Fun with Technology

I seem to be having all sorts of wrestling matches with my computers and related technology lately.  I got a new computer at work in September, with a scanning program that reads documents fed through the fax machine and turns them into pdf files.  It worked without a problem until a couple of weeks ago when it suddenly decided there wasn’t enough memory (somewhere–the program wasn’t specific about exactly where) to scan at 1200 dpi.  Fortunately the two or three documents I scan each week work perfectly well at 600 dpi.  This week the program started randomly producing blank pdf files; now I have to scan some papers twice and check the files before I send them on.  I have no idea what’s going on there.

Then there was the Excel file that suddenly sprouted large, unexplained, and unnumbered gaps the other day.  Fortunately I had the good sense to close it before I saved any of the anomalies.  When I reopened the file it was perfectly well behaved.  Sometimes frequent saves are not the answer.

Meanwhile, the (admittedly old) printer sometimes refuses to print from the sheet feeder (which we use to print checks and labels) and the (also aging) copy machine suffers from paper jams in the morning.  We’re doing our best to work around these problems, because we’re planning to reorganize the office and replace the printer, copier, and fax machine in the foreseeable future.

My computer puzzles at home have been solvable, for which I am grateful.  This morning I found my computer rebooted and waiting patiently for my password, and when I logged in I discovered that Internet Explorer 11 had been downloaded during the night.  It looks exactly like IE 10, but apparently it works on touch screen computers.  I don’t have a touch screen computer.  It didn’t change any of my settings, so no harm, no foul.

I’ve been resurrecting an old manuscript to enter in the RWA Golden Heart contest (it’s an addiction).  My work in progress stood no chance of being finished in time, so I pulled out one that I’ve always liked but haven’t really looked at in some time.  It did well in contests some years ago, so I decided to give it another shot.  And some editing.

I went through the whole manuscript, making generally small edits, and liking what I read.  It had been long enough that I’d forgotten many of the details, and I actually enjoyed reading it, as though it was a novel I’d read (rather than written!) years ago.  But it needed some work, and after sending the first three chapters to a couple of writer friends, I did some more editing, and decided I needed to combine some scenes, split some others, and move some chapter breaks.

It would have been so much easier to do in Scrivener, but the contest deadline is looming, and I didn’t have time to move the manuscript from Word to Scrivener and back.  Fortunately there was relatively little full-scale rewriting to do (for now, at least–if an editor ever says, “I’ll buy this, but you need to turn the time line inside out,” I’m there), and I did it on paper and in the Word file.

But I still had those pesky chapter breaks to shift around, and that’s where my large computer monitor proved its worth (not for the first time).  I discovered that Word could show me at least eight pages at a time at a resolution clear enough to read, which made judging the length and breaking points of chapters surprisingly easy, and perhaps even more visual than Scrivener.


Believe me, I’m really not complaining about any of these little hassles.  I’ve kept records in ledger books rather than Excel, made copies on mimeograph machines after typing the masters without a ribbon, and typed whole novels on a typewriter, so I appreciate everything I do on a computer.  But there are times when I have no idea what’s going on–it might as well be magic.

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