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"A man who seeks truth and loves it must be reckoned precious to any human society."

- Frederick the Great

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Can An Old Werewolf Be Taught New Tricks?

I had just finished tuning the harpsichord the other day, when my human friend Brian said that I should consider getting an electronic one to save the bother.  This was but the last in a series of ridiculous suggestions, which began when he decided that I needed to embrace the various technological advances of the twenty-first century.

The most absurd of his proposals, however, was that I should write a blog.  Since I am now obviously doing so, you will doubtless be wondering how he put me up to it.

Before I get to that, you need to know that I am not a total stranger to technology.  In fact, I have been using a PC since they first appeared in the early 1980s, when I began writing my memoirs about being a werewolf in the eighteenth century.  (In those days, I was known as Lady Llewellyn, the 26th Duchess of Caerfyrddin.)  After centuries of writing long letters by hand, I was intrigued by the possibility of making corrections elegantly, without the messy business of ink erasers - you know the kind, which scratch the ink from the paper, likely as not making a hole - or simply striking through the unwanted text and probably making a huge ink blot.  Ever wonder what the sand-shaker was for?

In any case, I began with WordStar 3.3.  Any of you humans who are old enough to remember WordStar will recall that it was a classic “green screen” programme, where What You See Is Not What You Get.  Nevertheless, I loved WordStar, as it really made writing a pleasure instead of a chore.  Back in those days, I even bought one of the first “schlepp-top” computers, so that I could write while travelling, which I do a great deal.  (In some later post, I may tell you something about my job at MI6.  To you Americans out there: MI6 is like the CIA, but with a British accent.)

After WordStar came WordPerfect, also a green screen application but with a real WYSIWYG preview, which greatly saved on wasted paper.  At about the same time, Microsoft Word first appeared, but I remained loyal to WordPerfect for quite a long while.  Of course, hanging on to antiquated systems is one of my foibles, and has often gotten me into trouble in the past.  I was on the wrong side in 1793, for example, and had an unfortunate encounter with a guillotine.  (Yes, I got better, thank you.)

I seem to have digressed, as the topic of this post is actually how I am learning to use new technology.

For years, I have been content to use the computer as a glorified typewriter.  When someone first told me about the “World Wide Web” back in the 1990s, I was quite sceptical, partly because I am deathly afraid of spiders, but also because it seemed highly unlikely to me that the medium would ever become anything more than a playground for technology enthusiasts.  History has proved me wrong yet again, though not quite as badly as in 1914, when I tried to prevent World War One (you see how well that worked).  But I digress again.  As you know, the Internet has turned out to be more than a passing fad, and in fact I have used it occasionally myself. 

Which brings me to the actual point I was trying to make.  I was just saying to Brian the other day how much I prefer reading books to reading on a computer screen.  He is a former college professor, so I assumed that he would agree with me.  Quite the contrary.

“It just goes to show that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” he said.

“I beg your pardon, sir!  While I may be three thousand years old, I don’t look a day over forty.  And I am most definitely not a dog.  That is a term which we werewolves find most insulting.”