- It's no secret that I struggle with technology; it just does not sit comfortably with me – my brain is too scrambled and illogical to cope with the black and white binary world of Mr Babbage – I mean, why doesn't a computer automatically know what I want. After all, it's blindingly obvious in my head how I want a page to look, so why doesn't it instinctively understand my thought patterns instead of playing play silly beggars with bullet points and wrap-arounds? If you ask me how many Kbs or Mbs my file is, I will answer: “uh, I dunno, how long is a piece of string”. I don't know my JPEGs from my PDFs or whether I have Office 2010 or Office 2007 – to be honest there are times when I think I must have Office 1889 on a machine that is fired by 2 cotton reels, a length of wire and a yoghurt pot
And, I don't have an iPhone because I really cannot fathom it. “See what you think”, says the eldest daughter handing me what has now become her prize possession (the cat having been relegated to 2nd place, kids 3rd, husband 4th and mother approximately 97th). So I have a go and the images shoot across the screen and refuse to stay on the same page. “It's because because you're not pressing it properly” advises youngest daughter. Oh, being patronised by an 8 year old is guaranteed to turn this lady into one Angry Bird: “Haven't you got a room to tidy?” I mutter, trying to get off the "PeopleofWalmart" site - “how do you make a call on this thing?”
And Facebook is a nightmare - I never know if I've put things on my on wall or someone else's wall or what the idea is behind poking and I struggle to see the point of Farmville. And who on earth are these strangers that now want to be my “friend”? I've never even heard of them. Although I politely ignore their requests, I am uncomfortable about it because I have been brought up to believe it is rude to ignore people, but apparently it's perfectly acceptable if it's done through the protection of a computer screen.
And I really don't get the gaming buzz that the younger members of my family seem to enjoy. I pointedly ask the 14 year old: “why are you being an assassin again on that computer, why don't you read a book?” From the look I receive, I might as well have asked him to colour in a picture of Thomas the Tank Engine with chunky crayons and glitter pens. Just as an aside, I did point out that he wouldn't make a very good assassin anyway, because he is dressed head to toe in white whilst everyone else seem to be wearing dark colours. “You stick out like a sore thumb”, I said, “doesn't the “International Guidebook to Good Assassins” say something about being inconspicuous?” I pick up another of his games: “Homefront? When did you become interested in interior design?” The 14 year old gives me a look of disdain that says “stick to what you know grandma” and swaps the disc for “Call of Duty Black Ops”.
And my heart sinks when I see the word “SIMPLE” attached to any instruction involving the computer. For instance, I recently tried to change the page layout on my Etsy account. “CREATE A SIMPLE BANNER”, cried the Google search. “This is so simple to do that you can change your look with the seasons”, gloats the smiley, shiny lady surrounded by a banner of blue skies, bunting and tiny rosebuds. “Oh, great....let's go”, says I. Many hours later, I have at least six files on the computer all marked “draft banner #1, draft banner #2 etc., and meanwhile the Etsy page stubbornly remains with the original default look. I am now very suspicious of the word “simple”, it's merely a hook to lure me in and I am no longer fooled.
CTRL, ALT, DEL is one of my best friends, along with what is affectionately known in our house as: “the blue screen of death”. I have at least two versions of iTunes on my desktop and my (very patient) husband has had to become my own private IT Department. He is able to converse in HTML, whereas I just yell: you stupid *”$%&+@* machine, what do you mean **£$%^&*!! file not found? I know I saved on here somewhere, it can't have just !@?+*&%$£! disappeared!” My personal IT Department frequently asks: When was the last time you backed this up or checked for updates?” But the most common thing you will hear my him say when I am sitting looking blankly at the netbook screen is: “what did you press?”.
And don't even get me started on the printer......