Sinclair Spectrum revisited

My latest OU module requires me to do programming with something called E-Prime.  I have to run an experiment, analyse the data and do a project report on the whole thing.

Pivotal to the whole experiment  is building a little programme first, running it and hoping that it will give me some results.

No problem.  Uni Boy assures me this is a doddle if you are numerate – knowing full well that I am not.  College Boy sniggers.  Lovely hub is sympathetic and says maybe I should leave it until I’ve had something to eat, drink and slept off the rigors of the working day (I can power nap standing up if necessary and sometimes it is).

Following the instructions meticulously I put the programme together on Monday.  It failed to run and came up with an insidious error message that made no sense to me.  Hub was on a late shift so I cut my losses, had a drink and watched Dave to cheer myself up until he came home  (Dave the channel – not the film – I can always find an episode of Mock the Week, HIGNFY or QI to banish my blues.)

I tried again on Tuesday – this is beginning to sound like Craig David.  Started from scratch and failed again.  Checked the OU website and discovered myself in good company with a lot of other sad losers with annoying error messages.  Hub went off to work on a night shift, Dave channel went on and I settled down for the third time to try to tame the beast.

I read the instructions again.  There, lurking insignificantly was a sentence about removing the original slides once you have copied them into the subsidiary programme.  Aha!  I did it.  It worked.  In College Boy terminology I am of the win! (as opposed to my usual status of epic fail.)

It took me back horribly to my first dabblings with programming in the shape of the Sinclair Spectrum.  It plugged into the TV and before they started putting the programmes on cassette tapes you had to sit there patiently (or not in my case) putting rows of numbers, back slashes and colons in only to find – if you were lucky – that it would run a very simple sequence  that was over in seconds or – and this was more often my experience – you would have put your colon in a totally inappropriate place (tricky?) and the error message that appeared gave you absolutely no clue about what was wrong , it just sat there on the TV screen blinking smugly at you.

Scarred by this early experience I abandoned any thought of working with numbers and computers and lurched off into the murky world of stage management (temporary blip), followed by the even murkier world of social work (there’s no way out).

I use computers all the time now – at work and at home  – but I rarely have to play around with the programming stuff.  Strangely enough I love statistics and the sight of a well-arranged spreadsheet fills my anorak heart with joy.  I can’t add up for toffee though.

Enough of the cerebral stuff.  Hub and I are abandoning Uni Boy and College Boy to their slumbers and heading for the seaside.  Off to Crosby to see the standing men (Anthony Gormley’s  ‘Another Place’).  they never fail to cheer me up and I could do with some fresh see air.  Hope the house is still standing when we get back.

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