You can’t pick your relatives

I visited my brother recently to try and show him the basics of using a computer. My brother had managed to avoid, at all costs, any interaction with anything that remotely resembled a keyboard coupled with a screen for the better part 30 years.

I quite like to use computers myself, even if my brother doesn’t. I have a desktop with a wireless router that allows my husband and I to also use our laptops anywhere in the house, which comes in handy for typing blogs from the comfort of my king-size bed in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep.

I was initiated into the computer fraternity many years ago when we still had DOS, and then soon after that Windows 3.1. What a treat that was. Windows 3.1 was far more interactive than DOS could ever be, and it was catching on fast.

I went to college to learn all about this new way of computing and wordprocessing. This was so much better than having to type on my old IBM typewriter. If I made a mistake I could now just delete it off my screen, rather than having to try and white it out or erase it with typewriter tape. I was in heaven.

I worked for a while using this system, and then decided to go back to college, then university, using the most current Windows operating systems that were available at the time, and even cross-platformed onto Apple MacIntosh for a short while. I learned to build websites, I learned to utilise the student forums and send emails to my friends. I learned to study online and type my assignments to perfection, proofreading them a hundred times before I even printed them out.

Along the way, I went through a few computers, keyboards, monitors, and whatever else I could get my hands on for my information tehnologically-minded self to consume. I bought a few laptops here and there, and upgraded them quickly so that I could have the latest CPU and the biggest RAM. As I was reluctant to part with most of my old laptops however, and I began to develop stockpile in the back bedroom. I cleaned up my husband’s old laptop up and gave it to my mother, along with a book, a few lessons, and a pre-paid Internet modem stick. She was off and running into 21st century technology before I could raise my eyebrows. She now knows how to turn her computer on, connect to the Internet, find what she wants on Google, and send emails. She also knows how to charge up her prepaid device whenever she buys a voucher for another 2 or 3 months usage. I was very pleased with myself.

Based on this success, I cleaned up another laptop and offered it to my brother. He accepted reluctantly, but conceded that he may just have to be dragged ‘kicking and screaming’ into the 21st century, as most of his friends were living interstate and wanted to keep in touch with him cheaply via email or on Skype.

To be honest, I really wasn’t really prepared for the fallout of my amnesia. I call it amnesia because I forgot my that my brother was an encyclopaedia. According to him, he knows it all, and if he couldn’t learn how to use a computer, then it didn’t matter because he was so intelligent that it didn’t count. Or so he said. I like to think that it was more  a case of my brother, who was the dux of the school and a straight A student, not being able to admit that I might just know a little bit more about something than he did. Unfortunately, this attitude did nothing to help the situation, because as soon as he got the laptop home he immediately tried to work out how to use it without my help, or the aid of any reading paraphernalia that pertained to his particular operating system. I’m reasonably sure that he threw a veritable spanner into the computer works at some stage before I got down there, and wouldn’t admit it.

To cut a long story short, and it was a long story, I managed to get him hooked up to the Internet with his prepaid dongle, despite the fact that he tried to do it himself and managed to throw out the box with the information it came with to install it properly. It became just a simple matter of ringing the service provider and ticking the right box that should have been ticked as soon as he had tried to activate it.

I then commenced setting him up with a hotmail address, which turned into an epic because he couldn’t think of a suitable name to call himself and consulted his vast library looking for a name that would suit his opinion of himself. I’d thought of a few good ones by this time, but they can’t be repeated here on this blog.

Moving along, I then managed to get him a Skype account, which was the whole object of the exercise really. Soon after that he lost interest and wanted to go to the club to talk to his friends about his new Internet connection, and tried to hurry me out of his apartment as fast as possible.

I left him a book for him to utilise  in case he got into trouble. To add insult to injury he didn’t even thank me, and complained about how much it had cost him for the webcam and the prepaid modem. All I can say to that is at least he got a free laptop and a brand new book, or it could have quite possibly cost him a whole lot more.

I left with a really bad headache and instructions for him not to ring in the near future. I don’t live in India and I don’t do tech help.


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