NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
We Get Letters
Does this Sound Familiar?

by Steve Bass, Pasadena IBM Users Group, August 2001
(click to email author)

I just read your column in July's PCWorld about printer problems. You will probably enjoy this story.

A while back, I got a call at about 10:45 pm. It was my mother. She had a very worried tone of voice. "Bob," she said, "we have a problem here. I don't think it's serious but I thought I'd better call you."

My parents are in their 80's and their health is not the best. When I get a call like that at that hour, I start reaching for the 911 button and my car keys.

Then she said, "It's this damn printer."
Ah, parents...

From: . PIBMUG's Karl Kasca's Parents
It is laughable, I guess, but then I am one of the 80 year old mothers whose son believes I have the aptitude to assimilate computers, and therein is a divergence of opinion.

Your son unpacks 6 huge boxes of equipment for you, does his magic stuff in assembling it all, turns on the electricity and says, "Now you have a computer." Never once does he mention that the hours of utter frustration one suffers after he leaves the premises are bound to take their toll on one's patience and nerves.

So "poor computer-alert neighbors" have to fill in and tell us why the darn thing won't close when you are in Works, or writes strange messages in Grey boxes that don't make sense, or the abandon one feels the first time you get sick of the whole thing and press all the buttons. That gets immediate response, also alerts from the ipo or ipso or whatever telling you your computer will be shut off if such and such happens again, most of it in algebraic language.

At that point you call your son in a panic thinking you are going to be hauled off in a paddy wagon for some obscure reason.

It is supposed to be very simple, says the articles I read, and it is if you have been to computer school and been using the machines for several years. But even after one year of practice, loads of books, studying computer books written by a Bill Gates neophyte, only E Mail has been comprehensible and Word writes nice letters, but it is still a bit of a mystery.

However, I can hunt out health issues and some info like that and even get directions for a road tour, but there I stop. I figure in 20 years I will have the whole thing solved but then my beloved computer will be out of date and I will have been buried for several years.

I thoroughly agree with Steve Bass's parents. Life was so much simpler with a good radio broadcast, an interesting book and a letter written in pen and ink.

Sincerely, Another Parent.

Steve Bass is a Contributing Editor with PC World Magazine, frequently writes for Forbes ASAP, and is the president of the Pasadena IBM Users Group. He often writes with his tongue in his cheek. Write to him at stevebass@earthlink.net

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