still reading books, or watching films on my recently purchased DVD player. And my camera still shot film.
Fast forward to Norfolk, the year 2012. I decide to start a blog, and by now I also have a digital camera. I hate the digital camera though, as every time I have to download photos, create folders or files, it seems like an interminable chore. Besides, it never seems to work the same each time. I seek advice, and I am told to click on this, and to make sure that I don’t click on that, definitely not that. I write down instructions like a shopping list. 1) Do this. 2) Then that. 3) Don’t click on that! I slavishly follow them each time, and each time the result is different. Photos are called pictures, pictures are called files, files are called media. Every platform calls them something different, and there seems to be no uniformity, no consistency.
There’s another problem of course. I am just not interested in computing. It doesn’t grab me, and I don’t get it. Part of me doesn’t even want to get it. I just want to write my blog, send my e-mails, insert my photos. And I want it to be easy to do, and the same everywhere. Is that too much to ask? I didn’t think it was, but apparently it is a ridiculous suggestion. I have become more than ever aware of my limitations. I am shown something over and over, and it doesn’t sink in. I am sent a written instruction, which I follow to the letter, and it still doesn’t happen. I should have clicked on this, not that, I am told. I didn’t have much interest to lose, but I have certainly lost what little there was.
Somewhere along the way, I have missed a click.