The Computer Room and Our Early Tech

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My current computer.

When we moved into our house in the fall of 1992, I was running a public relations and advertising business from home. My workhorse was the Macintosh IIci computer and the Apple LaserWriter IIf—my first of many Apple computers. There was a fairly new invention called desktop publishing that I thought was so exciting.

I used a modem to send files to a business that turned my computer files into film that would go to a local printer for newsletters, brochures and print ads. My home office was in what is now our guest room. Back then we called it “the computer room,” because unlike today, where I work mostly on a laptop wherever I feel like it — all my work had to be done in that room on the computer.

When I was ready to send a file, I called the business and let them know I was ready to send it. Then we’d both start up our dial-up modems. The file transfer would tie up my computer and could take up to eight hours! So, I’d make the call in the evening when I was done with work and the file transfer would happen overnight.

What seemed so high tech at the time, is ancient by today’s standards. The dial-up modem was pre-internet. I remember visiting a friend who was the first person I knew who used the internet. He was working on creating a website for people to locate and get information about his business. I thought to myself, who on earth is going to their computer to look up a business? What a waste of time! After all, we had phone books and yellow pages for that.

Years later, after there was no computer in the guest room, we still called it the “computer room.” It turned into a TV room and our kids and their friends would hang out there watching a big bulky TV and VCR. Eventually, when the kids got older and I saw my daughter’s friends a little too cozy and flirtatious with my son’s friends, we bought a big screen TV and put it smack in the center of the living room. My kids told me this week that they thought they were responsible for us getting the big flat screen TV. One of them had unplugged the cable from the TV and told us it wouldn’t work anymore!

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My first computer and printer.

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What do you remember about your first technology? How did we work without the internet? 

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With all the hubbub about internet privacy, what about internet security?

 

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Sometimes I miss the days when I wrote on this–which was considered high tech.

 

I had a weird experience yesterday with Google that gave me the creeps. It started with helping my daughter with a mailing list. She asked if I would sign onto Google docs and we could work on a list together. I said I’d email it to her and she explained how much easier Google docs is to use. Instead of emailing one document back and forth, we could work on it together—at the same time.

She was asking for addresses of family and friends to mail her graduation announcements. I was amazed at how the document open in my Google window would fill in with names and addresses, without me doing a thing. My daughter explained that this is how all group projects are done for school in this day and age. That was truly amazing to me. We finished the list easily around 9 a.m. with only one document between the two of us. FYI, this is NOT what gave me the creeps.

google-docs-icons-590d5dfe3df78c928309366bIt was the text I received from Google at 3:15 p.m. that was weird. It stated that someone had tried to log into my Google account with my password but Google had declined it. They asked me to go online and check if it was me or someone I knew.

I asked my daughter if she had tried to access my account and she said, “Nope, it wasn’t me.” I didn’t think about it again until this morning and realized that I had forgotten to check on my computer to see if someone had tried to access my Google account. This morning, I went back to Google docs, and there was a red banner across the top of the window asking if I had tried to log in yesterday at 3:15 p.m. I clicked no, and it took me to another page to show me a map of where the person was that entered my password. HO CHI MINH CITY! That’s right, someone from Vietnam has my password and tried to hack into my account. Is that creepy or what?

I watched Facebook’s Zuckerberg on TV the past two days being questioned by the Senate and House about privacy, tracking, advertising and censorship. I know all those things are important, but seriously, isn’t someone across the world using my password and log-in info worth some investigation, too? It makes me believe that we’re all much more vulnerable than what we think. I think it’s time to think about internet security and what we can do to protect ourselves. Needless to say, I spent time this morning changing passwords for online accounts.

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One of our earlier Macs. We had one in Strawberry, too.

Has someone tried to log into one of your online accounts before and what did you do about it?

Here’s What Happens When You Disagree With a College Student

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I’m thankful for my beautiful neighborhood.

I’m surprised when people aren’t grateful for all our country has to offer. There is opportunity here for everyone. We have a standard of living that many people from other countries would be thrilled to enjoy. It seems not appreciating our country is especially true for college students. I recently posted a comment on a college student’s FB page — big mistake — when they were bemoaning the problems in our nation. I mentioned something about looking at all we have and being thankful.

