Backwards Technology Is The Way To Go Forward

In the days of yore, I missed out on being taught how to use an early abacus style computer by one year. The school I went to announced that next year´s intake of pupils would all be able to sit in front of an abacus computer and make it say hello to them.

I was slightly irked by this, and the potential bonus that it might cancel out history lessons wasn´t worth dwelling on. Hence a rebellious computer nerd was born.

My first computer was “donated” to me from someone who gave up trying to make it do what was said on the box. With a whopping 256K of memory it could only work from a floppy disk. After waiting half an hour for it to load up one, apathy set in. Rebellion wasn´t just talk anymore, action was needed.

The donated box of nothingness was re-donated to charity {it would make a nice bookshelf} Ten years of night school classes and Open University courses began. I was DETERMINED to master a hi tech piece of superior equipment, the challenge was on. Our local college was brimming over with thousands of IBM 286 mean machines waiting for a workout .

The first time I ever sat in front of one I stared in wonderment at the black screen adorned with green writing. It really was the same as those they use in movies! Even better I forced it to say “Hello Heather” on screen while students either side of me sat baffled and confused. Within ten minutes I was teaching others what to do!?

There had to be more to it, but what and how? A decade of discovery and mastery began. During the day I worked in an accounts office staring at a boring screen full of boring numbers. But night school was full of wonderment and awe. 

In daylight I managed to cope quite well with accounts software, a computer that crashed every five minutes (forget to save your work every minute or it disappeared). No internet access and no emails allowed. Excel did not excel, and my ergonomic chair had a dodgy back support that kept falling off. There had to be more to working life than this.

At first I kept my college activity quiet from my work colleagues. The boss might not like the idea of me studying for a position as high as hers. I gained two different qualifications before anyone found out, only because the next step up the ladder had to be on a day release basis and lasted three years. Oh shit, I had to explain and beg.

Predictably the office grump queen said “no way“ I knew she wanted me to quit, simply because I regularly took the piss out of her when she wasn´t looking. She must´ve been aware of this due to impeccable timing. Blast out a command to us all, then retreat to her lions office den…

The moment her door closed the fun began. My colleagues laughed so much they lost control of their keyboards, but the the office grump queen couldn´t prove anything. So I went to HER boss. Mr Money Bags who lived most of his life on a cruise ship somewhere in the Caribbean said day release was OK!

I can´t describe how fulfilling it was to storm into office grump queen´s den and shout HE SAID YES! {I kept so naa to myself} The look on her face was a sour mixture of dismay and resentment, it got mimicked and relayed to everyone else as I stepped out the door.

So onwards and upwards, I learned how to control, troubleshoot, create, and manipulate software on a network. I even knew how to dismantle a naughty computer if it wasn´t behaving itself. And put it back together if necessary.

But the office grump queen wanted revenge, while I was learning how to be the next Bill Gates, SHE was taking advantage of my skillset. In olden times we had to wait up to three days for an engineer to tackle our broken computer system. So I got the job of doing so without extra pay, or extra time to do my real very boring job.

What she didn’t realise was that working in a real environment rather than the simulated one at college gave me more experience and confidence. I had to improvise and do repairs using trial and error. The office grump queen was doing me a favour!

A couple of years later we found out our place of work was going to be closed down and relocated down south. For six months redundancy loomed. The office grump queen granted me the official job of creating a more efficient system of interaction, between head office and all the depots. I was free of boring accounts long before being handed a P45.

First of all I picked out flaws, regular flaws that I was always elected to solve. Then created a far more reliable system which made administration and usability easier. No more remote access required to identify and direct others how to put things right.

Beyond that I had to input years of paperwork sat in boxes, go back through the archives and bring everything up to date within my digital masterpiece.

Technically unconventional backwards technology, {sentence of the day that} they’d been using unreliable computers there for several years, and just left the previous pen and paperwork to rot.

I remember having to rummage through those boxes on a regular basis, a historical paper trail to tie up loose ends could take up a whole day. Filed by month and year it should have been easy, but over those years people had messed it up on a find what you’re looking for and bung it back anywhere else basis. Guilty as charged I did the same, but not when the grump queen was hanging about.

On one such occasion, I was just about to fling a file when the grump queen approached, so I hung onto it while deliberately muttering to myself “Now where the hell does this go? It was supposed to be,, ah found it.” {Lies all lies, it was the wrong year} Sounded good though, how clever of me to remember. Even if she´d done a Sherlock Homes investigation the file was hidden forever. Open and shut case.

Three weeks before “dump you” day arrived, several members of the new head office came to learn my also new system. Dressed up in suits and ties they were all thick as two short planks. I got to the stage whereby shouting was required. “Well look it´s quite SIMPLE, you do &%/&%/ and it does &/()=. It´s not like you have to learn the Bible and then read it backwards.”  One of them tittered. Oh dear, he really shouldn´t have done that.

“Do ANY of you know ANYTHING about computer systems in the workplace??? Or are you all too busy wandering up and down a golf course every day?”  From the relative safety of her office den the grump queen watched in horror, after all, these were the top brass of a major company. But they´d made her redundant too and initial shock turned into shoulder jogging laughter. I even thought she was going to join in but didn´t dare.

Eventually one of them, {just the one} actually got it, I could see clouds of smoke above his head but he GOT IT. I was complimented on my work, great job, well done and all that crap.

“So are you going to teach the others now you’ve finally GOT IT?”

“Yes I will.”

“Good luck with that.”

“They´re just not used to this kind of thing.”

“What, you mean WORK?”

{Howling gales of laughter from the grump queen´s den} All these years and we were on the same wavelength for the first time ever. 

The only one with an ounce of brain matter sat next to me and asked if I could walk him through it again. Then with a cheesy grin he said, “This is exactly what we wanted, thank you very much, can you write some instructions for use, like a manual?”

“Bugger off, you´ve used me good style over the past few months, saved a fortune not paying a qualified expert, and thanks to you I´ll be jobless tomorrow.”

I spent the final two years out of ten studying to become a Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator. The top bods thought they´d used me and didn´t give a stuff, but I´d used them for prep work and didn´t give a stuff. Ha!

However, for all my smart arse knowledge, I had to learn how to control a smartphone and crap apps the hard way, simply because it´s all too EASY. Work that out.

Backwards technology out of action.

2014-01-31 12.40.21  

Try bunging one of those in your pocket.

Note, this particular example proudly sits outside a rather large Spanish electrical store which sells every kind of smartphone you can think of. Even though anything´s possible here, that´s truly Baffling.

3 thoughts on “Backwards Technology Is The Way To Go Forward

  1. Heather- It sounds like you and I had the same work experience. Doing complicated things above and beyond our job titles and not getting compensated for it. So glad I am out of that rat race. Writing is much more fun! Glad to see you stuck it to the grump queen.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Same here, I hung up my work boots years ago, and haven’t regretted it at all. Being able to climb off the treadmill is a wonderful thing and circumstances meant I could do that early. However, I still know how to bash a laptop with attitude into submission lol.


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