NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article, May 2012
Pass It On
By Elizabeth B. Wright, Member,
Computer Club of Oklahoma City March 2012 issue,
CCOKC eMonitor

wright599new(at)sbcglobal.net (click to email author)

In my beginning days of computing - 1982, Ms. E. Arly Bird was my mentor. (Not her real name of course.) She was a mathematical prodigy who became a computer expert in the very early days of personal computers. We were friends from another association and when she heard our daughter needed help doing some freelance PR work using a computer, she stepped in to get her up to speed.

Ms. Bird’s mastery of the new machines was awesome. She later became a computer professional with clients in industry and offices in many locations. She and I both were members of the original IBM OKC PCUG, but she soon outgrew what the club had to offer. As my abilities leveled off, the club remained my source of new information, but whenever I needed immediate help she was always willing. Everyone should have such a friend.

Mentorship is the “new” catch phrase, approaching networking in importance. Since mentors can help people of all ages, they are becoming highly esteemed. Think about what you have to offer a young person, or even an older friend who really needs encouragement. While the young people know enough about computers to do about anything they want, they don’t really know about life yet. They need to be encouraged to make that knowledge count for something other than texting their friends or looking at a social network site. If you have the chance to become a mentor, regard it as a golden opportunity to hopefully make the world a better place.

In the past, parents sometimes punished their children (mostly boys??) for taking their toys apart. Then the world realized that the same curiosity which prompted such behavior resulted in adults who were much sought after for their engineering skills. Especially the ones who not only took their toys apart, but put them back together again. Since girls were usually given dolls for toys, there certainly wasn’t much incentive to see how they worked (except for Betsy-Wetsy® of course). The world has made some progress in that area. Ms. E. Arly Bird must have had great parents. I know she had an outstanding mentor.

Mentoring can start at home. The recent computer breakdown at our office resulted in a temporary fix. My husband is closing the office gradually, so investment in new hardware was hardly feasible. We had a monitor, so we decided to hook it up to a laptop computer. The result is slightly less than satisfactory, but as he seems to be getting the “hang” of flipping his word processing program from the small laptop screen to the larger monitor, we will probably stay with this configuration until he closes the office for good. I think he has done pretty well for being a non-computer-literate 81 year old man.

For the type of setup mentioned above, the primary computer must be configured to accept the satellite monitor. We used a laptop computer, but a desktop machine can be used instead. For major business computing a desktop would be preferable. If you are planning to try this type of configuration, by all means call for help. Yes, you can get information online, but it will go faster if you have an expert set it up for you. As for “flipping” - also referred to as dragging - the physical movement of the cursor or program from screen to screen is not easy for some people.

Whether you use a regular desktop mouse, rollerball type or a touch pad, the use of a mouse has historically been difficult for adults, especially older people. The cursor changes screens just by moving the mouse, but other data requires holding down the left mouse button while moving the item. If you are left handed, you might have switched the mouse buttons, so if you decide to try this added convenience, be aware which button to keep depressed while moving the mouse.

Secondary screens are becoming commonplace. It is an option you probably should try.


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