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Just how hard should learning a computer program be?

Well, here is our new design for the website. I can hardly believe it’s the fourth design to appear, but then in ten years I guess that’s not too surprising. What is surprising is how much anxiety learning a new design program can be. I really must write something about how interpretation of words used in one language can differ when written by those in another English speaking country. I’m talking here about American English.

I’m sure the root of many of my problems is a resistance to use different meanings for words I have used for so many years and an astonishment at how my language is being changed by non-native speakers. Perhaps the answer is to compile and keep up to date a glossary.

I’m also wondering whether there is an easier way of working through the huge amount of information the beginner faces when learning a new program. I think an algorithm is vital here. There are videos to watch – rather long winded some of them, others lack vital and consecutive elements. One video took 60 minutes to show the difference between using a post and a page when creating a website. The lecturing style was so amateurish if I had watched it to the end I really would have lost the will to live. The two are not difficult concepts to understand, you just need a clear and succinct explanation.

Talking to other website creators I hear similar stories, so it’s not just me being slow and ‘stupid’. I am also relieved to hear other people have lost vast amounts of data, like me. So many images, databases, info have I lost, forever, due to computer crashes. Again over a period of more than 20+ years I guess it’s not surprising. What is surprising is that no one expects it to happen to them. I certainly didn’t.

Even now, with enough backup storage devices, as well as backed up on ‘clouds’, I’m still not confident I won’t lose something precious.

Another thing that frequently happens is the inability to completely recall how to do something with a program I did times without number, maybe months, or years ago. The time it takes to almost relearn is so frustrating. I couldn’t remember how to open the disk drive doors on my standalone computer this morning. Something I did for years when creating cds and dvds of the hard copy for the magazine.

I was reassured by a colleague confirming the same thing had happened to him and how stupid he felt.

Luckily there are forums to use for most things, but sometimes that can be frustrating – I like fast feedback, but it doesn’t always happen. So, for me, the best back up is really a personal service.

I use Apricotvs. I need fast response, 7 days a week and they are reliable. If necessary they will come out to the computer but the best bit for me is the Remote Desktop Support. Their technicians connect with my computer over the web and take control. It’s a bit odd seeing the cursor whizzing around the screen, but I got used to it quickly. It means there is no need for a visit, or a long winded, sometimes convoluted, conversation. It’s all done over the internet with the loudspeaker turned up. I love it! I’m signed up for the Gold Service which for £25 a pc a month is a bargain for peace of mind.

Val Reynolds Brown Editor


Football through the Viewfinder – Sports Photography

Television sports news reminds me of the football league matches I attended as an official photographer. They were rough, both on and off the pitch. Men and boys (well some of them) seemed to think it was a good time to be rude, spiteful and crude.

Stevenage Boro Match

I spent two years photographing pitchside and found it a dangerous and frightening place to be, some of the time. Avoiding footballs was the biggest worry, my reactions must have been pretty good as I managed to dodge them all, sometimes twice in a match! On one occasion another photographer wasn’t so lucky and incredibly the crowd cheered when he was hit!

Spectators in the seated areas displayed greater restraint than those in the standing areas. One very large woman at one end of the pitch spent all her time castigating the players, of both sides, with a liberal helping of strong language. The poor ball boys were even shouted at and they had a really hard time. Sitting on small plastic seats they had little to do but when they did they had to move fast and throw it in the right direction to the right player, which wasn’t always obvious!

Referees were always the butt of jokes, cat calls, crowd abuse and aggravation from players. Eddie Keogh’s famous photo gives an insight into what can happen when feelings run high.

Restraint needed?

Did the ref get it in the eye?

This referee appeared to take all the aggravation in her stride.

It was interesting when the crowd thought something was not right – there was a collective rush of sound, a mix of loud gasps and murmuring, often resulting in loud disputative noise.

Did I enjoy my two years? Well I enjoyed taking the photographs and getting good shots, and of course getting my pictures in the papers. But I didn’t feel comfortable for most of the time, nor welcome really. A fellow woman photographer had a can of beer thrown at her, from behind, her head was split open and her camera was ruined. I decided to call it a day.

Welwyn Garden Rugby Club match

Perhaps if I had appreciated the finer points of the game I might have got more out of the experience. As it is, I prefer rugby, the players are great guys and my photoshoots have always been positive and no one has ever thrown anything anywhere near me!

Val Reynolds Brown, Editor

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