Weekend Assignment: Tech Savvy

So, here’s this week’s Weekend Assignment:

When you bring home some new piece of technology, do you usually get it up and running with pleasant anticipation and calm confidence, or is there more likely to be much swearing, wailing and gnashing of teeth? What’s the most trouble you’ve had with a new computer, tv, phone or related tech gadget?

Extra Credit: Who do you call in to help, if you get stuck?

Yes, it’s typically with pleasant anticipation and calm confidence.  There is only rarely swearing and gnashing of teeth.  Me and technology, we usually have a thing.  An understanding.  An agreement, if you will.  It does what I ask of it, and I don’t blast it to kingdom come.  It’s been a pretty fruitful working relationship.

In all honesty, though, I love technology, and gadgets.  I don’t make enough money to afford nearly half the technogadgets I’d own if I could.  (Dear Wife and I just got a Wii only this year…)  So, in practical terms, I’m a veritable luddite: no smartphone (Have you seen the data plans on those things!  They’ll eat your wallet!), mostly last-gen game machines, only just bought an HD TV, a Dell laptop with barely enough RAM to run Windows Vista.  It’s like I live in the dark ages, or something, while the rest of the world marches on without me.  And to think, in my undergrad, I Minored in Computer Science.  (I used to write code for fun!  But it’s like a Foreign Language; I used to speak French, too, though no more.  Now, I remember most of the “grammar”, but I’ve forgotten nearly all of the “words”.)

So, the most trouble I ever have with a computer or other gadget correlates strongly with the size of my wallet.  Being unable to afford the beefy scream machines that I crave, I settle instead for what I can afford.  And that means they never have enough power to do what I want with them.  For instance, I started creating a map of my fantasy world (the one for the belated novel that I’ve been on-again, off-again writing since forever [NOTE: you may need to register on the linked forum to see the linked image]) using a program called the GIMP (a free and pretty powerful graphics manipulator)… but I reached a point where my computer just couldn’t handle it and I had to stop…  It would take me an  hour to render even a minor change to the map, and I didn’t have the patience (or time).

As for where I go when things don’t go right?  Well, I take a certain satisfaction from “doing it myself”, so more often than not if I can’t figure it out by tinkering with it directly, I’ll turn to the internet for answers.  I liken using the internet to having the cheat code for a favorite video game.  (And I don’t consider it cheating when you’re playing a single-player game.)  Barring success by asking the internet, I may turn to the professionals, and consider paying them money.  I’ve only ever had to do this a couple of times in my life.