Computer technology, Catch it if you can

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 30, 2004

Knowing a good computer guy is like knowing a good mechanic, there’s nothing like being able to call on them when your machine is acting funny. If you’ve been using computers for any length of time, you have probably encountered the anxiety and frustration of having one go on the fritz.

With problems ranging from error messages that read like something out of a legal document, warning you that you have performed an &uot;illegal operation&uot; to being infected with viruses that threaten to wipe out your entire hard drive, computer technicians are good people to have around, that’s why I married one!

I was introduced to my very first online capable computer when my mother purchased it for me during my junior year of college and will scarcely forget it. The internet had just begun making its debut into the homes of everyday people and I was one of the fortunate ones left to pioneer my way through it.

I didn’t know my husband then, but a few kind seminary neighbors volunteered to walk me though the process of setting up an email account. At the time, I didn’t know what all the fuss was about, but at the request of my cousin, who at the time was in law school in New Jersey; I agreed to set up the account, all the while doubting that this supposed new &uot;convenience&uot; would do anything other than further complicate my life.

Well, Melissa, we were both right!

Today we have cell phones that can surf the web, hot spots for wireless internet, voice over IP technology and all kinds of &uot;convenient&uot; technological advances we never thought were possible, the only problem is trying to figure them out.

Although I am arguably the furthest thing from politically correct, I think those guys were onto something when they issued the phrase, &uot;technologically challenged.&uot;

Just when you think you have mastered one aspect of technology, the marketing executives and engineers throw you a curve ball and say, &uot;Here catch this!&uot; It’s like an eternal game of tag where the guys on one side say to the guys on the other, &uot;Nah, nah, nah, nah, nah, you can’t catch me!&uot;

Unless you’re fortunate enough to operate in the elite class of computer savvy individuals, you are often relegated to feeling like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Even some in the corporate world have a hard time keeping up.

I remember when my husband was supplying technical support for the hospital at UNC Chapel Hill he received a forwarded email of &uot;techie&uot; jokes from one of his colleagues. In relaying the anecdote, he told me of an exasperated executive who had contacted the helpdesk in an effort to correct the problem he was having with his computer.

After listening to the executive explain the nature of the problem for about 10 minutes, the support specialist directed him to go to &uot;My Computer&uot; and click on whatever he had to click on. Frustrated the executive retorted, &uot;That would be great, but I have no idea where your computer is!&uot;

If you’re laughing, chances are you know exactly what that’s like and whether you identify with the executive or the IT guy, muddling your way through the different facets of rapidly changing technology can be a challenging and harrying experience.

For the past week I have witnessed what IT guys really go through as I watched my husband in a marathon frenzy try to balance his everyday job duties and process incoming student computers at Chowan and I have come to the conclusion that most people simply don’t realize how much goes into it.

Working with computers is extensive processes that perpetually demands the ability to multi-task and troubleshoot with information that is constantly changing and developing and those technologically inclined (and patient) enough to accept such a mission should be showered with an abundance of gratitude and kindness.

Besides, you wouldn’t want to upset the techie working on your computer; you never know when it might come back to &uot;byte&uot; you!