Friday, November 17, 2006

Technology and Its Pitfalls

About six weeks ago, I had the misfortune of losing six months of e-mail messages. Instead of deleting my messages after reading them, I tend to save them and to let them accumulate, only moving them to a separate folder once every six months or so. I was in the midst of cleaning up my messages when this mishap occurred. I had thought that I had returned to my deleted messages screen when I checked all of the boxes on the left and hit delete. After a few attempts to salvage what I had lost and after investigating what advice Google offered, I had to admit that my messages had been lost. It was quite depressing.

One message I wish had not been lost was the password that would have let me upgrade Trend Micro for free. This accident ended up costing me money, too.

I am less the Luddite than I used to be, but technology doesn’t always cooperate and doesn’t always prove hassle free. I didn’t start using a computer until I wrote my Master’s thesis in WordStar, which was one of the few word processing programs available in 1989. The computers in the English department at that time required two five and a half inch floppies, one for the programming and one to save one’s document. I got so used to WordStar that I wouldn’t use anything else until I took my qualifying exams for the PhD, which was taken using one of the computers in the Writing Center at school. I continued to use WordStar at home until I bought an HP Pavilion in 2001 and had to learn Microsoft Word because the computer only had a bay for three and a quarter-inch floppies and all of my program disks for WordStar were five and a half inch. Fortunately, I located and downloaded a converter that altered all of my WordStar files. That HP has been since passed on to a friend of my son’s, and I’m now using a personalized Dell E310, that is, one that has a 3.2 GHz processor, a gig of RAM, and an in-house floppy instead of slots for memory cards. It’s not a computer meant for gaming, but it serves my needs.

Everyone in my house considers me the computer expert. I diagnose our computers when they act up. I download the program files needed when converting TGA files to JPEG. Even so, when I try to clean up my personal e-mail account when exhausted, I still make mistakes. All of this technology can be so frustrating.