Guess what happened next? I got a piling on from outraged kids saying that because we have an affluent society doesn’t mean we should be racist.

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I’m thankful for my kids and friends. Especially the ones who sail!

Excuse me? Did I mention anything about racism? Did I say it was okay to be a racist? Let’s be clear. Racism is bad. It’s evil. It’s wrong. But, what I was thinking about is the fact we can choose which path to take. We aren’t forced into a job, career or marriage. We have choices. We also have clean water and air.

These kids sitting in their exclusive ivory towers on ivy league campuses with the latest iPhones and laptops seem to enjoy ripping about how awful our country is. I read about it in the paper on a daily basis. How would they enjoy living in a part of the world without a toilet or running water? Where they wouldn’t have a grocery store, a Starbucks or cell service? How would they survive?

My hope is that they take their idealism and go to a country where life isn’t as easy. I’m sure a lot of places in the world would welcome them and could use their help. Maybe then, they would appreciate what we have. Maybe they will understand and show empathy for the people who came before them, and the changes we have made. No, we aren’t perfect. No person is perfect. But, we are truly blessed.

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Beautiful UCSB, where my son attends college.

I’m very thankful for my family, friends and country. I’m thankful to live in this part of the world, where we aren’t concerned with basic survival. I’m thankful that we have freedom of speech and wish we could have more civil discussions and agree to disagree.

With Thanksgiving around the corner, I think it’s a perfect time to reflect on all that we have.

I have a beautiful home, two wonderful kids, a loving, kind husband. I’m grateful for my friends, my community and for those who serve our country and have kept us safe.

What are you thankful for?

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I’m thankful for the times I get to watch my daughter swim.

How Computers and Technology Changed My Life

Swim Practice

Swim Practice

It was my daughter’s 19th birthday this past week, and I texted her Happy Birthday, first thing in the morning. Yes, I talked to her later, but I knew she’d be at swim practice early and couldn’t talk to me right away. I wanted a nice message for her whenever she had a chance to glance at her phone.

photo (1)My birthday last year was filled with FB wishes. Twenty years ago, I’d get phone calls. It was a big deal, because I‘d hear from people that I’d lost touch with for years. Plus, people would call “long distance!” Sometimes they left messages on my answering machine, if I was busy at work.

Remember the answering machine?

Remember the answering machine?



I used to write my mom and my best friend letters. I had moved from Washington to Southern California, and we couldn’t afford to make that many long distance phone calls. I loved getting long letters back from those close to me. A lot of news and thought was put into writing letters. It wasn’t at all like the quick posts we do on FB or our tweets today.

On the positive side, I can stay in contact with a whole lot of people thanks to social media that I’d probably lose contact with otherwise.

In my working days before the computer, I’d write my stories on a typewriter. We’d use special purple mimeograph paper to type on and then I’d walk it over to the print shop to be printed. We’d mail the stories to the local papers, except when my boss would drive timely ones straight to the editor of The Desert Sun.

My favorite typewriter. The IBM Selectric II.

My favorite typewriter. The IBM Selectric II.

My newsletters were also typed on an IBM Selectric —what a luxury that was to type on compared to other typewriters — and I knew how to do the math to figure out how many words of copy would fill a column inch. I’d drive my copy to Indio to the typesetter and a few days later drive back to pick it up. Then I’d proofread, mark it up and drive it back. No, we didn’t have fax machines back then.

The machine I used to "send copy over the wire."

The machine to “send copy over the wire.”

The closest thing I’d used to a fax was “sending a story over the wire.” I took my sheet of paper with my copy on it, and rubber banded it to a round metal cylinder. I called the newspaper’s office and we started the wire. I took the phone receiver and placed it on a cushioned base and the cylinder spun around as the words were magically transmitted. If my wire didn’t go through, I’d read my words slowly to someone transcribing them at other end of the phone.

What a difference technology and computers have done to my world. Mostly, it speeded up the process and made everything so much easier.

What differences have technology made in your life?