Friday, March 12, 2010

The things I take for granted

Today I was teaching my field assistants in their second lesson on the computer. It's kind of a painful experience to watch someone who isn't familiar with a keyboard slowly pound out a word or two. I learned touch typing in 5th grade. They are learning to touch type now. I put a free typing program on the laptop and they are both highly motivated to improve their typing skills so that they don't have to hunt and peck. I had completely forgotten what it was like to learn how to type, but I sure as heck am grateful for those classes where I had to type with a handkerchief over my hands.

Tonight I was at the field station helping a friend download and install some antivirus programs on his laptop. While we were waiting for the first download to finish, I mentioned that my parents just upgraded to some insanely fast internet connection. He said, "So people have internet at home?" It was only then that I realized that me talking about my parents' internet connection not an ordinary conversation here. Yeah, most Americans have internet at home, and if not they can go to a cafe or library.  If I would've though for a fraction of a second I would've come to the same conclusion. I thought I was making a comment on speed, but what he heard was more a comment on access at all.

Lastly, my friend saw a UBC page that mentioned SPSS and he said, "Oh! I've been trying to get that program but I can't find it anywhere. It's very difficult to get here." Why can't you get it online? "You need credit card to buy them." Duh. Oh my gosh, of course. He doesn't have a credit card and so he can't buy anything online. I offered to use my credit card if he really need something and he can pay me cash. E-commerce is missing out on a lot of potential buyers.

I think I take my computer-savvyness and computer-priviledge for granted except when experiences like these come along. What do you take for granted?


gigirose said...

just a quick note -- you might point people like your friend toward the R project for stats. there is a learning curve, but it is very powerful & FREE! They would need an internet connection to download it, and for updates & loading new packages, but once you have in on your computer you are good to go. And R is quickly becoming the standard platform for stats amongst ecologists.

Karina said...

That's a good suggestion. I didn't think about R last night. I'll let him know!