Talismans

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A funny thing happened. It's pretty minor, although it got some neurons crackling, apparently, because I keep thinking about it.

A friend has a client, a woman in her 80s who was trying to locate a bunch of photos, very specific photos. And, again, a bunch. She knew their names, knew she still had them somewhere on her hard drive, and needed to get them altogether in one place for a website.

I'm gonna stop me right here.

In her 80s would tell us something, once. Now? I dunno, man. I see all sorts of people, all sorts of ages, doing all sorts of things. When modern technology once was viewed as a young person's game, with the elders relegated to playing solitaire and getting frightened of their shadows on Facebook, that's a faulty prism these days. I know people in their 90s who've got this whole thing figured out, pretty much. A lot of them on Twitter.

So, this (very accomplished, BTW) woman's situation was illuminated, maybe, by her age, but it was only one data point. She essentially just didn't know how to do something she needed to do, and I was asked for suggestions.

I had some, but I was asked to soften the blow a little. It's a fairly simple procedure, but you know how that goes. We assume too much, sometimes, in terms of general knowledge of files and folders, disk allocation, etc. Sometimes you need pictures.

So, having watched any number of video tutorials (most of them having to do with plumbing, another story), I made one. I actually made two, because after the success of the first it became clear that there was another step, compressing all of these photos so they could be easily transmitted. Fire up the old screencasting device and back to work.

...

I've been working on these machines for 40 years. Exactly 40 years, in fact; I sat down at a workstation in the summer of 1978, with an actual keyboard and monitor (fused as one, at that time)--no mouse, of course--and logged on a network that, in fact, snaked out over the city, to various other facilities. It was remarkably like 2003, in many ways. I got a sneak peek.

Anyway. I'm used to this. I'm a power user, no question, having spent so many hours parked in front of these screens, but I have limits. Finding photos is not a complex skill, and if my friend had been a Windows user instead of a Mac one, I would never have gotten the question.

And it was easy; I spent maybe 30 minutes on the first one, most of that downloading software to screencast (I lost my previous version when I reset my PC a few months ago, and never saw the need to reinstall; I mostly used it, rarely, to capture video clips). I just pushed RECORD and started doing and explaining. The second video took about as long as the video lasts; record, add a quick graphic, upload to YouTube, and done.

None of this expertise is exciting, at least to me. It's really not hard, just something most people probably don't have a reason to explore.

It was this odd feeling of being an explainer. I do this, and I do it a lot, but it usually runs along the lines of either trivial stuff that no one really is supposed to know but I do, or else stuff like this. Technical stuff. Stuff I happen to know, through mostly osmosis and curiosity. Brain power is not all that necessary.

It just felt funny, trying to be simple and clear and yet not condescending (this client had absolutely no trouble following these directions, by the way; she's certainly competent, if just not as knowledgeable about the nuts and bolts). And it was just a new thing to do, and fun, But I kept having this sneaky compulsion to swap shoes, put on some sneakers and a comfy sweater and take the trolley to the Land of Make Believe. I accessed my inner Fred, somehow. It's not a bad thing at all. Just a little goofy. You can watch if you want.

...

I wrote a column this week, bouncing a little off my story of the boots for JK's birthday and incorporating some elements from an exercise I had to do last weekend. It all felt fine, skipping away from some of the darker tones I'd expressed following the Parkland shooting and, you know. Just some despair. Enough of that.

And I wanted to try to podcast variety again, so I did. I'll post a link later in the day when the piece is up, for those of you who prefer reading to listening (you know who you are), but here's another go at it. I learn something every time I do a new thing like this, so it's definitely a useful experiment

Although now I'm thinking I should have read it in Mr. Rogers' voice. I can do that, too. Got some skills, as I said. Maybe just not all that useful.

 

Chuck Sigars2 Comments