Posts Tagged ‘computers’

Updating My Profile

Scanp, right, and his best pal Dusty. — Photo by Pat Bean

          “The good news about computers is that they do what you tell them to do. The bad news is that they do what you tell them to do.” – Ted Nelson

It’s All About the Buttons

          I have been a computer user since 1978, forced, as a reporter, to write my newspaper stories on one. Less than 10 years later, I bought my first home computer, one that operated on floppy disks because it didn’t even have a hard drive.

          My first word processing system involved a black screen with green text. I became determined not to be left stalled on the “information highway,” and forced myself to learn all about DOS, an acronym for Disk Operating System. I was, so to speak, hep, an old-fashioned term for groovy, with-it, trendy, hip, and up-to-date.

          But things changed overnight – and I never caught up. I bought myself updated computers over the years, but depended on the tech guys at my work to simply tell me what buttons to push to make the dang machines do what I wanted them to do.

Then along came smart phones. By this time, I was a retired old broad without tech experts at my beck and call. While I was on the road traveling the country in my RV, one of my sons bought me my first smart phone because it tracked my location – which he wanted to know at all times. He spent good money on that phone but all the time my brain was thinking: Dang caring, loving son!

I hated that phone, and never learned to use it for anything but calling and texting. And I went back to my old flip phone when I ended my life on the road in 2013, using the excuse that the cost of service was cheaper – which was actually true.

Most of the stuff others did on their phones, I did on my computer, whose bigger screen works better for older eyes, and whose eccentricities I was able to eventually figure out – despite the convoluted, operating explanations provided for users by people who clearly didn’t know how to go from A to B without inserting Gs and Zs between the two.

But the smart phones with their apps, I finally began realizing at this late date, were being used for things my stay-at-home lap top couldn’t do, like gain entrance to movies, serve as maps, and act as coupons at grocery stores, just to name three simple ones.

Without my tech guys, I’m not sure I will ever learn how to do all of them. But I’m proud to say that last night, I did finally learn how to use my new phone — finally a smart one — to take a picture of my canine companion Scamp and then send it to my granddaughter, who was sitting across from me, and who had shown me which buttons to push to do so.

Time to update my profile, I think.  

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I watched this Limpkin during my month-long winter exploration of the Everglades. But I used my computer to educate myself about its ranges and habits.

“Our computers have become windows through which we can gaze upon a world that is virtually without horizons or boundaries.”

Learning New Tricks

I was working for the Fort Worth Star-telegram back in the 1970s when technology first invaded my life. It came in the form of a newfangled thing called a computer that suddenly we reporters had to type our stories on. I was certain I couldn’t do it.

It took me two weeks — during which I would use the typewriter to write, then copy what I had written onto the computer — before I realized I actually could write on the dang technological wonder. That was early enough in the computer age that the computers assigned to us reporters would only allow editing of eight lines of copy before it couldn’t be changed any more,

Not such a wonder at all compared to my next run in with using a computer at the Standard-Examiner in

This was a view visible from my bedroom balcony a few weeks ago. But to learn more about the fire that was ravaging Arizona’s Catalina Mountain Range, I went online to read the news about the blaze. 

Ogden, Utah, where I had accepted a job as lifestyle editor in late 1979. This newspaper used a Morgenthaler computer system that taught me how to cuss.

While there was no limit on lines that could be edited, the machines had a tendency to suddenly shut down and everything that had not been saved was lost. Because I would often forget to push the save button frequently. I sometimes lost whole stories I had spent hours writing.

Then there were the computers at the Times-News in Twin Falls, Idaho, where I was regional editor for a couple of years. The Times’ computers suffered from a storage problem. They sometimes began eating copy that had been edited at the start of the day. My cussing improved at the Times.

When I returned to the Standard-Examiner as assistant city editor in 1985, things were better, but my attitude toward computers had changed. While I had been determined in those early years to learn everything I could about operating a computer, all I wanted to know now was which button to push so the danged thing would do what I wanted it to do instead of what it wanted to do.

I relied on the paper’s tech guys immensely, and they always came through the numerous times I called on them. Having zero patience, I had the habit of too quickly pushing every button on the keyboard when something didn’t happen quickly enough. The teckies nicknamed me Trouble.

