Just Grandma and Me: A Reminiscence

Perhaps I should have bought the game and computer too!

It began with Nicole Matejic. She was reminiscing about her old Apple personal computer experiences. In passing she mentioned the children’s game Just Grandma and Me (based on a popular children’s book).

 

Just Grandma and Me

Just Grandma and Me

And the next thing I remember is my daughter perched on a stool playing that game forever…

I was working in Canberra. At that time, I wanted to buy a PC or perhaps an Apple Mac? Part of my role was supporting PCs, yes 286s, XTs and ATs!

Our company owned one Apple, a soothing relief to support as it ran Adobe Pagemaker, a desktop publisher (DTP), one of the few pieces of software that made me look good. So began my fascination with DTP but that is many blogs away! My workmate too was an Apple evangelist.  Which left me wavering. Macintosh_Color_Classic

To resolve my dilemma, I decided to check the PCs and Apples out. That particular Saturday afternoon, my wife and new son needed sleep. So I took my opportunity. I thought I could take my three year old daughter, do my research, and bore her with tech stuff till she falls asleep on the drive home. That was the well thought out, yet to be well executed plan.

The last shop was an Apple shopfront near Woden in Canberra. I park the car, open the back door and unstrap my daughter. It’s late Saturday afternoon and she should be showing the first signs of fatigue. Not now, not ever as it turned out. We sidle into the shop hand-in-hand and I ask the tech guy  about the merits of the Apple! Of course he told me in detail. But I say, there aren’t enough Mac applications versus PC.

He can’t counter my point. We both look down and see that her ladyship isn’t too interested in these finer technical details. He says how’s about trying out a few children’s games. Sounds fine and fair enough to me.

I sit her on a stool while the tech guy runs up Just Grandma and Me. This shouldn’t take too long, I think. But in the moment, I was worried.

Not at how precarious her perch was. She wasn’t moving so it didn’t matter. No. It was that dreadful moment when  two eyes turn towards me and ask, “Daddy how do you work this?” That moment would have to wait until she was running Windows Millennium on her laptop!

But that didn’t happen at all. For now the mouse was gliding over the game scenes like thread through silk. Each  click on each character brought joyous laughter at each unique antic. And then she would click through to the next part of an interesting and engaging story.

Wait a minute! I have to back up and take stock now. For I’m not watching this from afar anymore. I had been taken in too. Yes there was the easy technology. But the story within the game had fascinated me (as good stories still do…)

But her ladyship didn’t care for such thoughts of philosophical grandeur. She was signed up for life. As I was just about to find out.

For it was now closing time. And time to go home. No. No. No. Yes (Me!). All right I’m lodging an official protest. And an official request. For the game and a Mac.

I relented.

I bought a PC. Windows 3.1 and Dos 3.22 powered by a 386  hamster wheel topped by 2 mega dabs of Ram.I used it to play Tetris and log in to work via terminal emulator and attached modem. ZZzz….

I relented again. I  bought the PC version of Just Grandma and Me. It was probably more to assuage my guilt as the original protest had been withdrawn or forgotten. But somehow it didn’t have that beyond cardboard cutout charm of the original…check out the interactive YouTube version!

 

Three Steps Too Many

Everything seemed perfect. Nothing had changed in years. So much so I forgot where I’d put my wallet and keys.
But only momentarily. Everything was as it was.

The carpet, that dull dirt brown, with sickly flecks of grey. Brighter than I remembered. No fading, no wear, no patches yet needing repair. The walls too, that soft creamy white, which was yet to fade fatally.

Yes it’s close to perfect. They had done well.

The curtains too, drawn against the sliding glass aluminium windows. The sunlight was completely blocked not strained as I later remembered. I flicked them open, and peered down. Four floors to the street.
I overlapped the curtains and shut the world out.
Just a desk, an old school desk with the hinged top. And then the bed. Both pristine as if just delivered. I stopped myself from looking for the packing.

Clean crisp sheets lay under that green and black patterned bedspread. That lost joy of sleeping in a new bed. I pulled the covers all the way back. I slipped in and slept.

Set your doubts aside, I told myself, as I woke. I had slept through. I swung my legs out and planted them firmly on the floor for certainty’s sake. Back on that carpet. Push off the covers and start a new day.
New clothes awaited me. Shiny shoes too. I showered, shampooed and shaved in expectant pleasure. Next a singlet, clean and fresh. White shirt next. Though pre-pressed I could still feel the new creases. Cuff links magnetically almost magically attached themselves. My trousers fitted perfectly as if they had melded themselves to my form. These easy features were so great I thought. I noted it for later.

