Saturday, May 14

Learning experience

I have been using Macintosh computers since 1995. During that time I have built up a repertoire of programs and add-ons that have become “necessary” for daily use. It turns out that many of those items are really unnecessary, and can become a cumbersome burden over time.

After having taken my main computer in for repairs, I was feeling sorry for myself by being demoted to using a laptop to continue my daily work. A funny thing happened, though. The little computer I was forced to use is fresh—it’s one of the Macs we bought for the high ranch and it sits dormant during the winter months. It isn’t loaded with plug-ins so it’s pretty clean and uncluttered.

Being clean and uncluttered, it has taught me a lesson. It showed me that my habits are formed and set in stone because of my historical use of computers. Sixteen years ago I had to do a lot of things manually that have since been automated or made unnecessary on the newest computers. The reason my main computer has so many add-ons and helpers stuck to it is that I hadn’t realized they were no longer needed. I was actually slowing my work by having those “helpers.” I was going through unnecessary motions because I thought I had to. But the little laptop computer forced me to skip a lot of that stuff because it didn’t have the “necessary” plug-ins—the computer simply did what I needed by itself. It’s hard to explain without going into all my actions, but it turns out that over time the clever folks at Apple built in the helpers that I used to have to find and install myself.

Whenever I got a new computer I would simply plug in a FireWire cable to the old one and upload all the files, programs and old junk. There were so many peripheral drivers on the computer the technician at the Apple Store thought it was a miracle that it worked at all! Since I keep a backup copy of everything with my Time Capsule, a Wi-Fi and backup disk combo, he said I could safely clean off the hard drive and re-install the operating system from my original disks. Then bring back only the stuff I need from the backup disk.

Finally, I have to clean up that other impediment, my old habits.

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