I’m a computer nerd wanna-be

   I just signed a contract for some additional computer equipment. It wasn’t a huge order, only about $6,000, which is very little by high-tech standards. But it makes me nervous for one simple reason – I have no idea what I bought.
   This all started when Ms. Ferguson, my loyal office manager, informed me that we were running out of memory on our existing system. Having had that problem with my own brain many times, I had no trouble understanding up to that point.
   She then informed me that we had grown to where our small office staff was fighting over computer time. Too many users, not enough systems. Sounded like a problem, but not being a user myself, I remained only mildly interested.
   "Schedule better," I said, sensing she was about to propose something that would cost a lot of money.
   "We do, but there’s still not enough time for everyone. We could speed everything up if we had a network."
   That did it. She had me. I love speed and how can anyone argue with the word "network" – it reeks of success.
   My enthusiasm peaked right then and there. "OK, Ms. Ferguson," I said in my most professional tone. "Let’s network."
   I know absolutely nothing about computers, but I love the image they project. When I first started in business in the late "70’s," we did everything by hand.
   Slowly, thanks to people like Ms. Ferguson, computers became a part of my life. I was high tech, through no talent of my own, and proud of it.
   And now, the ultimate – I was going to have a network. I couldn’t wait to tell my friends.
   Carol, the computer sales woman, came to see me the next day. She agreed that networking, which allows multi-users to work off the same system simultaneously, was the way to go. She plunged into her evaluation of what we required.
   "You’ll need a dedicated fileserver, Novel Netware 2.2, Novel Ethernet 16 bit Card. . ."
    I interrupted, "Great. Fine. Whatever it takes." I said. "Just give us an estimate."
   "Would you like a work station in your office to connect to the network," she asked, arrogantly glancing at my ancient IBM PC that I used for word processing and nothing else.
   "Absolutely," I said, visualizing a constant stream of data at my fingertips. "Give me one of those modem things, too."
   She was impressed. "Oh, do you have a lap top computer you want to access?"
   This was too much. With a modem and laptop I could "access" from anywhere. I hadn’t even thought about that. "No," I answered. "Not yet."
   The estimate was faxed to us that afternoon. Ms. Ferguson brought it into my office. It was for $11,756.00.
   I took only 30 seconds for Ms. Ferguson to convince me that I was not welcome as part of the network. My workstation, the laptop computer – all figments of a high-tech imagination in a low-tech brain.
   Ms. Ferguson and others would have to get me the computer information my business relies on. I would be left to continue my attempts to master the telephone intercom system, a task when completed will allow me to call anyone in the company and ask for a computer report. It wasn’t what I had in mind, but the data will still be at my fingertips.
   Meanwhile, after Ms. Ferguson cut out all my exorbitance from the estimate. I signed the contract. Computer technicians, at $90 an hour, spent 18 hours installing the network the following week.
   When they were finally done, and the network was ready to roll, I got the call. Ms. Ferguson, the rest of the office staff, the technicians . . .they were all waiting for me.
   "Go ahead," said Ms. Ferguson, motioning to the shiny new computer sitting on her desk. "Do it."With all eyes watching, I confidently strode over to the desk and, wasting no time, flipped the "on" switch. I had found it immediately.
    As the cheering subsided, the computer whirred, gurgled, beeped and came to life. The screen flashed the "ENTER YOUR LOGON NAME."
   I looked at Ms. Ferguson pleadingly but she shook her head. I had gone as far as I could go. With pats on the back from the dwindling crowd, I retreated to my office.
    My IBM PC and that problem with line spacing was waiting for me. So was the telephone intercom system. The network had arrived, but I was still on channel 0.



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