Teaching an old dog new tricks


Jeff Gilliland Staff columnist

Jeff Gilliland Staff columnist


Editor’s note: The writer of this column thanks his co-workers for helping him identify the computers and operating systems mentioned throughout.

The time-worn saying that it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks would certainly apply to me this past week. Just ask anyone I work with.

Through all my years in the newspaper business, I have never used a Windows operating system, preferring the Apple desktop computers I have used since, well, probably 1996 — when I was introduced to desktop publishing.

For the past three or four years, I have had a brand new Dell computer sitting in my office, and was told more than once that I needed to make the switch. But for several reasons — mostly because it is hard to teach an old dog new tricks — I resisted, using whatever excuse I could come up with at the time.

Then, it happened.

At the end of my first week in my new position here at The Times-Gazette, when I was already trying to learn all kinds of new things, my old computer — and when I say old, in computer years it was ancient — decided to die.

So, in the early hours of a tough Friday, I had to put the Apple to rest, hook up the new Dell, cross my fingers, and hope I could accomplish what needed to be done on a Windows computer. It would not have been possible without the help of pretty much everyone in our offices.

Mostly because it embarrasses me, I have never been one that likes to ask for help much. But after returning to work Monday, still trying to do things I had never done before, while learning a new computer system at the same time, I ended up spending a good portion of the week tracking down whoever I could find to lend me a hand.

To their credit, my co-workers have been more than helpful, and I hope I have not been too much of a burden on them, because I can promise them that I will be calling for more help — often.

You see, I am one of those guys who have resisted technology, at least to a large degree, for years. I purchased a cell phone long after most everyone else had one. Same goes for a smart phone. In younger years, when I needed assistance at home with the TV or any other electronic gadget, I would call on my sons for help. Now, I call on my grandson. At 15, he probably knows more about that kind of stuff than I ever will.

When I first came to work at what was then the The Press Gazette in 1983, we had some type of computer system whose name I forgot long ago. It was nothing like what we have today, but I worked — make that typed — on a computer system nonetheless. Seven years later, when I accepted a job at the Greenfield Daily Times, I was more than a little shocked to see typewriters at the reporters’ desks the first day I walked into the office. Some of them were manual typewriters. I wasn’t sure what to think, but we made it work.

Those were the days when we would type stories in a small, smoke-filled editorial room, pass them through a small hole in the wall, and someone would retype every single story and send it to a large machine that I suppose was some sort of computer. The machine spit out newspaper print in long one-column sections. Then we would grab our scissors, X-ACTO knives and razor blades, fire up the wax machines, and commence each afternoon to lay out a newspaper. There was a lot more manual work that went into designing a paper back in those days — like developing film in our own darkroom, printing our own pictures, then trimming them to fit a particular space on page, and much more — but you get the idea.

It was definitely a different time. Better? Maybe. More efficient? Not even close.

Times change. I am changing with them.

But, hey somebody, before I post this column, could you come and help me for a second?

Jeff Gilliland is the editor of The Times-Gazette. He can be reached at 937-402-2522 or jgilliland@timesgazette.com.

Jeff Gilliland Staff columnist
https://www.timesgazette.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/33/2018/08/web1_Gilliland-jeff-2018.jpgmug.jpgJeff Gilliland Staff columnist