Quotidian Update 34.2.ai.x

Now the dogs have had their breakfast, I can tell you of the big tech news as the casa di Marta. I got a new phone yesterday and discovered the miracle of the present moment. After being sure my old phone was backed up to my lap top I discovered that all I had to do was set the new phone next to the old phone and VOILA! They “shared” everything. Rapidly. It’s the phone I wanted when it came out — an iPhone 11 Pro from 2019. I was happy that when everything was added up I’ll spend the same for the next two years as I have been paying for the last few years and then it will be less. Huh??? I primarily wanted it because of the camera. It’s better than any of my actual cameras. Of course, the first photo I took was of Bear.

I had to get a new lap top, too. I won’t set it up until next week because company is finally coming tomorrow and the way it works is you do the chores ONCE and then you have to do them AGAIN. That’s the kind of profound truth one only learns with time. Of course, maybe setting up the new laptop will be nothing at all. Maybe all I’ll need to do is plug it in and say to my current laptop, “Here’s junior, sweet cheeks. Teach him.”

One of the downsides of not teaching any more is that I used to get incredible discounts on computers at the university bookstore. Those days are gone.

Still, I started the Apple Saga many, many years ago (1985) with my neighbor’s Macintosh then the IIe’s in the school computer lab, and I’m not stopping now. In 2007? 8? I got my first MacBook Pro. It had a 17 inch screen. it was my absolutely favorite computer of all time. I even still have it, though it’s dead, ensconced in its little diving suit (case) After that, the last MacBook Pro I got with the faculty discount and the one I bought soon after I moved here and now, this one that will soon retire. My new computer is a MacBook Air. As I read the specs, I realized that nostalgia and snobbishness had wedded me to the “Pro” and I shook off my ego and stepped into the future and saved a few hundred dollars.

I am sure there are great non-Mac computers out there, but I’m not interested. For most of my career I used both systems all the time. I have had to endure so many Mac vs. DOS discussions — more than most people, I think, because when I walked into my classrooms with a Mac, and most of my students were majoring in Information Systems, the attack was from all sides and instantaneous. The word “better” came up every time, a word that has no meaning without a context. And one context is this; I have never been interested in computers per se. I’m interested in having a useful tool with a minimal learning curve.

One of the funniest experiences with the Apple vs. DOS debate happened when I was teaching BASIC programming to a special program of ndonesian bankers. The program was sponsored by Harvard University, so that summer, I guess, I taught for Harvard 😉 .

They had NEVER used computers. For the first day, I had written three-line BASIC programs and installed them on each computer. When they sat down, the computer was “saying” “Hi! What’s your name?” They each typed their name and the computer “said” “Hi Lamont! Nice to meet you. I look forward to working with you!” Some of those men were afraid to sit too close to the computer and pressed “enter” from a full arm’s length away and said, “How does it know my name?” First lesson: a computer doesn’t know anything. We use programs to “teach” it.

Most of them never understood that.

Their final project was a program for a spreadsheet. They had to write it and debug it on the Apple IIe’s in our computer lab. BASIC is BASIC in every system (one of the points of the lesson). They’d been annoyed because our lab didn’t have IBM computers. They complained for two months (the length of the term) about that. As they struggled to write their programs and to debug them, they bitched. These students were my age and a little older (early 30s) and they were from a society in which women had nothing approaching parity. There were only two women bankers in the group. I liked them a lot, but — what Yoda? Yes, “Chauvinist were they.”

So the day came that they had finished and debugged and run their programs. They’d traded places so they could run each others programs. And then, I finally succeeded in getting one of the university labs to let us in for an hour (at that time I worked for a school attached to but not part of the university). I gave the men the good news and we paraded over there. They were to input their programs and run them on a different system. Of course, they worked and then…

These stupid effing students didn’t come out smiling because they’d written a good program that could run anywhere, they came out and said, “Teacher, see? We told you. IBM computers much better. Much easier.” It never occurred to them that they’d WRITTEN PROGRAMS that RAN and all they’d done was type that program into a different system.