Socks and then the shoes. I tied up the laces as I hated self-tying shoes. As I stood up, the shoes felt loose again. I looked down and they were untied. Sit down, tie them, stand up and untied again. I took them off and put on a pair of slip-ons. Noted.

My wallet and keys were where I’d left them. I pocketed my wallet which snugly fitted. The keys. They were there on the bedside table only a minute ago. They were gone. I checked my pockets, my suit jacket, the pillows, the blankets. Nothing. I checked my pockets, my suit jacket, the pillows, the blankets. I looked up and the gleam of the key ring caught my eye. They were on the bedside table after all. Okay. Noted.

Breakfast next. I was running early so I had nothing to worry about. As I made the coffee, I left the teaspoon in the cup. As I poured the water in, it flowed up the bowl of the spoon and over the handle. Quickly I jump back. And quickly I mop up the mess. The water doesn’t seem so hot now. I should think nothing of it, I say to myself. I pick up the knife to butter the toast. The blade brushes the handle of my cereal spoon and sends it spinning. Luckily I’m quick again and save it from meeting the floor.
I’ll see this through I say. But my teeth are starting to grind.  A lot noted for later,definitely some kitchen patching required here.

The last task before work. The teeth clean. But first as advised, I floss. I check the indicator and there’s about 50 metres left. I tug at the strand and pull out two fingernails of dental floss. I look again. None left. Thus warned, I duck under the basin and draw out an extra roll. When I look up again, there’s 10cm of floss waiting for me. Okay it’s not what I expected but I’ll take it. Noted for later. Bathroom supplies not the bathroom.

Then the trek to the street ,four flights downstairs, two at a time. It’s like walking on air. I check my watch. Come to think of it, when did I put it on? Five minutes to the bus, it blinks at me. Noted for later.

I step out onto the street. Instantly my hand goes up to my left cheek to deflect a waft of breeze. A little cool in the morning is a joy. Suddenly I crouch and duck my head as a slurry of leaves and twigs suddenly appear. Then as quickly as it appears, it’s gone. I get to my feet and realise I had fended off the assault with my right arm. The winds are fluky today but not as I remember.

The bus arrives on time but not my time. I don’t argue with reality. I take it anyway. I touch on as usual. I shove the card back in my wallet and it promptly pops out. I’m quick but it takes two grabs to catch it. It seemed to start, float in the air momentarily and then stop. But why the hell didn’t it pop out before? I gave it enough chances!

Then I look at my fellow passengers. They’re strangers who are familiar yet remain a mystery despite sitting in the same seats and talking about the same banalities that I can still remember. Conversations about matching lists of possessions, defiant children and recalcitrant spouses, all suffixed by furtive glances at their smart watches. It’s strangely stilted somehow but I just can’t work it out. I’m not dropping out now. Not this time.

Finally the bus makes it to the freeway. And I’m dazzled. I slam my eyes shut. After a few seconds I reluctantly half open my right eye. The sun was still glaring at me. But I remember this trek far too well. Even in my half sight I can see the landmarks I know and mentally tick them off. But the sun. It’s still there. It’s in a different place today. I mentally play back the trips I remember and this doesn’t match. Perhaps the freeway has been re-routed, or I’m in a different seat today. But none of those match either. Also noted for later,but definitely a core problem.

But it’s too late to think of that. The bus has left the freeway and is being piped along a dark tunnel. And my stop is next. And it does appear. I leave, wend my way through the crowds and climb the stairs, two at a time, to the street.

And it’s raining. How did the weather change so quickly? I look up at the rain trails in the sky which stop before they hit the ground. I rack my brain for the term: Virga. I scan the sky for the source : cumulonimbus clouds and there aren’t any. Perhaps the wind blew them away?

My place of work looms up before me as I walk. A few steps, take the lift, see what joys and pressures await me today.

I take the steps three at a time…

I didn’t even feel the thud.  They wake me up from a leaden sleep. I feel as if I’ve been drawn up from the depths. Dimly I realise that there are two familiar though geeky men wrestling my helmet off me. With that familiar mixture of deftness and roughness they unstrap me and unbuckle my suit.

“Where am I?” I ask.  As soon as I ask,I know it’s a stupid question. I’m back.

“You shouldn’t have taken the stairs three at a time”, one of the coders say.
“It forked the stair routine and deleted the building instance. They’re rebuilding the model now.”
“Hey, there was nothing about that in the testing guidelines,” I say.
“Was it in the specifications? The requirements?”

