July 31, 1998

Computer Wars

A competition rages in my home right now. It is called Man vs. The Computer. As you might guess, I am the Man. I am not “The” Man with a capital ‘T’ because that would imply a level of importance which I do not possess in this battle. And it is a battle, a battle which I am losing.

I am in the midst of installing a new computer. No, that is incorrect. A new computer has taken up residence in my home and it is trying me out. I know who is in control here.

I want to tell you that my problems rise out of my innocence - that I am a novice with computers. But that would be a lie. This is the fourth computer which I have installed over the last twelve years.

The problem lies in the advances of the computer. If it could not do as many things as it can, it would be much easier to understand. I would not have to learn new stuff in order to get it to do what I want it to do.

When I installed my computer four years ago, I proceeded timidly to set it up in my living room by following with great care all of the written instructions. After several hours the time came to turn it on and shout Eureka, but when I threw the switch, nothing happened. I rechecked everything including the plug into the wall, but nothing would happen. So what did I do? I just sat and cried. I had been defeated. It turned out that the computer was a dead one and a swap for a new one at the store solved the problem.

This time the setup was different. I know more now and the hardware connections were easy - no instructions needed. When I turned it on, the program came right up onto the screen and the speakers played triumphal music. I did it! Victory was mine!

All I needed to do now was transfer some of the programs and files from the old machine to the new machine. I am a novice at this operation and all of my attempts were fruitless. So I called in the cavalry, namely my friend, Bob. He came over and spent the afternoon working on it and did a lot. But more needs to be done. I need to call this vendor for this diskette and another vendor for that information. So it is now three days and I cannot use my new computer. Did someone say FRUSTRATION?

So how do I cope? Raging feels pretty good, but then I have to apologize to my whole family. I tried that on day one. Explaining the problem to and pleading for sympathy from people who were caught in the fallout from my rage of the day before does not work. I had used up the available compassion quota.

Closing the door works. If I cannot see the computer I am less likely to want to work on it. I did sneak in a few times just to get a few extra lashes of the whip, but generally I tried to compartmentalize the problem. This problem cannot take over my life. I have lots of other things to do.

Pace seems to be the answer. Instead of having the problem define my life and take it over, I am going to deal with it at my own pace. For awhile I will have two computer systems running. The old one can do what I need to get done for now, and I will move slowly into the new one as problems get fixed. This solution has diffused the conflict. It has stopped pushing my buttons. Well, maybe not stopped, but now it is within levels of tolerance.

By the way, my new computer is great. It zips and zaps! It wows you with its power! It is a gateway to a new way of living and learning! At least that is what the book says.

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