14.03.2005 13:28 - My Dad the Silver Surfer.
A fortnight ago, my parents were over for a visit. During the visit, my father admitted, rather shamefacedly, to copying CDs.
\"So?\" you ask, \"what\'s so amazing about that?\"
This is not some 13-year-old we\'re talking about here. This is an approx. seventy-year-old man who, in his entire career as a production engineer for a certain electronics/defence contractor, would have nothing to do with computers.
He wouldn\'t even touch a computer until after his (early) retirement, and he had to be persuaded to do that.
After his retirement, he was completely lost for something to do. He had two hobbies : painting and photography. Photography wasn\'t really an option, as it was a bit too expensive, and painting, whilst enjoyable, couldn\'t really sustain his interest day in, day out.
Enter my old computer. \"Why don\'t you see what sort of business you could drum up doing a bit of desktop publishing using that old thing?\" I asked. So, after a few teeth-grinding lessons with Serif Publisher, he was up and running, doing tickets for local dances and gigs, club membership cards, and all sorts of other things. Initially he wasn\'t too quick on the uptake, being new to it all, and so it took a while for him to get the hang of it. However, he was clearing decent beer money from it, and saved enough to buy an Epson colour printer. He quickly tired of the prices of the cartridges and started filling his own, working out that a cartridge would take 2-3 refills before the printhead was worn-out. The small printshop down the road noticed that he was in competition with him and altered prices accordingly. This didn\'t faze him, and he moved into doing menus for some of the local pubs.
Eventually, as cheaper computer and printer prices meant that the technology became ever-more ubiquitous, the printing job dried up. However, by then he\'d discovered the internet. Keen to give it a try, he signed up for a local course on the net, and discovered (to his surprise) that everyone else on the course was about his age. Once he\'d got the basics down pat, there was no stopping him. He joined a family tree website and researched our family tree right back to the 1700\'s, when (irony of ironies) he discovered that our original ancestor Augustus Dix came from somewhere in Austria.
The next thing on my father\'s agenda was a reconditioned digital camera, and a new PC. He now has a better PC than I do, and he\'s upgraded the memory in the camera so that it\'s about 25 mb. This, he tells me, allows him to shoot off pictures like David Bailey, review them instantly and delete the poor ones.
Anyway, last time I visited my parents he persuaded me to do a bit of tech-support, and install a CD-ROM burner. The burner was so that he could archive all the pictures he\'d taken. During a bit of practice with the burner, he asked me if it could play normal CDs. Off we went back to the shop and bought him some speakers. Next thing I know, he\'s going through my sister\'s music collection and copying the CDs that he likes. That\'s not getting my sister to copy stuff, that\'s him doing the copying. In fact, he had to teach my sister how to do it on her machine. He\'s turned into quite a music buff on the quiet - ever since I bought them a CD player, he\'s been off down the charity shops browsing through their 2nd-hand CDs. He doesn\'t bother with music shops, as he feels that they have nothing he\'s interested in. At least he hasn\'t discovered mp3s yet, although I imagine that\'ll be on the cards as soon as he\'s got ADSL installed.
I bought them a DVD player for Christmas. I expect an email any day now asking if he can copy DVDs.