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Remember: Computers Are Our Friends

Norman Axelman
Posted by Norman Axelman on Dec 20, 2022 10:41:31 AM

“What?! What do you mean the computer is frozen?!” my client asks in exasperation.

“No, John,” I explain. “I said it might be frozen. Or, it might just be a large file, and it is taking a little time to open. Anyway, if worse comes to worst, we can just restart the computer, and it should be OK”.

“How long will that take,” John asks.

“Maybe around five minutes, tops,” I say.

“I should just throw out this whole computer and do it the old-fashioned way,” John says.

A healthy dose of perspective

This type of dialogue was typical sometimes when I was working with one of my clients who had not grown up with a computer, and on occasion, as we all know, sometimes things just do not always work on a computer as quickly as we would like.

Of course, we all experience some delays or setbacks once in a while working on our computers, but I try to put things into perspective.


Author’s note: I have a confession to make. But please keep this confidential, as it is very personal. I am not always a patient person. I go crazy (sometimes) when the driver in front of me refuses to turn right at a red light, or the person in front of me at the grocery checkout is taking out a second mortgage on his home, and the cashier has to go meet with the store manager…..


So let’s say I’m working with my client editing a 180-page feasibility study. I explain to John that if we were going to do the project without using a computer, then:

  • He would have to wait a number of days (or at least overnight) for his international associate to send the package.
  • We would have to spend numerous hours editing and retyping as needed.
  • It would take a number of days (or a large expense if ‘over-nighted’) to send the study back.
  • This process could go on for a number of weeks until the feasibility study was completely edited.

In addition, there may have been some financial data that needed to be calculated, edited, and re-calculated.

But….. using the computer, we get the file via email; we edit the report using all of the available features, such as cutting/copying/pasting, ‘spell check,’ the thesaurus, ‘Track Changes,’ etc.; use Excel to do maybe hundreds of necessary calculations; send the file back via email, and instead of spending maybe one hundred hours over the course of a number of weeks, we get the entire project done in a matter of eight or ten hours!

Imagine a time without computers

I have often mused what it must have been like years ago in a large company’s accounting department. I imagine it must have been necessary to have forty or fifty full-time bookkeepers to record thousands of transactions on a general ledger (remember those really big binders with the green ledger sheets, and you would write the name of an account such as ‘Rent Expense’ at the top of each page, and then write in by hand every single transaction?). Then, if there were any mistakes, they would have to go back and make changes manually. And to get reports, it must have taken a fortune of time!

But now, using a computerized accounting program, I could probably do all the work of those forty of fifty people in a matter of just a few hours!

There is another point to keep in mind. Computers have become much, much more reliable. I started to notice this more and more over the last ten years or so, as I got fewer and fewer calls for repairs and other issues, such as printers not working; Windows not opening; files not opening, etc. As a matter of fact, in my own personal ‘computer life’ and fielding calls from clients, I have experienced almost no regular major problems at all. Computers and computer programs are just working a lot better than they did many years ago.

So, as much as we do not like to wait for files to open or emails to come in, or for a browser to open a window for something we are searching for, it is comforting to just sit back and think, ‘what would I have done forty years ago?’. Those of you that grew up using a computer might not realize just how much time you are saving when you need to find information on practically anything. Believe it or not, there was a time when if you wanted to know how SCUBA works (Self-contained underwater breathing apparatus), you would have to go to a library, open up a very extremely long catalog drawer and find a card with the information you wanted; write down the Dewey decimal numbers of the books you wanted to find; then find the books on the library shelves; check out the books from the library, and of course, return them. Hard to believe, right?

Whereas now, you can simply type SCUBA in your internet browser, find hundreds of articles with all the information and pictures you could ever want, and even share everything with anyone you want in a matter of minutes!

So, all in all, putting things into perspective (even for an impatient person like myself!), even if we lose a few minutes here or there while using our computers, we are still way ahead of the game!

Topics: Letters to the Editor


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