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Saturday, 27 February 2010

My Dad

I was asked to write a blog post by Janet Davies about a tweet I tweeted earlier today. So here goes...
My Dad was one of the first businesses in the UK to use a computer. It was in the 70s, and it was a WANG. They got it all installed and working and it continued to be used until the next century when it was eventually replaced by windoze machines. The whole machine ran the company, bespoke software, full training and no thought needed by the operators. It Just Worked.
When my dad retired he got a bbc computer to enable him to do his work as a volunteer weather data collector. It was preprogrammed, he was shown how to use it, It Just Worked. He used it for about 5 years with no problems.
Then that little job ended, he moved home, and he bought a windoze 95 PC. He had microsoft works. He set up a database. A filing system. He learnt to use a mouse. He learnt word processing and how to print. He got dial up. He learnt email. A great deal of hassle, but he persevered, so did the family, and It worked eventually.
Then along came Office. Skype. Family moved abroad and dad needed to communicate with them.He got windoze 98, and a new version of ms works. He struggled with the change, but managed. Family sent rich text, cos they were on office. Eventually dad bit the bullet and got office...
then he spent months converting all the files from works into office format, and filed them. He backed them up on to floppies...
Times moved on, and along came broadband. Dad got that too, cos it meant he could see the family with a webcam. But first he needed xp. the pc he had wouldn't run xp, so he got another... and the learning went on. As fast as dad managed to learn something it all changed and he had to learn all over again. The files got bigger and so he got a cd burner, and backed up on cd. He then had to migrate all the floppy files onto CDs. Whilst doing this he found some works files that he had missed converting. He went back into works but couldn't remember how to work works. Nothing seemed to Work Anymore. It was all getting complicated.
He persevered. Bought a webcam. Nearly managed to get it to work, but he hadn't the bandwidth to do skype calls. He figured out how to record little videos for his grandchildren and put them on cds in snail mail.
Times moved on. Mum died. Googletalk appeared and his scattered family used that to keep in touch, watching for the little light to come on every morning so they knew he was ok.
He learnt how to cope, in the same way he had persevered and learnt how to cope with everything in his life. This man will never be beaten.
Anyway, I seem to have started this blog and not even written about what Janet asked for...

RT @janetedavis: Could you write a blog about this issue please? Perhaps even get your Dad to contribute some quotes?
Will finish this bit one day. Always something else pushing to be done on a farm and not enough hours in a day... soz Janet

1 comment:

  1. Loved the post. I could not help but notice how many years your dad used the Wang, compared to how few years he used the following PCs:

    Windows 95
    Windows 98
    Windows XP

    I was using IBM DOS and mainframes before Microsoft was a gleam in Bill's eyes and finally stopped using his MS Operating System (for home use, still use them on some computer contracts where Windows is the standard for that company) mid way through Windows 2000. That was when they decided to ignore my wishes. My wish being that the PC would not update unless I gave it explicit permission to do so. But that is not the point of this comment...

    I switched to Linux. Sure there was a bit of a learning curve with the user interface, but when you think about it, there was a learning curve going from each of the following wasn't there:

    DOS to DOS + Windows (3.0, 3.1)
    DOS + Windows to Windows 95 (or OS/2 or NT 3.51 and up)
    Windows 95/98 to Windows XP
    Windows XP to Windows 2000
    Windows 2000 to Windows Vista
    Windows Vista to Windows 7.

    With Linux there use to be two major user interfaces: KDE and gnome. With Ubuntu (largest distro) switching to Unity desktop there will yet be another User interface.

    Of course if you want too, you can install KDE, gnome or other Graphical User Interfaces (GUI) on any Linux distro.

    The point is if you switch to Linux today, almost any distro you could learn one of the three GUIs and your learning curve would be pretty much done.

    Best of all, I still run a Linux server on an old Pentium II PC with only 256MB of RAM memory. Windows can NOT do that.

    My best recommendation (and worth the shipping cost) is to purchase your PC hardware from a Linux vendor (ZaReason and System76 are popular here in the US, ZaReason is my favorite and I have met the entire family, not just the CEO, she is a heck of a person and even their now 13 year old daughter prefers Linux to other Operating systems). By purchasing your hardware from a Linux vendor you know it will run Windows (Microsoft) if you want too. If you purchase a Windows PC, there may be hassles due to proprietary vendor lock-in with the hardware that will make it difficult (but not impossible) to run Linux.

    Even if I was going to run Windows, I would purchase my hardware from a Linux vendor so when they stop supporting that version of Windows, that hardware does not have to go into the dump. It can still be used by you or someone else and will run very, very well with Linux.

    Just a thought....