Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Technically Speaking

Did you ever get the feeling that, if you don’t jump right onto the latest technology, you might never be able to grasp it? You must be a non-techie like me.

I was one of the last people in California to acquire a CD player (in the late 1990s, a hand-me-down from my brother, Paul), get e-mail and Internet access (in 2002 out of necessity, because I was writing an on-line serial for and switch to a digital camera (another donation from Paul).

I struggled along each learning curve, reading the instruction manuals diligently. But as the years went by, those manuals began to take more and more for granted. Earlier this year, after I purchased my younger son’s old digital camera – a generation advanced from mine, and a generation behind his new one – I had to ask him what various instructions meant. The technical writers took for granted that I could decipher their shorthand.

Needless to say, I couldn’t.

So you can imagine with what trepidation I set out to learn how to update my own Web site. I’d never have dared consider it, but my longtime, wonderful Webmaster is moving on to other things. Rather than start over with someone new, I decided to take the plunge.

First, I looked for an instruction manual, only to discover that even the For Dummies books aren’t for dummies like me. They assume you want to become an html programmer capable of creating your own Web design. Sure. And maybe after that I’ll design a nuclear fusion rocket capable of carrying me to Alpha Centauri.

What I needed was a little friendly advice, but even many of my programmer friends don’t know much about Web sites. So where did I turn? Well, where else … to my brother.

A semi-retired aerospace engineer who lives in the Washington, D.C. area, Paul is one of the most patient people I’ve ever met. Also one of the most technically savvy. This is amazing, because he and I must share some of the same gene pool.

It turned out he’d learned quite a bit about Web sites while building and maintaining one for his significant other, Myrna, who’s a wedding planner. In case you’re about to get married in that part of the country, you can look up her site at

This dear man, who used to put rubber spiders in our grandmother’s bed (actually, she started it) and twit me about almost everything, spent most of a Saturday uploading a copy of my Web site onto a new hosting service and, by phone, walking me through the steps of learning to update it.

He never lost his temper or skipped a step in his instructions. He even made allowances for the fact that my computer uses an antique operating system.

My original Web site ( remains with the same Webmaster through the end of the year, while I’m practicing on the copy (you can check it out at In case you’re wondering, the software I use is Microsoft Front Page.

I couldn’t have done it without Paul. So be nice to your siblings. Sometimes they grow up to be wonderful human beings.


Ellen said...

You sure sound like me when it comes to all things technical but unfortunately my brothers aren't much help. Wish I could borrow yours. I can use a digital camera as long as it's not complicated and I have learned how to use the photo kiosks where you can do all sorts of things to your pictures (thanks to a wonderful person at Walgreens) and I have learned (through trial and error) to access websites and make comments (well that's obvious)and of course e-mail but that's about it. However I haven't even figured out how to use the HTML tags I see at the bottom of this comment section!!!

Jacqueline Diamond said...

Ellen, you're way ahead of a lot of people I know!

Estella said...

I am technologically challenged. I turn to my children when I need help. My son is a computer technician and my daughter works with computers every day in the state courts system.