Color Me Disappointed

My oldest brother was in the Army Signal Corps.  My second oldest brother repaired TV’s and then became an engineer for a big radio station.  My third oldest brother had a degree in electronics and a master’s in math.  He designed computers.  It only made sense that I would become involved in electronics.

Unfortunately, I was somewhat dyslexic, though I was never diagnosed with it.  By definition, dyslexia is not caused by trauma.  Because I had two traumatic events in my early childhood, I might not be dyslexic, even if I meet the criterion otherwise.

That eliminated college.  I am prone to mistakes when I write and I can’t type.  I simply cannot complete a term paper.  Also, I would have never been able to complete college English.  I have this problem with homonyms.  I know the difference between there and their, but, for some unexplained reason, I occasionally use the wrong one.  Worse yet, I have a problem with spelling.

Nowadays, we have word processors that help somewhat.  Still, even after checking and rechecking my work, mistakes get by me.

Still, I did get into electronics.  I went into the Marines and completed a 16 week electronics course in thirteen weeks.  I graduated second in the class.  (I think the other guy cheated)

The last week of the course was on computers.  In 1969, computers were still somewhat new.  Many banks just began using them.  Most TVs used vacuum tubes and transistor radios had just come into their own.

So, at that time, there was little time spent on computers in the school.  However, and this is the whole point of my post, the instructor said something about computers that I still remember, “The only reason for computers is to save time.”

Though one of my brothers designed computers, the thought really surprised me.  Over the years, I thought about the statement many times.  To some degree, the statement is still true.  However, today we have at least three more reasons for computers, graphics, entertainment and saving space.

I don’t think I need to explain the first two, but saving space might not be so obvious.  We used to use fiche.  Now we use disks.  A few optical disks can replace thousands fiche.  Besides, going back to the first reason for the computer, the disk is much faster.

Unfortunately, some have found another reason for computers, keeping track of employees… or citizens.  Today, computers are being used for the BIG BROTHER effect.  Instead of the computers being used to help the employees work more efficiently, they are being used to keep a thumb on the employees to make sure they don’t make too many keystrokes on their keyboards (for example).

For a person who studied computers from my youth, it is a great disappointment.  Instead of being an aid, it allows the boss to spy over the employees shoulder.  It allows the governments to track its citizenry.

Today I am disappointed in the way computers are used.  They are used for games.  All right.  I admit it.  I do play more solitaire than I should.  Still, we have simply overdone it.  Pseudo football games are played on which people gamble, by the millions.  Some are addicted to the games to the point they ignore everything else.

Then, of course, there are those who use the computers to steal.  Some folks have lost their homes to those who know how to use the computer for this purpose.  Then, when the deed is done, almost nothing can be done to make it right.

I have seen the good that computers have done and I have seen the bad that they have done.  Like any other tool, they can be used for good and they can be used for bad.  Seeing the bad I find it very disappointing.  No one seems to care, not even a little.

If I am a computer salesman, I don’t sell to the employee.  He doesn’t control the purse strings of the company.  So, if I hope to sell the computer, I need to show the CEO how the computer the benefits management.

Now, which will have the most successful outcome?  If I explain how I can help the employee or if how easy it makes it to spy on the employees.  And so it is that the computer is abused and will continue to be abused.  I see no way to stop it.

 

So, just color me disappointed.  Instead of the computer helping to free men, they have been used to enslave them.

Now, as near as I can tell, the communists seem to have discovered computers can be used in taking over a country.  It can be used for finding the individualist.

By the way.  How can I forget one of the most obnoxious abuses of computers… Robocalls!

