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July 14, 2012

Looking Back: Computers have truly changed our lives in so many ways

Daily Star

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As time goes on, we oldsters have seen many changes in lifestyle, especially with all the technology and improvements ... or I should say hopeful improvements.

I am impressed especially with my life being simplified by my computer. I don't do anything fancy ... just the functional things when needed and it has been such a time-saver.

Microsoft Bookshelf: Spelling, grammar and punctuation are corrected; a shortcut for synonyms with a handy thesaurus and there's much more information if an encyclopedia is included.

I Yahoo or Google in a particular subject for information and _ voila _ there it is.

The "yesterday" need for volumes of research books along with hours in a library seem to be a thing of the past, along with the manual and then electric typewriters.

Here I am still in school at my desk _ still learning.

Do you know that I have been spelling some words wrong all my life? A good example of this is the word "tomarrow" ... oops, I mean "tomorrow" ... . See?

How about the "i" before "e" except after "c" rule ... oops again ... there are exceptions. No wonder that my spelling quizzes in school were so tedious. My PC makes all seem so enjoyable and easy to expand a person's vocabulary.

There's no need for a lot of swearing and profanity because of a lack of self-expression due to a void in a substantial vocabulary. And I might add that certainly that would be more impressive then the foul language we sometime hear today.

Bible reading with the old-fashioned wording seems most unrewarding for our understanding of those many words is limited. For instance: How many years ago was I taught to say the "Lord's Prayer"? We recited it over and over again. But when asked about the word "hallowed," with its meaning or perhaps a synonym for a better understanding we were at a loss. (This must be very important because Christ Jesus is telling all Christians to acknowledge God's name.)

If the "old fashioned" dictionary in book form is put into use ... that is if it contains archaic words that are not used today ... "Hallowed" isn't there. Now punch in the keys on the PC for that word, and the Wikipedia free encyclopedia gives you all the answers and even more details ... how easy. No wonder the handy Internet is so popular. (Let's see what it has to say.) Hallowed means to sanctify or highly venerate and to regard as sacred. Looking further at information about the name of God, Jehovah (Yahweh), all is explained and research done for you.

There are so many benefits for that amazing computer technology today. But sad to say there are many older folks in my age group that find all this most intimidating and needless to say that obtaining a PC is either not in their budget or they are just not interested. Sad.

Of course a person can misuse anything, so discretion is necessary, and especially so as we have been warned about pornography that can just pop up unasked for. That is sometimes dangerously tempting for all, including our youth.

We took the computer plunge many years ago when our daughter introduced us to her first computer, an old Apple. When updating her office equipment she packed up all the now antiquated computer paraphernalia plus the umpteen manuals and mailed them all the way from California. Her motive was to introduce us to the computer. We were quite negative, although we did plug it in and got nowhere. Piles of manuals were mind-boggling to say the least. (The handy "Dummy" volumes were a thing of the future).

With the pile of "the this and the that" taking all my limited space sitting on my desk and because of the thoughtfulness of our daughter, I decided to take the evening PC course offered by our BOCES. It was another mind-boggler but I did try. (Talk about teaching old dogs new tricks ... ha).

Well, to make this experience a bit shorter: After our struggling with equipment that wouldn't work for us, our nephew heard of our plight and put together up-to-date components that we could afford.

His job offered him the opportunity of acquiring much of the PC equipment. He spent many patient hours with us as we learned the basics.

From there over the years we have widened out ... or I should admit ... my husband has become quite proficient including all sorts of updated programs.

One of the latest is the Skype that a dear friend presented us. A little camera sits on top of the monitor and sends photos of us as we visit. They can see us and we can see them. Amazing.

Thinking back the many years ago I had often mused about having "television telephones" and visiting with the person you're calling not only vocally but visually.

It happened.

Too bad I wasn't the inventor. Hindsight.

Elaine W. Kniskern is a 79-year-old resident of Schenevus and a grandmother of five. She can reached at 'Senior Scene' columns can be found at