Technology Through Time
In computer time, I started with the dinosaurs. Computers were huge devices sort of like Hal in the movie “2001: A Space Odyssey”, but I’m talking sixties – 1960s. Now I can look in another window while I’m still working on this post and see that the movie came out in 1968. At that time, 2001 was another date that seemed endlessly far off. Even cartoons (“The Jetsons” in 1962 and 63) had something like Skype. I just remember them talking to each other as if on a telephone, but having visuals, as well. My introduction to computers came in high school (1960’s) and required using such languages as “BASIC” or “Fortran” to program simple tasks. We had to type our steps onto cards that were fed into a reader. When people said that someday there would be a computer in every home, I remember thinking that was preposterous. The writing was on the wall about the future and technology. Even though I think I read it, I didn’t pay enough attention.
Another year I didn’t think would ever actually come when I first heard of the book was 1984. By then, I was in my third grad school (NOT recommended) and working on my dissertation. There were two technology-dependent parts when it came to writing the final work: the statistics and the verbal text. Sadly, by the time I finished I had moved from Virginia to Maine and the technology did not keep up. Or, more likely, I did not keep up with technology. The discs used for the text were a different size so I had to re-enter everything and the statistical programs were also different, so I basically had to redo all of that, too. The 80’s were when I began to realize how much and how fast technology was changing and what a pain in the neck it was. I think I had a couple sore throats from screaming at computers even back then. Technology tantrums didn’t help it work any better.
Over time, computers and technology in general changed at exponential rates while my own changes were relatively imperceptible. When I worked with developmentally disabled men in Vermont and tried to work on anger management, my personal example was always the computer. Some of them would ask if I ever did actually throw my laptop out the window! Fortunately, I have learned enough anger management of my own that it hasn’t happened – yet. However, if there was ever a test for me, surely technology is it!
Most of the jobs I have had over the last twenty years have required computer use for notes at the minimum. Of course the roughest part is getting started on a new system and sometimes it seems as if as soon as you learn one, someone changes it for something “better” and you have to start again. They initiated a new note program where I worked in Vermont and there were plenty of glitches in the early phase. I had to completely redo the first couple weeks I had entered for some reason I can’t recall. A friend who was about my age was even more distressed by it all and it ended up being the last straw to push her into retirement. It was easy for me to relate to that! The last job I had (which was supposed to be the LAST job I had) also required computerized notes. I worked for a company in Texas at two nursing homes in New Hampshire – another sign of the times. My electronic notes went to Texas and a hard copy to the charts. When I started doing them, I had a terrible time getting the notes to print out. I really didn’t care WHERE they printed, if only I could get the hard copies so I could file them. Needless to say, there was no one handy to help since the company was in Texas and my colleagues in New Hampshire had their own system. Sometimes I think it’s amazing I have any hair left!
Of course there have been many other advances in technology, most of which are more fun and entertaining than watching me have hissy fits over the computer. Television was a new thing when I was a child and I believe we were about the first in our neighborhood to have a TV set in our house. I can remember hiding behind the couch when it scared me. There were two episodes of a show called “Fury” that I remember distinctly as ‘behind the couch – worthy’. One was of a cave-in at a mine and the other of a forest fire. Even in black and white, it was overload for me. I used to think it would be really cool to see the Disney castle with the fireworks in color some day! Remember “snow”? Sometimes the TV would get all fuzzy (snow) or have jagged lines across it. Then you’d have to try to adjust it to get a picture. Sometimes people had to go up on their roofs to adjust antennae if there weren’t ‘rabbit ears’ sitting on the set. Now we don’t even have to get up to change the channel or adjust the volume! We take color totally for granted. The next advancement was that we could take movies home or even purchase them as VCR’s and eventually DVDs, which we don’t even need to rewind!
Music has made similar changes over the years from the days of vinyl (“LP’s” and “78’s”) to Eight Track tapes and CD’s. That’s about as far as we’ve gotten. There’s a lot more out there that would probably be nice to have, but we’d have to figure out how to use it. Sometimes we wish we had a youngster around to show us all this ‘new’ stuff!
Silver Nugget #1: If you have a child or grandchild who can and is willing to teach you to use the latest technology, consider yourself lucky and take advantage of it!
Silver Nugget #2: When the computer starts to become too frustrating, take a break, back off, and find some help. If you have anger management skills, use them! If not, consider learning some. It might be cheaper than replacing rage-damaged electronics.