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Vol. X, no. 1

TCU Library Newsletter, Web Edition

March 1998
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A View Through the Transom
by Hugh Macdonald

     It has been more than eight months since the unexpected package was delivered to me at the Library. Naturally, I tore into the box and, with styrofoam peanuts spilling all about, I finally extracted from its core A LAPTOP COMPUTER. The Cape Cod address on the return portion of the shipping label meant that my sister had something to do with this. A laptop computer with WINDOWS 95 and a CD drawer. What did this cost her? How am I going to use it? I was stunned and, regretably, felt little or no gratitude for this expensive gift.

     From the outset, however, friends and colleagues at work urged me to regard the laptop as a "magic box" which should be approached with a sense of wonder and joy. I tried. First of all I went to a luggage store to purchase a really nifty-looking leather laptop carrying case. Then I attempted to play one or another of the games which are loaded in it, but having forgotten how to play solitaire or cribbage I was left staring at the screens. Nor could I make much headway on my own to learn how WINDOWS 95 works. This is the system where you click on the  START button when you want to shut down your computer. I was easily defeated and I finally put the laptop into its handsome carrying case and hid it behind the sofa. Nonetheless, I was not able to forget about its existence nor could I bring myself to thank my sister for it. Every other week I might take it out to check the battery level (I couldn't just let it die, could I?)

     Time passes. Dismay is replaced by crushing guilt and I actually lose some sleep over my inability to confront and master this situation. Meanwhile, the Library is in the gradual process of becoming a WINDOWS 95 environment and the e-mail and word processing systems I have been using will soon vanish from the TCU campus. So yesterday I found myself in a classroom learning the basics of WINDOWS under the tutelage of a very sympathetic library colleague and the cobwebs began to be penetrated if not exactly swept away. It was even more reassuring to see the wife of the Head of the University's computing center sitting across from me in this beginner's class.

     Now it appears that the day in not far off that I will really thank my sister for her extraordinary generosity. 

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