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Since computer terminology can often be one of the biggest stumbling blocks to understanding the world of personal computers,I've tried to make things a bit easier by defining new terms at the beginning of the chapter in they first appear

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Fear oF Damaging The Computer

When they first begin working with a personal computer, many people hardly touched the keyboard for fear of doing something that would cause damage to the computer. People who don’t think twice about slamming down a telephone receiver, or driving their car to its very limits, suddenly grow passive when confronted with a keyboard. From secretaries to corporate executives to the folks down on the loading dock, there is something about a computer keyboard that can turn each into a shrinking violet.
There are two basic reasons for this initial passivity
1. The perception that despite their power, computers are extremely fragile devices.
2. The feeling that computers are on a somewhat different plane than other types of tools, the "gift of the God" syndrome.
Let's take a closer look at each of these observations. The first is a result of the day-to-day contacts that most people have with computers and the limited knowledge they possess about them. From the average person’s vantage point, computers are like newborn infants that need special handling and protection. Most people never see the large mainframe systems where they work. These computers are typically locked away behind security doors, in guarded environments with their own air conditioning, heating, electrical, and humidity control systems. From the outside looking in, it would appear that computers require a lot of care and attention. This particular point of view is often strengthened by day-today experiences that may often be punctuated by periods when the computer isn’t available. In the jargon of data processing, people are told of down time, system failure, or crashes, without any idea what those things might really relate to. Small wonder that when they suddenly come face to face with a personal computer some people are somewhat reluctant to touch it. After all, if the big ones come tumbling down from time to time, despite the care and attention of experts, what will happen when they start touching one? The second observation is that some people view computers in a somewhat different light than they do other office tools, maybe because of the sheltered environment that most people associate with the large systems. Computers operate in an almost mystical realm. Movies and popular works of fiction have pictured them as extending human powers beyond those of the body and mind. We think computers can solve complex problems almost in the blink of an eye. What could take a human hours, days, years, or even decades to work through might be processed in a matter of seconds or minutes by a computer. A mystique has grown up around not only the systems themselves, but also around the people who work with them. In a society that is growing increasingly dependent on technology, many who lack education or insight into computers look on those who can make them work in much the same way that ancient cultures viewed their high priests. As computers have become increasingly insulated, their operations cloaked in jargon and acronyms foreign to most people, many ascribe a certain reverence and awe to everything associated with them. Computers, and those who run them, have come to occupy a special niche beyond the province of the average person. With the arrival of the personal computer, all this is suddenly changing. Now individual workers are being given access to the same power and magic previously associated with the large systems. For some, this sharing of the technology can be likened to the Greek gods descending from the mountain top to share their secrets with their mortal followers. Against these backgrounds, it’s easy to understand why many men and women are apprehensive when it comes to touching a personal computer for the first time. As computers are extended through organizations, it is important for people to see them in the same light as they do other fixtures of the office, such as telephones and copiers. Some of this will certainly occur over time and with increased usage, and can be facilitated through introductory training programs that emphasize or demonstrate the difficulty actually damaging a system. The message that should come across is that while a lot of things. Can occur to the information they are working with, simply banging away on the keyboard won’t do much to actually harm the computer itself.

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