Computer challenges

When I look back, it is easy to see how much technology has changed the way we do so many things. There were no personal computers and the primary device for writing was a typewriter when we went to college. We did our research in the library using physical books. Churches used mimeograph machines to duplicate paper bulletins for worship and to prepare newsletters that were mailed to the homes of members. Telephones were connected to the wall with wires. When we wanted an item that couldn’t be bought in our town, we waited until we traveled to a distant city or we got out a catalogue, filled out an order form, put it in the mail and waited. It took weeks for catalogue orders to arrive. I don’t remember our lives as being worse in those days, just different.

When personal computers became available, we were not the first adopters. The price prevented us from buying as soon as I wanted. Our first personal computer was not much more than a word processor. Our second machine got the task of printing address labels for two small town weekly newspapers. I would set it up and feed the labels into the dot matrix printer in the evening and it would print away during the night. If the printer didn’t have a jam, I could deliver the labels the next morning. I always worked a day in advance so that if there was some glitch I had time to start over. the computer earned its way and I learned about database management in the process.

That was years ago. Times have changed. We’ve had several generations of computers since. Along the way, we got a cell phone and then we each had our own cell phone. Now, in our retirement, we each have our own laptop and our own cell phone and I have a tablet computer as well. We’ve invested quite a bit of money in technology and we’ve made our lives fairly dependent upon our tech gadgets.

Usually things work pretty good for us. Sometimes they don’t. Today is a “don’t.” Last evening I downloaded and installed new operating software for my laptop computer. I had been having a bit of trouble with my email program and with my web browser. They would work, but there were some issues with synchronization with my cell phone and my computer would occasionally connect to the wrong wi-fi signal. It was a bit frustrating, but it didn’t seem to be a big deal. I thought the new operating system would clear up any issues.

I was wrong.

I spent a couple of hours wrestling with the computer after the software installation. It would connect to the Internet, but it didn’t recognize the connection through the default browser and my email program. I’d launch the program and it would act as if I wasn’t connected. Another browser, however, worked. I used the backup browser to troubleshoot my problem. I found an excellent article with step-by-step instructions. At least I wasn’t the only one who had encountered the problem. That is a little consolation.

However, the problem persists. I don’t know whether or not I will be able to upload my journal post this morning. I’ve run out of options at the moment. The next step will be to make an appointment at the computer store and take the machine in to have someone with more expertise work on it. My experience with that in the past is that I’m going to encounter quite a bit of disruption. It will take time to get an appointment. I’ll have to drive to another town to get the service. Then, there is no certainty about how much time it will take them to correct the problem. There is always the outside possibility that the machine has some problem that will require a major change. I am dreading the possible expense and disruption of the change. I’ve become overly dependent upon my laptop.

The software that I use to post my daily journal does not have a mobile version. I can’t use it on my notebook computer. I have a single license, so it isn’t installed on Susan’s laptop. I’m frustrated and worrying.

Jesus taught about anxiety. “Consider the lilies of the field.” I know in my mind that the worries of this particular problem are minor and that things will work out. I would have never attempted a major computer system upgrade on a weekend before I retired. Sunday morning wouldn’t find me without a computer, and if it did, I knew that my time would be invested in leading worship and being with people. Back in the year 2000, when the Y2K problem presented us with an unknown, I advised people that if the computers all crash, we will continue to gather in the church to worship.

Things have changed since then. Worship is online. Susan is the liturgist at our church this week and she recorded the scripture, another reading and the call to the offering on her computer on Wednesday then emailed them to the person who compiles the worship service. We will watch the worship service on her computer or the tablet if I can’t resolve the issues with this machine.

I think that I’m dependent upon this machine. I get up and enter data into it every day. I save that data on the cloud. The truth, however, is that my life will continue without the computer. If I can’t make things work for a few days a few people will wonder what is happening with my journal. Most people won’t notice at all. The world doesn’t revolve around me and there are people with much bigger technology challenges than I.

Still, I’m frustrated and anxious. I’m wondering what will and what will not work. My readers are a part of an experiment that is about to go live. I’ll see if I can publish this post. If you are reading this at your usual time at least that much is working.

If not, we’ll try to catch up after a trip to the computer store.