The genetic Dad I’ve only ever lived with for one year when I was an infant, while the geneticist Dad is what you would call a step-father, but I’ve lived in close proximity with him for more than 20 years. I feel close to them both. I connect differently with each of them but on a pretty much equal level. The reason I’m sharing my personal information with you is because I’ve just had a realisation about my fathers in relation to the area that I work in: computers and the Internet. It’s really quite interesting.
One father is a computer maniac. Whenever a new technology, software, gadget, or website emerges he is one of the first to grab it up and evaluate it. My other father has an old piece-of-crap box that looks something like a computer, with a tediously slow dial-up connection to the World Wide Web. Compared to the wireless, broadband Mac personal computer and mobile-connected Mac laptop of the enthusiast, they couldn’t be from further parts of the galaxy.
Then there’s me. I could be construed as being a walking paradox, an enigma, or just plainly twisted when it comes to my relationship with the computer and Internet sphere of life. Nature/nurture, genetic/environmental…For whatever strange reason, I have turned out to be a combination of the two papas. I work as a creative writer for an Internet web-hosting company. I love the ideas and valuable functions and tools that the Internet has brought to humanity (or was it humanity that brought it to the Internet?). However, I have issues and challenges when it comes to using these awe-inspiring machines.
Currently I am away from home in a different city visiting my girlfriend. At home (I am currently living with my parents-Mother and geneticist, as I’m going to live overseas soon) all I have to do to get on the Internet is open up my laptop and I’m on-line. If I’m at work, I go to my PC and all of my settings are stored and ready for me to use. While in a new place, things haven’t been running as smoothly as I would’ve liked. The answers are probably simple and easy to do, but this is one of the kinds of challenges that cause me to stumble. Although I am deeply interested and have a true faith in this new technology, I am a real novice when it comes to getting things done on someone else’s computer.
I brought my laptop with me. My girlfriend only has a dial-up connection which she uses with her laptop. I could use hers’ but she’s Chinese so a lot of what comes up on the screen is illegible to me. I don’t know how to change her language configuration. I’m used to doing it quite easily on my Mac, but her computer is a PC and I’m not as practiced in this other format. That’s one of my problems. I only have so much patience when it comes to working these technological issues out; it could be a trait passed on by my ice-age father (No judgement is being laid here. He just doesn’t feel that he can work new technologies out. He’s had a digital telephone answering machine for two years which he still hasn’t set up. He feels bad about it but his manual one does the job, so he sticks with it.). I’m also a little afraid to hook my laptop up to her dial-up line as I know from experience that I’ll have to change some settings of which I am not confident about doing.
So the next answer was to go to her university where she said people use their laptops wirelessly in the library. That sounded cool so I went in and tried it out. I even tried changing the settings to get it to work (It took courage.) but I couldn’t get it to work. I was weary about asking for help because I wasn’t really a student at that particular learning establishment. Instead, I’ve been using the library’s computers. This is OK, but since I can’t walk away with the files I create (I borrowed my girlfriend’s thumb-drive but an experience from the past of not being able to transfer information from PC to Mac deters me from using it-again, an irrational fear. I know it, and I will give it a try this week. I’ve resorted to saving my files in my email account as attachments. It’s not conventional, but it works.
Another issue I’ve had is getting onto my messenger service. The university computers don’t have it on their desktop, and when I tried to download an on-line version I was told that I didn’t have the authority to do so. I went to an Internet café, and I could do work there (I’m working on the road) but I feel kind of silly paying to get paid. It was cool there though as they had messenger with voice and video and I was able to have a conversation with my brother who is travelling around India. He could see my sister and me, but we couldn’t see him as he said the Indian computer devices (webcams, headsets) in that town were looking a little bit crappy in design and also looked worse for wear. It was heaps of fun making funny faces knowing that he would be seeing us. I think he’s getting lonely as he’s only 19 years old and has been away from home for over 7 months.
As you can see I’ve inherited beliefs about computer from both of my Dads. I find things more difficult than most, I believe, but I’m not going to give up doing my best to get the things done that I feel are necessary. Over time I hope to get over these little obstacles and hurdles and become proficient in all of the cool aspects of this new realm of human endeavour. I also have faith that the technicians and engineers are probably working hard to make things simple for the rest of us.
Whatever happens, I’m going to stick with it, and when I go to see my genetic father next I’m going to do my best to inspire him to buy a new computer with a Broadband connection. Then all I have to do is show him a few of the amazing things that this human created Internet tool can do. One of the aspects of the Web that affects me most profoundly is the simple fact that if you think of anything at all in the known Universe, you can then look it up on your search engine like Google and in the time it takes to blink your eye, immediately start to learn. It sure beats catching the train to the library, looking up a book in the card catalogue, searching for it, then finding out that someone else has borrowed it and is late bringing it back.