My personal first computer, purchased around 1987 if I remember correctly and which I frequently crashed, didn’t even have a hard drive but came with a DOS operating system.  Out of curiosity, I just looked up DOS on Wikipedia and learned that it stands for Disk Operating System and that it had a 16-bit operating system that didn’t support multitasking. My grandkids were more comfortable operating it than I was.

I’m not sure how many personal computers I’ve gone through since then, but I do know that early on I replaced them every two or three years because they so quickly became outdated.

When I retired in 2004 and began nine years of living and traveling on the road in a small RV, I bought my first laptop, and used my phone as a modem to submit freelance stories. In 2006, I got a Verizon hot spot that worked sometimes, but mostly in larger towns. By the time I got off the road in 2013, it mostly worked everywhere.

Thankfully, while my patience hasn’t improved, my latest laptop computer is usually reliable and fast enough to keep me from randomly pushing buttons. I still, however, miss my teckies when my computer does misbehave. But then I am extremely proud of myself when I finally solve the problem on my own — usually after hours and hours of trying everything before finally reading the instructions.

I’ve gone from growing up without a home television until I was 14 to not being able to live without a computer. I use it for writing, submitting freelance articles, emailing and face-timing with friends and family, reading the news, playing games, taking educational classes, learning new skills, birdwatching (live cams and YouTube), storing my writing and photographs, armchair traveling, shopping, and watching television programs and movies since I don’t own a TV. I also use my computer daily to quench my curiosity when I want to know something – like what DOS stands for.

I guess an old broad, this one born almost 25 years before the first commercial computer went on the market, can learn new tricks.

Bean Pat: Cornell University for its Bird Lab live birding cams that let me birdwatch from my bedroom chair during the coronavirus. Thank you. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/cams/

Pat Bean is a retired journalist who lives in Tucson with her canine companion, Scamp. She is a wondering-wanderer, avid reader, enthusiastic birder, Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder, Story Circle Network board member, author of Travels with Maggie available on Amazon, and is always searching for life’s silver lining.



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“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” – Ernest Hemingway.

The Good Old Days

So many writing quotes, like the one above by Hemingway, have become outdated. While I do know a few writers who still write their first drafts by hand, I know none who still use a typewriter. The computer has made that once miracle machine obsolete.

I vividly remember my first encounter with a computer. The year was 1978, and I was working as a reporter for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. One day I was typing my stories on a typewriter, and the next day I was told that I had to use a computer.

My first thought was I can’t write on a computer. So, I continued writing my stories on a typewriter — and then retyping them into that dang computer. This lasted for about two weeks before I finally caught on to the fact I was doubling my work load.

A couple of years later, I accepted a job as features editor at the Standard-Examiner newspaper in Ogden, Utah, where I was introduced to a Mercenthaler computer system, which was always breaking down and eating my words. I blame it for teaching me how to cuss at the late-blooming age of 40.

During these years, I continued using my old Remington typewriter at home for my personal writing. By 1985, however, the difference in the feel of the two keyboards forced me to give in and buy my first home computer, one that didn’t have a hard drive, but ran on floppy disks. Every couple of years after that I upgraded to a newer computer.

I bought my first laptop, paying $2,300 for a top-of-the-line machine in 2004, the week I retired from journalism so I could continue to freelance while I traveled the country in my small RV with my canine companion Maggie. For two years, I used my phone as a modem to connect to the world, but then I got my own hot spot. Comcast is the provider of my current Wi-Fi system, and costs me $70 a month.

My current laptop, a Toshiba I bought in 2011 for $800, and which is the longest lasting computer I have ever had, is just about ready for replacement.

Today, I don’t just use a computer as a writing tool, but also to do research, stream movies and tv, play games, stay in contact with family and friends, read the news, and to export my freelance articles directly to magazines and publishers, which is what I did when I finished my book, Travels with Maggie.

I went from wondering what in the heck I was going to do with a computer, to wondering how I can live without one. Ditto for air conditioning — I lived on the Texas Gulf Coast in the 1950’s without it.

I also grew up knowing how to change a tire on my car because tires were not as reliable as they are today, and we didn’t have mobile phones.