The first helmet wrangler says nothing. The other developer just glares at me.
“It was the final beta test.. It goes live next week.”

“I don’t want to be an alpha tester anymore,” I say.

I shrug, find my misplaced wallet and keys, and leave. I approach the exit stairs.

I take the steps three at a time…

Where Is My Laptop?

 

I got the phone call about five minutes before the meeting was due to start. Someone important needed a laptop set up for a presentation.  Knowing the type of laptop and the meeting room setup, I knew it would be easy, just plug the laptop in and the screen would show itself in seconds.

I knew the important personage’s department had two spare laptops. I also knew the right person to speak to. I also knew this person would be in the meeting in five minutes also.

I raced down the fire escape and barged through the double doors. I just got the administrative manager as he was leaving for the meeting.

“So and so needs a laptop for the meeting.”

Where is my laptop?

Where is my laptop?

“Both have been booked out. So and so couldn’t organize a shipwreck.”

My thought was the Cunard line couldn’t either with the Titanic ( It wasn’t Cunard, it was the White Star Line). I kept my silence for a change and thought furiously. Who else did I know has a spare laptop?

Plan B? One of the other departments had account managers. They occasionally went out and visited clients and left their laptops behind. So I took it upon myself to liberate one of their laptops. I informed his colleagues as to the reason why.

Once I had the laptop, I had to set it up. This particular laptop had to be setup slightly differently : a process that would take time. I raced into the meeting room and connected the laptop. As I entered everyone looked up.  All the staff for the meeting were there. But not the manager. He had disappeared. And I needed him to login and make sure things work. I logged in. And it worked for me.

My next mission was to find him. I checked all the offices on that floor. I went back upstairs and checked. I finally returned downstairs and told his staff. He still had not reappeared. So I left it and went back to the conflicting priorities that had beset me beforehand. I thought all was well. It wasn’t as I was to find out.

A few days later, I was greeted by an external consultant. After I asked her how she was, she told me truthfully. Then she asked me to extract some files from a media device. As I did she told me her story.  I was extracting the presentation the important personage was supposed to have given several days ago. Obviously, he failed to do so.

I wonder what he said about me when he couldn’t do the presentation…

I always thought that it’s not what you know, but who you know. In this case, that almost worked for me. But this time it was when you found out.

Now as a trainer, I always set up as early as possible. This is why.

 

 

 

This Printer Isn’t Working (Diagnostic Ping-Pong)

“Hi I’m just ringing about the printer. It’s not working.”
It was the printer just over the partition from me. I had taken it on myself to try and fix it. But I was not a desktop support person any more. I had:

Printer

Printer

  1. Checked the printer had paper, no jams and enough ink
  2. Stopped and restarted the printer queue
  3. Deleted the print job
  4. Cleared my temp files
  5. Switched the printer on and off and, of course
  6. Rebooted my PC .
The first-support information technology person walked me through all the checks. I had done all her suggested steps and perhaps more. Sigh!The next day the printer man arrived. He:
  1. Checked the printer had paper, no jams and enough ink
  2. Switched the printer off and on, and of course
  3. Ran a printer self-test.
I forgot that one. But after he left I leant over and checked the test results. The printer had passed. So all was good. It still didn’t print though.The next day, the network cable guy arrived. He:
© Ginasanders | Dreamstime.com - Network Cable Of A Computer Photo

© Ginasanders | Dreamstime.com – Network Cable Of A Computer Photo

  1. Unplugged the network cable from the printer
  2. Attached it to a grey box
  3. Pressed a button
  4. Checked the flashing lights.
While he was doing this, I peeked over and checked. I’d used such a magic box before.  The lights were blinking in sequence. The network connection had passed. So all was good. It still didn’t print though.
I waited to see what happened next. It was the printer support person again. And again, he did the same tests as he had done two days ago. He got the same result. The printer passed the test. So all was good. But the printer still didn’t print though.
It was looking like a game of diagnostic ping-pong. So I rang back.
“I know it’s not my job but…perhaps you could try this…just check to see if you can get the printer to talk back to you over the network (I had tried this in my old job). Or do a printer network test. Maybe it’s the network card. Or even the connector.”
There was a long, long pause and then, “I’ll add that to the notes for the call.”
Another day passes. It’s the printer guy again. He does a network test. He looks behind the printer at the network connector.  It has no lights and is damaged. They get a new connector and life goes on. Sigh!