Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Office Technology

"You have attempted to perform an illegal function. "
"This program must now be terminated. "
"Sorry as hell if you didn't save your work. "
(And then, just to pour acid on the wound)
"Press any key to continue." .
I have a couple of ancient laptops on display at the office.
One is a Compaq, more accurately a portable than a laptop. Mid to late 80's vintage. Not originally mine. Was probably about $4,000 new? 5 1/4" floppy drive (remember those?).
The other is an Epson. Early 90's vintage. Was originally mine. About $2,500 new. 20mb hard drive, 3 1/2" disc drive (low density). Weighs a ton, but we used the crap out of it. It still runs.
I just bought a new Lenovo laptop recently, it runs circles around those now ancient laptops. Was only about $800.
Our first network, if you could call it a network, consisted of connecting 2 computers by serial port cables and using a program called LapLink to copy files. We thought we were in Hog Heaven at the time.
Then there are cell phones. I resisted getting one for a long time. I was the last one in the family to get one. First one was a pretty basic Samsung, then a Blackberry Pearl, now a Blackberry Tour. The computer chip in my phone is way more advanced than the ancient laptops pictured here.
I started my own accounting practice in 1988. At that time we did about 125 tax returns each year. We now do about 400 per year. There is no way we could do near that many without the use of computers. We have electronically filed returns since the early 90's. Kills less trees that way.
Well, maybe.
Back in those days a 20 page tax return was rare. Nowadays a return like that is almost pure joy. I have done some that had over 400 pages to them because it seems that every deduction, credit or item of income now has to have some sort of a peculiar form or worksheet of its own.
I have always been interested in computers. So much so that I even considered majoring in that field when I was in college (1970's). Took a couple of Fortran courses in college and really enjoyed them.
Then I took a course in Boolean Algebra (the algebra of switching circuits).
That course singlehandedly ended my interest in making Computer Science my life passion. The guy that taught the course looked and smelled like he hadn't had a shower in a week or so. But he wasn't the real problem, the subject matter was so dry as to make Arizona look like a rain forest. There weren't any cute women in the class either.
. After that I decided to leave most of the bits and bytes to other people. I just want it to work and not give me messages like the one appearing at the top of this post.
. How about those operating systems over the years? .
DOS 5.0 DOS 6.2 Windows 3.0 Windows 3.3 Windows 95 Windows 2000 Windows XP Windows 7 (We skipped Windows 98 and Vista)
I used to think I had a pretty good knowledge of computer systems. Used to help out some of our clients a lot.
Then one day a college student intern that was working for us showed me what you could do by right clicking on the start button and other places. I was so pissed! Why hadn't I known that years before.....
Remember 1,200 baud modems? Compuserve?
Early AOL?
I am showing my age.
Used to think that my knowledge of computer systems was pretty near the forefront. We used to use an old database program called Paradox. Designed some pretty neat applications for ourselves and for some of our clients. Nowadays, you just buy specific software for some of the same functions.
I generally use WordPerfect for word processing and QuattroPro for spreadsheets. I'll use Microsoft Word and Excel only if I have to. I almost despise the Microsoft products. Granted, they all do the same stuff, my preference is mostly just because I am more familiar with using the others. We gravitated from using Wordperfect and Lotus123 in the old DOS days and at the time it seemed to be an easier progression.
Maybe I am just mad because I didn't buy Microsoft stock in the early 90's.
My blog is pretty simple (formatwise). Yeah, I know I can get in there and mess with the html settings, but for right now I don't have the patience or time for it. I do plan to dress it up a bit in the next few months. I am a little tired of the way it looks. I really need to take better pictures too, and that is a blogging goal as well. It's another after "tax season" project.
I am also planning on some riding and picture taking that weekend after the 15th of April. Stay tuned!
Sent from my BlackBerry® smartphone with SprintSpeed


  1. I have found my self looking at "This program must now be terminated" after hours of working on editing a video or working in Photoshop and then realizing I had been so focused on what I was doing that I never once saved the file. I though my head would explode. Luckily that's not how I make a living.

    I started computing (playing games) with a Commodore 64, it had a 5 1/4 floppy drive that must have weighed 20 pounds. My next was a Apple Macintosh LC II with a whopping 8mb of ram and a whole 512mb of hard drive. I wish I still had them both. I think the were sold at garage sales long before eBay or Craigslist.


  2. Jimbo:

    don't remind me of all the $$ wasted. I paid nearly $2K for my Atari system, then another $1K for the disk drive, and another $1K for the printer.

    I think I was first on the block with a 286 generic computer with two 360K floppies for over $5K and 256 meg ram

    I purchased a used Compaq portable with green CRT screen and detachable keyboard for ove $4K used and installed a 10 meg HD for another $500.

    My dual core Toshiba I purchased at christmas was only $700. 4gig ram 500 Gig HD. Equipment is so cheap, relatively

    don't get me started on Camera equipment . . .

    bobskoot: wet coast scootin

  3. When I started studying computer programming in the early 80's the college computer we had to work on read punch cards. "Don't drop your stack" the instructor warned us. He was right! Next was the installation of 12 Apple IIC computers in the library computer lab. I wrote a program to plot distance and elevations of survey data. My framework exceeded the computers capacity. I think my wrist watch has more computing power than those machines did.

    Now I work on Mac's and wonder if 1.5 TB of storage and 16 GB of RAM is enough.

    As for cameras, I always carry a point and shoot when I ride. You never know when a photo op will arise.

  4. What a nice stroll down memory lane! My first computer was an Apple IIe and then an IBM 8bit and then a lunchbox Zenith, that was considered portable. Paid a lot for those machine back then. Look where we are now...

    Are there really tax returns that can require handling 400 pages! Bless you! Nice to visit you here.

  5. People, well meaning they may be, keep telling me how to upgrade my technology. I find as long as you treat technology as a tool and keep it simple you get more done. I am in a minority and i am certain i don't know what i am talking about.
    But I post one photo essay every day and have done for three years straight. Simplicity works for me and venting through pictures is better than venting in a lot of other ways.

  6. My family had a Commodore 64. I don't remember doing anything with it other than playing Space Invaders. I can't remember dad doing much more than that with it either.

    Anymore I can't hardly imagine what I would do without a computer, cell phone and iPod.

  7. Dear CPA3485 (Jimbo)?

    Right click? Start button? Have you ever seen a Mac?

    I treated myself to a MacBook Pro (15" screen to fit into my saddlebags). Touching the keyboard is like running yor hands over the body of a lover.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  8. Commodore 128, IBM 286 .... then on to the Mac side of the bed where I've been ever since. And after all that wonderful technology that's happened over the last 25 years, the sun still sets in the west. Go figure.

    Sure do hope you have a spell of nice weather after the 15th!