Tag Archives: Computers

Steve Jobs: The blog post

You loved Steve Jobs, the book. What a page-turner. You bought one copy as an actual book copy, and then you bought another book as an iBook copy. And then you read one page from the book and the next page on your iPad. But something happened with the synching, like the pages weren’t exactly the same numbers, and so you wound up reading certain paragraphs over and over again.


But that’s OK, because those paragraphs were awesome. You loved that book, Steve Jobs. And then you got really pumped for the Jobs movie. Finally. It’s bad enough that you had to wait all of those months after he died to read an official autobiography. But now it’s been almost two years since Steve Jobs died, and we’re only just this summer being given a proper motion picture treatment of his life, his work, his beard.

You drank the Steve Jobs soda. Crisp, refreshing, exactly the flavor of soda that you didn’t even know you were thirsty for until you saw it in the refrigerator at Seven-Eleven. That sleek white can, it just said, “Jobs,” and that’s how you knew it was the official Steve Jobs soda, not those unlicensed, “Steve Jobs: the soda,” cans that came out two weeks ago, some opportunist trying to make a quick buck with an unofficial soft drink. Pathetic.

You always go for the official Jobs brand, like those official Steve Jobs windshield wipers. You’ve changed the wipers on your 2009 Ford Taurus two, three times. And each time, yes, they worked reasonably well after installation. But six months in, that squeaking sound. The last time you replaced them, they faced a different angle, claimed to wipe a bigger percentage of the windshield. But the Jobs wipers wiped an even bigger percentage. A much, much larger surface area. Still not a hundred percent, that would be impossible, you know, barring one, giant, horizontal wiper that wiped top to bottom, over and over again, but that’s a little unrealistic.

And it wouldn’t be that cool white, like your iPod, like the Steve Jobs official backpack. Although that one came in a really cool black also, but not a regular black, it was a matte black. You still bought the white though, a Jobs traditionalist, the only kind of tradition that really defies convention. Officially.

Like that official Steve Jobs haiku released last week:

Steve Jobs was so great

I wish he were still alive

I loved him so, so much

Did you see that extra syllable at the end? Classic Jobs, ever the innovator. I wasn’t supposed to post that here, so if you just read it, you really should go to the iPoetry store and buy your own copy. And then you can read it as many times as you like. While you’re there, you should check out Steve Jobs, the sonnet, the limerick, and the acrostic. Each one of them, truly, inspirational, a real game changer, to the world of poetry, to the English language. Even this blog post, even though it’s an unofficial Steve Jobs blog post, it’s talking about Steve Jobs, I’m writing down the name Steve Jobs.

And so you get it. Steve Jobs was our generation’s Thomas Edison. Right? Only, when you think about it, all Edison did was invent a light bulb. Well, and other stuff, the record player, something with magnets. I don’t know. Maybe that was cutting edge a hundred years ago, but come on. You take all of Edison’s greatest inventions and they don’t even compare to Jobs’s worst invention. And yeah, that’s kind of a moot point, because Jobs didn’t have any worst inventions, or innovations, or whatever. I’m just saying, light bulb, iPad, I’ll stick with the iPad thanks. I can always just download a light bulb app. And then I’ll never use it, because there’s no need to, my bedroom is already plenty illuminated by me reading Steve Jobs again, the white background is brighter than any stupid bulb.

Can anybody lend me a few thousand dollars? I really want to buy up every seat for the Jobs midnight showing tonight, so I can watch it by myself, in a big theater, and then I can walk out and see everybody else lined up for the next showing, and I’ll just look at them and say stuff like, “I’m not going to say anything, just … just … wow. Just wow. Just really, you guys are in for a treat, you guys are just … wow … you guys are just, really, really … holy shit man … wow.”

