Thursday, 26 January 2012

Starter for ten

It was Tuesday, 20th December.  I was sitting minding my own business when my friend James popped in a challenging, maybe provocative, email about the sparsity of bloggers round here.  I'm a challenge junkie.  So I dropped James a line:

"I should like to be considered as a blogger. I love English, always employ BCC rhetoric (Brave, Controversial or Challenging), and have strong opinions.

As these were the self-advertised qualifications of Christopher Hitchens, I'm happy to take up the vacancy created.

I am a non-smoker.  I'd like to use the moniker 65+NotRustingAway."

That explains things.  However, I think I should warn you that you're probably putting your computer or hand-held gizmo at risk.  I am a total nemesis to all things IT.  I only have to walk into a room and screens freeze, operating systems crash, and signals die.  So that you may appreciate the near-miracle by which this blog actually got posted, I'll illustrate.

This morning I had to renew my Engineering subscriptions.  The accounts team had, in their infinite wisdom, directed I should use the company credit card. On-line.  I commented cheerily to my friend at the next desk that, "This is about to be a disastrous experience", and thus plunged into action.  I got as far as the Extra Security screen.  You'll have seen the one: Third, Fifth and Seventh characters...  I just know I entered them right.  I used my crib sheet, counted on my fingers and wrote it out on my desk pad to make sure.  Result: red-lettered boxes all over the screen.  Argghhh.

Now, I've got wise to this routine.  Three goes and they lock you out.  Then it's ring the lady (sorry, customer serviceperson) at Barclays, who wants to know your shoe size, mother's maiden name and dog's favourite phone number.  So I got Jen, our office manager and absolute whizz on all things credit card.  "Your screen's slow," she says.   "Er, that's because I haven't got an IDENT and (name omitted) won't fix it. and I have to switch off and on Windows Firewall, and..." I bleat.  "Huh, it's locked out", grunts Jen.

"Yes!!"  (Punch the air)  It's not just me!  See, the precise disaster I predicted!  Jen persists with my date of birth, full name, etc, and [multiple choice follows] resets, recovers, restores, reinstates the hallowed Password.  We're there.  I'm paid up for another year.  "Would have been easier on PayPal," exits Jen, muttering.  Ah, no, Jen.  PayPal absolutely never works.  Extra Security screen has been known to: on one train ticket, last year.  We stick with it.

So why, two hours later, just in a lunch break, did I imagine James would manage to get me signed up for blogging?  "Wow, what a huge screen", I boggle at his 3-D, HD, LED cinemascope spectacular.  Like a pro, his fingers dance over the keyboard and tabs string out along the toolbar. (Mental note: James must have taught himself to touch type.) "'S funny", he falters. "It doesn't seem to be picking this up, and I can't find the usual display screen, or the button for labels."  "Nemesis is sitting next to you," I inwardly sigh.  AJ mocks from across the office.  He knows.

The hour's flown, and James is apologising that we didn't have time to set up Twitter, or links with the Jesus Army web page.  Or to give me a chance to try out different layouts, or manage to post something via Mobile, "that'll be most useful for you," as he enthuses.   No matter, James.  We got a self-portrait, and 100 character of text up, cut and paste from an email, and even a freebie picture.  We have conquered!  (But then, James has two active blogs.)

Later, when fellow-trustees in the afternoon charity meeting aren't noticing, I pull up the posting on my phone.  It displays as unintelligible strings of HTML characters.  The app goes into a loop when I try to reformat the page.  But AJ finds it on his iPhone an the way home.  And later again, I add  this explanatory postscript.  But I haven't shown my wife yet.  Life as a blogger has begun.

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