I recently purchased a computer manual to help me feel less incompetent in the arena of the computer geniuses in whose circle I travel. It is called “The Complete Computer Manual for the Complete Idiot” and the title suited me down to the ground. The first question in the book was a bit iffy … “What,” asks the author, “do you expect to get from this manual?”
Well duh. I expect to be a computer genius like my entire family, what other expectation could I possibly hope for? For $69.95, I want more than a doorstop.
I eagerly turned the pages and began to browse through the manual’s chapters to see what material it covered. To my chagrin, the material would cover a couch and two chairs plus have scraps left over for arm protectors.
Deciding that after a long day in the garden fending off the guineas from the collards I was really too tired to take it in, I went to bed to sleep on it. Digging into the history of the computer needs a clear mind and clean hands. So, next morning I opened to the first chapter. It began simply enough. “Turn on the machine.” Any idiot can turn on the machine (or so the book implied), so I felt I was perfectly qualified. Actually, I had my doubts. I got up and began drawing dishwater into the sink and asked Mac if he could turn on my new laptop. “Any program in particular you want to start with?” he asked. I told him that no, just turn it on and I’d take it from there.
I gave him a few minutes, then after he left the room, I sat down at the computer. The screen is covered with what are called Icons (so says the book) and I understand from this book I have purchased that I am to click the mouse that Mac has attached to the laptop, on the program I wish to run. The problem is, I don’t know which program that might be. I want the word processor but nothing here says word processor in clear concise language. Back to the book.
OK, so the book says press the Start button for Windows, so I yell at Mac, “Honey do we have Windows?” He comes over, assures me we do, takes the mouse and puts the cursor where it should be and clicks — and voila, there it is — the program I want. He sits down and proceeds to tutor me on how to get into the word processor which is all I wanted anyway. The prompts told me what to do next, and voila again, I’m in. I got it the first time, understood it, and comprehended what the program required of me. It required that I use my brain and put words to paper. And if I misspelled a word, it red lined it for me just like a teacher. If my grammar was incorrect it even corrected that. Why, it barely needed my little bit of intellect at all. And as for “The Complete Computer Manual for the Complete Idiot,” it makes a very expensive doorstop.