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December 14th, 2004

Techno-mage

Everyone in science fiction novels these days discusses the vaguely cyberpunk notion of the "techno-mage". The idea is that science is so cool that it's like magic. This is not a particularly new idea in sci-fi, as it predates even the John Campbell pulp era of that genre. But the idea of calling a science magician a "techno-mage" is of more recent lineage.

Lately I notice that I am anything but a techno-mage. I don't write any software, at least not since the days when I could speak enough basic or Fortran to write the most primitive programs one could ever imagine. Yet the problem now extends to software usage. I use tons of programs and applications, as so many do. But sometimes I become the proverbial "old dog" incapable of learning "new tricks". A sampling of things I should know but do not include:
a. how to scan a document to create a PDF, as opposed to converting a word-processing document into a PDF;
b. how to use even the most basic recording studio software;
c. how to use a softsynth;
d. how to make an MP3;
e. how to burn a CD;
f. how to upload pictures from my digital camera into my computer;
g. how to cut and paste from Adobe to conventional documents with ease;
h. how to effectively take content from the web and edit it at home, although the lack of this skill probably has advantages; and
i. how to use basic publishing software.

I find that I have little patience for poorly-written directions in software manuals, and little inclination to seek out people who can teach me how to use them. I hate the embarrassment factor of asking people for help, and yet I lack the smarts to figure things out on my own. My mind runs to the theoretical better than to the mechanical.

I suppose, then, that I am not a techno-mage. Perhaps the antithesis is a techno-serf.
Today I mailed the cassette down to Austin for duplication onto CD. Jake at the duplicating company guided me as to the forms I needed to fill out. I had to make an extensive set of promises and premises to get this darn thing to the lab. Barring the unforeseen, I should be filled with holiday CD cheer by early next week at the latest. I hope I don't run into any unforeseen snags, such as the 30 songs having titles too long to fit on the disk or some such. I tend to assume unforeseen snags, though, so that they do not upset me very much.

The result, I hope, is the aural equivalent of singing Christmas carols, done with sufficient lack of talent as to be palatable even to those who do not celebrate or
even enjoy Christmas. It's not quite dogs barking "Jingle Bells", but you get the idea.

Now the acid test: will it arrive by Saturday, so that I can mail all at once, or will it arrive later, so that I send out cards first, and CD later? Thanks to the many folks out there who signed up to receive one, a post or three back. That makes it more fun for me.
I wish I had put some electric football fields, and perhaps a Waring blender, on the tape.
But a man with a kazoo's gotta do what a man with a kazoo's gotta do, although this sentence sounds like some unduly suggestive blues song, and hence is meant in only the most musical way. I wish I played the didge more like a didge and less like a commercial for European cough medicine.