Monday, December 11, 2006

Life in the Internet Lane

Several years ago, my teenage son brought me a sheet of paper titled: "Why We Need the Internet at Home." My boys both know that if they want to add something to the budget or our schedule, the best way to convince me is to give a pros and cons listing (the ups and downs of having a writer for a parent). He had carefully tallied the positives of having our computer hooked up to the Internet and how it would help with his homework, let us find information faster, etc. etc.

We had a long discussion and finally, somewhat reluctantly, I agreed to a trial period. He and his brother were ecstatic. I was concerned that it would rob them of precious time and hurt their grades. I'm not usually so cautious. My husband and I are gadget people and we'd had a PC for years. But we also limited our boys' TV watching and I wasn't sure how the computer would fit in.

Can you imagine not having the Internet? How did we connect with people? How did we research articles on cold and snowy days, when the roads were too slick to travel or the library was closed? Or it was the dead of night and we just had to find that exact image for the next scene in our book? I'm not too proud to state that I'm glad my son was persistent and we ended up with our Internet connection. And both of them continue to be on the highest honor roll -- due as much to their diligent work as their access to information and people.

This is Monday, though, and today's theme is "Life's Ups and Downs." I love the way we can connect with people all over the world in just a matter of minutes. Therein lies the downside of this topic. A week or so ago, someone sent me an e-mail movie quiz. I usually just delete those e-mails that are jokes or funny comments. Somehow, with the movie one, I accidentally opened it instead of just deleting it. I then thought I deleted it from my life and went on my way.

That wasn't the end of the story, though. I suddenly had odd e-mails being sent to me from people I hadn't heard from in months. They thanked me for thinking of them but they only answered personal e-mails. At first, I didn't know what they were talking about. Then my husband mentioned something about receiving a movie quiz from me. He had deleted it and was surprised I had sent it to him. I checked with a couple other people, had some phone calls and more e-mails and soon learned that the e-mail ended up going to every person on my contact list. Not just friends and family. Colleagues, church connections, volunteer committee members. . . editors! I quickly sent out a MAJOR APOLOGY to everyone in my mailbox.

I think the situation is now resolved, at least on my part. I found an e-mail address for the originator of the quiz, asked them for help and was told that my information and address has now been deleted from their files. The quiz should be gone from my life and I only hope it's as quickly eliminated from those who inadvertently received it from me.

I love my computer! I hate my computer! How about you? What's your relationship with your computer?


Alexis Morgan said...

I, too, have a love/hate relationship with technology in general. I can't imagine living without the internet and instant access to everything and everyone--family, friends, agent, editors, and best of all, fans.
On the other hand, when I bought my latest computer last January, it was literally weeks before we could track down what kept it from running properly. Who knew a simple toggle on/off switch in one program could lock up everything in sight? When computers work right, they are a true blessing. But when something goes haywire, it frustrates me to no end.

Still, if I had had to write on a typewriter instead of my pc, I'd still be on the first book--I'm a great keyboarder but a lousy typist. Go figure. 8-D

Alexis Morgan

JoAnn Ross said...

Having written my first seven published books on a pretty blue IBM Selectric (plus nine complete books before the first got published), switching to an IBM computer -- DOS, with no hard drive -- in 1983 made writing easier. In many ways because the thoughts could flow and wouldn't
be interrupted every time I had to put in a new piece of paper.

HOWEVER, in those days I'd write all the way through, then make changes on hard copy. One thing computers allow me to do is keep backtracking and editing while I write.

Sometimes this is a good thing, because, by the time I've reached the end of a book, the writing goes really fast since I've laid down all the earlier scenes exactly the way I want them.

Other times, it can be a real pain when I feel as if I'm writing three words, then going back and deleting one or two in a kind of lurching writng method. :)

As for research, I always kept books out of the library for as long as I'd need them. My overdue fine used to be about $25 - $35 for each book I'd write. I figured this was a "research rental" fee. Also, I'd gather up a bunch of quarters in a little black velvet drawstring bag, drive to the downtown library and spend an entire day going through the microfiche machines, using my quarters to print
out the research articles from magazines and newspapers. These days, thanks to Amazon, I spend thousands of dollars worth of quarters every year on research books I never would've known existed. (Which, perhaps wouldn't be the end of the world, given that books seem to multiply in my house like tribbles.)

Actually, I kind of miss those days going to the library because it forced me to leave the house, which I've been known not to do for weeks during the writing of a book.

I also wonder what's happening to the careers of all those research librarians I'd call to find out what the currency of a country was, or other such archane facts that can now be so easily Googled.

Terry Z McDermid said...

Never thought about the research librarians, JoAnn. I still have to check in with mine every now and again, just because I figure having them check the resources for a tidbit of info is a better use of my time!

I typed my husband's master thesis on an IBM selectric we rented for a month. Thought I was in hog heaven with that machine versus my little Smith Corona. By the time he went to work on his doctoral dissertation, we had a computer and he did most of the typing himself. I did help with proofreading but the feeling wasn't the same. I do keep the portable typewriter around for a quick envelope address -- not worth all the messing around to set up the file on the computer.

JoAnn Ross said...

We probably had the same little Smith Corona. I loved my Selectric, which we'd bought especially for me to write books on, but I'm a perfectionist, and my husband kept pointing out that I was spending two weeks of every month retyping stuff I'd already typed, so in the long run, the computer would be cost effective. (Btw, I found the receipt when we moved. An IBM with 128 K of memory, no hard drive, the first edition of Work Perfect for consumers -- which had just come out that week -- and a huge, NEC letter quality tractor printer cost a mind-boggling $9,999!)

That's clever that you kept your typewriter; there have been several times over the years I've wished I'd kept mine, mostly for envelopes, but since I've never tried to figure out how to print an envelope, I just go ahead and write them by hand. :)

Terry Z McDermid said...

We helped my mom buy her first computer, for about $4,000. I think it was an Apple 2c. She ended up selling it to us for about half that; she wasn't using it enough. Later, she did get into the computer age big time and our sons kept her up-to-date.

My current typewriter is a much slimmer version of my earlier one -- I think I left that in a classroom for the teacher coming in. I've always used a typewriter in my classrooms, letting kindergartners find and peck out familiar letters and the older students typed out stories or poems. The look of a page is different on a typewritten page. Poetry, especially, was fun since they could design their words as pictures. Not sure I'll ever get rid of it. It has been handy for forms.

Alesia said...

this is the worst, isn't it? spammers should have a special corner in hell.

Allison Brennan said...

Love it, hate it, can't live with out it.

Like men. ;)

Tawny said...

I adore technology and know just enough to be dangerous LOL.

gailbarrett said...

I just reconnected with a woman I haven't seen in twenty years via the internet (she lives in Europe). I think it is a fabulous invention. I also resisted it at the start but couldn't live without it now.