ME AND PC – An Essay

by Odessa Purselley

The following account was written by one of Hood County Genealogical Society’s volunteers. A plucky young lady at 86 years.*************************************************PC – Purselley Confusion

PC – Personal Computer

Either or both. I decided, in this my 86 year, I should do something to improve ME-I don’t want Y-2K (whatever). Several years have gone sliding by in which I have slowed gradually, because of physical reasons or by choice. Being complacent became monotonous and boring this hot summer. I am not ready to sit in my lounge-chair, day in and day out, doing needle-point or crochet; besides, my hand would hurt. My decision to get a PC was boosted by Gerald and several good friends; so, I ordered The works from Gateway. When it came, good neighbor, Neal, unpacked it and carried the Monster in to my office-space. Would you believe the shipment was wrong? Just my luck; no printer. Of all things, two Monitors. They should give me a refund because I sent it back to them. As I picked up a small package to carry inside, suddenly I was overwhelmed. Had I lost my “cotton-pickin’ mind”? For one moment, an “itsy-bitsy” idea of “send it back” glimmered but soon faded. Now, why shouldn’t I have a PC? I could, at least, use it for typing letters. After two or three hours of checking items on the long Packing Slip and two phone-calls to Gateway to unscramble the mix-up, I settled down.

Just letting the items sit while I ate a bit of lunch and took a nap, I recuperated. I was ready to attack….er, attempt….the assembly. The big chart laid out the assembly and the hook-up very clearly. I took one step at a time, checking and rechecking. How wonderful! The old mind still works! About the time I took a Dr. Pepper break, Gerald called. Bless him, he gave me confidence. I told him I was ready to turn it on and see if it would blow-up. He said, “Ah, it won’t” and said he knew I could put it together.

I knew my way of comprehending PC would be slow and easy, beginning with Basics; so, I opened the Book and began Start-up. I took a deep breath, pushed the Monitor power button, the Computer power button, and turned on any peripherals (yes, anything else) but remember – no Printer. On came the Screen that told me, in fast succession, what was happening; then, told me I didn’t have to remember them now. The Set-Up screens are important. You must follow instructions. -1st lesson from PC. Remember that forever. The windows Tutorial came on but said, ” If you don’t have time now, you can go back to it later.”-So, I quit. Later, I did go back two or three times; just didn’t want to give it up too quickly.

The next day, I registered and began getting better acquainted . (I did say Monster) So, now PC has my name, address, phone number, and password— yes, password. Only that will get into Windows. No-one else is supposed to be able to get in – but, who knows?

The next most important Lesson to learn is “How to turn it off.” PC doesn’t like the power turned off as with other appliances. La! La! Use the How to; otherwise it may just lose some of your hard work. I believe that; so, I try to remember – which is hard.

Learn early to use that little Mouse. Boy! Is he ever hard to keep up with and you never ‘second-guess’ him. Just be prepared for what happens -anything. Have a steady hand and be sure where that Mouse is pointing if your finger twitches. Just be calm, be aware, and be obedient. PC dislikes Clicks, Clicks, –out it goes. Move smoothly and steadily and remember the reason you clicked, what happened and try again and again. Like one day, I was making a copy of Instructions for quick reference; I enlarged the Window to type; then clicked the Minimize symbol. Poof! Lost it. Found out the next day those three little don’t always Mini, Maxi, or out. PC is very precise in doing just the task you ask for – no matter if you didn’t know. I worked at becoming acquainted with Bars and Buttons; then, started a Menu. What fun! Getting my own way of doing tasks; but always there will be new options and different ways to obtain a page (or task). Learning is mostly trial and error.

PC has a Standard Keyboard but it is different from others I have used. Gradually, I am learning the actions of, at least half of the keys. “Just keep learning”, I ell myself. I am so thankful I can learn, how ever slowly. My way is: study instructions, choose a task, then, try to accomplish that. “I learned the rule is “don’t ignore even one little step”. Be aware, Pleeeze!

Customizing my Desktop was a project I must have tried too soon. I was trying to move an object when zzoop went the Taskbar to the top of the Screen. Oh no! Now, I had wanted it at the bottom. Tried to move it back- down it went -spread five or six inches deep at the top! I study instructions and try and try and try. PC does exactly as it wants; not what you want. Now, I really had it messed up and would, probably, have to get Help. Still, with determination, I worked and go the Taskbar back to normal size; then, to the left side. After working much longer and several tries -back and forth to side and bottom- it finally stayed. Thank goodness! I did learn how to move Windows, though; a good lesson.

Once, I was using the arrow and there appeared three little letters (abc) following along. Now where did I pick them up and why? I continued that (whatever I was doing) and there seemed to be no bad effect. Oh well, hoped it would disappear over night. Sure it did. I checked as soon as I turned on another Window. Two or three days later, when I was making cards, I aquired the little letters again. I decided it was there because PC was using his own alphabet when Changing Type on Cards. How neat! The little abc tagged right along and printed what I wanted when I used the right buttons. Later on, I found the little abc on the Word Taskbar was to be used for checking your own spelling. Good.

When PC kept automatically putting a red wavy line under Purselley (as in Misspelled), I decided to put that name in the Custom Dictionary. That didn’t work -not as I intended). Now , it changed to Parsley every time.

