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Good Grief! It's the Word Processor

by Gini Cunningham

posted in Computers and Technology

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I remember the "good ol' days" when typing a paper or report required lots of correction tape or white out and numerous reams of fresh sheets of paper. One little error could be carefully corrected with tape or liquid, but two or three became a sticky mess forcing me to jettison my work, often quite near the end, to start over once again. I wonder how prolific writers survived this horrendous correction process. I did enjoy the clickity-clack of my Remington and later the soft buzz of my Underwood but I do not miss the error remediation process. The word processor is so much handier.
With the word processor I can type and correct with ease, cut and paste with delight, and create copies and folders en masse. The latter may be the sole problem of this magical format. Before when I typed, of course, only one copy existed unless I had followed the arduous task of adding messy duplication sheets between white paper to make multiple copies of my fine work. The copies never took on quite the same appearance as the original plus they were easy to smear due to the blue-black ink on the copy sheets. Sometimes I could use the copy machine at work (few people had copiers at home) but this required some sneaky tactics as home and business were not to mix.
Now I have the pleasure of typing and printing at the touch of a button, to proofread and correct or to take the work as is and send it on to eager hands. Right before I copy, however, I always remind myself to "Save". Herein lies a problem. If I am lucky I Save in the folder where my paper belongs. If I do not, it may land fresh in my documents or in a wrong folder or sometimes I zip it into points unknown. There is no problem, unless, of course, I save, print, and close my file and then return at a later date and cannot retrieve my piece. With luck, I go straight to the right folder and voila! my masterpiece appears. With further luck it is the right copy, as in the last, the final, the one I deemed perfect yesterday or the day before. With additional luck, it is in the appropriate folder with a file name that I remember.
Often, however, I have saved the file with great effort and care but it has flown onto distant planets and as I cannot remember the name, a search ensures that leads up dead-end alleys and confusing cul-de-sacs. I type in key words and while my file may appear, it is safely ensconced with 200 other documents, none of which include the date or time that I last worked on them. Thus I must dig and open and close and dig some more until eventually I rediscover the file (with fingers crossed that this is the real deal file) and then rename it so that I know it is different with more editing and then I save it but frequently I find that a few days later I am equally lost once again.
If I had countless extra hours in the day, perhaps I would think this seek and find system fun and thrilling. Having not quite that much time to fritter, I wish I had a better system. While cleanup and maintenance of this file quandary should be simple, I realize that my renewed dedication to organization brought about through the determined effort of my son-in-law evaporates a few days after I leave his presence. I am soon buried once more in documents and downloads and infinite confusion. I vow to stay up on the job and my muddle, but I soon acknowledge that some of this technology appears to be beyond my mental reach. Practice and patience are keys in developing special word processor skills. I must constantly hone those.
I like to blame my laptop for this scourge of complexity, feeling as if when I close the lid it determines ways to conspire against me, ready for the next opening. My son-in-law has pronounced that a laptop is free of emotions and reactions, but I am not so sure of that. Knowing how it winks and blinks and causes my work to vanish into corners and crannies, I think, perhaps, it is alive and resolutely regulated to spurn my best intentions. Fortunately I am tough and resilient and possess enough spunk to return to the keyboard and venture onward yet again.
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