I figure I’m about halfway to knowing how to do everything

I know I often talk and act like I’ve got everything figured out, but there’s so much that I don’t know how to do. I’m almost thirty, so assuming that I’ll probably live for another ninety years or so, if I calculate all of the things that I know how to do now, and how much time it’ll take me to learn everything else, then, yeah, I think I can still get it all done before I die. Obviously I wasted a lot of time when I was a little kid, learning how to talk, how to read, how to spend five years straight playing Super Nintendo. Everybody has to learn how to do the basics. I just wish it didn’t take so long. Two years to figure out how to get potty trained? That seems a little long.

But computers. I know how to use basically every computer. As long as the language is in English. You guys ever have one of those friends that takes your cell phone when you’re not looking, changes the language to Cyrillic, changes all the settings, makes the default brightness at the very dimmest, so you can’t see anything, turns it on mute, and then takes out the SIM card? Yeah, I’m not talking about those types of computers. And come on, that was a funny joke. They fixed it for you at the cell phone store, right? Well sorry you don’t know Cyrillic.

I don’t know Cyrillic. That’s another thing that I’ll have to learn. That and every other language. OK, maybe I’ll need to start living a little longer. Maybe I can just write off the language requirement. I mean, nobody knows every language.

Wait, wasn’t I talking about computers? I don’t know how to do any computer programming. But isn’t that just another type of language? Yeah, I don’t need to know programming. I figure once I learn business, once all of my business skills are in order, I’ll be able to pay a bunch of programmers to program anything I want.

Tennis. I’ve never even played tennis. I’m pretty good at Ping-Pong. That’s close enough. I was about to say that I’ve never even so much as picked up a tennis racket, but that’s not true. I think I was at a sporting goods store one time and I started playing around with a tennis racket on display, taking a tennis ball and bouncing it up and down like … what do you call those paddles with the string attached to the ball? And you’re supposed to bounce it up and down over and over again? Is it paddle ball? Those things are so lame. Just a total waste of the earth’s resources, making something so dumb and cheap. But yeah, I guess I really don’t know how to use those either. The sporting goods tennis racket story didn’t end well, by the way. It was a huge mess.

Now that I’m writing it all out, maybe I’m biting off a little more than I can chew here. I’m starting to panic. And the panic is only making me realize that I haven’t even begun to master any of those relaxation techniques I’ve read about online. Meditation? Medication? I’d go for either one right now. Just got to take deep breaths, drink a glass of water. But my back molars are so sensitive. I don’t remember eating ice cream and drinking cold water being such a chore. I always hear about old people and when their teeth fall out and they get dentures, how all of the sudden they love ice cream and cold water again because they’ve lost that dental sensitivity. And they come into restaurants by the dozens, immediately complaining about how it’s too cold in here, but then alternately complaining that the water isn’t cold enough, to bring them an extra glass of ice on the side.

But that doesn’t make any sense because I have great teeth. Some of the best. No braces. Barely any cavities. I say barely because I’m not counting the cavities I got when I was a little kid. Little kids are always too busy being defiant and not brushing their teeth and eating way too much candy. At least I was. I never learned how to do dental work. But do I have time to go to dental school? I’d have to fail out of medical school first. Ba-dum, ching!

Jokes. Check. Typing. Check. Internet. Check. Man, maybe I’m not going to be able to master everything. Should I just give up? Should I just try to focus on what I’m already good at? This has been a real eye-opener, this reflection, this self-assessment. Wait a second. Did I just learn and then master self-assessment? I think I did. There’s still hope. Maybe it’s not mastering everything, maybe it’s all about half-assing everything, learning just enough of everything there is to learn, the bare minimum spread out across an entire lifetime. I actually think I’m over halfway there. Maybe I won’t need ninety years after all. I mean, if I’m alive, that’ll be great. Bonus time to sit here and rub it in to everybody else how much I know, about life, about everything, literally every subject imaginable.

