Thursday, December 2, 2010

I'm @ home & typing blog # 52! (at no $ for the reader)

There was a time when computers weren't in almost every house. It's true! I'm almost ashamed to admit we have 3 now. What did people possibly do before computers? Well, for writing letters and such, we had these devices called "typewriters". This next statement will show how old I am: in High School, we learned to type on typewriters.
The semester I took the typing class, I broke one of my little fingers playing sports. It was fairly early in the semester and I wore thing honkin' big cast. Instead of learning to type using all four fingers and my thumb, I only use the first three fingers and thumb on each hand. It's weird, but, it works for me.
When you made a mistake while using a typewriter, it could be a painful process. Some of the more advanced type writers would "white out" the character you mistyped. Other times, we had to physically insert a little sheet of white out. Either way, it was a mess.
I recall getting an invitation to a cub scout event that had been type written on a 3 x 5 card. It said the event started at @:00 pm. @:00 pm? When was that? I freaked out, telling my mom that I think they invented a new time. She assured me that it was 2:00 pm because the "@" symbol was above the "2" on the typewriter.
Of course, that brought up the next question: what the heck is the "@" symbol? She patiently explained it was short for the word "at". My little mind back then works very much like my mind now. So, someone took a two letter word and converted it to one symbol? Why would they do that? It's not like they were abbreviating the word "Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious". (Although maybe they should create a symbol for that word).
Next time my mother had the typewriter out, I asked her if there was more funky (we used the word funky because this was in the 70's) symbols like the @. In fact there was. # was number. $ was dollar. % was percent and so on. Again, this was before computers and the internet so I couldn't just look up where the symbols originated. It remained a mystery.
Just last night, my wife noted how the symbol @ was all but unused until email addresses came about--now you see it everywhere. And she's dead on. What's also a trip is that on my smart phone, there is a "shortcut" for ".com" -- it's ALT B. I wonder what's next.
To wrap up this blog, here is a little quiz. Try not to look at the very bottom of the blog for the answer. This quiz will determine if you are a computer nerd or not. After you read the questions, think of the answer in your mind.
Here we go:

What is 5 plus 1?

What is 10 minus 4?

What is 2 times 3?

What is 4 plus 2?

What is 7 minus 1?

What is 6 times 1?

What is the first vegetable that comes to your mind?

Okay, this is the part where you see if you are a computer nerd or not.

If you answered carrot, you are a computer nerd. Why? Because the symbol above the "6" on a keyboard is the "^", also known as the carrot.
By the way, how do you capture a rabbit? Easy, you hide behind a bush and make the sound like a ^.


  1. OK, how about the even more computer-nerdy pronunciations of the following symbols.
    ! = bang
    * = splat
    ? = hook
    / = whack
    | = pipe
    ^ = hat

  2. Oh, and to resolve any confusion,
    this is a backslash \
    this is a forward slash /
    this is a dash -
    while this is an underscore _
    curly braces {}
    brackets []
    and while these have other meanings to those who delve into HTML, XML, etc., they really are still just a
    less than sign <
    and a
    greater than sign >

  3. I knew I could count on you to fill in some of the blanks. :)