Like any other tool, computers make a great servant but a poor master (as I have learned over the years). With eight siblings, I have a continual battle to keep enough systems operating for daily schoolwork. With our strict budget, we recycle computers other people throw out, this adds some challenge, but has proved very rewarding for me. All my work keeping our home PC's operational turned into a full time job at a local helpdesk. As I moved up in responsibility, I quickly found that my hands-on background gave me an advantage over many of my college trained co-workers. One of the things I appreciate about helpdesk has been the amount of work to do, which limits idle time. (For example, in general there is a 'no music' policy in the helpdesk, unlike many other work places). I have since moved up to another position that became available in another department in the business.
We have a couple of specific classes on the computers. One is typing. I started my typing lessons on an electric typewriter. Now all the lessons are computerized. In today's society, I venture to say that typing is almost as important as the three classic R's (Reading, Writing, and Arithmetic). I do not consider myself a fast typist, but I have at times been shocked at how many people, even in the computer field, struggle to pass 30wpm.
Another strictly computerized class is Speed Reading. All of my speed reading instruction came from a couple of books I picked up at a local Goodwill. My learning style is very different from some of my siblings. The computerized speed reading instructor has improved our overall reading speed noticeably. As we all enjoy reading this has its advantages and disadvantages. For those of us studying, we get through our work more quickly. Keeping wholesome reading material available has become a greater challenge as the overall reading speed increases. I think the time has come to push my reading speed up another notch so I can keep up.
The third area that comes to mind is photography. About five years ago we began our move to digital photography. We have no regrets (yet). I have a whole section devoted to photography where I go into more of the details. Also check in Fine Arts for the design section as all our design work is computer based.
As computers are my greatest specialty, I have several other areas of computer based study. I maintain the hardware and software for each of our computers. I also do some programming, both of desktop and web applications. I am currently working on several web design books hoping to improve this website. My business studies are also largely conducted on the computer.
Several years ago I took some training courses on basic computer usage and the office programs. Proficiency on the computer does not come naturally for me so the classes were VERY helpful. Computers can be such wonderful reminders to give thanks to God in ALL things, like when they're slow or when I accidentally delete the whole article I just typed in or when I can't remember where on the menu a specific program function is located, now that's a big one for me. I find that if I don't use the skill I tend to loose them quickly! Despite their technicalities, computers can make life so much easier and turn huge tasks into little ones. How else could I have gotten this note to all of you? In this day and age computer skills are an absolute must. I don't think any of us will ever regret the time we gave to learning it.
As a member of the older generation, I find computers more intimidating than the children. Although I learned programming in high school, modern PC's are a far cry from ticker-tape programming in BASIC, with its pencil driven flow charts. But even I can benefit from email, online purchasing and research, and even online banking and bill paying. I still like to compose with a pencil in hand, but editing and printing are a breeze on the computer. All parents should learn some computer skills so they can keep their fingers in the pies in their children's lives. When we got our first computer, I attended an adult education night class to help me come up to speed.
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