Thursday, December 31, 2009

Eye-opening breakdowns

At least twice, I have had computer problems that really helped me after I got over the initial shock of the problem.

Our first computer, in 1984, was an Apple IIe.  It had two disk drives, one for the program or software disk and one for the data disk.  I find that outline form of notes very helpful.  There is not much difference between the outline and merely listing one item after another.  Except with the outline, component parts of an idea are listed in indented form under the main heading.  This format is a natural with computers since the keys can be used to make indents quickly but they can be undone or changed easily.  The computer is great at offering several forms of numbering or lettering the headings and sub-headings, too.

So one of my first computer programs was Think Tank, an outlining program.  I wrote dozens of great ideas down in outline form.  I had outlines for my classes and myself, both incubating writing ideas and to-do lists.  One day, I decided to make a back-up copy of my main disk of outlines.  By mistake, I put a blank disk into the machine and told it to copy it and put the copy (of totally NOTHING!) on my best data disk.  When I realized what I had done, I was thunderstuck.  The only time, I had had a worse reaction from myself was when I dented our new Dodge against the side of our garage, but that is another (quite moving) story.

After calming down and seeing there was nothing to be done except accepting the fact, I decided I would just start anew.  First, I found I could not remember everything I had on that precious but now erased disk.  Second, I found that when I could remember, as when I had a printout of part of the disk, I no longer agreed with what I had written.  I refused to simply re-use previous writing.  It always needed updating or other editing. 

About a month ago, my Vista laptop would not load the main Windows program.  It just ran and ran but nothing happened. I hadn't used that machine for much so I wasn't disturbed.  I reloaded Vista from the disk that came with the machine.  In 25 years of personal computing, I had not ever had to do such a thing before.  I was tickled at how quickly and easily the basic system could be reloaded onto the machine.  But, I hadn't counted on how many other non-Windows programs were not reloaded on the newly arranged disk.  I found that the reloading had saved nearly all of the previous content in a special location.  Unlike businessmen with important work to do, I didn't want or need that and deleted it.  I had a chance to think about whether I really wanted or needed many of the additional programs and updates previously housed on the machine.  All that stuff takes time to check for viruses and is often simply not of interest to me. 

I doubt if "there was a reason" for my computer mishaps but they definitely helped me in the long run.

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