Computers, Good and Bad

Ever since computers have become somewhat common, I have had an interest in them. It helped that my brother designed them. He had a master’s in math and an Electronics Engineer degree. When I went into the Marines, I went into Aviation electronics. Admittedly, I didn’t have my brother’s abilities. If I had, I likely would have never gone in the Marines. Even as it was, I almost went to work for Autonetics, the electronic division of the no longer existing North American Aviation.
After the Marines, I went into the repair of computers and then into operations. There is no way I ever thought I would start writing books. Most of my English teachers concurred. By the time I reached the 7th grade, I was starting to have problems. At the time I had heard of Dyslexia, but I had no idea what it is. Though I have never been diagnosed as dyslexic, I now realize I have many of the symptoms. Anyone who knows the symptoms and has read my books will realize what I mean, although it is more of a reading problem.
So during my youth, I spent a great deal of my time trying to hide my problems. Because reading is difficult for me and I read slowly, I generally shy away from reading. I am good at listening, which allows me to somewhat make up for it. I can attend a lecture and I remember it far better than if I read the same material. In spite of my efforts to hide my problems, teachers should have recognized it and taken proper actions. Instead they just punished me for not keeping up.
I am very bad at spelling. It’s not specifically part of dyslexia, but the two sort of go together. When I write, I leave words and even phrases out. I frequently use words like also at the front of a sentence and then too at the end. Homonyms drive me crazy. I really do know the difference between there, their and they’re. That does not keep me from using the wrong one in the wrong place. I haven’t the foggiest reason for it. I don’t know if that has is something common among dyslexics or not, but it does drive me nuts. In my more recent books, I do searches on many homonyms to make sure I use them correctly.
Actually, as I started this my purpose was to write about computers. I guess I got off on a rabbit path. Nonetheless, it isn’t too far off of the beaten path. The fact is, without computers, I’d never be able to write. It would be hopeless. I have heard of other authors who were highly successful. You can do a Google on dyslexic authors and there will be a big list of them. (Including Earnest Hemingway and Jules Verne.) The word processors, as great as they are, simply cannot find all my errors. I have no idea how the old authors managed it, but many did. Maybe they just had good editors.
Here lately, computers have really made a mark on recent history. The text-to-speech has really made things nice. First time I heard one, a man had a small box connected to a desktop computer. He had it set up so that anything he typed, it said, though it sounded a little like Robbie the Robot. Also, it did mispronounce things. In baseball, it pronounced the e. It sort of made it sound Italian. The problem was easily solved by separating the words… base ball.
Nowadays, the text-to-speech programs are very good, though some provisions have to be made for some words. The one I purchased always read the word read the same way, present or past tense. Nonetheless, I do use my program a lot. I use it to help me with my editing. Others might find the program far more useful. Even at seventy, I have full use of my eyes, for which I am thankful. Some are not so fortunate. People who are blind can listen to books. Before computers, the blind couldn’t read anything that is not in Braille.
On the other hand, computers help those who have a difficulty hearing. The old hearing aids, as great as they were had one problem; they amplified all frequencies about the same. That was fine for most, but sometimes people hear almost all frequencies but a small band, especially high frequencies. Current hearing aids are smaller, but they can also be programmed for a specific person. They are expensive, but for those who have problems hearing, they are well worth it.
Then there is the cochlea implant. What an invention that is. And it is only possible because of computers. Indeed, it is a type of computer. As far as I am concerned it is one of the greatest inventions of modern man. You might argue with me about it, but not with someone whose life it has changed.
I sat and watched TV one day and saw a cripple man walk. I was absolutely amazed. He didn’t walk well nor did he walk very far. He carried a computer on his back that had probes connected to his legs. …and when he wanted his leg to move, it moved, using his own muscle. I was floored. I worked around computers almost all my life and I was stunned to see what they did.
From that day, I understand that they have made large advances to help people walk with the help of computers. It is a wonderful thing, if for no other reason than to keep the muscles from atrophying.
What wonderful things these computers are. To be sure, they are a tool. They can be used for good and they can be used for things not so good. They can be used to spy on people. They can be used to track all that an employee does all day. For a while, I was even one of those employees.
I can’t help but think, why do people use computers for bad when they can be used for such good? Who knows? Maybe, one of these days they will make a word processor that can correct all my mistakes. I don’t think that will happen really soon though.