Where is the Anykey?

by : chris j meagher

When I first started to use computers, I previously had never actually touched one.Yeah! I'm old! My Good Lady, name of Marie - had last used one 20 years previously, so Her expertise was somewhat lacking also. In fact, I had never even known anyone who had used a computer.
My vocation in life was Gardener-cum-Farmer, so I had not needed these things. Oh yes, I also lived in the bush - electricity would have been a novelty. I came to the Big-Smoke chasing the aforementioned Lady, found love in the form of running hot-water, so I stayed. Unfortunately for me, I was involved in a work related accident, which effectively negated most physical activity and therefore my chosen profession. I now had a forced sedentary lifestyle and an idle mind, the descent into madness could not have been far away, I thought.
Then someone gave us a computer. Bastard!
The machine was someone else's discard and being naive, as I was - this meant nothing to me. Certainly, we were thankful for the gift, but there was a ghost in the machine. Rather, a poltergiest. Things went, inexplicably, horribly, wrong. With hindsight and far too much experience, obviously, the problems of this machine were so vast - it was far easier to dump it rather than fix it. Oblivious to the abyss I was about to leap into, I decided to repair it myself. How hard could it be? Oh dear! Had I only known.
I have now spent every available moment since, in front of a computer. I spent the first 3 years just trying to work out how to make the bloody thing work properly. Let me elucidate on this. We had no money coming in, from me in any case, therefore could afford no books or magazines, classes or tutors - or anything extraneous to our immediate living requirements. Our friends and family, either had no computer or only used one at work, or, someone had set the system up originally and as the machine started to get a bit funky - it continued to do so. No one we knew had any children - Damn! Well, we had a machine and we were connected to the internet ( dial-up, God help us ).
Now what? Golly, I dunno - let's search the web?
Well now, there's an exercise in futility.
I have found since I first started, that there is an enormous 'presumed knowledge' on the 'net - that everyone just knows what's being talked about, therefore, the explanations on how to do something fall short of any real help. Seems like one is expected to know these things through some sort of osmosis. Kids today grew up with the technology and it is all second nature to them. Though, ask one of them to read a clock with hands and they're stuffed.
On one particularly memorable day, as I was studiously following some instructions: do this - right; press that - right; click apply - yup; press delete key - did that; press Ctrl key+ - yup; press any key, then click O.K. Anykey? any,any,any..Where's the any key? I actually rang a secretary I knew and asked her - Er, where on a keyboard is the any key? She didn't know either. I have, since then, watched a scene on The Simpsons where the same thing has happened - I didn't find it funny!
Suffice to say, for an old wrinkly like me, I was now forced to learn a new language and at the same time repair the beast. I made some devastating mistakes, forcing me to then learn how to repair what I had just done - before I could continue with the original task. Although I have come to realise that I am highly selective in just what I choose to learn (it was three years before I could cut-and-paste), it was precisely because of my lack of knowledge to begin with, that afforded me the luxury, of having no fear in taking on this descent into madness at all.

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