When I was young, way back when, I never dreamed that when I was an elder I would spend so much of my time on computers and my life would be incredibly enriched by the Internet. I thought I'd be rocking on my front porch and making quilts, tatting and do what my own mom had done. Who in the hell even knew what a computer was? When I worked at Northrop Corporation in the 1970s, I loved to visit “the computer” which had its own building it was so huge. Now we can hold a computer in our hand and I’m totally jazzed by Apple’s new ultrathin and light MacBook Air. Do any of you have one yet? Our first home computer was an Apple in the 1970s. I learned to actually use my first work computer, a PC, in 1985. I first learned Mac for work in 1990.
In my work life at school, I am on the computer, a Mac G5, approximately 50% of the day—communicating internally or externally, cataloging, researching, working in PhotoShop or iPhoto, or teaching someone else how to do something they haven’t learned yet. I am a passionate aficionado of Macs though I know how to use both platforms. At work we try to use e-mail and our forums and bulletin boards so phones are used a whole lot less.
I love to learn new things, but my own learning style is to have someone teach me one-on-one; I don't like reading directions. I'd rather learn by trial and error, but sometimes I have to cut to the chase with reading the damned manual. What is your own learning style? I rarely use a hard copy dictionary or thesaurus anymore, and I almost never use a phone book either. I pay most my bills on line and I follow my finances online. I still read two hard copy newspapers per day, and I am a book-a-holic. But throughout the day I check CNN to see what is happening right on my computer. I loathe reading long documents on the computer by the way; I print them out to read them. Forget reading a book online. How times have changed. Who would ever have thunk?
A lifetime writer and diarist, blogging has ended up being one of my almost daily practices. I can’t imagine life these days without it, but admittedly it takes time—which I probably should be using at least one hour per day of at the gym.
One night recently I had a little time to examine the new widgets that Typepad has available with one click. If you are unfamiliar with the term as it relates to computers, a widget is An HTML-based program that runs in the Dashboard layer of the system. A few days ago I added Sitemeter, and a Feedjits map of hits as well as a rolling list of locales people visit from. Typepad has stats and referrers embedded on the author side of the software, but now I can see everything right from the main published page. I rarely check my stats, frankly, as heavy traffic has never been a goal of Sacred Ordinary. It’s my daily spiritual and psychological practice and people who like some of the same quirky stuff I do, do seem to read regularly. God bless you all! But, if no one ever visited, I’d keep writing anyway. Comments are used by regular readers sometimes, but a lot of traffic comes in to an archived entry on a certain subject. That title line is what ultimately gets Google traffic. Try writing anything sensual in that title and you would be shocked how many hits you will get. My daily average of hits tends to be in the 300 range. I can only imagine what Ronni Bennett’s stats are; she is our fearless elder blogger at Times Goes By: What It's Really Like to Get Older. She is my heroine!
But, much as I hate to read directions, periodically I have to force myself to print out tutorials at Typepad and all of my other software packages. I still have not mastered within Typepad’s software how to link YouTube or videos where the picture actually runs on my entry. One time one of you kind people e-mailed me with directions, but I can’t find that e-mail. If you know how to do this in Typepad, please instruct me. Blogger software is different than Typepad's directions, by the way. I have found that I cannot work in my preferred browser, Safari, to place widgets for example. It has to be done in Firefox.
I have to prepare several archival slide shows for work in the months coming up which will be projected at special events. I've never done this. Our tech says I would be better off using iMovie versus iPhoto, so I’m going to learn that next. I’m bringing my video camera home for the weekend so I can learn how to use it effectively for oral histories and how to make a movie for YouTube or to embed in my site. I also have to fine tune a home project on FileMaker Pro where I keep a large database for a client. The host company of a private website I maintain for a client is going to tutor me by phone on Adobe Contribute. This will be a learning curve weekend and since I’m not watching the Super Bowl, I’ll have time on my four day weekend. I guess I could be called a perpetual student, do you think? I love to learn--on my terms.
Though I belong to a Macintosh users group locally, do any of you have favorite Mac listservs or bulletin boards where you can ask questions when you get stuck?
What are some of your own favorite widgets and where are the sites you like best to acquire them? I also always believe in not re-inventing the wheel if someone out there knows how to make one already. Just teach me how, OK?