I just left the whole thing and sometime next morning, about 3a.m., I decided to cut off Auto Spelling. That solved the Parsley problem so I wouldn’t have to use that name permanently.

My first document, “Me and PC”, was two pages. When I typed it together, there appeared the ‘end of page’ marker; therefore, one paragraph printed on another page. Not wanting it like that; I deleted it. I was ready to print, click, out came one copy, one blank page, one copy, one blank, one copy, one blank – until I took the paper out. Later, I decided PC was still trying to print the text I had Deleted .That will teach me to watch for the page end next time.

That blinking light! I had been turning it off but one morning about 2a.m., I noticed it still on. Thought I would turn it off; so I pushed the button-too hard, I guess-on came the power. “Now nothing to do but sit down.” So, I sat, waited for warm-up, typed my Password, let the Window come up so I could Shut Off. Believe me, I won’t try cutting off that Blinking light in the wee morning hours, again.

I was ready for Internet (or thought I was); I went out, signed up and got the Tutorial program and CD. I studied the program, put in the CD and went through instructions fine until the last move, Connect. Well, it wouldn’t- you know how particular PC is- at least I know. Had to have HELP! Albert, of hcnews came and got us ON LINE. We received an e-mail from Gerald and sent a Reply. Albert, then, gave me a mini course of instructions. He gave me so many “how to’s”; I couldn’t remember them ALL. When I tried e-mail by my self, I couldn’t Send. Albert came again and instructed me to go through hcnews icon, connect, Netscape, then Mail. ( a little envelope) which I had forgotten. Success depends on every little Click. Now, I am enjoying Receiving and Sending.

We had been warned to be on alert for “grimmlies” on the 9/9/99 that might appear on our Computers. Just as I started to Print a page, a Warning! Appeared on the Screen. That scarrrred me! Now! I had done it but I didn’t know what. Oh! The Printer was jammed; so I pulled the paper out. A notice stated I “had tried to use the Printer illegally” Well, excuse me, I didn’t plan to do that. Evidently, I had a wrinkle in a sheet of paper. I just knew Y2K had found me! I thought ” it was good I wasn’t on Internet- the Law might have come!

I learned not to touch that Mouse when I was typing a Reply Message. I had read an e-mail and composing a reply I needed more space; so, touched the Mouse. FFttt! off went my text! Scroll works great for reading a message—– Just not for your Reply.

Again That little blinking light! I left it on for the night- so I thought. At 3:45am BOO!! On came PC. What?? Oh, The electric clock is blinking! Guess the electricity had been off and come back on. Now, I learned to flip the light off at All times before I walk off and leave.

It , just simply, is a good idea to read instructions carefullly and follow them. I neglected to do that in an e-mail I received from Blue Mountain Cards. I thought they were trying to sell me something. It plainly stated “point snf click” on the highlighted address. Gerald had to explain that, sent another card which I really enjoyed then and several times since. Also I returned one to him and other people. One big lesson learned.

Those pesky mistakes we make! A wrong e-mail address caused me some time trying to change part of it. Just be sure you hit the correct Delete button. I tried and tried to delete which didn’t happen sometimes, it pays to take “time-out”. About 9:00 pm, the solution came to mind: “Dummie, use the Delete on the Window not on the keyboard.” Oh well! Sure, I had used the Window Delete to delete some e-mail and it worked great.

Browsing through American Greeting Cards, I clicked More Information and wished I hadn’t. PC went into Screen Saver mode (evidently) — not by my biding. A nice lady gave the Ad-spiel along with music; then, the music played on and on and on. I tried clicking here, there, and everywhere (no Taskbar). OH NO! would it go on Forever ? Finally! There is that Esc button – Try It! The music stopped and my Browse window came back. Thank goodness!

Page 2 of this Document had disappeared – not gone; I could print it, just can’t View it. I did some Edit work on it, printed it, and clicked Save. It was listed in File. To Open, it showed a blank page but did Print. PC had it hidden safely somewhere. Nnow! To find where. I checked several ways and there it was; in the Recycle Bin. I deleted it there and it was supposed to go Back. Did it? No!-still appeared as a blank page. Back to the Books!

Usually it does help to seek Information. By following the directions. I found It (page 2) and Opened it on the Screen. Hooray! You just have to do things PCs’ way. To start the problem; I should have Clicked Save As instead of Save when I completed the Edit. Remember That.

Stay with the Books to learn the Programs you will use; don’t spend time on any that aren’t for you. Of course, it is fun to Explore and I have done some of that and will continue to do some – just for pass-time. – It IS better than Crocheting or Needle-point — day in and day out.

Document 1 is my Thesis for graduating from Kindergarten. Perhaps, I have learned enough, in this first month, to be sufficiently capable in the use of Basics to go on to some other Programs. Sure, there will always be mistakes and difficulties to work through; enough to keep my interest activated.

Many possibilities I will never explore or use. Isn’t ITS’ capabilities Wonderful! More and more, I realize the Amazing gift of this Technology; a gift to each according to our needs or desires. I am so very thankful to be blessed with the opportunity to take advantage of this Gift.

Written by – Odessa Purselley