Friday, March 7, 2014

My love-hate relationship with computers

Those who first met me in my adulthood might be surprised to hear that I was once really into computers. In my generation, I was introduced to computers at a very early age, and I often enjoyed going to my dad's office to play with his computer. When our family got a computer at home, my sister still enjoyed going to my dad's work and being in his office, but my interest in this suddenly waned (as my dad often mentions with a smile). I decided to play with my computer at home instead.

I did my share of computer games as a kid (something I haven't done for years now), but I also had an interest in the more practical side of the technology. At that age, I actually read computer manuals, and learned how to do basic things on the computer. I even learned how to work with databases and such, something that my mom often took as a sign of my practicality. I enjoyed computers a lot, and even thought at an early age that I might later get a job in the computer field.

Elementary school taught me how to type, and my experience playing the piano trained my fingers well for this. I was (and still am) a fast typist. In my freshman year of high school, I took a Computer Aided Design class on the advice of some of my friends, who told me how useful it was, saying "you'd have to be an idiot not to get an 'A' in CAD." (their exact words) Unfortunately, in that subject, I was an idiot, and ended that class with a "B."

It was not until years later that I discovered the reason, which was that I have very poor visual skills. I once took a test of visual intelligence, in which I tested in the bottom 1 percent of the population. My math scores were respectable (above average), and my verbal scores were somewhat higher (which corresponded to my later scores on the math and verbal sections of the GRE); but visually, I was an idiot. This is probably why I did so poorly in the graphically-oriented CAD class.

I had been putting off my high school's typing requirement that freshman year of high school, so I decided to take the more challenging Word Processing class to fill this requirement, as Keyboarding would have been so easy as to be painfully boring. Even this was fairly easy, and I frequently got all my class work done in the first 20 minutes of class, which allowed me to spend the rest of the period surfing the Net by reading online news articles. (Those piano fingers again ... )

I also took a Computer Literacy class as an elective, thinking that it might help me to get a job in the computer field. This was more to my liking, and I did all right in it. It was the prerequisite to the two years of electronics classes my high school offered, and I planned to do those in my junior and senior years. But when I got into first-year electronics in my junior year, it was not to my liking, as it involved a lot of hardware stuff that I was not good at (I consider myself more of a software guy). While I got decent grades in it, I decided not to take the final class in the sequence during senior year; instead taking a shortened schedule to allow me to work afterschool.

My computer experience might have been quite different if I'd taken a programming class, and I have sometimes wondered what it would have been like to take some programming. But it may have been for the best that I did not do this, as the software-heavy computers majors (like computer science) also required a significant amount of calculus and physics. I took Advanced Placement classes in calc and physics during my senior year of high school, which I later got college credit for; but my experience in these classes convinced me that computer science and engineering majors were not for me. My college experience later took me far away from these majors.

But my business major did require a certain amount of computers classes, and I took their basic Computer Information Systems class in my time at Yavapai College. This was mostly a review of things from Computer Literacy and electronics, which focused on business applications; so I did well in it. I was then thinking about going into Accounting as a major, which is a major that today demands considerable skill with computers. I was enjoying my accounting classes, and I thought I might take an extra computers class or two to aid in the Accounting major. Thus, when I transferred to Arizona State University, I took another semester of info systems.

But this semester was very different. I hated that semester, and did not get along well with the teacher. He had a lot of ridiculous online busy work; and while parts of it were interesting, I knew that I did not want to major in this subject, and ended the class with a "C." When I took the Accounting Systems class at Northern Arizona University for my accounting major, I was hoping I would like this computers class more, because this had more applications to my major of that time. But I actually received the only "F" of my life in this accounting class. (Ironic, since I would later do bookkeeping for my church after I graduated.) I knew that Accounting was not a major for me.

But NAU's business majors still required one more computers class, even though I planned to get a concentration in Marketing. So it was with great discomfort that I took one more computers class. I did all right in this class, but found it dreadfully boring. I was extremely glad when it was over, for it was my last computers class, and I have not taken another one since. I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a Concentration in Marketing, and a Certificate in Business Economics.

In my childhood, I had been quite skilled with computers, and had often been turned to when people had problems with computers. Since then, I have considered myself a computer dinosaur, outdated and outmoded, only rarely turned to for help. (Usually, it is my younger brother who is the sought-after technology expert in my family.)

But I've had some good training in computers which has served me well, and I know enough to be able to use computers for the many non-technical purposes they are used for nowadays. One does not have to be a computer technician to use computers in their jobs today, or to use them recreationally for online surfing, word processing, and social media like Facebook and Blogger. I have done all of these things, and hope to be able to continue doing them; even though there are things about computers that I never want to deal with again. I have a love-hate relationship with computers, and this love-hate relationship will probably continue for years to come.

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