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Saturday, December 17, 2011

Treading the Tech Trek, part 4: this will make more sense if you start with the first Technology Trek entry dated 12/6/11

I enjoyed the Mac Performa. We bought a "mahogany" (pressed board with paper veneer) armoire that held the monitor, the keyboard and mouse, the CPU (central processing unit, which was horizontal, unlike the pc's that had vertical towers). There was also room below for reams of paper, the printer, our stereo/record player/cd player/tape player, and little cubbies above for notes, pens, etc. The shelves all slid out for easy access, which was particularly nice for the keyboard and mouse.

I wrote many reports at that computer, and many letters, and many journal pages. It was upstairs in the bedroom for a year or so, and then I talked my son into helping me move it downstairs to the parlor, where it is today.

It was that following September that I received the laptop computer from school ... and returned to the (now not so familiar) PC world, leaving apple and all in its orchard behind. Our school needed a webmaster for our new website, and our principal turned to me, knowing I had a tech-savvy son at home. He was our actual webmaster, though I was his proxy and so collected the stipend for that position (depositing it into his college fund.) A year or so later, another teacher took over the webmaster role. And I had learned as much as there was to learn about the PC world.

My Performa MAC sat unused during those PC years. I turned it on just the other day, after leaving it sitting for twelve years, and it still worked ... and I still remembered enough of its apple-idiosyncrasies that I could call up old files. Nostalgia ruled the rest of that afternoon, and had the printer ink not dried up, I would have printed out dozens of forgotten pictures, and hundreds of pages of journal writing that will otherwise be lost to software obscurity.

I'll buy ink cartridges (if I can find them) and have another day of memories this winter. Then, having retrieved all that is useful and special, I'll try to find someplace to donate it. Otherwise, it will join the TRS 80, the slow early PC made by Rick, with its dot-matrix printer, it's green and then amber screens, and the apple IIgs in the "museum" in our barn.

At school, the transfer from apple to PC continued. At first, our computer teacher had to teach us all how to translate our Clarisworks files to Appleworks files, and then recopy Appleworks to AppleworksX, which the PC computers could then read. As the generations of computers progressed, compatibility became slightly simpler, though never the twain should meet.

As I was taking courses at the local university for teacher license renewal, you can imagine my surprise when one assignment was to be done on a MAC ... a new MAC, one that took USB drives, CDs that slid into the side of the skinny screen, and up to date video/movie maker software that did not transfer to the PC that I now had at home. When I realized how far from the orchard I had strayed in the past decade, and how quickly I would need to reorient myself to the Apple world, I broke down in tears. My husband had helped me use PC language on our computer at home to produce a comparable movie, which I took into the class on a flash drive, but it would not transfer to the new MAC. I left a note of apology on my keyboard, for I could not find the off button (SEE PREVIOUS TECH TREK FOR ANDY ROONEY VIDEO), and left quietly during the lunch break, never to return. The professor was kind and gave me credit for making the PC movie.

That last class was the beginning of the end for me. I was no longer a "quick study" with technology; I no longer could walk both sides of that line. Retirement soon followed. My son bought me my own laptop computer that Christmas before retirement, a PC, one I could use comfortably on my lap, with my feet up and a lap-desk between me and the heat of the computer. I had gone through three school laptop computers in one year at school, in part because the motherboards overheated. This past week, I found a lap-desk that contains a cooling fan, and bought that to keep both the laptop computer and myself cool, and safe.

My partners are encouraging the schools to go back to MACs again, finding them more creative and user friendly for making video presentations with music and photos for student projects. And so the circle continues...apples, oranges, apples, oranges, and now apples on the horizon again.

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