I have no idea how to use Microsoft Excel

I never learned how to use Microsoft Excel. I have a pretty good excuse, actually. But it’s a huge long story of an excuse and it starts a long time ago. When I was a little kid I remember when my family bought our first PC. I was in love with it. All I wanted to do was be on this computer. And this was before the Internet. I’m just thinking about how lame it must have been, but I was infatuated. I remember when PCs were just coming into the mainstream and how I wanted one so desperately, every day was just me trying to control my insatiable urge to have and use a computer, but because I was a little kid, with no job, no money, I couldn’t do anything about it. I’d just have to sit around and watch my little brothers and sisters watch Barney. I wasn’t allowed to play Nintendo on weekdays, so I couldn’t even play Zelda.

At my Catholic elementary school, we had a computer lab. It was run by this ninety-year-old nun named Sister Anthelia. She was so old she still wore the nun outfit. I don’t think she knew anything about computers. I think that whoever was in charge of the school was like, “Jesus, this lady is completely unfit to teach. But what do we do with her? She’s a nun.” And finally somebody else was like, “I don’t know, put her in charge of the library.” And that first person would reply, “I’ve already thought of that, but then where would we put Sr. Margaret? She’s even crazier.” Until eventually they’d decide, “Well, whatever, just make her the computer teacher. Those kids are only in there for like twenty minutes a week anyway. That’s got to be harmless enough.”

And it was torture, because I wanted to use those twenty minutes every week to actually use the computers. Like really badly. But Sister Anthelia would make us spend the first ten minutes memorizing and reciting back these ridiculous prayers that she wrote herself. It was agony. If we didn’t place the correct inflection on just the right word, she would make us start all over again, “And slower this time! Much slower!”

Finally we’d get to power on the Apple IIs, computers that were already obsolete, even in the technological dark ages of the early 1990s. The screens didn’t even have black and white, they had black and green, like in the Alien movies. They had giant B drives, floppy disks that were actually floppy. And nothing ever worked. The whole lab was all just a huge disguise, a lie perpetuated by the school, they’d parade the parents around on Open House Day, “Look parents! Check out our computer lab! We’re getting your kids prepared for the future!” and parents back then had no idea about computers, not the majority of them anyway. There was always that one kid whose mom or dad worked for IBM, but everybody hated that kid, because he was always bragging about how much he loved playing with his computer back home. “Oh you don’t have Oregon Trail? Too bad. It’s awesome!”

But finally my parents realized that we’d have to get a computer eventually, and one day there it was. Like I said, this was pre-Internet, so there wasn’t a ton of stuff to do on the computer. I could fool around with the MS-DOS prompt, make it say stupid stuff. I could play Oregon Trail, which, yeah it was kind of cool at first, but after a while you get tired of watching all of your family members die of dysentery or chlamydia. So after that got old I started fooling around with this other built-in program, Mavis Beacon’s Typing.

Basically, with this program, I taught myself how to type really early. I think I was only in the second grade. Although, I say early now, because that was early back then, but I have no idea how early kids today learn how to type. Maybe much earlier than second grade. Maybe my kids are going to read this story someday and think that I was some sort of cave man. But whatever, I could type really fast.

I remember my older cousins used to pay me ten bucks to type out their papers for high school. That was the best. Although, I remember the first time I had ten dollars, I really wanted this Mr. Fantastic action figure, you know from the Fantastic Four, right? It was on display at the comic book store, and I just imagined it stretching out and doing all sorts of cool stretching stuff. But when I finally bought it, this piece of shit action figure, its limbs just clicked out of their hinges a bit, lengthening oh so slightly. This was the worst approximation of stretching powers, a total let down. Like I could see when it was fully extended where the plastic limbs were held together by the thin plastic joints. Even worse, one time when the arms were fully extended its right forearm snapped off, meaning the only way to fix it was with Krazy Glue, meaning after that it couldn’t extend at all. So it was terrible. But I had wanted it so bad that I lied to myself for years, telling myself that it was a cool toy, that I liked it. But what are you really supposed to do with action figures anyway? They’re cool to look at for a minute, but I wasn’t one of those kids who held them in his hands and made up adventures, making weird noises and making them fight with other action figures. I’d have much rather tormented one of my siblings, driving them to tears to the point where my mom would actually yell at them for making too much noise crying and screaming.

