Where’s my old typewriter?
I was born 50 years too early to grasp all this high tech computer stuff. Yes, folks, I’ve been in another battle with my computer, and it won again—well, at least partially. The battle ensued over my interpretation of the meaning of the word “text.” Webster describes text as a body of written words. That’s how I have always interpreted its meaning; but apparently not the computer geeks who write software programs.
It all began when I decided to do a revision, and re-write my first published novel, “A Halcyon Revolution.” This would have been a piece of cake were I not such a computer neophyte, and if I understood the foreign language of computerese. But as it turned out, it became the same old battle of wills between my computer and me.
I originally wrote the novel on an old Leading Edge word processor program—which in my estimation—was the most user friendly program ever devised. It had to be, if I could understand it. However, it operated on a DOS system which made it incompatible with any of the Windows or Apple systems, and I was unable to transfer the text of my novel to an electronic format that the current computers could read. (Perhaps Kim Komando could have figured a way to enable these systems to communicate with each other, but not me.) This meant the typesetter had to scan the text into his system. This caused some minor complications, but none that were formidable, and he was able get the typeset text into a format compatible with the printers’ computers.
Now comes the time I want to do the re-write. After the initial print run, the printers sent me the disk that contained the original text for the book. I thought I could simply go into these, do the revisions, add the new chapter, etc., and all would be well. Not so. I inserted the disk into my computer, whereby it threw an absolute fit. It screamed back at me with all kinds of obscenities that I couldn’t begin to understand. The gibberish looked like one of those old IBM punch cards that we used to see.
I called the person who did the original typesetting for me, and asked if I were to send him this disk, could he unscramble the text and convert it into a “Word” program that my stupid computer could decipher? He said no need to send the disk, he was sure he still had his original in his archives. Long story short, he did the conversion and sent me a version my computer could understand—sort of.
He sent me two versions. One titled Halcyon Text, the other was titled Halcyon Text- TO—whatever that means. In “The Halcyon Text” version, all the punctuation marks were some kind of symbols, which meant I would have to go through and convert every one of these. I wasn’t too keen on that prospect. In The Halcyon Text-TO version, everything looked normal so I decided that would be the one I’d work in. I was able to edit the text, but when I went to close out, it would not save my revisions. I called him back to ask why it wouldn’t save my changes.
He asked me if I was trying save in “Word Text”. I told him I was in Word Text TO. (Here is where my interpretation of the word “text” differs from that of the gurus at Microsoft.) “No difference,” he said. “Microsoft Word wouldn’t save changes in the “text” format.” I thought: Text is text, isn’t it? But okay, if this is the way Microsoft wants it—so be it. Computer wins this round.
He said I would have to save the manuscript as a “Word Document” in my hard drive. This would allow me to save the changes. Okay, I guess I can manage that. In the process of opening the Text-TO version on the floppy, so that I could transfer it to my hard drive, what I managed, was to erase it. Don’t ask me how, I just did. (Computer wins another round). So this left me with the “Text” version and all the symbol punctuation marks. I was able to save this one to my hard drive successfully, but you can imagine the extra work I had to do to get this one revised the way I wanted it. As I said at the beginning, I was born 50 years too early for all this high tech stuff. This computer is going to be the death of me yet. Where’s my old typewriter?