“Make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler.”
— Albert Einstein
Lately my computer has been crashing. Yes, I’ve been spending some
quality time with the Windows 98 blue screen of death. Unfortunately, I can’t
figure out why. My only clue is that perhaps my computer does not like
PageMaker (the program I use to lay out this magazine). I’ve got my little Norton
Utilities sensors running even now. You’ll be excited to hear that the
“memory load” is at 80% and I have 2.3 gigabytes free on my C drive.
The dials and widgets on my screen are pretty nifty, but I’m not any
closer to finding out why my computer occasionally spontaneously combusts.
And I’m not the only one having computer problems. Two friends of mine
have been trying for 6 months to find that magic combination of reliable
Internet Service Provider and configuration that will let them get to their e-mail
every day. It all seems like it should be so simple, but really it’s not.
The good news is that computers are a lot easier to use than they were
in say, 1980. We don’t have to use punch cards to get our work done
anymore. But that doesn’t mean that computers are easy to use. I think that
some savvy marketers have spent a lot of money in an effort to convince
people that using a computer is as easy as using a TV remote control.
However, nothing could be further from the truth.
There’s a real learning curve and all of us are still learning. Fortunately,
a lot more educational resources exist than they did in 1980. If you are
frustrated by your computer, go to a class (there’s a bunch listed on page
20), call your nerdy neighbor for advice, or just read a few articles in this
magazine. The world of computers is constantly changing, but the
information you learn builds on itself. I still use techniques and concepts I learned
twelve years ago. I may be using a different operating system and a different
computing platform, but the same underlying concepts exist. So even though
I may be staring at the blue screen of death now, I know that sooner or later,
I will figure out what’s going on.