Fumbling through an array of colorful icons on my new computer screen, I tried finding a button that would allow me to print a test document. I was working with a computer my wife and I purchased hours before when suddenly I realized I liked my old one even more.

Fumbling through an array of colorful icons on my new computer screen, I tried finding a button that would allow me to print a test document.


I was working with a computer my wife and I purchased hours before when suddenly I realized I liked my old one even more. The old model contained an icon with a little picture of a printer on it, unlike the new one, which seemed to have no similar functions anywhere on its vast screen.


It’s too bad the old computer could not be repaired by a service technician, I thought, as I opened each setting.


Hours earlier, I received a crash course in the finer qualities of computer components and their uses at an area computer store.


Sure, I could have researched the features of Windows Vista before diving into ownership, but I’ve learned through the years people who speak in techie-talk usually lose me shortly after a salutation.


Still, I was surprised by the upgrade the sales people said I needed, just to download an occasional photo or video clip. I remembered the old computer seemed to handle the tasks without once catching fire or making strange, screeching noises as it prepared to explode.


The sales person seemed to imply I was lucky, however.


He explained memory was a key to my computer’s abilities.


“You’ll need plenty of storage, also,” he said.


Honestly, to me, a terabyte meant no more than a pterodactyl. In addition, for all I knew they were distant cousins.


While I never considered myself computer-savvy, I felt I had a pretty good grip for the needs of our family before going in for a new unit.


I even outlined them on a piece of paper: a larger hard drive, plenty of RAM, a larger screen and enough USB ports to plug in a variety of accessories I already owned.


However, moments into the conversation, I found my old accessories might make good weights for a trotline. Therefore, I acknowledged my technology gap and listened intently.


“You’ll want plenty of dedicated RAM,” he told us as we considered a couple of models.


“I can tell you have a good understanding of computers, so I don’t want to put you in anything that isn’t going to meet your needs,” he said, looking at me.


For an instant, I thought I had somehow managed to speak in computer jargon — obviously impressing the sales person. Either way, I could tell my wife was impressed. But moments later, when he had to explain a terabyte was not something from the Mesozoic era, I lost my edge.


It’s actually equivalent to 1,024 gigabytes. Those are derived from megabytes, which come from kilobytes.


So on and so on.


While I didn’t feel any better about purchasing one or more of them, I learned some new words — something I might want to use in conversation, sometime.


Me: “Excuse me, but I couldn’t help but notice you have a terabyte.”


Anyone else sharing my vast knowledge of computer lingo: “I know. I’m using antibacterial ointment on it.”


Once I finally found the print button — located in a little circle I previous mistook for a picture — I finished the task and tried shutting down the computer.


That became another lesson I’ll one day look back on and smile.


But for now, I can sum up my feelings in one computer-originated term — it bytes.


Ken Knepper is publisher of The Newton Kansan. He can be contacted at kenneth.knepper@thekansan.com.