In the Sixties, when I was deciding what to do for a living,
computers were not even on my horizon. I did learn to use a slide rule -- and I
have one now, though it was hard to find in the early Eighties. J. K. Gill
in Salem, Oregon, had a box of them in their basement.
It was my interest in Astronomy that led to my interest in computers. Until
1983, I was using a
calculator to compute the positions of planets, a very complex thing, for me at
least -- then I discovered programmable calculators, which allowed me to set up
a sequence of tasks and made the whole process a lot easier.
I began to learn to program in BASIC in 1983 with a Radio
Shack PC-1. It was a small pocket computer, about the size of an open wallet,
with a single-line screen that could show 24 characters at one time. I used it
to help with my work as a Calender Operator, for the astronomical calculations
I like to do, and for games. I wrote a Hangman Game and others.
In 1984 I learned to program in BASIC and assembly
language with a Timex-Sinclair 1000 (wrote and marketed two games). I got
programs from computer magazines and typed them in. I stored them on an
ordinary audio tape. Then I saw an advertisement for TS1000s for $30 each
and they included a 16k memory expander. I went down to the store with
$100, planning to buy three of them (for gifts, or spares), but they were sold
In disappointment, I bought a 5K Commodore VIC-20, which
had color and sound. One game, Tank vs. UFO, I typed in over and over -- every
time I wanted to play the game, until I bought a datasette recorder to store
the programs. I bought magazines such as Ahoy! and Commodore,
entering programs and learning programming techniques.
In 1987, I bought a Commodore 128, which was actually three
computers in one, and hooked it up to a large TV for my monitor.
In 1990, I got an IBM-compatible Tandy 1000, my first
laptop. I used it to record the events of my daughter's birth in my journal.
After I was laid-off from my job as a Calender Operator in April
1992, I enrolled at Chemeketa Community College. The first term, Summer, I took
a modem course in English Writing using my Tandy 1000. For the next term, I
bought an IBM compatible 486-DX/33 (wrote several graphics programs in C before
beginning my formal training in C). I also took a modem course in C
Programming. I got A's in all of my computer-related courses, except for
Financial Accounting and Computer Aided Design. I graduated a year later with a
certificate in Computer Support.
In November of 1994, I found a job as a C and BASIC Programmer for
Agency Automation, Inc., the source of the First Rate software, and moved to
Portland, Oregon. I never used C again. My job was to write, update, and
maintain the Specialty Auto modules for computing auto insurance premiums.
Began in 1997 programming in Visual Basic 4.0 with only two days of
formal training. We began converting, or translating, our computer
programs from QuickBasic to Visual Basic. The job of converting the computer
programs was barely complete when the company was bought by a corporation in
April 2002, and everyone was laid-off.
In May, 2001, my son, Ernie, provided me with a computer,
which I understand he had been working on for about three years. It came with a
printer, and speakers. He installed my old 120 MB hard drive, and my 5-1/4"
floppy drive (not now connected). I added a scanner, and an i-Cam. I used the
i-Cam instead of a Polaroid, and it paid for itself and saved me hundreds of
dollars, or at least provided me with pictures that I wouldn't have if I had to
wait to afford the Polaroid film. My son later installed a DVD drive for me.
For the period during which I didn't have a phone, I used the
County Library's computers to access the Internet for job search.
In 2003, I began working with Power Point and Front Page.
At the beginning of June 2003, I began making an
HTML presentation of my poetry using Front Page, thinking only to use it on a
floppy disk. For the next three weeks I added employment and
education information making the presentation a resume and portfolio of my
talents. On my birthday, my son told me that he planned to provide
me with an on-line website. Three weeks after I started, I e-mailed
my website to my son.
By the end of August, he posted it to his website
at comcast.net. I added a page with links to my Son's site, Otter's
Den, and to my Church's site. I found some older poems I had somehow
overlooked and added them. I created and added a page for the Thai
Cafe with their menu, and links to the poems I wrote relating to it.
I continued to add poetry and autobiographical
information. I added a link for Poetry.com. I began a new
story, Sam and the Sea.
October 10, 2003, I bought a Toshiba Pocket PC from Circuit City.
The next day, I put my website, the whole New Testament and the Book of Mormon
and each of my poems on my Pocket PC.
In March 2004, I renamed the website, Dave's Title
of Liberty, and gave it a new patriotic look. I continued adding
poems and writings, both old and new until December 2004. By that
time, my access to Front Page had ceased, and editing it in NotePad was too
In October of 2004, I replaced my Pocket PC with a PalmOne Zire 72
as the former had been dropped so often that it was held together by electrical
tape. The PalmOne has a built-in camera, too.
In November of 2004, I was able to purchase an HP notebook computer
which has long been a goal of mine. I got my first taste of the wireless
Internet at McDonald's on Thanksgiving Day.
July 2005 brought a land-line phone connection, a
paid ISP, a webspace provider, and a domain of my own,
I maintained that site for almost a year until economic changes
forced me to let the paid things go, including my domain. Fortunately, my son offered
me safe haven for my web pages at his Otter's Home. Now my URL is:
I wore out another Pocket PC and am currently using an HP iPAQ running Windows Mobile 5.0.
Near the end of February 2007, My connection to the Internet at the house was
terminated. I had to use the Library again, for the first time in two years,
to check my e-mail.
Near the end of March 2007, my laptop suddenly crashed. When I rebooted, I got
a message warning of Imminent Hard Drive Failure. And it wouldn't stay on for more
than about five minutes. After trying for several days, I put the computer away.
I contacted my son, and he said he would get me a replacement, a desktop computer
with Vista (the only OS he could get) for about $400.
On July 1, 2007, for the first time in three months, I tried my laptop.
The battery was dead. I plugged it in and turned it on. It is still reporting
"Imminent Hard Drive Failure" and warning me to back up my data,
but it stayed on for over six hours. I managed to copy all of my personal photos,
my "Sam and the Sea" story, my most current web pages, my Journals, spreadsheets,
and many more things. I used every last blank CD I had.
On July 28, 2007 Ernie showed up with the promised computer for me, from Dell.
He spent twice as much as he told me he would. With it, came two speakers,
an external hard drive (the same size as the internal hard drive), a keyboard,
trackball, mouse, and a 19 inch flat screen monitor.
With the external hard drive, I was able to copy all of my documents from my
laptopís drive to the new computerís hard drive. The external drive is to backup
my data from day to day.
Also, I have discovered a Windows speech recognition program on the computer
that works pretty well. I composed, edited, and printed a letter to my daughter
with it. Doing it that way, helps me keep my legs elevated while working on the
computer, otherwise, they tend to swell up. It did take a little getting used to.
Some of my old software will no longer work with this computer, as it has the
new Vista operating system, and that is disappointing. But then, for a long time,
I have been disappointed that they no longer include a BASIC programming language
On the positive side, I like the way it shows folders of photos: you see an
open folder with some of the pictures in the folder hanging out of it. That way
you get a visual feel of what is in the folder. Also, instead of using Alt-Tab
to change between open windows, you can view all of them at once, and click on
the one you want.
On November 3, 2007, Winda's family got a wireless hub set up at the end of the
house and I was able to connect for the first time in eight months. Almost
immediately, I copied my web changes to the Internet.