Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

On Mastering a New Computer, Reincarnation and a BLT

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

On Mastering a New Computer, Reincarnation and a BLT

Article excerpt

By Mike Nichols

Fort Worth Star-Telegram

If you heard pitiful wails and terrible screams coming from my office lately you may have wondered whether I was:

(A) Being tortured by Indochinese terrorists.

(B) Learning to use a new personal computer and accompanying software.

Here's a hint: Do you see any bamboo under my fingernails?

Yes, I'm adjusting to a new personal computer, having finally gotten rid of my old one, which was a mid-'80s model. The mid-'80s were like a century ago in computing. In fact, my old computer actually was steam-driven. And it had a black-and-white monitor that, when atmospheric conditions were just right, received original broadcasts of "The Jack Benny Show."

But now I have a powerful '90s computer that processes information in something called nanoseconds and stores millions of bytes in memory. It can even communicate with other computers via telephone. They all probably link up late at night and giggle about how stupid their owners are.

Yes, I admit it _ I'm having just a tad of trouble learning my new system. I can't imagine why. After all, it came with a 2-inch-thick user's manual that, like most computer user's manuals, any person can understand perfectly provided that person was raised on the planet Zwangdar.

So lately I have been adrift in the alphabet soup of computer jargon: RAM, EGA, DOS, UDK, BLT. (I took time out to eat a sandwich to keep up my strength.)

I sit chanting "the computer is my friend" while grinding my teeth and idly wondering what would be the effect of pouring a bottle of Yoohoo into all of my computer's orifices.

Computers are so maddening because, with them, close doesn't count. You can have a command 99 percent correct, and still a computer will stare at you defiantly, its beady little cursor (aptly named) blinking at you. So all day long my screen flashes messages at me: "syntax error," "bad command," "wrong path name," "invalid switch. …

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