The first tool I used as a writer wasn’t a computer. It was a Royal Manual Typewriter. I found one a couple of years ago, on ETSY. I also have my father’s old portable Royal, but it is in rough shape and needs some TLC. I learned, from my father how to write and type at the same time. Writing, the act of creating the connection between you and the page. Typing the act of getting it from your brain onto the page.
That skill is one thing my father spent a lot of time encouraging me to learn. That along with teaching me to read are two huge contributions to me. Dad had many others, but those two are the ones that I am reminded of every day.
Now, that typewriter has a piece of paper that was printed on my laser printer. It starts off with the classic line “The Great American Novel” and of course my favorite line “It was a dark and stormy night.” The irony of a typewriter having a laser printed paper in it, as if being typed was my idea. I know it is goofy, but it is an homage to what once was.
I can, and have moved from technology to technology over the past 30 years. I started my computing interest with the TRS-80 my parents bought for my sister (she was taking a class that required access to a computer). I ended up buying the new Apple IIc when it became available. I loved that computer. I could play Larry Bird vs. Dr. J on it, plus I could write. I started writing every day, from poetry to books, I started. I moved from the Apple IIc to the Apple IIgs. Finally moving off the Apple II platform to a Macintosh shortly before we moved to Cincinnati Ohio.
There is still a lot of Apple Gear in my house, iPad, iPhone and two Macs. But the predominant computing platform in our house now is the PC. We have 7 PC’s in the house now. (2 macs). That is down from a high of 16 PC’s by the way. We do have one PC that is dedicated to finding a path to tomorrow (we call it the VR machine). The rest of the PC’s in the house as well as the Macs have specific users and purposes.
We did also once have five printers in the house; we are down to two (plus one portable printer for the boat). Every device in the house can print to those two printers without having to do anything other than connecting to the home wi-fi network. There was a time you had to have local partners because well, print queues were hard to configure and even harder to manage when you were 12,000 miles away, and the printer wasn’t working, again!
All of this tying back to why I am a technologist. In part, I am a technologist because I learned early on from my father. In part because that is where my natural tendencies take me. I am good at taking complex technical problems and breaking them down into easier to manage components. I think, personally, it comes from two different things. My training is as a school teacher. In that profession, you learn quickly to do two things. The first is where is the audience level, right now? The second how do I explain to multiple levels of people how to get to where they need to be?
The other area where my skills were improved was being on a helpdesk. It is a useful skill to be able to convert complex technical into easily discussed, but there is also ownership as well. When you are the front line person on a helpdesk, you own the call. The person on the other end will rate the helpdesk experience based wholly on how they feel about you. So you learn quickly to connect, keep the person engaged and let them know you won’t drop the call. That is a critical skill in the consulting world.
I have wandered far from my original concept today, being able to sit at a typewriter and move what is in my brain onto blank paper. I have been wandering around the edges of why I am a technologist for the past week or so. It is because now is the time of year when technology begins to sprout anew!
wandering all over the place