Saturday, May 29, 2010

I Am a Computer Pro; Who'd Have Thought? ;D

My daughter and I were just having a good laugh as I told her about the opportunities I've had lately at the Family History Center... helping out with the computers. As I told her about all the little experiences I have had there, she busted at the seams and laughed uncontrollably... "THAT - would make a great comedy!" she told me, "Have you written about it in your journal?" I told her I hadn't, but that maybe I would blog about it... and with her enthusiastic encouragement - here I am! :D

In all fairness though... I have to first tell you why it was so funny to my daughter. I will sit and struggle at the computer (me and all of my blond hair and everything that goes with it) racking my brain for 30-60 minutes to figure out how to do something... then my daughter will come along and in 20-30 SECONDS she will figure it out and have the job done. Her brothers are also quite good at the computer... I give the credit to the young blood. ;D

At home, I am old (Did I just say that!? :O), (OK, just old compared to my kids... :D)... and the one in need of computer help now and then. But at the Family History Center, I am the youngest :) among who knows how many librarians (I'm guessing there are somewhere around 40 librarians there throughout the month) at the Hayden Stake Family History Center. All are at least 10 years older than I am, most of them are 20-30 years older. These people have been doing their own (and others) genealogy for almost as long as I have been alive (or at least since I was a child or teenager). They have multiple binders full of the work that they have compiled after years of researching and collecting their family genealogy and history. These are well seasoned, wise and experienced people who know what they are doing!

And here am I... a new, much less experienced genealogist (OK, I have a few months of solid experience) - still working on researching and documenting the first 5 generations of my family (almost there :).

But, like my supervisor always says... we all know different things and we all contribute in our own way. I just never dreamed my contributions would come in the form of helping out with the basics of computer operations. It just amazes me how often my assistance is needed among these brilliant librarians!

Yesterday I sat at the computer beside one of the other librarians. There were no patrons there at the time and we talked to each other off and on as we did our own work. In the course of a couple of hours, my friend sat and copied down a few pages of notes from her research and occasionally complained about the length of time it was taking. I assumed that she was copying down a sentence here and a sentence there from various sources, and that it must be in such a way that she could not print it... until she said this; "I just wish I could print part of this huge document so I wouldn't have to write it all down." I was momentarily stunned. Did my ears deceive me, or did she not know she could print selections without printing it all? Perhaps it was a whole paragraph she needed, and not just a sentence from that particular document. I decided to be of assistance.

"You can print part of it. Just highlight the section you want to print and then tell the computer to print the 'selection.' "

"Highlight it?" she asked.

"That's right." I roll my chair over to her computer to be of assistance as she highlights a sentence. I am surprised as she continues to highlight not a sentence, or even a paragraph, but a whole page, and then another. "Holly Hannah!" I think to myself... "She was going to hand write all of that! Now wonder this is so frustrating and time consuming for her!"

She finishes highlighting and asks what to do next. I answer. "Now tell the computer to print. OK, see that option there to print 'selection?' Click that option."

I don't want to embarrass my friend by quoting her surprised excitement... so I won't. But let's just say the next couple of hours were much more productive for her and I was greatly praised. :)

Later last night there was a training meeting for the librarians. One of the computers was taken out of the library and into the room we meet in for training. After the training presentation was over the computer was taken back into the Family History Library and hooked back up. But the mouse and keyboard weren't working. These sweet and brilliant people could not figure out why. One by one people began to huddle around the computer to figure out why it wouldn't respond.

I went in to help. I checked all the cords to be sure they were connected properly, and tightly, and as I did one of the brothers stated that my check was the 25th check, and that they were all hooked up tightly.

BTY - I have to interrupt my own story here to tell you this: When I told my daughter about the group of people huddled around the computer trying to figure out why it wasn't working, her imagination kicked it up a notch as she rambled incoherently between laughter and began quoting phrases from a movie... "Did you plug the computer in?... Did you turn it on?..." We both knew it wasn't at all like that; but it was so much more fun to exaggerate and imagine!

OK - Back to the story... At that moment a light bulb went on in my brain. The man who works on the computers had just walked into the room when it happened (perhaps his very presence is what illuminated my mind... just kidding. :) and the director announced; "we now have one more person to look at the computer - and he is the computer pro (the man who fixes them when things go wrong)!" But my light bulb was on. I knew what was wrong and that we didn't need a pro to fix it... so I just took over.

"Don't worry about looking at it. I know what is wrong" I told the pro.

The little group that huddled around the computer looked at me in silence. I proceeded to speak.

"Brother M, did you turn the computer on before you hooked up the mouse and keyboard?"

Brother M reflected... "Why, yes I did."

I continued... "OK. All we need to do is turn off the computer and then turn it back on, and the mouse and keyboard will work."

Everyone looked at me like... "That's it? Are you sure?" and "How did you know that?" They were amazed with me already! :D

I held down the power button on the computer for a few seconds until it turned off, waited just a second and turned it back on. I mentioned that I should have left it off for just a moment longer, but I knew it would be fine. Another person suggested we turn it off and let it sit a minute before turning it back on. The computer pro (the man who works on computers for a living) said it would be fine (what a shock! ;O) so they let it boot.

Once booted, the mouse and keyboard were tested, and everyone turned to me in amazement and wonder. I then explained that the mouse and keyboard need to be plugged into the computer before the computer is turned on for the computer to communicate with them. The small crowd turned to the computer pro... who looked at the type of connections on the mouse and keyboard and verified that I was right. There was a small uproar of cheer for me and my basic computer knowledge... and I gracefully bowed... "Aren't you glad you have young blood in here?"

It was mentioned that my daughter helps me when I am stuck; and we all laughed over the relativity of age and on how the younger one is, the better they seem to be with computers.

But I am still the one who knows computers... in that setting! And, I'm kind of liking it. :)

Now ~ to be the pro who can help anyone with any of the family history work... that is the real goal!  That is my true aim!

But for now I'll just enjoy being the young blood considered to be the new computer pro. ;)

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