I’m a computer dummy
When I was a little kid, a rite of passage was many things. A pair of roller skates, a two-wheeled bicycle, a scooter, or sleeping out overnight in the backyard under a tent made out of a bed sheet. But we knew it was exactly like the one that Lewis and Clark slept in on their way to the Pacific Ocean.Today a rite of passage seems to be how many different things a kid can do on a computer. A sure sign of old age is how few things you can do on a computer, if any at all. I know I’m old because the only thing I can do with a computer is type and edit stories and send e-mail. I’m in the process of learning how to receive e-mail.However, as long as Laurie prints my messages out for me, I still get to read them from a good old-fashioned piece of white paper. I have thought of spending some night-school time learning more about this wonderful computer that I work on almost every day, but my nights seem to be too busy.I’m currently illustrating a book by Mike Brown on the wonderful world of numbers and the invention of accounting. I’m trying to illustrate Moore’s Law for him, in which Moore states, “Computers double in capacity and ability every year while costing half as much.” At the same time, he also says, “If the automobile industry had improved at the same rate, your car could travel comfortably at 150 mph, get 200 miles to a gallon of gas and cost about 45 cents for a new one.”I unfortunately learned this week, that in addition to doubling in capacity and speed each year, Moore’s Law should also state, “Each year, a computer can erase twice as much stuff in half the time.”The other night I was working on our e-mail list of people who we send our column to every week and in a single key stroke I was able to erase thousands of names, addresses, e-mail addresses, home, cell, and business phone numbers. I also erased how tall many of the people are and how much they weigh, where they liked to ski and how often, what kinds of skis and snowboards they used, as well as how many different ski movies of mine they had attended over the years or what videos or books they have purchased. I also erased many inquiries of the age-old question of how to get into one of my ski movies. (Send a resume and a sample video to 2540 Frontier, #104, Boulder, CO 80301).When the word dumb is spelled alongside my name, the dumb letters should be 40 feet high. My extensive e-mail list has been compiled over the last decade of writing weekly newspaper columns. The in-excess-of-600 columns has brought a lot of e-mails to firstname.lastname@example.org. I, once again, thank everyone who has ever sent me a note of any kind and apologize for erasing your name and address. Somewhere you have attended one of my feature films or bought something that has contributed to the lifestyle that Laurie and I have been able to enjoy.My lifestyle began to improve dramatically more than 50 years ago when I realized that I could take ski movies during the winter when I was skiing anyway, edit them during the summer when the surf wasn’t up and people would actually pay as much as one dollar to come and see them while listening to me talk in a gymnasium or high school auditorium somewhere.During those first three years, I was living in a 1950 Chevy panel delivery truck and sleeping in a parking lot somewhere down the road after my latest showing. Life was great then because my only on-the-road overhead was the cost of gasoline for that panel truck. With what I saved on motels and restaurants by sleeping and cooking in the back of my truck, I was able to buy enough film to make my next movie. One of my first big purchases after the first few shows in 1950 was a portable typewriter and some carbon paper.Life was a lot simpler then.The other night when my computer screen came up blank, Laurie was in the kitchen making tea, so I can’t blame anyone except myself for pushing the wrong key that erased my e-mail list. When you finish reading this in a newspaper somewhere, send me an e-mail with your return address and I can once again start sending my weekly column directly to you at home. I promise I will never again get near the erase key on any computer, anywhere, as long as I live.Warren Miller has been a ski filmmaker for more than half a century. He lived in the Vail Valley for 10 years, and is now director of skiing for the Yellowstone Club near Big Sky, Mont. His latest film, STORM, is showing at the Vilar Center in Beaver Creek Oct. 18-19.
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