Monday, June 28, 2004

a cautionary tale, followed by some familial rambling

Presented as a warning to all: an example of the moment-preservation-opportunities one messes up when one stupidly forgets one's digital camera at home and has to instead buy a cheapo subKodak disposable that is the only thing available at the only store in one's hometown that even sells that.

(My mother and father with my three-month-old great niece, as seen from the vantage you get by standing on a kitchen chair)

(Me with my great niece)

I just talked to my mother on the phone. She said that immediately after I left, my father, who had looked over the booklet from my reunion that had xeroxed everyone's personal information sheets, asked her if I knew what I was doing moving in with a woman who had eight kids, one of which was adopted. Seriously.

My mother called because she needed my help with the computer. As some readers know, more than three years ago I embarked on a mission to hitch my mother onto the back of my metaphorical tow truck and hoist her onto the great information superhighway. For Xmas back in 2000, I gave my mother the computer I had written my dissertation on and an ISP account that I pay for. This was not just someone who hadn't used the Internet before; this was not just someone who hadn't used a computer before; this was someone who had not really ever typed before. I had to explain how you type a capital letter by holding down the key that says Shift and then pressing the letter.

One Q-and-A from this weekend:
"When they talk about those computer viruses, are those viruses in the monitor or are they in the tower?"
"The tower, Mom."

My parents use the computer for three things: Hotmail (mom), Spider Solitaire (dad), and FreeCell (mom). They love all three of these things. It has been a big and wonderful success. So, this weekend, I had tried to replace the circa-1997 computer I had given my parents with a circa-2001 one I had acquired. I had the old computer configured so they could launch these three applications just by clicking one of three icons on the desktop: the MSN butterfly, a spider, or the face-card FreeCell logo. After considerable energy was expended yesterday, I had to resign the upgrade endeavor as a failure and hook the old one back up (and shlep the newer one back here) because I was not able to figure out how to get the butterfly icon working right with the new machine. No butterfly icon --> Extra steps to Hotmail; Extra steps to Hotmail --> Problems that I'll Have to Try to Talk my Mom through over the Phone, which is of course especially hard when you have to do it over the same phone that is used for the dial-up connection.

Anyway, I just now talked my mom through another dial-up connection problem. My mom's theories of the provenance of her computer problems are always interesting. Whenever possible, she will attempt to trace adverse computer events back to something screwy Dad did. (As a general heuristic for figuring out the origin of problems at the Freese Family Farm, this is actually a quite good rule-of-thumb.) In any event, over the course of two phone calls, the ISP connection problem was solved, although she attributes it not to doing what I told her to do but instead to her adjusting the height of the taskbar so it was back to taking up just one line of the screen instead of the two that my Dad had apparently accidentally switched it to.

No comments: