A Story of Computer Domination

By Ted Ross

My life is dominated by a machine. How did this happen? It was never intended, but it has developed.

In 2003, at the behest of a 'computer-literate' friend, I was off to Radio Shack, a ferry ride away in Powell River. There I acquired a computer, monitor, keyboard and printer for my household.

Back on Texada Island, I set the hardware up at a computer station in a nook in the living room. The desk had already been brought in, complete with a telephone line installed by the phone company. My first contact with the internet would be by 'dial-up.' Extremely slow and a bit expensive, it did connect me with the cyber world. Downloads would appear line-by-line on the monitor, over a matter of minutes. But it was contact! I discovered email. I came upon Google. I found Wikipedia. I was hooked. And my life was forever changed.

The years went by. The machine in the corner began to play a larger role in my life. Writings, which had been assembled in scribblers and on pads, were now appearing and being saved in 'My stories' on the computer's hard drive as I used my ability on the 'qwerty' keyboard to construct my tales.

One afternoon in 2006, as I sat in the Island Inn in Van Anda having a pint, I met a friend from Powell River whom I hadn't seen for a while. I inquired as to what he was doing these days. He was installing satellite computer services for people away from urban areas, stepping into a market served by dial-up, with a much higher speed option. Within a week he was at my place setting up the small satellite dish on my deck rail that would receive signals from space, and return mine to the satellite for connection to the cyber-world. I truly felt 21st century!

More years passed. My computer was filling with writings and I was in contact with many folks through email. The majority of my writing involved interviews with Texada old-timers, then producing articles for the Texada Island Lines and the archives of the Texada Heritage Society. But I was enamoured of my ability to research topics via the internet. Wikipedia was my 'go-to' resource, along with the myriad of other sources available online. The machine was becoming indispensable to me. It was moving in and taking over without my even realizing it!

Major change came into my life in 2010. Widowed in 2001, after nine years of my own cooking, I had met a lady with whom I wished to share my future. She, however, lived a fair distance from my home on Texada Island in British Columbia's capital city, Victoria. After a number of months of commuting to Victoria, I decided to put my house, acreage and buildings on the market. By August the property sold and I decamped to Victoria on October 1, 2010.

Having sold pretty well everything I owned in a giant yard sale, I arrived in Victoria with little more than my computer. Once I was housed in an apartment, I obtained Shaw service for the computer, and with my sweetheart, haunted thrift stores for furnishings for the new place. I had thought the satellite service had been fast, but it was nothing compared to Shaw. For the first time I had proper high-speed internet.

In the spring of 2011, I had a new computer built at Boomer Computers on Douglas Street. With their understanding of what I was looking for, they were able to custom design a tower for me which would serve me well into the future. Built with Windows 7 installed, in the Spring of 2016 it was converted to Windows 10.

In late September 2016, as I worked on a story for the James Bay Beacon, things suddenly went black. I powered down, then with the power back on, rebooted the machine. Everything lit up as it should but when I returned to the story on which I had been working, none of which I had saved, it was all gone. Anguish would be the word of choice for my feelings at my two hours' work lost.

Since then my computer, from time-to-time, goes black. Anything unsaved is lost. I've developed the habit of hitting 'save' every few words so there will be little to lose. I spoke to the computer guy at the newspaper. "Sounds like a Windows 10 problem to me. Talk to the people at Boomers about this."

So I did. The fellow at Boomer Computers said, "Bring it in. We'll run it until it goes black and determine what the problem is. Should just be a day or two."

No computer for a day or two? My life is managed by that machine. There are deadlines. There is constant email communication to do with Board responsibilities and Friday Forum operations. It can't be gone for a 'day or two.' There is no good time to be without the PC. Sorry. I'm dependent. My life has been taken over. The computer is dominant!

Drift back twenty-five years to October 17, 1991. A 10' satellite dish for the TV was in place in one of the vegetable gardens. World Series baseball was getting close. There were no deadlines, just get the wood chopped and keep the animals happy. No computer stood in the corner demanding attention and service. Oh blissful days. I knew not what was ahead!

"She only crashed once in the production of this tale. I'd better 'save' this now!"