Are computers great? My answer might surprise you…

By | March 15, 2013
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Phew – I’ve just this morning sent the first batch of “master disks” for the videos I’ve been working on off in the post. (That’s why this newsletter is a bit later in the day than usual – I hope you understand!)

They’re on their way to the company who produce all the CDs for me.

They aren’t available to order just yet, but they will be on next Wednesday – the 20th, at exactly midday. I’ll send out an email letting you know how you can get hold of them then! (More below – see ‘Video about the videos’)
But first, an article in the newspaper the other day got me thinking…

Why I think computer are great (it may not be why you’d expect)
I suppose it’s not surprising that someone like me, who shows other people how to use computers, would like computers.  I’d be doing the wrong work, otherwise!

And sometimes, when something new comes out, I am really impressed just by the cleverness of it.  Like Google Streetview, where you look at a map of the country and then look at any street in the country – from ground level.

I saw an article the other day about a new computerised telescope – that can see so far away it can see things that happened very shortly after the big bang.  It’s not terribly useful, but it’s just amazing.

But the real reason I think computers are great is something a bit different.  And the article about the telescope set me thinking about all the things modern technology can do.  It’s not the really fancy, clever things like seeing back to nearly the beginning of time that stand out for me.

It’s the more every-day things – the things that you or I can use cheaply and (once you know how to do it) easily.

One big example is Skype, which lets you make phone calls across the internet, free.  Not just normal phone calls – video phone calls.  It means my sister in Australia has seen my two little boys, even though she hasn’t met them in person them yet.  It means Mum and Dad can talk to them and play peep-bo with them even in between visits – which means the boys remember them so much better (and Mum and Dad see more of the steps of changing).

Skype isn’t the only one – it’s just the thing that stands out to me.  Email, Facebook, online shopping… different things can make a huge difference to different people.

And that’s the great thing about computers and technology, to me.  It’s not the sheer cleverness of the technology, impressive though it is.  It’s the way it can make people’s lives easier, more fun, or just nicer. I know there are frustrations as well – spam, viruses, computers crashing or simply programs that aren’t easy to use unless you already know how they work.  But the benefit of it, when you’re using a device, program or website that does exactly what you need, can be amazing.

Just ask Alastair, who loves playing at hiding from Grandad, then jumping up into sight when we’re making a Skype call.

Reader’s question: Do I need a fancy stand if I get an iPad?
You can get all sorts of fancy stands and cases that turn into stands for iPads and other tablet PCs.  And they can be handy – especially the type that are cases that give some protection if it gets knocked or dropped.

But you don’t have to have one.  In fact when I’m using it to browse the web or read the newspapers online, I often put it on an old, cast iron cookery book stand that was in the house when we moved in!  (You don’t need the little strings to hold the pages down, though.)  A music stand can work, too, as long as it’s sturdy… or a few paperbacks in a pile.  I like the irony of using a paper book (which technology is supposed to replace) to help make using an iPad more comfortable!

Video about the videos
I’ve just recorded a quick video that gives you a bit more information about the new video course and answers some questions about it. Oh, and it also explains what a very loud steam engine has to do with it!

Here it is – it won’t take long to watch, it’s less than ten minutes long:

Well, that’s all for now.  I’m off to have a cup of tea and then maybe take the boys to the park.