Yup. My world has changed a lot. Perhaps the good old days are here and now — or waiting for us in the future.

Bean Pat: Pileated woodpecker https://belindagroverphotography.com/2018/06/03/young-pileated-woodpecker-three-photographs/

Now available on Amazon

One of my favorite photography blogs. And an amazing bird that catches my breath every time I see one.

Pat Bean is a Lonely Planet Community Pathfinder. Her book, Travels with Maggie, is now up on Amazon at http://tinyurl.com/y8z7553y  Currently, she is writing a book, tentatively titled Bird Droppings, which is about her late-bloomer birding adventures. You can contact her at patbean@msn.com

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Here's what my old manual Remmington looked like. Someone on e-Bay wants $299 for its memories. Mine are worth a whole lot more, but I don't need to spend $299 to recall them.

 Mark Twain, according to Wikipedia, claims that he was the first important writer to present a publisher with a typewriten manuscript. It was the 1886 manuscript for “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.” Historian Darryl Rehr challenged the claim, claiming it was Twain’s “Life on the Mississippi” written in 1883, that was the first.

Once Upon A Time

I taught myself to type on an old Remington manual typewriter. I then got a job as a Western Union typist – I typed up telegraphs from people who called on the phone to send one. My biggest thrill was the day Tennessee Ernie Ford was on the other end of the line.

A familar happening when I typed on my old manual Remington

My typing speed went from 45 words a minute to 120 words a minute. But the job only lasted a few months before I quit to become barefoot and pregnant for what seemed like an eternity.

It was in the middle of my seven consecutive years of changing diapers that I decided I wanted to be a writer. For the next few years I banged out terrible fictional prose and dookie poetry on that old Remington. That’s how you began to be a writer.

Then I stuck into the back door of a small newspaper as a darkroom flunky, and over the next four years worked my way up to being the paper’s star reporter. I thought of myself as a cross between Lois Lane and Brenda Starr.

Eleven years later, when I was a reporter at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, I typed up my first story on a computer. I hated it – for all of two weeks.

At home, however, I was still typing away on that old Remington. But as the computers at work got better and better, I finally gave up my Remington for a home computer. I don’t question that the writing was easier and faster, but to this day, I still miss my old Remington.

Remember changing out typewriter ribbons, and making carbon copies. I suspect only those of us with more years behind us than ahead have such memories.

There was something extremely gratifying about manually slamming the carriage back at the end of each sentence. Then there was the ability to yank a piece of paper, containing nothing but meaningless dookie, out of the machine. The ritual then was to crumple it into a ball and toss the wad into a nearby waste basket.On especially bad writing days, the basket would be overflowing and the area around it a jungle of paper balls.

One simple does not get the same physical release of frustration from merely using a finger to hit the delete button.

The truth is however, that I don’t want to go back. Couldn’t even if I wanted, but it sure is nice to have memories. And that old Remington typewriter, which eventually was donated to a charity thrift store, created lots of them.

Too bad I didn’t keep it. I think I paid $7.50 for it at a garage sale in the early 1960s. I noted today that one similiar to it, if not the exact model, was listed for a $299 minimum bid on e-Bay.

Bean’s Pat: Wistfully Wandering http://tinyurl.com/836mqtu Ditto what she said. A blog for those with wanderlust in their souls. Be sure and check out her first 25 reasons, too.

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A bouquet of black-eyed susans to brighten my followers' day. -- Photo by Pat Bean

“You cannot do a kindness too soon, for you never know how soon it will be too late.’ Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Travels With Maggie

Dookie … Dookie … Dookie. That’s the g-rated version of my favorite S word. You know, the stuff that smells as bad as a skunk.

But it was the S-word I said several times yesterday, loud enough for Maggie to give me a quizzical look, when I couldn’t get my blog to post.


And a special rose to all those who nominated me for a blog award. Thank you. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My computer screen kept telling me there was an error on the page. That in itself was only worth a few dookies. It was while I was randomly pushing buttons to solve the problem and accidentally deleted two posts – the swan and the Henry Ford ones – that caused me to revert to screaming out the S-word. Maggie sat up on that exclamation.