I didn’t even answer. It was all about the IBM for them, not about their own successful work. I was just glad it was the last day of the program. You can teach someone something, but it doesn’t mean they’ll learn what you attempted to teach.

37 thoughts on “Quotidian Update 34.2.ai.x

  1. Hello Bear of the Beautiful Blues! Great photo, Martha. Ironic that you talk about computers. My husband received a notice in the mail to log on a website to complete a qualification questionnaire for jury duty. Included in the letter was a paragraph about if you don’t have a computer, go to a library or a friend’s house. If you have neither, don’t bother to let the court know. They may/may not get back with you. Wow. Really?
    “You can teach someone something, but it doesn’t mean they’ll learn what you attempted to teach.”–so true, but kind of sad, too.

    • Definitely sad. The most important lesson those dumb bankers could get from that wasn’t about Apples or IBMs. It was that they had learned something they could use. Very very very common experience in my career, though. Student’s aren’t stupid because they’re ignorant. They’re stupid because they’re stupid. 🙂

  2. Beautiful photo. I hadn’t realised Bears eyes were blue!
    Talking of computers, I didn’t know how they worked and I was 19. I went in an exhibition and on a computer the screen said something like type the answer to a question and it would then play a game.
    I typed in the answer, nothing happened. I did it again and again, nothing? The original question disappeared off the top of the screen….what had happened? Nobody had told me you had to press enter!

    • You were in the same league as those Indonesian bankers at that point. The handout I gave them told them to press Enter. You should have seen them do it. I had not not laugh…

  3. I now approach tech with such caution. So many virtual bits and bytes that are waaaay over my head. Glad your transfer went well! And man, your dog has the most gorgeous eyes:).

  4. “The word “better” came up every time, a word that has no meaning without a context. And one context is this; I have never been interested in computers per se. I’m interested in having a useful tool with a minimal learning curve.” — Having spent my working career as a control designer and using various computer systems and control systems to do that work, I am often puzzled by that comment. Better than what? jumps into my head and sometimes out of my mouth before thinking. 🙂 I would often say to my students – I taught some control classes and programming classes — They are all the same except different. Find the best system for your process. But know your process first. Who invented the control is unimportant. Look for the best one to do the job.
    All of the tech writers I have dealt with in any engineering dept. had an Apple something.

    • I had fun with the phone this afternoon, though it’s not the same as the camera I will never ever ever be able to afford and wouldn’t carry around anyway. 🙂

  5. My daughter showed me the wonders of her Apple laptop (don’t remember which version) about 10 years ago. I got a MacBook Pro and never looked back. The customer service sealed the permanent deal. It is easier to use (for me). I do remember, though, the very first time I typed on a computer. It was the 1980s and I think it was a clunky Gateway. I clearly remember typing a line of text in the old DOS format – getting to the end of the line – and NOT having to press a return key like on a typewriter. Magically the text continued to the next line. I was impressed. My life changed forever. 😁
    And those blue eyes are amazing! ❤️

  6. On my iPhone 10x ? Or is it R? I can’t see cute pics of Bear~but I can imagine it. I need a new computer badly. I just want technology in which I can successfully create and meet goals {and not fight with daily…argh}. When my washer and dryer are paid I’ll be hightailing it to upgrade! I love Apple. But I also work on a PC {Windows based}. I’m my career I used them all. I have an iPad too. Upgrades are usually a great thing! I’ve had some dumbdown moments…but I don’t stay down long! It’s no fun! 🐶🥰

    • My laptop had a crisis last week and between that and the fact that the next OS won’t run on my current lap top the handwriting was on the wall. I wanted to wait until the end of the summer, but… 🙂 Luckily my house payment went down this year so that’s my payment, I guess. 🙂 ❤

  7. Great photo! I had several small digital cameras and since the phone cameras have improved I ditched them. They were clunky and the transfer of the photos to the computer was complicated. Now my photos (the few I take) are uploaded to the cloud and available for download/editing on the computer with a couple clicks!! My father was a computer programmer/controller and my husband is a programmer/analyst so I’ve been exposed to computers nearly my whole life… My mother at 89 is very tech savvy – she even took some college classes to learn DOS way back in the day! The computer really is a marvel!

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