IBM, Supernormal Stimuli, and Speciation
Small events yield larger ones. My physician commented 18 months ago that my uric acid is high and I may develop gout. Good grief, the irony of hypomanic me taking lithium for joint pain! (God does exist and she's a practical joker.) Hysteria or physiology eventually prevailed and there are little needles of extra sensations now in some of my fingers. The angst dissipated when I thought about dictation, a concept that led rapidly to abandoning my faithful, domesticated 486.
Cataclysmic Environmental Changes: (1)
There are transitions and TRANSITIONS. Swapping computers is one of the latter; no clinical data can be lost while a new machine and a new operating system phase in. "The awful daring of a moment's surrender" happens when you make data entries in the new one that you don't repeat in the older one. It also happens when you see that the same data is magically larger and noncompressible after it's moved. It will never again fit on the former monitor, driven by the older chip. You flail yourself and the new machine first into survival, then into comfort mode. I'm not fully at peace, still my Net lines are working. Windows 95 is running without forcing me to jump through one.
November 3rd, I spotted a box, 200 mHz, IBM, demo at 40% of list. The salesman warned me that no one in the technical department had ever made a scanner work with an IBM machine and that there were no manuals or cartons; however, if I REALLY wanted to buy the demo, then he'd sell it to me. The yellow stickers meant only that it had been checked for a software problem.
It had magnificent supernormal traits. The black matte case hunkered on their counter and later beside my desk, similar to the monolith in that movie about HAL. The monitor gave me the same feeling as looking into a summer swimming pool ... great blue reflective sparkling depths mottled with dozens of symbols ... icons of things to do. Even the icons themselves were special ... they moved, danced, and (with speakers) likely shouted. Click on one and watch it spin while software loaded. I felt like Darwin first seeing the Galapagos. (2)
Then I landed in the cold water.
There was no 5.25 drive; I couldn't load the originals of my key software friends. Program Manager along with File Manager appeared to be missing. (FM was a good friend for shunting forum files from draft to uploaded folders.) The icons appeared quite stubborn; they were determined to push me into InterNet Explorer and other Microsoft bogs. Finally, neither the modem nor CD rom worked.
The technical guys told me that the modem and CD were software problems and blamed repeated file control block errors on my "old" software; for the CD drive I needed CDs with SCSI (scuzzy) drivers available only from IBM. I called IBM who immediately adopted me via their homepage and sent me a pair of CDs that the drive also refused to recognize. (They also sent me manuals and other things despite my getting one of their demos. I like having IBM in my hunting party!) IBM next directed me to take back the box and swap it because "it was a hardware problem."
I did so but became overwhelmed by more Supernormal Stimuli. The demo shelf had a 233 mHz and a 266 mHz machine. I swapped my dead lobster for, naturally, the largest available unit in the series.
The "official IBM" keyboard does not have function keys down the left. My client notes system heavily depends on function keys. I will probably stick with my KeyPro even though it doesn't have buttons down the right side that run the CD and the answering machine and load assorted programs with a single stroke (Innate Releasers, Fixed Action Patterns). I still need to install a 5.25 drive or ask for smaller disks from IBM to load "Current" for my client data base. I purchased Word 97 separately and learned that it failed to recognize my AmiPro documents even though Word 6.0 handled them nicely. (3)
I mourn File Manager but have figured ways to do things with the new system. I shut off the jumping icons and cleaned most of them off my screen. My Einstein wallpaper is in place as are my Dilbert Icons and an image of Goldie Hawn from "Laugh In" days. Compuserve is running with Netscape. I'm starting to feel at home. The Connors Continuous Performance Test (a tool for ADHD screening) stymies my new baby cold. Enter "CPT.Exe" and see the mouse, screen, and keyboard lock up such that a mechanical reboot is the only way out. It's a little funny ... 6.1 gig of hard drive, 32 meg RAM, and a 266 mHz P2 chip all in a large black box that should press 500#, all frozen by a minor dos program.
Dictation, the original goal? Approaching the monolith ... I said, "Open 'Microsoft Word'" and it did. (4)
1) Apologies to any reader who has never loaded a computer.
2) My son remarked, "Welcome to the '90s."
3) The current issue of "Discover" describes birds that live in and around rainforests. There are sharp differences in wing shape and other adaptations. Still they can interbreed. Many of the old keystrokes still work on the new machine and are still 25% faster than driving a rodent. The document import problem, newly reappearing on Word 97, could be trivial or another wedge in dividing the market in order to isolate Lotus. Haldane, I believe, commented that hybrids first do the Darwinian thing of killing off their parents and grandparents. Tradition has it that "DOS isn't done till Lotus won't run."
4) But not much else, yet.