It took me about three hours of fiddling before I finally got yesterday’s blog to post. The error, which was finally corrected, was nothing more than a wrong link for my Bean’s Pat. Why in the dookie didn’t the computer simply tell me that? I mean if it knew there was an error, surely it knew what it was.

Or am I giving my geeky, top-of-the-line computer to which I’m addicted, and which has more power than was used to take man to the moon and back, too much credit.?

Meanwhile, since I try to fill my blog with positives – because there’s already too much negatives in this crazy world we live in – I’m now going to mention that my readers have given me some awards that I failed to mention in a timely manner.

My grandmother told me never to brag about myself, but I think she was wrong. I think it’s OK to now and then give ourselves a personal pat on the back for a well-done achievement, just so long as we don’t get in the habit of playing one-upmanship.

The awards include: Three nominations for Versatile Blogger, a Kreativ Blogger award, and a Lamplighter Award. I must have done something right because they all came in the space of two days, overwhelming me. In defense, I flagged the notifications and then promptly forgot about them.

Finding them at the bottom of my e-mail messages (I was cleaning out my mailbox while trying to figure out how to solve my blog-posting problem) was the bright point of my dookie-S-word yesterday. Each of the nominators, if they haven’t already, will eventually receive a Bean’s Pat, because I think their blogs are great, too.

Now does anybody know how to recover deleted WordPress posts and put them back in the order they belong?

Bean’s Pat: http://lavenderdragonfly.wordpress.com/ Great blog of quotes to live by.


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“If it keeps up, man will atrophy all his limbs but the push-button finger.” – Frank Lloyd Wright

I found Estero Llano State Park in Welasco, Texas, the old-fashioned-way, with a map. I'm not sure how the anhinga found its way here. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

I was in Dallas, returning from taking my daughter to work so I could use her car for the day. All I had to do to get back home was follow the GPS map installed on the dashboard of her Toyota Highlander.

But I decided I wanted to get a different view of the map. Silly me. As I’m sure you have already guessed, I pressed the wrong button and lost everything on the screen — and couldn’t get it back.

Because I had depended solely on the GPS to get me from one place to the next, I was confusingly lost with morning rush-hour traffic zooming all around me.

I was fortunate that I eventually came to a landmark I recognized and, although it took an extra 40 minutes, I did eventually get back to my daughter’s house.

I then used a map, and my own handcrafted cheat-sheet of right and left turns, to complete the day’s errands and to find my place back to pick up my daughter from work later that day.

The truth is that I’ve had to be pulled, while screaming, into most technological changes. I was one of the last to finally get a cell phone, and it was only this past Christmas, and only because it was a gift from my son, that I got a “smart” phone.

On the other hand, I was one of the first to get a home computer. After using one at work to write my newspaper stories, I found using a typewriter for my personal writings impossible.

Without GPS, Monarch butterflies, like this one I found at Quintana Neotropic Bird Sanctuary on Texas' Gulf Coast, migrate annually between Mexico and Canada, although it may take three generations to complete the journey. -- Photo by Pat Bean

My first computer didn’t even have a hard drive. Everything ran from floppy disks. And the word-processing program on it came with a black screen and green type, or you could make the type orange.

Today, I can’t imagine life without my computer and the Internet. Such a thought sounds barbaric.

Ditto life without my Kindle, which was also a gift and which I’ve now had for a year. I thought I would miss the feel of a real book in my hand, but I haven’t. I think the fact I can be reading almost any book I want almost instantly is a miracle – well until I discover how much I’ve spent at Amazon each month.

I still haven’t got a GPS, however. My canine traveling companion, Maggie, and I still use maps, albeit it computer ones, to find our way across the country.  It seems a GPS might be as difficult for me to use as an electric can opener, which is why I still use a manual one. 

But I’ve got a Twitter account, maggieandpat. And when I announced it, my oldest granddaughter laughed and said: “Who would have thought it would take my Nana to make me get a Twitter account?” 

Her comment made this wandering/wondering old broad feel young – well at least until a pain in one of my joints announced a change in the weather.

Bean’s Pat: Vimeo: My Friend Maia by Julie Warr http://vimeo.com/31733784 A video to inspire all us old broads, and perhaps those still young among us, too.


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