Friday, February 22, 2008

Computers are stupid

It’s 2.00am and I have spent the last five hours trying to teach myself web design. I suppose it was expecting a bit much to be making any reasonable progress or showing any competency after only five hours... but I’m afraid that’s exactly what I was expecting. No patience that’s my problem, that and lack of focus, resolution and basic organisational skills.

I spoke with my father on Skype tonight – ah, the miracles of modern communication – half way through our chat I turned the computer around to show him the sunset behind me! Technology moves so fast: I remember when I got back to the UK in 2003; I thought the whole country had gone mad. It was three weeks before someone explained hands-free phones to me – I thought everyone was talking to themselves. For three weeks I worried about it, although obviously I didn’t say anything – I didn’t like to ask. I suspect people must feel the same way about Skype now.

When I called my Dad, I realised too late that I was still sat at the bar:
“Sorry!” I said to no one in particular, “It’s too loud here, I’m just going to move tables! How are you anyway? What have you been up to? Can I get another beer please” the Barman looked nervous, unsure whether to get me a drink or fill me in on his day “Nearly there! Oh bugger and I’m on mute…” a man at a neighbouring table was staring, open mouthed “Right! Hello! I’m here!”
“Why are you drinking beer at 10am!” says my Dad “you’d complain if I did that!”
“Because it’s 6pm” I reply tersely “and I’ve just finished work.”
“Oh yes” The flickering image of my father looks vaguely surprised by this. We schedule our bi-weekly conversation either ‘at the normal time’ or ‘two hours later than normal’ – it seems that even after six months of web chats neither of us has managed to fully come to terms with the time difference.
“It’s dark there!” says my Dad, “and you’re outside!”
“Yes,” I say “It’s freezing, I’m wearing long-sleeves!” Remembering he can see me I foolishly point at my sleeve. “Look!”
“Freezing! Ha!” he says and like true Brits we spend the first five minutes of the conversation cheerfully complaining about our respective weather.
“When are you going to write another blog? The last few have been too short”
“Last time you said they were too long”
“Well sometimes they are” says my Dad constructively. “You didn’t write about me coming to visit you!”
“I couldn’t think of anything to say”
“Oh right, thanks very much!”
“Well what could I say? Dad came to visit and we had a really good time – it’s not much of a story, is it?”
“I could’ve written a really good blog about it!”
“Hmmm. Thanks for the email” I say “It was a long one! It must have taken you ages to type that with one finger!” My father offers a few choice words of retaliation, before telling me that actually, he had to give the same news to a couple of people:
“I used the copy and paste!” he says.
“Good! It works then?”
“Well, some of the time...”
“Dad! If it doesn’t work, it means you pressed the wrong key or something...”
“I didn’t!”
“You must have! Computers can only do what you tell them to do. Computers are stupid.”
“They’re not,” retorts my Dad, “they’re cunning little bastards.”

Sadly, I’m beginning to think he might be right. I’ve spent the entire evening trying to teach myself web design and the last three hours trying to work out why the table at the top, which is 760px wide, is bigger than the table underneath, which is 760px wide. Holmes said that once you have ruled out the impossible, whatever’s left, however improbable, must be true. Apparently my spiteful little laptop is playing tricks on me.

So perhaps it will take me more than one evening to teach myself web design.

I remember a wet weekend back in the 1970s:
“What are you going to do today Janey?” asked my Dad.
“I’m going out on my bike,” I said, “unless it rains again. If it rains I’m going to write a play.”

It rained and I wrote two pages. I have them in a box somewhere, I still vaguely intend to finish it. ‘Write a play’: it’s on The List. But first, if it rains again tomorrow, I’m going to teach myself web design.


Anonymous said...

not a pro at web design.. i've made 2 sites my first and latest.. used dreamweaver.. maybe as I beginner I can offer advice if you are using same...

botogol said...

A good post OJ :-)
It made me laugh

botogol said...

oh, tables: ideas
- check the size of table border and the cell borders
- is on table inside a Div which is itself constrrained to less than 760px, so is squashing the table.

clairetw said...

I can't help you out with web design, but I loook forward to reading your finished play. Do you remember what it was about?

outside-jane said...

It was a Murder Mystery: every stage direction began with 'Suddenly...'!

Thanks for the offers of help - I'll keep plugging away at it!

Anonymous said...

Why do none of your comments mention your Dad. He sounds a really interesting and amusing bloke.

Anonymous said...

Your dad is v cool! Tehe-give yourself more than 3hrs, Hon! And I want to hear more about the play - luv a good murder mystery! xx