Bits and Bobs

Bits and Bobs

Looking back on the past week, I am struck by how much I accomplished and how little got done. This seems to be part of my current perceptual reality which includes peripheral awareness of events happening in the world that do not directly impact me and acute awareness of how fast time is flying by.

For the past few weeks I have been working on getting a website up and running. The direct line to the “running” part has so far eluded me. I have found myself on a steep learning curve of such strange things as short codes, STMP and API credentials, download protocols and upload restrictions, need for endless passwords and logins, and searches for written explanations of directions that now all seem to be produced for YouTube.

Welcome to WordPress!

I am now thoroughly immersed in the wobbly land of WordPress which provides optimal choices on how to put images and words into the ether and requires learning a whole new language and apparently subscribing to or purchasing (ad hoc) infinite plugins designed to make my life easier.

My evaluation so far though, is that it has only made my bank account shrink.

On the one hand, it actually is amazingly easy to create the website of my dreams.  Much has been provided that is just cut and paste and with enviable results.  But then there are those little bits and bobs that don’t quite do what I want.  Which leads me to finding out what is behind the curtain.

In the Olde Days

Back in 1973 or 1974, I scratched the surface of computer programming language called FORTRAN. It was part of a cutting edge course that was supposed to prepare me for the 20th century. Well, all I can remember is waiting until the early hours of the morning in order to get time on a shared computer server at Cornell University. I was not a student there – but it was the closest university that had a mainframe.  And in those hours, I would attempt to produce a simple page from using zeros and ones in specific order. What became very clear to me in this class was that I did not conceptualize language the same way that computer engineers did.

Personal Computing

Flash forward several years, and I remember getting my first personal computer. It had a cutting edge Disk Operating System (DOS). In order to start the puppy, I had to know DOS commands. Mind you, this was back in the days of 8” floppy disks holding at least 10-12 pages of data. DOS commands were parsimonious, since there was limited memory in the machine to draw on in order to put out the quality word processing that was called for. To put this into further perspective, this was in the early to mid-1980s – a decade before the advent of the World Wide Web and its hyper-text language.

Welcome to Surfing the Web

Nowadays, I am swimming in HTML, URLs, apps and bots. I simultaneously download information on how to fix a problem in one program while uploading *.jpgs, *.pngs or *.webps to another. I have started to dive deeply into what underlies (lays?) the stellar presentation of this blog in order to manipulate it the way my brain thinks rather than how the programmer thinks.

This is a losing battle and I am surrendering. I have given over to promised fixes I find on websites that must be designed with suckers like me in mind – marketed to people like me who know just enough to get into trouble and have just enough money to pay others to fix it!  But the website remains problematic.

The Best Laid Plans . . .

No disrespect to Mr. Burns, but my intention today was to fix an errant url in one of my website pages. I wanted it to point to one page, but it kept circling the runway and returning to its origin. I tried everything thing I knew. Finally I succumbed and began to look at the source code, where according to the website I bumped into in my thorough Google search, I was assured I would only need to make one or two minor changes and everything would turn out all right. That was at 9:30 this morning. It is now 5:00 pm.

Patience is Not My Best Suit

In the interim I have attempted to switch servers, load new programs, complete a disk repair, and contemplate an entire reboot of my whole system. I have come up against an error code that is vague but threatening enough such that I backed away completely and pondered whether I should use another laptop in its place. After using that laptop for an hour or so, I decided that I was brave enough to just push the “Start” button, only to find my computer running endless loops and returning the same error code.

It is enough to drive a person to, well, Timbuktu?

I’m Sooooooo Done!

So I took a break, scrolled through my emails, checked to see who was doing what on Facebook, scrolled through the NY Times and Washington Post and returned to my task of putting together this blog.

Now that I have done this, I am going to set about downloading my operating systems (after safely having backed it up) and just go to bed early. Which, come to think of it, is rather a remarkable achievement in the past 40 or so years, given that it wasn’t all that long ago that I was stuck in the basement waiting for the mainframe to spit out my homework.

I am truly grateful for all that has been created over these decades.  I am also grateful that I have the persistence and curiosity to continue to learn these new languages and applications.

I so wish I were able to show you my beautiful new website. But that will have to be left to another day.

4 comments

  1. On one hand I am laughing, on the other I wonder why anyone such as you, wise wonderful smart would even trouble yourself with all of this tech stuff. To you it seems surely necessary, I know. To me it sounds like a highload distraction. And how easily we get seduced which of course the tech industry is designed to do. So wishing you success in this endeavor and I look forward to seeing the new and beautiful website. ( Some people just pay someone to do this) xo

  2. All fodder for the Blog, eh? I did attempt to hire others to create my website. Failed miserably and lost money in the endeavor. In the end, I decided to just do it myself. Hence the journey to Wonderland . . .. BTW, fixed the problem!

  3. Mary from furniture assembly to busting through ominous error codes, your perseverance and power — and curiosity too–astonish me. You DO. NOT. GIVE. UP. And you do it all with (or eventually anyway) such great humor and deft language…your light shines bright along the path!

  4. Mary, I too have slogged from DOS and building my own PCs from parts, through the various (ever better, generally speaking) incarnations of Windows, all the way up to website design. I STILL build Sterling’s and my new computers (every few years) — all of which renders us completely independent of needing to hire “all-knowing” (i.e. they still have no clue what they DON’T know) 25 year olds — who know far less (including about computers) than I will have forgotten, even by the time I’m 90! Ha ha!

    RE: websites? A while back I bypassed learning HTML entirely (hopeless for my right-brained self), by buying a $50.00 program called “WebEasy Professional 10” (dubiously perhaps, not recently updated) which “pretty much” IS “WYSIWYG.”

    I custom-create ALL my graphics using CorelDraw Photoshop, [two other 10-year learning curves] and just use WebEasy as the final assembly “erector set.” Which seems to work great. AND, the few sites I’ve built do NOT look like everybody else’s “cookie-cutter,” boring, rectangular sites. Ah well. A masochist AND a snob! Ha ha. Happy Sunday.

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