Southern Scotch

Southern Scotch

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

In the beginning was Word...and then un-Word!

If I hit the Panic button first, you may forgive and understand:  I'd just had, after all, my second computer virus in about a year--and this one was a genuine three-alarm fire.  Out of nowhere, my screen soon filled with warning signals, stacked like cards.  And all of them directed me to a master message from some company called Smart Check.  This message itemized the errors that were about to fell me.  Unless I used their services.  Till I paid them, I couldn't even call their customer care line. Meantime, I learned, all my hard drive files had been deleted.

I called S., where I'd boughtt my used laptop.  They'd heard of Smart Check and confirmed that this was a scam.  But for $150 they could strip the hard drive clean and re-install Word.

Not so fast.  A friend turned out to have a friend who's quite good with computers.  And he offered to strip the laptop down and install an operating system other than Word.

And here's where my tale may gain interest.  Not Word?  But didn't everyone use Word?  Wasn't Word the bestest, the greatest, the start and the end?  Aran, my friend's friend, laughed.  As a matter of fact, he said, no Word was not.  And he told me the OS that he used, explaining the advantages.  As he did,I started thinking of numerous things I'd not liked about Word:  the slowness of the system, the never-ending 'offers' to update or install new Adobe...

Lenox is my new OS.  But I might have been equally happy with Mac.  The key thing is the sense of empowerment that came with perceiving new options--and figuring the new system out on my own.  By playing with it and exploring.  No manual came with the software.  The smallest things--e.g., learning how to save a site or link to Favorites--were challenging things that I needed to learn.  The same way I still need to learn, challenges peculiar to each new book I write.  The master keys, I believe, are a playful, adventurous spirit--and the love of making mudpies.

An added bonus:  previously, my laptop took about several minutes to access free Wi-Fi in Starbucks.  Now, I'm on it instantly.  It's good to be unWorded.

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