But what am I talking about here? Computers, right? So I taught myself how to type really fast, so fast that when I got to high school, and we’re barely out of the 1990s here, there were still a sizeable number of students who didn’t know how to type. To correct this deficiency, there was a typing class freshman year. But if you passed the typing assessment on day one, they didn’t make you sit through the class. I just got an extra study hall. I thought it was great, but I didn’t realize that during this class they not only taught you had to type but also how to use Microsoft Word and Excel.

So I never learned how to use Excel. And you don’t really need Excel in high school, or in college either. I had to take one physics class in college and we needed to do one task for one project in Excel, so the professor made everyone come in on a Saturday to learn the basics of Excel. But it was a Saturday class so everybody just kind of hung out in the classroom pretending to already know everything that the professor was talking about, not asking any questions, nobody raising their hands, so that way he’d think that maybe calling this Saturday class was a little unnecessary, and OK fine, class dismissed.

And for that one assignment, I just did all the work by hand and then I went into Microsoft Word and created a table that, when printed out, looked like it had been something that was created on Excel. And it worked, but only for that one assignment. The thing about Excel is, and I’m guessing here, because I really don’t know how to use it, you put all of the information or numbers into certain spots and then run certain functions and the program does all of the work for you, even laying it out at the end. So instead of just paying attention during that class, I made all of this extra work for myself, doing all of the calculations by hand, and then formatting it in a grid.

But that was just one time during sophomore year of college. I didn’t have to think about Excel, not even once during the rest of my higher education. I don’t even think my computer had Excel, just Word. But then I graduated and became an adult. And I put on my resume that I knew everything about Microsoft Office. I had this one job as a paralegal, and I was hired specifically to keep this one lawyer’s Excel spreadsheets organized and up to date. It’s a good thing that this lawyer didn’t know anything about Excel either, because she probably just looked at them and was like, “Whatever, these spreadsheets are stupid and unnecessary anyway and I might as well just enter the data in myself, randomly, wherever I feel like it.”

So I didn’t learn anything. That’s not to say I didn’t try. I remember one time I was like, “You know what? I’m going to figure out Excel. I’m going to do it.” And I looked online at some tutorial for how to do some function. And I followed it step by step and I think it worked. It did something cool with numbers. And I was like, “OK, I learned it.” But then maybe a month or two later a situation finally arose where I could have used those skills that I thought I had taught myself. But too much time had passed and I’d forgotten everything. And I tried to go online to find that tutorial again, but you know how Google is, right? Like what did I type in that time two months ago that led me to that tutorial? I had no idea. By the time I found it, I had spent maybe twenty minutes. And then I started the tutorial and got overwhelmingly frustrated and even depressed as I remembered how long the tutorial took the first time, and the idea of doing it again was just something that I couldn’t bear to put myself through. So I quit that job and started waiting tables.

I never have to use Excel. Every once in a while I’d be trying to open Word but I’d accidentally click on Excel and the icon would bounce up and down as the program loaded, and it took forever, creating a new blank spreadsheet, making the whole computer come to a halt as it opened up this bulky Microsoft program, only so I could close it out immediately, “Are you sure you want to close Spreadsheet1 without saving? All data will be lost.” And I’m just like, “Yes! Close! This was all a huge mistake!” So finally I just removed the icon from my home screen. I think it’s in the application folder somewhere, but I’ll never use it. Like Power Point. I think it’s right next to Power Point. I have no idea how to use Power Point. But for real, those presentations, even the good ones, even the ones with animations and stuff, they’re all so boring. Just a bunch of boring information spiced up with a couple of generic clip-arts here and there, a generic slideshow. Nobody likes slideshows. Nobody likes spreadsheets. Right?