Instructor Jerry King answers some frequent questions
Jerry King has been around computers most of his professional life, working as a computer salesman in the 1980s and a system administrator in Medford for 10 years. So it's safe to say he knows a thing or two about computers.
He's taught computer classes in Sandy since the turn of this century, and his latest four-week sessions begin Wednesday, Jan. 23, at the Sandy Community Center, 38348 Pioneer Blvd.
King took a few moments to answer some questions about his classes and about computers in general.
Q: What's the biggest misconception about computers?
A: That computers are all identical and all do exactly the same things, that they have the same abilities and that my computer should be identical to everyone else's. I have to explain that a computer is like a car; there are many manufacturers of cars, and each manufacturer makes several different models.
Q: Why is it important for all ages to know how to use computers?
A: There are a lot of things you used to be able to do that you can't do anymore without a computer. For a lot of jobs today you can't just go in and fill out a physical résumé and hand it in; a lot are done over the Internet. I think the main reason is why everybody wants to use a computer today - when you get right down to it, it's communication.
Q: Why can computers be such a mystery and difficulty for some in the older generation?
A: Just the speed at which computers came into (being), and how rapidly they're changing, and how much you can do with them. We can be resistant to change. There's fear attached, too. They hear the horror stories of identity theft, this and that, and some are a little hesitant getting into them. But I usually tell them that the most dangerous place for identity theft is the garbage can or the mailbox.
Q: What's the most difficult thing for students to learn?
A: I think for a lot of people, even people who have used computers for a while, the hardest thing is how to use the help menu in the menu bar. It's probably the most beneficial thing people can learn so they can help themselves at home. The hard part about that is that a lot of the help menus that come up are using computer terms they don't know.
Q: What's one of the strangest questions you've received from your students?
A: I don't think the questions are strange; they're pretty observant. Some of the things they point out seem strange. For instance, when we learn to turn off our computer, let's click on 'Start.' What? Does that make any sense?
Q: Tell us a success story.
A: I had one student, a retired schoolteacher, who used to get help from his teenage daughter and wife. He said, 'They'll help me but won't explain things to me.' He took the First Step class, did a few more classes and got into movie editing. Six months later, he's making movies. Now he's at the point where his wife and daughter come to him for help. Everyone can take something away from the First Step class.
Q: Any advice for the educational journey?
A: I'll tell people after the first class to pick a direction. Don't try to learn everything at once. Have a goal to learn e-mail, genealogy on the Internet, photography … find something that interests you and apply that.